Finland's 16-member UMO Jazz Orchestra honors its 25th anniversary in the year 2001. And while they may not be a household name in the United States, this band has performed with the crème de la crème of modern jazz -- late-'90s recordings with trumpeter/flügelhornist Kenny Wheeler and trumpeter Tim Hagans have alerted more than just a few to this ensemble's far-reaching capabilities and undeniably stylistic approach. With this effort, the orchestra imprints its indelible stamp of authenticity on Mongo Santamaria's infamous "Afro-Blue" and John Coltrane's classic "Naima," along with several original compositions by various band members. Here, the musicians' fuse big-band style horn charts with fiery electric guitar riffs, synth-based tonal shadings, and memorably melodic choruses. Simply put, the UMO Jazz Orchestra is a class outfit and one of modern jazz' woefully under-recognized treasures.
AllMusic Review by Glenn Astarita