Thursday, July 16, 2015

Flight to the Finnish: Jukka's Wild

You woke up today, and I know exactly what happened without even having turned on the surveillance cameras I have so stealthily installed on your computer. You opened your eyes, glanced at the clock radio, and wondered aloud... what have I become? Where is my life going? And why I am I not ingesting some vintage Jazz-Rock from Finland today?
I don't often post pics of Scandinavian hippies holding cats, but when I do, I accompany them with 40 minutes of smokin' playing (including word association games in other languages) and high-energy fusion footage from one of the foremost exponents of such sumptuously spankin' sounds.
Yes, folks, this page gets so black and white sometimes. Jazz heroes and Rock stars, how homogenous, huh? Always Americans and Brits, totally skewed in favor of English speaking countries. How do you stand it? Sometimes I myself nod out during writing these things. The cure for insomnia, and in FLAC format no less so you get those high-resolution, lossless snores.
So it's in the spirit of diversification -- or at least of the ability not to put everyone into a coma with Creedence Caucasian Revivals and polemics about how the porcine purveyors of phony pulchritude-for-profit paid the players in powder (oh, pshaw!) -- that I bring you today's fantastic Finnish fare.
You might not know the name of Jukka Tolonen, but he is one of my favorite guitar players and certainly one of the finest living axemeisters currently inhaling oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. From his time as the star of Scandinavian Prog Rockers Tasavallan Presidentti ("President of the Republic") to Wigwam to his leadership of some of the most incendiary fusion ensembles of any nationality, his reputation precedes him in parts of the world not named "America".
This little film of his band will surely hip the uninitiated. It dates from 43 years ago today and consists of a PAL DVD -- sourced from a 2008 digital rebroadcast -- of Team Tolonen tearing up a set in front of an appreciative outdoor audience in what looks like an idyllic, picturesque place. 
It comes from the 1972 Pori Jazz Festival and was originally shot for a Finland TV special on the man. He and his quartet blaze through a number of Mahavishnu-meets-Trad-Gras-och-Stenar (now there's a future post to make y'all go "Just who in the actual fuck are these dudes?!?") instrumental pieces that go through all sorts of dynamic and rhythmic changes on their respective journeys. It ends up sounding like a sort of Miles-Live-and-Evil funkfest crossed with a Progressive Rock-ish, pastoral edge -- complete with stellar close-ups of Jukka's vintage Cry-Baby wah-wah pedal -- and if you love those kinds o'music, you really do need to get a-clickin' on the link below. That's real talk. Or puhua todellinen. There, I said it.
Jukka Tolonen Quartet
Pori Jazz Festival
Pori, Finland

01 Interview, part 1
02 Mountains
03 Last Night
04 Interview, part 2
05 Rambling
06 Interview, part 3
07 encore applause
08 Impressions of East

Total time: 39:54

Jukka Tolonen - guitar
Pekka Pöyry - saxophone, flute, percussion
Heikki Virtanen - bass guitar
Reino Laine - drums

B&W PAL DVD from a 2008 digital rebroadcast
Watch out for the horn player, the astonishing Pekka Pöyry, in this... he is burning it down whenever he puts the reed in his mouth, and spends the moments he isn't doing that smacking a cowbell around like it owes Christopher Walken money. Of course Jukka -- who in the years since he was fronting the Finnish version of Return to Forever has become born-again and a primary purveyor of Christian music -- shreds and caresses his (I think) Gibson L-5 for the duration. It's a serious burner -- I wouldn't have put up such an obscure nugget if the music featured wasn't at the "incinerating" end of the "blazing" spectrum -- recorded this day in 1972, and therefore at least a couple of years before this kind of music started its slow, shark-jumping decline into the all-frets-no-feelings noodlefest a lot of it became. So have at it and enjoy. I'll be back tomorrow with yet another PAL DVD of something I think you might actually recognize! :-P--J.

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