Ricky-Tick Big Band, founded in 2010, started originally as an instrumental band and vocalists were completely excluded on their self-titled debut album released in the same year. However, the nationwide recognizion didn’t happen until three pioneering Finnish MC’s Paleface, Redrama and Tommy Lindgren (Don Johnson Big Band) joined the line-up making the earlier 17-piece big band even bigger in the end of 2011.
However, on record the fusion of jazz and hip hop, which they are best known of, wasn’t heard until 2013 when the renamed Ricky Tick-Big Band & Julkinen Sana put out their breakthrough album Burnaa. It made its way all the way to the Finnish sales charts and stayed there for 17 weeks in a row. The next album Korottaa panoksii (2015) did equally well among the critics and audience, while the third effort Pidä valot päällä (2018) got slightly more mixed reviews.
Besides the founder, composer and guitarist Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen, the orchestra includes an impressive line-up of Finnish top-notch jazz musicians: the wind instrumentalists Antti Hynninen, Juha “Jay” Kortehisto, Jukka Eskola, Linda Fredriksson, Heikki Tuhkanen, Kalevi Louhivuori and Petri “Pope” Puolitaival as well as drummer Jaska Lukkarinen among many others. The band, considered as one of the top acts of 2010’s in Finland, traditionally has performed wearing stylisth three-piece suits not excluding the gentlemen rappers in the line-up. One could often find certain kind of glamour in these events, and there has been an exceptional demand every time for the concert tickets despite the high price.
The orchestra announced to finish their cooperation with their vocalists in January 2019 in order to return to make the post-Millennium instrumental big band music while the rappers would continue working on their other projects. According to Pöyhönen this was due to the need to renew the sound and because the fusion of big band and rap music had been more or less now scooped from their point of view. RTBB & Julkinen Sana performed around the New Year 2020 for the last time on the legendary Tavastia club in Helsinki selling out three shows on consecutive nights.
Text: Joonas Kervinen / Funky Finland