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PEKKA POHJOLA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Finland


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Pekka Pohjola biography
Pekka POHJOLA (born 1952) is without doubt one of the greatest bassist/multi-instrumentalist in Europe. He knows how to handle several other instruments too... violin, piano, organ, keyboards, synthesizers, and trumpet as well. His style could be described with words as progressive rock filled with invention & Scandinavian folky/jazzy delights. In 1970 Pekka joined WIGWAM, a Finnish group around the English singer and pianist Jim PEMBROKE, staying four glorious years. In 1977, he formed The GROUP and in 1979, he toured with Mike OLDFIELD, who is an admirer of this bass-player. In 1980, The GROUP changed its name to PEKKA POHJOLA GROUP, but along the way the word "GROUP" is dropped, so the band played on as Pekka POHJOLA.

In addition to working with The GROUP, Pekka has released a number of solo albums over the years. Meanwhile, his music has reached new generations of music lovers. During his WIGWAM days, he recorded his first solo-album, the delicious "Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva". This album has symphonic/classical references and is very ZAPPA-influenced with lots of woodwinds and some fine bass soloing. "Visitation" is a real masterpiece of melodic jazz-rock elements on which Pekka shows his talents as a bass-player and composer. This is probably the best place to start getting familiar. "Urban Tango" (1982) and "Space Waltz" are probably more accessible combining classical tendencies, fusion, folk and more. "New Impressionnist" is an excellent compilation CD that contains tracks from "Everyman", "Urban Tango", "Visitation" and "Katkavaaran"... and is probably as good start.

Late September 1997, "Pewit" POHJOLA's new studio album is finally released after five years since "Changing Waters". The musicians are the same as on "Changing Waters". In May 2001, Pekka released "Views", his first solo album in quite some time.

On 27 November 2008, Pohjola died at the age of 56.

CONCLUSION: "You do not have to be a fan of progressive rock, fusion or jazz rock to appreciate his majestic melody lines."

Pekka Pohjola official website

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B the MagpieB the Magpie
Import · Remastered
ESOTERIC 2010
Audio CD$29.75
$38.99 (used)
Space WaltzSpace Waltz
Breakthru
Audio CD$11.99
$12.79 (used)
Mathematician's Air DisplayMathematician's Air Display
Import · Remastered
101 DISTRIBUTION 2010
Audio CD$9.40
$8.84 (used)
Harakka BialoibokkuHarakka Bialoibokku
Import
Imports 2003
Audio CD$8.70
$8.69 (used)
Keesojen LehtoKeesojen Lehto
Import
Imports 2003
Audio CD$16.47
$9.98 (used)
Pohjola, Pekka Everyman Jokamies Jazz Rock/FusionPohjola, Pekka Everyman Jokamies Jazz Rock/Fusion
Records
Audio CD$11.99
$19.99 (used)
New Impressionist : A Retrospective 1979-1984New Impressionist : A Retrospective 1979-1984
Audio CD$9.99 (used)
VisitationVisitation
Import
Disk Union Japan 2011
Audio CD$69.99
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PEKKA POHJOLA discography


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PEKKA POHJOLA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.19 | 61 ratings
Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva
1972
4.24 | 125 ratings
Harakka Bialoipokku (aka B The Magpie)
1974
3.77 | 81 ratings
Keesojen Lehto (aka Mathematician's Air Display, The Consequences of Indecisions)
1977
4.20 | 131 ratings
Visitation
1979
3.99 | 35 ratings
Kätkävaaran Lohikäärme
1980
3.69 | 26 ratings
Urban Tango
1982
3.67 | 27 ratings
Jokamies (aka Everyman)
1984
3.50 | 21 ratings
Space Waltz
1985
4.19 | 19 ratings
Flight of the Angel
1986
4.50 | 17 ratings
Sinfonia No.1
1990
3.38 | 15 ratings
Changing Waters
1992
3.72 | 18 ratings
Pewit
1997
3.82 | 19 ratings
Views
2001

