Spirit Of New Orleans Productions
Traditional New Orleans Jazz With A 21st Century Flavor


Spirit Of New Orleans featuring Yolanda Windsay
@ Sildajazz, Haugesund, Norway
August 8-11, 2007


Yolanda Windsay – vocals (New Orleans, USA)
Katja Toivola – trombone (Helsinki, Finland)
Ari Jokelainen – alto saxophone (Helsinki, Finland)
Jarkko Palokas – guitar (Helsinki, Finland)
Mitchell Player – bass (New Orleans, USA)
Jaska Lukkarinen – drums (Helsinki, Finland)



The Spirit Of New Orleans a.k.a. SONO is a Helsinki based group that has been delighting the stages at various jazz festivals and clubs since 2001. Led by trombonist Katja Toivola, the band has performed at most Finnish jazz festivals and clubs. International tours have taken SONO as far as New Zealand, Fiji Islands and Switzerland's JazzAscona. The band has featured a variety of different soloists, including Tricia Boutté and Leroy Jones from New Orleans, Miriam Aïda from Sweden and Eeppi Ursin from Finland.

In Sildajazz 2007 SONO will feature singer Yolanda Windsay from New Orleans. Other members of the group are: Katja Toivola, trombone; Ari Jokelainen, alto saxophone, Jarkko Palokas, guitar; Mitchell Player, bass, and Jaska Lukkarinen, drums.


Yolanda Windsay is one of New Orleans' leading vocalists. During her career she has shared the stage with musicians like Nat Adderley, Betty Carter, Terence Blanchard, Leroy Jones, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Sample and Max Roach. She has also often been seen performing with her mother Topsy Chapman's group Solid Harmony and has appeared in Sandra Reaves-Phillips' Bold And Brassy and The Late Great Ladies Of Blues And Jazz.

Trombonist Katja Toivola has been leading her two own bands since 2001. Born in Helsinki, Finland, she now resides in New Orleans and frequently performs in the city's top venues like the Palm Court Jazz Café and the Preservation Hall. She has toured with her groups in Finland, Norway, New Zealand, Fiji and Switzerland and has appeared as a guest soloist with various groups in France, Germany, Finland, and Switzerland.


Ari Jokelainen is one of Finland's most sought-after saxophonists. He has performed with a host of well-know groups, including the UMO Jazz Orchestra, Unit 6, the Odean Pope Saxophone Choir, the Jere Laukkanen Finnish Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, and the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. He has also been seen on stage with Arturo Sandoval, Per Jorgensen, John Hicks, and Randy Brecker. Mr. Jokelainen is the leader of the Helsinki-based Bygga Big Band and has received the prestigious Jazz Artist Of The Year award at Pori Jazz Festival in 1999.


Guitarist Jarkko Palokas returned to Finland in the spring of 2001 after graduating from the Berklee School Of Music, where he studied for three years. Since then he has been the backbone of Spirit Of New Orleans and various other jazz ensembles. Palokas works as a freelance musician and a guitar teacher in Helsinki. His approach to New Orleans jazz is very tasteful and fresh; his musical and technical abilities and a very good sense of style and use of space have gained him great popularity around the Scandinavian jazz scene.


Bassist Mitchell Player has for long been a mainstay in many of New Orleans' best jazz groups. He has worked extensively with the Leroy Jones Quintet, has been leading his own group, The Players New Orleans Jazz Band, and done countless gigs at Preservation Hall, Maison Bourbon, Donna's Bar and Grill, Snug Harbor, and other New Orleans venues. His first visit to Haugesund was with the New Orleans Helsinki Connection in 2004. Currently he is working as a principal at the YMCA Center for the Creative Arts in Rome, New York, and continues touring with various groups.


Definitely included in the cream of the crop of Finnish jazz musicians is drummer Jaakko "Jaska" Lukkarinen. He has been working with a multitude of Finland's leading jazz artists and is a member of the world-renown Finnish folk/world music group Värttinä. Mr. Lukkarinen has toured extensively around Europe, Finland, and United States, providing different groups extremely energetic and versatile drumming.


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Last updated: January 20, 2009