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Jukka Tolonen - Tolonen! CD (album) cover


Jukka Tolonen


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.37 | 32 ratings

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3 stars Jukka's solo debut

Finland's Jukka Tolonen is an acclaimed veteran guitarist that few in the US have heard of, but he has had a long and successful career. His debut solo album in some ways reminds me a bit of an early Akkerman album in that it has some wonderful moments but a few misses as well. He started on piano in a musical household and made the switch to guitar after seeing The Beatles and others on television. He is one of those individuals for whom you can just tell music runs naturally through his veins, for whom it flows out in his playing. He is an extraordinary guitarist and keyboardist but as we know that doesn't always guarantee one will be a great songwriter too. At this point he was only about 19 years old and the results are mixed but very promising. Tolonen is also famous for being a part of the group Tasavallan Presidentti.

"Elements" is a joy to take in with Jukka's guitar bursting in wild abandon. I would guess Hendrix and Clapton to be influences on Jukka and I feel there are some similarities in style with Howe and Akkerman though I wouldn't want to guess if they were actual influences. This cool track doesn't stop with spirited guitar however, there are some really great melodic piano sections by Jukka himself who was adept at more than one instrument. There are also some wonderful flute and saxophone parts. Bass duties on the song are handled by none other than Mr. Pekka Pohjola making this album of even more interest to Fin-prog fans. In "Ramblin" things take a funkier jazzed-up tone with an immediate heavy groove to the rhythm section and saxophone, sounding a bit in the Traffic neighborhood. The guitar work is pretty ferocious again, adept, nimble, and fresh. "Mountains" is a big change-up, a duet between the meditative, melancholic guitar of Tolonen and some wonderful faraway saxophone by Pekka Poyry. Jukka takes a short solo that sounds a bit like Garcia on a quiet Workingman Dead's track but really stays out of Poyry's way here, to great results. This is a beautiful and unique piece of songwriting. "Wanderland" is primarily another keyboard piece by Jukka showing his talent there as well, though the song doesn't do too much for me. The album closes with a live track called "Last Night" which is a heavy blues-rock thing as Jukka shows off a little Jimmy Page jamming. Recorded in Helsinki presumably in '71 this track again features Pohljola live on bass. The sound is not bad for the time but still not great, and the baffling fade-out at 3 minutes makes you wonder why when they had plenty of space even in the vinyl days.

Tolonen is a nice historic slab for those who want to hear this virtuoso guitarist early on, and for fans of Finnish rock. "Elements" and "Mountains" are standout tracks that are quite good but totaling 14 minutes between the two hardly makes the album essential. The Love Records re-issue of 2004 features quality sound but a scant 2-page booklet with just a few liner notes.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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