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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 Baby steps

This is the first album by guitar wizard Jukka Tolonen. Having already played in both Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti, Jukka suddenly decided to make a solo album where he could stretch out on the guitar, which should come as little surprise when one hears his involvement in the aforementioned groups, where he mostly added warmth and depth to the proceedings - only seldomly breaking away from the melodic storyline.

On Tolonen! he showcases his skills as musician rather than a lead guitarist, and he does so in a pretty unique way. Instead of using all of his studio time lying on top of some heavy blues based riffing - ornamenting the music with high soaring fiery guitar solos, which he also does on occasion, he decides to weave a series of intricate melodic string plays, creating a magical world that wouldn't be out of place in the sort of movie, where unicorns and phoenixes roam. Sure the man showboats a little during the album, reaching for that ever so wobbly and fleeting groove of the great Jimi Hendrix, but most of the time he is there massaging acoustic guitars and what sounds like harps and other such delicate string instruments.

What I like most about this venture is the cosy atmosphere. It feels like you're sitting in his living room with a fire going - drinking warm tea with rum - smoking space tobacco and relaxing like a regular polar bear rug stretched out on the wooden floor. A lot of this is down to the other instruments involved - such as the omnipresent clay-pot drums which sound so passionate and real, that you start wondering whether this album is becoming a little bit too realistic and in fact is playing from the insides of your bedroom - hiding suspiciously under the bed like a Finnish fusion ninja on the prowl. Other such things that take you into Jukka's personal quarters on that most comfortable of rugs, is the sound of the piano. It's simple and in the background, but it sure does feel like a friendly musical hug - surrounding the music in a safe and secure layering of sound. These cosy and magical sections are spread throughout the album, but especially the first cut Elements shows these delicate blossoming beauties in their full floral presence. Indeed sounds like opening ice blossoms.

The fire and raging Hendrix dominated segments that tear through a track like Last Night seem strangely uncalled for in the midst of all this frail and magical beauty. Also the convoluted nature of the free-spirited and rather meandering jazz rock that Ramblin' wields only works for this listener the first time he heard it. The haphazard feel of the reeds should be something I adore, but on this record it feels a tad out of place - like a big red sausage in the queen's hair-dew. Again, that should be right up my alley...

So all in all a mixed bag of nuts with intimate deeply moving bursts of blooming genius, but also the odd unmemorable tune that all but too well mix in with the dirt brown wallpaper of your old tool shed. Still, when this album flexes its beauty and keeps to its floral emanations, it just takes your breath away. 3.5 stars.

Guldbamsen | 3/5 |


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