The Scandanavian countries have a long and strong jazz tradition, but like most of the music you'll hear on this site I came to know of it late, and by way of house music. I think the first points of contact, for me, were the Nuspirit Helsinki releases that came out on Guidance in the late 90s and early 00s. At that time I wasn't at all clear on what Nu-jazz was, or Broken Beat, or Jazzdance—but I liked what I heard, and felt increasingly drawn to less formulaic dance music. There seemed to be an interesting cross-pollination happening between Italy, Japan, Germany, and Finland--and the Nuspirit name showed up elsewhere, cropping up on labels like JCR, remixing artists like Nicola Conte, and making all around wonderful music.
The early to mid 00s were an interesting time for dance music, with many producers putting aside their old aesthetics and trying for more organic sounds through live instrumentation. Nuspirit Helsinki shuffled their lineup and started releasing records under the name the Five Corners Quintet. This was not sample-based nujazz, but live jazz with true jazz sensibility and musicianship. In 2003 they released their landmark first 10" Trading Eights on the newly-formed Ricky-Tick Records—but they were not alone. Other groups from surrounding countries, such as Koop (Sweden) and Povo (Denmark), were involved in a similar project to revamp sixties style jazz for the dancefloor. With one foot firmly planted in the bop, cool jazz, and spiritual jazz tradition and the other taking a big step into the future, this music brought steady acclaim through the rest of the decade--from DJs, music critics, and open-minded dancefloors alike.
Given the impact of the work of the Ricky-Tick artists Timo Lassey, Five Corners Quintet, Dalindeo, Jukka Eskola we were eager to make them the subject of one of our decade-ending retrospectives, but as they represent just a part of the jazz movement happening up north, we were happy to welcome artists on DNM (Oddjob, Soular Sound), Raw Fusion (A Bossa Eletrica, Povo), and JCR (Koop) into our geographically-defined "Scandinavian Jazz Special." The full 2-hour special, including selections by DJ Offbeat and Chris Galvan, can be heard here.