null On Behalf of Sunny and Humane Jazz
On Behalf of Sunny and Humane Jazz
Teddy’s West Coasters released their debut album Volume 1 in summer. The second half of the double album is being released this autumn. Octet’s leader, drummer and composer Teppo Mäkynen considers himself an artisan of music.
Mäkynen tells that he has composed the Teddy’s West Coasters’ songs for a smaller band. He doesn’t know where the process takes him when he picks up a pen. Bigger ensemble gives a possibility to think of instruments the current piece would need. "We go strictly by the terms of the music. This isn’t a professional orchestra where everyone should be employed evenly. I want the music to be the richness and the asset, not how many people are involved."
Volume 1 models material from Mäkynen’s and bassist Antti Lötjönen’s dialogue all the way to the full extent of the octet’s big sound. West Coasters is a reference to the jazz played at the Pacific Coast of the United States in the 1950’s and 60’s, where melodic and large compositions breathe airy and lighthearted. The last-mentioned was a hard case for the Finnish composer.
"Usually a composition starts from an inspiration which grief and wistfulness provide more than cheerfulness. I haven’t been mistreated, but melancholic songs spring up easier. As we play instrumental music the stories aren’t that concrete, but they have a bit of me and my experiences."
What has charmed Mäkynen in West Coast jazz is mainly the tone of the bands. The same musicians played for movies, soundtracks and jazz albums. When these versatile professionals recorded in top of the art studios with visionary producers, the definition of the West Coast sound was written.
"What fascinates me is the well captured tone of an acoustic band, where you can hear all the instruments. Everybody plays with the big picture in mind. One of my all time favorites Mel Lewis’ drumming blends so well it makes the rest of the band sound great. You don’t make a number out of yourself, but back up the band."
Teddy’s West Coasters used Finnvox’s spacious studio to fit the entire octet. Digital technology was utilized, so Mäkynen could do a bit tidying up. He says the analog studio in the right hands could produce a better result, but it involves the risk of countless takes that lead nowhere but frustration. "Whereas the handicap in modern technology is theillusion that everything should be perfect. This music shouldn’t be perfect. You should be able to hear the human touch in playing. That’s what I meant with artisanship."
The easygoing and airy result couldn’t be achieved without the help of external help. The idea of a double album came from the label Suomen Musiikki’s Kari Hynninen. Jussi Lampela lent his expertise in the arrangements. Studio’s professional staff guaranteed that the mood of the session matched the music and Mäkynen could concentrate on playing. Mäkynen describes the Genelec monitors used at Finnvox as ruthless. "Genelecs demand that the timbre and other things are in order. They reproduce neutrally and precisely what’s happening and don’t forgive anything. When mixing the album and getting it to sound good through those, you know it’s going to sound good anywhere."
Wherever one might listen to the album, Mäkynen wishes it would happen in peace and enjoyment. Vinyl record makes it possible for the listener to stop and focus on the music. Then the sound and atmosphere of jazz truly can captivate the listener. "I wish people would manage to concentrate a bit more. I hope that my music awakes positive thoughts you otherwise wouldn’t find."