PEKKA POHJOLA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.20 | 5 ratings
Pekka Pohjola Live in Japan
1995
4.07 | 11 ratings
Heavy Jazz - Live in Helsinki and Tokyo
1995

PEKKA POHJOLA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

3.96 | 6 ratings
New Impressionist
1987
4.22 | 8 ratings
Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva / Harakka Bialoipokku
1989
5.00 | 3 ratings
Beauty and the Beast (Pekka Pohjola with UMO Jazz Orchestra)
2010

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

PEKKA POHJOLA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Visitation  by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.20 | 131 ratings

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Visitation
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars By the time ''Keesojen lehto'' was released Pohjola became involved in yet another Finnish Jazz Fusion supergroup, simply called The Group.He would team up again with Olli Ahvenlahti for this project, so what more reasonable than to invite him to participate in his next solo album.As The Group released the only album on the Dig It label, Pohjola would follow the same line with ''Visitation''.Fellow The Group guitarist Seppo Tyni would also play on this one, which sees Pohjola reinviting a huge wind and horn section of guest musicians and collaborating with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in two cuts.The album was recorded early in 1979 and was launched later in the year.

Stylistically there were less than expected changes compared to the previous album, but the sound was somewhat redefined, because the electric piano now played a major role instead of other keyboards and the album contains powerful sax, trumpet and trombone parts within the orchestral arrangements.So, the name of the game here is another Symphonic/Fusion/Jazz Rock affair with some great guitar parts -maybe the jazzier element of the whole album- beautiful electric piano and a fantastic, solid and dynamic rhythm section, led by Pohjola and Vesa Aaltonen.There are still some lovely FOCUS underlines, especially when Classical and jazzy flavors are combined, the orchestrations are well-crafted and the atmosphere is reminiscent of the front cover: a sci-fi/fantasy one, reflecting fairly on the imaginative music here, propelled by tons of melodies, quirky cinematic edges and big orchestral movements.Speaking of the album's symphonic tunes, these are reminiscent of British solo artists like GORDON GILTRAP or even STEVE HACKETT, but the music here is more playful and virtuosic due to Pohjola's constant love for jazzy colors.''Vapour trails'' and ''Dancing in the dark'' shine through for being excellent examples of energetic, intense and rich Fusion with some pounding bass lines and impressive guitar work.

We've reached the 80's here and Pohjola kept producing qualitive works with progressive extensions.The most consistent musician of the whole Finnish Prog/Jazz Rock scene, returning with another beautiful work of orchestral Symphonic/Jazz Rock.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva  by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.19 | 61 ratings

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Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Perhaps best known as the bassist for one of Finland's most famous progressive rock bands of the 70s, namely Wigwam, PEKKA POHJOLA has earned a stellar reputation as quite an accomplished solo artist as well. On his only solo album recorded and released while still in Wigwam he unleashes all his solo desires and delivers some of the most demanding and intricate jazz fusion that all of Europe had to offer in 1972.

PIHKASILMÄ KAARNAKORVA (Resin Eye Of The Bark On The Ear) shows PEKKA's classical music study along with his Frank Zappa influences commingling in some seriously infectious jazz-fusion. Word has it that Zappa was so impressed with PEKKA's talents that he sought him out to recruit into the Zappa universe but wasn't meant to be.

While PIHKASILMÄ KAARNAKORVA certainly has a early 70s Zappa influence strongly dictating musical composition it is not just a tribute album. There are all kinds of interesting developments on here that keep it fresh and original. Also from Wigwam, Jukka Gustavson lends his keyboard talents. This is really difficult music to describe without getting all technical on ya. Even beyond my vocabulary and understanding. This sounds like very precise and technical music but it doesn't alienate the casual listen.

