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JUKKA GUSTAVSON

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Finland


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Jukka Gustavson biography
Jukka GUSTAVSON (born 1951) is one of the key figures in the Finnish prog history. After participations as a vocalist and an organist in several bands in Porvoo or Helsinki area he joined WIGWAM in the summer of 1969. His contribution to four classic WIGWAM albums (Hard N' Horny 1969, Tombstone Valentine 1970, Fairyport 1971 and Being 1974) is essential. GUSTAVSON's style was fruitfully different from the other leading member, British-born Jim PEMBROKE, who leaned towards tighter, pop-oriented song structures. GUSTAVSON wrote more esoteric and jazzier music, and he was often compared to his main influence Steve WINWOOD of TRAFFIC, especially as a vocalist. The ultimate WIGWAM classic, Being, is for the most part GUSTAVSON's work. Both GUSTAVSON and bassist Pekka POHJOLA left WIGWAM in favour of notable solo careers, whereas WIGWAM changed the style considerably towards pop under the guidance of Jim PEMBROKE and the new guitarist Pekka RECHARDT (Nuclear Nightclub 1975 was a big commercial success).

Jukka GUSTAVSON started his solo output with the album ....jaloa ylpeyttä yletän.... ylevää nöyryyttä nousen (1978); the title could be translated Noble pride I reach... sublime humility I rise. The music was composed for the ballet work Yksin yhdessä (Alone Together) and it reflects GUSTAVSON's interpretations of the Bible. Next year he became a Jehovah's Witness. Instrumental album Valon vuoksi (1979) was composed for a dance piece coreographed by his wife Leena GUSTAVSON. Third album Toden toistoa (1981) features also vocals, but the music is bright and airy fusion.

The next album came over a decade later: Bluesion (1992) puts emphasis on piano and features some experimental pieces with sound effects and speech parts. In my opinion that album suffers from too sparse instrumentation and a lack of direction, but the fifth album Kadonnut häviämättömiin (1995; Lost in the imperishable) is among his very best. It also could be described as progressive rock instead of a stronger jazz orientation which he has favoured in this millennium.

GUSTAVSON plays several keyboards including electric piano, Hammond and Moog, and he is considered one of the finest keyboardists in the Finnish jazz scene. Without a question he deserves a place in the ProgArchives category of Jazz Rock/Fusion as a highly personal musician with a many-sided output full of progressive elements.

Written by Matti (Matti Pajuniemi)


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Yksin Yhdessa Jaloa Ylpeytta YletanYksin Yhdessa Jaloa Ylpeytta Yletan
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BluesionBluesion
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Kadonnut HaviamattomiinKadonnut Haviamattomiin
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JUKKA GUSTAVSON discography


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JUKKA GUSTAVSON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 4 ratings
... Jaloa Ylpeyttä Yletän... Ylevää Nöyryyttä Nousen
1978
3.00 | 1 ratings
Valon Vuoksi
1979
3.50 | 2 ratings
Toden Toistoa
1981
3.00 | 1 ratings
Bluesion - Sinijuurta etsimässä klisee-viidakon vilinässä
1992
5.00 | 3 ratings
Kadonnut Häviämättömiin
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Moments
1999
2.00 | 1 ratings
Between Fire And Ice
2003
3.82 | 3 ratings
Kiiltomato, Kynttilänliekki, Kuu ja Aurinko
2005
4.00 | 1 ratings
Toinen Maisema (with Hottoe)
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Community Jazz
2009
5.00 | 1 ratings
Root & Stalk & Flower Music
2012

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JUKKA GUSTAVSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Between Fire And Ice by GUSTAVSON, JUKKA album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Between Fire And Ice
Jukka Gustavson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars Just a quick one for this legandary Finnish (ex-WIGWAM) musician, who has sadly gained only a small amount of reviews at the year's time. Between Fire and Ice is a groovy, blues-flavoured jazz album, and pretty free of more eclectically progressive and personal elements.

