“What if Duke Ellington, Tom Waits, Carlos Gardel and Charlie Haden met at a kebab kiosk somewhere in rural Finland?”
This is what saxophonist Mikko Innanen and guitarist Esa Onttonen asked each other once upon a time in 1997. As a result, Gourmet was born –
reaching 24 years of existence in 2021.
For a more comprehensive Gourmet history, please read on!
The origin of Gourmet can be traced back to 1996 when a group named Salad was formed by saxophonist Mikko Innanen and guitarist Esa Onttonen. Salad’s journey to stardom ended somewhat prematurely as the group disbanded right after the first gig. The time wasn’t yet ripe for a group featuring accordion (already played by Veli Kujala) and an eclectic repertoire that included compositions by Ennio Morricone and Henry Mancini, along with the future Gourmet standard Las Palmas.
Glamour and Decadence (1997–2002)
The failed Salad attempt didn’t discourage Innanen and Onttonen from giving the idea a second try, this time with the addition of slide trombone of Ilmari Pohjola and some personnel changes. As a result, the first formation of Gourmet – Innanen, Onttonen, Kujala, Pohjola, bassist Janne Antikainen and drummer Mika Kallio – hit the stage in April 1998 and released the critically acclaimed debut album Glamour & Decadence three years later. All About Jazz aptly described the album as “eccentric and intoxicating brew of blues, jazz, tango, rock, surf, noise and even Greek bouzouki music”.
Six Acres of Broken Hearts (2004–2009)
Gourmet returned from a nearly two-year hiatus in 2004 with a completely new repertoire and more brassy sound as the double bass was replaced by tuba, played by Petri Keskitalo. The new Gourmet sound was introduced on the Six Acres of Broken Hearts album, released in November 2004. Helsingin Sanomat, the leading daily newspaper in Finland, selected the album among the best albums of the year. The album was followed by a 11-gig tour of Finland and festival performances in France, The Netherlands and Germany.
Cosmopolitan Sideshow (2010–2014)
The third Gourmet album Cosmopolitan Sideshow was a result of new material written during 2006–2010. Released in November 2011, the album received five-star reviews and was nominated for the Emma Award in the Jazz Album of the Year category. To support the release of the album Gourmet toured Finland and played their first gigs in Austria, Belgium, Estonia and Bimhuis in Amsterdam. One of the highlights of this period included the Jazz au Chellah 2013 perfomance in Rabat, Morocco with the Bnet Houariyat group from Marrakech.
En garde (2016–2019)
After cutting their fourth album En garde in September 2016 Gourmet played at several international festivals in 2017–18: twice in Germany, twice in France and for the first time in Hungary.
En garde was released in April 2018 to rave reviews. Following the release of the album Gourmet played at some high profile Finnish jazz festivals such as Raahen Rantajatsit, Pori Jazz and Flame Jazz Cruise. In 2019 Gourmet played an 8-gig tour of Finland, their first gig in Norway (Vossa Jazz) and a few prominent festivals in Finland.
To close the year Gourmet recorded a new album, played their first tour of France (Lyon, Paris, Reims, Strasbourg) and had their second appearance at Bimhuis in Amsterdam.