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Ilpo Saastamoinen biography
Finnish guitarist and composer ILPO SAASTAMOINEN (b. 1942) has done an extremely many-sided career in music. His only solo album Joutsenen juju (1976) earns him a place in ProgArchives for its unique blend of folk, rock, jazz and other genres. His interest towards ethnic music was launched already in 1966 when he saw the Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar performing in Finland. From the late 1960's onwards he played guitar in various types of bands; Soulset was a soul band founded by the equally progressive-minded jazz musicians Edward Vesala and Seppo Paroni Paakkunainen. All of them played in Paakkunainen's next brainchild Karelia, which made popular versions of Finnish traditionals. Saastamoinen and Paakkunainen continued their collaboration in the short-lived band Dopplerin Ilmiö featuring the ex-Tasavallan Presidentti vocalist-organist Frank Robson. Apart from playing in bands, Ilpo Saastamoinen was a pioneering figure in various organizations of musicians. He also taught music, wrote a prize-winning pedagogic book on guitar in 1975 and conducted the Kajaani Big Band from 1974 to 1980.

In the spring of 1975 Ilpo Saastamoinen made some tapes for a radio programme. This gave Edward Vesala the inspiration to co-work for Saastamoinen's solo album. Joutsenen juju was produced by Vesala and released by the legendary Love Records. Most of the album's instrumental music is rooted on Finnish traditional tunes, but there are also brand new compositions, and an electric version of the famous Bach piece 'Air'. The album title could be translated as A Trick of the Swan; Saastamoinen himself was responsible for the cover art as well. This highly personal and eclectic album may bring some connotations to the works of PEKKA POHJOLA and MIKE OLDFIELD while bearing stronger folk elements than those.

Saastamoinen continued his ethnically oriented career by collaborating with Lappish artists among others. In the nineties he wrote a Lapland-themed opera trilogy Velho for a choir, solists and an electric group. A two-CD box has been released of the opera trilogy. Joutsenen juju was re-released on vinyl in 2018 by Svart Records.

Written by Matti

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ILPO SAASTAMOINEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.82 | 2 ratings
Joutsenen Juju

ILPO SAASTAMOINEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ILPO SAASTAMOINEN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ILPO SAASTAMOINEN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Velhon aika - The Best of Velho Trilogy

ILPO SAASTAMOINEN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


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 Joutsenen Juju by SAASTAMOINEN, ILPO album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.82 | 2 ratings

Joutsenen Juju
Ilpo Saastamoinen Prog Folk

Review by HarryAngel746

5 stars Rock music from the 70s still hides a lot of secrets - one of them is album Joutsenen Juju. Mr. Ilpo Saastamoinen known from Piirpauke, gathered here the cream of the Finnish jazzmen (including Juhani Aaltonen, Pekka Sarmanto, Edward Vesala). They created a very interesting and original folk-spirit album dressed in prog robes.

We start with delicate but royal fanfare announcing the beginning - idyllic folk mood surrounds us. Following instruments start the show: saxophone, vibraphone, flute and guitar playing in the background - the last of them takes the lead in the next part entering into numerous dialogues with the rest. In the middle of first track we have a moment of peace with low sounds of double bass and oriental instrument (on this album Ilpo Saastamoinen uses a large range of instruments: guitar, Domra, Zither, Yangqin) Then the guitar returns again - in her footsteps go: saxophone and all the rest of the vibraphones along with unusual vocals. The end of the song is full of silence and reverie ... interrupted by another frivolous folk melody. This dance is endless. Then, in contrast, we have an extremely sad atmosphere of a funeral epitaph at a slow pace. We can immerse ourselves in contemplation of an ethnic world that doesn't exist any more. In the second part Ilpo's guitar leads us through the memories. The third song is characterized by the entrance of the violin, which plays a melody that reminds me of something - it has a very cinematic character. The second half starts with another folk melody - we definitely are here for some fun in the inn or around the campfire. Until the saxophone starts to shine - here we have a crazy journey through the evening with the setting sun transforming into the night. Saxophone fluently intertwines with the guitar, vibraphone and all the rest... Again a sad climate, but this time some incredible mourning (more concerning the whole civilization than just old times as for me) is created by an arrangement of Bach's song - here it's quite modest, calm and spiritual. Another track unnoticed opens before us the way to cosmic dimensions. We return to earth to a sad folk (perhaps again funeral) march with somber vocals, saxophone, flute, guitar and vibraphone (an eagle-owl is sitting on a withered tree with the evil glare). At the end there is again quick folk accent that leaves us a lot of hope, warm and slight consternation.

Conclusion: excellent album with lots of flavors and giving great fun with catching the next, very richly used instruments (there are also: kantele (singing?), Bouzouki, mandolin, metallophone). The first sounds remind me of Gryphon - but only for a moment. You can compare the album to Samla Mammas Manna - but with a more introspective character, and of course it's more Finnish. I recommend it!

Thanks to sean trane for the artist addition.

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