The key instrument is announced already in the low quality cover. Iloisesti Hammondilla! (Sorry, non-Finnish readers; that was a clichéd phrase which means "joyfully with Hammond"). Organ jazz as a subgenre of its own isn't among my favourites. I think Hammond as the lead instrument gets a bit boring on the long run. This 64-minute album includes three songs with English lyrics and five instrumentals. Those with vocals ('Walkin' & Talkin'', 'Between Fire and Ice' and 'I'm a Bluesman') are oriented to American blues/funk/soul. The latter two are slow-tempo blues songs, more enjoyable than the sociocritical first song, but they could be by any artist of that genre.

I find it hard to get excited by the album as it sounds quite similar all the time. The mood stays carefree and there's a jam-like spirit in the compositions. The quartet (Gutsi is accompanied by a rhythm section and woondwinds player Pentti Lahti) is competent, no doubt of that. The closing track is a bit closer to the colourful Fusion you hear in his best albums, but prog listeners are adviced to choose other albums. Most of all this is a good and safe offering of merry organ jazz, recommended to anyone who happens to like that. Three stars would be an accurate objective rating, but for a clearer contrast I give only two here.

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 Root & Stalk & Flower Music by GUSTAVSON, JUKKA album cover Studio Album, 2012
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Root & Stalk & Flower Music
Jukka Gustavson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

— First review of this album —
5 stars The botanical title is a little clumsy, but luckily this music is not something one might associate with the term "root music"! The latest album by the old fox JUKKA GUSTAVSON doesn't offer anything radically new, but it's always interesting to see how the various familiar ingredients are emphasized. For starters, all lyrics are in English this time, and - also unlike in the album I wrote about last week - the vocals are oriented to singing instead of speaking. These are surely good news especially for non- Finnish listeners.

The mood is mostly happy and relaxed. A good example is the long instrumental 'Message from the Coral Reef', or a shorter one 'In Rainy Weather'. This would be perfect music for a summer evening's outdoor concert. The track with the only Finnish title is a passionate, slow instrumental with delicious parts for flute and organ, and a very vibrating electric piano. Some of the vocal songs reveal a strong influence of Afro-American music (soul, funk, etc), but equally important is the European music tradition rooted in art music. Perhaps the album's greatest delight is 'Classical Stairs and Garden', 17 and ½ minutes of wonderful, effortlessly flowing instrumental Fusion, up there with the best of PEKKA POHJOLA or JUKKA TOLONEN.

In the very tender 'In the Long Wait of the Wedding' Jukka sings the brief lyrics in French! Beautiful arrangement featuring e.g. flute and strings. The groovy but rather peaceful song 'This Elegy Will Always Be' is a decication to a pet cat. It has nice electric piano, and presumably an ud solo by guitarist Pekka Nylund. I notice that I enjoy this album much more than in the first listening. The bluesiest things may not be so much up to my taste, but for once there's not a single irritating track around. This is an extremely solid album with 66 minutes of pure, breathing music that is never left in the shadow of more litarary approach.

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 Kiiltomato, Kynttilänliekki, Kuu ja Aurinko by GUSTAVSON, JUKKA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.82 | 3 ratings

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Kiiltomato, Kynttilänliekki, Kuu ja Aurinko
Jukka Gustavson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars This is probably the most romantically oriented of ex-WIGWAM Jukka Gustavson's solo albums, the title meaning Glow-worm, Flame of the Candle, the Moon and the Sun ("romantic lights every one"). And as on several JG albums, there are beautiful nature photography in the leaflet. I'll take the track-by-track approach, using the English titles for your convenience, even though this time all vocals are in Finnish.

'Oh Moon-Beams, Skip About Softly' (a reference to a Procol Harum song title, see?) is a soft, dreamy instrumental in a melancholically slow tempo. Flute is the main instrument for the beautiful melody. 'Two Lonely Planets' is also a calm instrumental for the most part, introspective, almost New Agey mood-painting. The speech in the end turns the sad metaphor of human being as lonely planets into a happier one, concentrating on all the lovely things. Yes, that's pure JG philosophy - not very different from the likes of Jon Anderson or Mike Pinder. Vocal song 'Yearnie and Hope - Together Forever' continues in the relaxed, peaceful mood. Nice, but a bit mild and forgettable among JG compositions.