This is jazz-fusion that has hooks and logical developments. The mixing of the violins, piano, organs, drums, clarinets, sax and flutes with PEKKA's outstanding bass playing is top notch and is a pleasant listen from beginning to end. Unfortunately PEKKA's music can be hard to find and is even to this day still fairly obscure and unknown outside of prog circles and his native land of Finland. That is a true shame for he was talent who left this planet way too young (died of alcoholism at the age of 56). Excellent debut album.

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 Flight of the Angel  by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1986
4.19 | 19 ratings

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Flight of the Angel
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars Flight of the Angel ended PEKKA POHJOLA's most productive era that had started in the seventies; his next album would be Symphony No. 1 (1990), an attempt to be a serious art music composer. Haven't listened to it, but I have heard quite unfavourable criticism from experts. Elements from the classical music have naturally always been present in his unique Fusion, also in this album that features some strings too (though not very notably). As a side note, my friend had a conversation with Verneri Pohjola (jazz trumpetist-composer) and asked about his favourites of his father's discography. If I remember correctly, this was the other of the two that Verneri named.

'How About Today?' is a tight, rollicking, up-tempo composition, very rock oriented in sound; Seppo Tyni's electric guitar is in the centre. I wouldn't place this one high in Pekka's scale, or in fact, in the scale of Jazz-Rock / Fusion in genera, newcomers included. The title track is a delicate and more thoughtful piece as its name would suggest. It's built on a simple melody (not unusual in his composing style) but the way the music grows grander before returning to gentler touch is really fine. One could think there's not enough substance for 6 ½ minutes, but there is. 'Il Carillon' is a solo piano composition (played by the respected pianist Liisa Pohjola from the same big musical family). It seems to have some Sibelius influence and Debussy-like impressionism. I believe it would be considered very convincing by the art music critics too.

'Pressure' is very easily recognized as a typical Pekka Pohjola composition with the heavily repeated leitmotif and its stretching to the limit. It may be a matter of taste are there enough ideas for 10 ½ minutes or not. Well, he's done similar things more succesfully too. The synths are central in the sound. The progressivity comes mostly as dynamic changes, not in the melodies. But the best is saved for last: 'Beauty and the Beast' (10:54) is a highly progressive track full of rich details; the arrangement is very many-sided, from the funkiness of brass to the exciting synth patterns and the strings in the final section.And above all is the gorgeous bass playing! This is the masterpiece that justifies the four-star rating, even if the album as a whole is more uneven than most of his earlier works.

The 2002 CD edition includes also a brief summary of Pekka Pohjola's career up to that point.

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 Flight of the Angel  by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1986
4.19 | 19 ratings

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Flight of the Angel
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

5 stars By this point of his career Pohjola has changed his approach to compositions and arrangements. His last few albums have increasingly displayed gloomy, darker and melancholic moods that I didn't find very uplifting when compared with earlier works. Then again, the odd, lively tune with screeching guitars would emerge unexpectedly here and there.

On "Flight of the Angel" he seems to excel yet again, quite successfully combining markedly different moods on the same all instrumental album. A quirky, jumping starting track soon turns into a serious workout followed by the beautiful, haunting melody of the title track. "Il Carillion" provides an interesting bridge to "Pressure". True to its title this throbbing, pulsating piece is soon turning into spirited playing laced with mega heavy and furious guitars that - surprisingly - don't come across as anything to do with Metal at all. "Beauty and the Beast" starts with dramatic sounds that would serve as an appropriate backdrop to a modern ballet of such title. Again, this tune also culminates with dynamic, but somewhat more structured playing.

Excellent compositions with a good balance and professional delivery represents Pohjola's last truly great album. Highly recommended.

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 Keesojen Lehto (aka Mathematician's Air Display, The Consequences of Indecisions) by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.77 | 81 ratings

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Keesojen Lehto (aka Mathematician's Air Display, The Consequences of Indecisions)
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

5 stars Fantastic work by one of Finland's finest Prog artists. Having played with the best musicians there, he finally went solo in 1972 and there was no stopping from there - till his untimely passing away.