'Delicate' is a serene instrumental, again with flute in the centre. If you like also minor art music pieces by composers such as Delius, Satie, etc., you'll enjoy this tune. Then comes the first "BLAH, this sounds stupid" thought: 'Robust' could be listenable without the distorted mumble, though the music is clearly just backing-up, meaningless in itself. Every now and then Jukka delivers his literary ideas in not-so-succesful form, musically speaking. Instrumental 'Grey Motion on Wheels' is the most restless track that wanders between free jazz and groovy jazz. In the end it has a short telephone conversation, a bit out of place actually.

'Beautiful Things' is an average track with typical JG mannerism, ie. emphasis on text (spoken, not sung) and a jazz groove that tastes more like backing-up, but e.g. organ and bass sound good. 'Lovers in Science Fiction' has the speech part (blah, again!) in the beginning, but the instrumental part is rather schizophrenic; piano sounds as if a heavy cat was walking on keys. 10-minute instrumental 'Light Bright Sight' wanders at first quite aimlessly, in fact momentarily reminding of Claude Debussy's impressionism on solo piano. A good piece with the needed progression, as there's more solid jazz ensemble playing in the latter half.

'Do You Remember, My Love' returns to the soft, romantic mood with silky sounds. The vocals are again spoken, but not in an irritating way. The serene mood is continued by the final slow instrumental that has emphasis on piano and organ.

Like the following album Toinen Maisema (2006) which has more blues flavour and is less romantic, this album is slightly uneven. Especially for the romantic-minded listeners such as me it offers a lot to enjoy, but may be less succesful as a whole for those who want edgier and livelier Fusion. And now that I think of it, the vocals on this album are all too oriented towards speech instead of singing. Make it 3½ stars then...

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 Toinen Maisema   (with Hottoe) by GUSTAVSON, JUKKA album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Toinen Maisema (with Hottoe)
Jukka Gustavson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars Ex-Wigwam keyboardist-vocalist-composer Jukka Gustavson has a large and many-sided solo discography. In this Millennium he has perhaps operated more in the jazz genre than in rock-rooted fusion, but this album features more rock attitude than many others. As on many other albums there is a wide spectre of styles, but always his own style is very recognizable. In this sense it reminds a lot of his excellent 1995 album Kadonnut Häviämättömiin. The two first tracks sung in English are very groovy, bluesy jazz-rock (or jazzy blues-rock) that makes your body move. Pekka Nylund's spicy electric guitar almost steals the show on 'Road Movie'.

'Helge' is a Finnish-language song with mellower and more keyboard-oriented sound. The lyrics seem to memorize a roadie in the prog era; Tasavallan Presidentti & Wigwam and their members are mentioned. Nice, symphatetic song, only slightly too repetitive in the chorus. 'Muinaismaisema' (An ancient landscape) is a peaceful, bright-sounding instrumental with an emphasis on acoustic guitar and synths. 'Juhlapuheissa ja kahvikutsuilla' (In jubilee speeches and coffee parties) is light, Canterburyish jazz rock, and instead of singing it features speeches, a party saboteur included; an amusing satire on political life.

'Pitkällä matkalla' (On a long journey) is romantic and mellow, lyrically a dedication to Jukka's wife, or the marriage itself. 'Suomen kulttuurin agentit' (The agents of Finnish culture) is rather annoying: musically light, jam-styled backing of ironic, sociocritical dialogues, actually really useless in the musical sense. The title track is a groovy fusion instrumental, an average composition in Jukka's scale. 'Grow Grain grow' starts in a dreamy tone in slow tempo, but with Steve Winwood -reminding vocals the 9-minute song gets quite bluesy. Again good guitar work and lots of groove. The closing instrumental (= People of the new dawn) is happy and uplifting, featuring the trumpet of Verneri Pohjola (yes, he is a son of Pekka Pohjola).

So, I find this album quite similar with Kadonnut Häviämättömiin (which I gave full rating). Maybe not as good though. One annoying non-musical throwaway track, more blues tones, some average compositions... Maybe still worth four stars.