Building on his previous and well received album "B The Magpie", this work finds him in fine form again. A multi instrumentalist and composer he is best known about his monsterous, thumping style on bass that could only be compared with Jack Bruce on a good day. That Pohjola is never far from playing a bass solo - either heavy, or the lyrical in the background on just about every other tune of his output - is making him a truly special and unique artist.

This work is a fine example of the best of innovative European Jazz-Rock with not a hint of paying any homage to by copying big names of that genre. A slight Scandinavian flavour is always present in Pohjola's work without getting overly folksy.

A stellar line-up of respected musicians are featured here, that includes Mike Oldfield (with Sally in tow) at his best when Pierre Moerlen's Gong were his back-up musicians for live performances.

This album is painfully short at 36 mins, that includes a quick hoedown as the last piece, a piece with Sally, that wouldn't be missed. Still, the rest of what's on offer here is excellent and represents an essential addition to any Jazz-Rock fans library. 4.5, rounded up.

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 Keesojen Lehto (aka Mathematician's Air Display, The Consequences of Indecisions) by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.77 | 81 ratings

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Keesojen Lehto (aka Mathematician's Air Display, The Consequences of Indecisions)
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In mid-70's Pohjola was involved for a short time with the Jazz/Fusion group Uni Sono, before returning to his solo works at the second part of the decade, actually his third one was among his most succesful also.And that's because he collaborated with the rising star of Mike Oldfield on guitar/mandolin and his sister Sally on vocals on the album ''Keesojen lehto'', released in 1977 in Finland on Love Records (also as ''Skuggornas tjuvstart'' in Sweden and ''The mathematician's air display'' in the UK via Virgin Records).His backing band was again very talented: Georg Wadenius from Solar Plexus on guitars, Wlodzimierz Gulgowski from Pop Workshop on keyboards, Pierre Moerlen on drums/percussion and drummer Vesa Aaltonen, with whom Pohjola would collaborate on The Group.The album was recorded at two different studios, the Througham Slad in Gloucestershire, UK and at Marcus Music in Stockholm, Sweden.It would be released a few years later as Pohjola with Mike and Sally Olfield in Germany and the USA.Pohjola plays bass, guitar and keyboards.

No surprise, the album comes as a mix of Pohjola more Fusion stylings, featuring a nice Scandinavian edge, and Oldfields more dreamy soundscapes, which often flirt with Orchestral Music.This is actually a great description for a Symphonic/Jazz Rock album with the musicianship alternating between smooth and melodic lines through furious instrumental interactions with big, symphonic keyboards and jazzy guitar exercises.The atmosphere is great.It passes from fairytale-like tunes with laid-back keyboards and guitars to a style close to the likes of FOCUS with dramatic guitar playing and beautiful, sensitive piano and keys with symphonic overtones.But when it gets really serious, the music is really kick-ass, especially during the opening side.A genuine mix of orchestral underlines, jazzy interludes and progressive structures with plenty of changing tempos and interesting interplays as well as a solid rhythm section.The long ''Pääntaivuttelun seuraukset-part 2'', which should be the pinnacle of the album, sounds a bit inconsistent with a few funky moves blended weirdly with bombastic Progressive/Jazz Rock.The rest of the album is very tight, instrumental Prog Rock with fast-paced passages and mellow themes, always led by sensitive piano and sharp guitar/keyboards shifts with Sally Oldfield providing a good bunch of atmospheric, wordless experiments.

I do not know if this surpasses the fantastic debut of Pohjola, but ''Keesojen lehto'' in nonetheless a great, instrumental Prog Rock album, sure to satisfy both fans of Symphonic and Jazz Rock.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Harakka Bialoipokku (aka B The Magpie) by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.24 | 125 ratings

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Harakka Bialoipokku (aka B The Magpie)
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In 1974 Pekka Pohjola released his second solo album ''Harakka Bialoipokku''.It was however a hard year for him, as he also closed the life chapter called Wigwam forever.The album was released again on Love Records and featured a different line-up that on its debut, still quite impressive: A huge sax section with Eero Koivistoinen, Paroni Paakkunainen and Pekka Pöyry along with trumpetist Bertil Loefgren and drummer Tomi Parkkonen, while Coste Apetrea offers his guitar touch in one track.

With such a huge sax section you can expect a mindblowing Jazz Rock album, considering the great talent of Pohjola in arranging music pieces.Pohjola's second offering sounds a bit more flexible than his fantastic debut, not equally satisfying to my ears, but still containing plenty of fine moments.The endless sax deliveries with the melodic, twisting and virtuosic themes make ''Harakka Bialoipokku'' flirting dangerously with the emerging R.I.O. movement of the time.The saxophonists are accompanied by the great and deep bass lines of Pohjola, who again performs the piano parts, either offering short Classical-inspired introductions or catching up the groove of the tracks.Again a Pohjola album delivers lots of different approaches and the music ranges from pleasant to dramatic and cinematic.However it lacks the impressive interplays and unique rich sound of ''Pihkasilmä kaarnakorva'', with the exception maybe of the opening piece ''Alku'', which is a marvelous Jazz/Fusion/Prog track with symphonic references and amazing musicianship.

Not on the same level as Pohjola's debut, but again Virgin Records' executive Richard Branson was so impressed by this work that decided to release it the next year under the title ''B the Magpie'' for the English market.Warmly recommended to all fans of jazzy Progressive Rock.

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 Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva  by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.19 | 61 ratings

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Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars Pekka Pohjola was still a member of WIGWAM when he started his solo carer with this album. It has deservedly gained a classic status in Finnish Fusion, and internationally it is something charmingly unique. Featuring Jukka Gustavson of Wigwam, the soundscape has a lot of organ, but not any fast and furious one you hear in prog. I think this music has a very forest-like atmosphere. Other instruments include clarinet, soprano saxophone and flute, plus violin (by Pekka).

The biggest fault is the shortness of the album, but of course the quality comes before quantity. Pekka Pohjola's melodic and introspective musical identity has its recognizable trademarks here in the most beautiful and economical manner, and compared to his later albums featuring less organ and more brass and guitar, this one simply sounds better and more progressive. A great start for one of the most notable musicians in Finnish rock and jazz scene. Recommended warmly to fans of Finnish Fusion and early Wigwam to which this has a close relation.

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 Jokamies (aka Everyman) by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.67 | 27 ratings

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Jokamies (aka Everyman)
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Having heard Pekka Pohjola's first four solo albums before taking on this one, this one came across as something of a departure to me, dominated as it is by synthesisers. It comes across as an attempt to blend classical choral work with New Agey synthesiser meditations, and whilst there's nothing inherently silly about that idea at the same time I don't think it works particularly successfully here; rather than creating a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts, I feel that the album ends up adding subpar New Age music to subpar choral music and ends up with something mildly more irritating than either of its halves.

Those who come to Pekka's music specifically looking for his Zappa-esque hyperactive workouts or his more sedate fusion styles (as seen in albums such as Visitation) will find this album a disappointing oddity. Those who are particularly interested in fusions of electronic music and choral music might consider this a worthwhile attempt, but I'm sure there's better examples of this sort of thing out there.

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 Visitation  by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.20 | 131 ratings

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Visitation
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Having spent two albums edging away from the comedic, Zappa-inspired whimsicality of his debut solo album, Pohjola injects a sense of fun back into his music with Visitation, particularly on the energetic and almost funky Dancing In the Dark. What's particularly notable here is that at this point the overt Frank Zappa homages are entirely out of the picture, Pohjola having arrived at his own distinctive style of fusion which is expressed with style and verve over the course of the album. Without any guest stars of the stature of Mike Oldfield to overshadow him, Visitation is purely Pohjola through and through, and an excellent expression of his maturing musical personality.

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