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 Kadonnut Häviämättömiin by GUSTAVSON, JUKKA album cover Studio Album, 1995
5.00 | 3 ratings

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Kadonnut Häviämättömiin
Jukka Gustavson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

5 stars EXCELLENT JAZZ-ROCK/FUSION FROM FINLAND! This one's a giant leap from Bluesion. There's no shortage of good material - the album lasts over an hour, no weak tracks - , or feelings of things worked out only halfway. Actually the recordings took place in over a year's time, and there's a solid band beihind the music unlike on Bluesion album. Now I'm writing unusually track by track:

The opening instrumental is tight fusion, not very melodic, and with a bigger role for an electric guitar of Seppo Tyni. 2. (title translated "A Forest in the Middle of the Ocean") has long, improvisatory piano intro before a fusion composition reminding of Pekka Pohjola - Gustavson's former bandmate in WIGWAM. 'You My Brother' introduces vocals but it starts with some sound effects of a sea accident. (In the leaflet reads: "I wish to remark this record has not has not been made to remind or inspire visions of the accident in the Baltic". The Estonia disaster had occured back then.) The song is bluesy, the lyrics bitter.

The fourth track is my favourite: 'Rakkautta rakasta' ("Love the love") is happy, optimistic and uplifting. The lyrics are perhaps naively spiritual, but they are a perfect match to the gorgeous music. The melodies are fantastic. Also 'Tuomion humussa' ("In the Haze of doom") has vocals, but instead of singing it's hectically spoken words about everything going wrong, with hectic drumming; only towards the end there come other instruments such as marimba. Dark humour which works quite well as the track remains short enough. The instrumental sixth track is one of the musical highlights with excellent band play. The atmosphere is laid-back and Jukka's bright synths and piano take the lead. BRAND X comes to mind a bit.

'Kontrasteja' ("Contrasts") is the longest one (9:12) and the most progressive. Featuring the guest guitarist Pekka Rechardt (of Wigwam after Gustavson's departure) it sounds a bit like Scandinavian ECM jazz - e.g. Terje Rypdal - or Pekka Pohjola. There are nice vibraphones and the last few minutes approach minimalism of Philip Glass, I think. 'Alla tähden alakulon' ("Under melancholy star") starts with a groovy, laid-back intro and then evolves slowly into a sad, beautifully emotional song with very elegant playing. The instrumental outro is soft syths à la 'Alchemy of the Heart' by Tangerine Dream. The closing track ("In this crazy world") is the shortest one. First, sounds of a seashore, then very low-key spoken words soaking with pessimism but with a ray of light in the end: "...but suddenly everything changed: my father brought me a peeled apple".

This album only gets better with repeated listenings. It has wide palette and yet coherence, emotional depth and fine instrumentalism in a perfect balance. 4½ stars rounded up!

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 ... Jaloa Ylpeyttä Yletän... Ylevää Nöyryyttä Nousen by GUSTAVSON, JUKKA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.00 | 4 ratings

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... Jaloa Ylpeyttä Yletän... Ylevää Nöyryyttä Nousen
Jukka Gustavson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars An accomplished keyboardist,Finnish Jukka Gustavson was born in 1951 in Sipoo and was a founding member of Progressive/Jazz-Rock band Wigwam,with whom he recorded four studio and a live album from 1969 to 1974.By mid-70's Gustavson decided to leave the band and start a personal career.His solo debut with the long title ''...jaloa ylpeytt' ylet'n... ylev'' n'yryytt' nousen'' was quite ambitious with Gustavson collaborating with an orchestra and no less than 23 musicians,among them some famous names of the Finnish jazz and rock scene like Juhani Aaltonen and Juha Bj'rninen.This was released in 1978 on Love Records.

This is a modern Neo-Classical/Jazz symphony,split into 13 parts,creating a solid long piece with no actual empty holes.It starts off as a dissonant Classical piece with Gustavson's organ on the front,before transforming into a Symphonic/Jazz Rock opus with great work on flutes,horns and saxes,excellent guitar parts and Gustavson's jazzy piano performance.By the middle the album has already offered tons of light and accurate interplays,when Gustavson decides to make an almost KING CRIMSON-esque complex explosion.Unfortunately this great piece will lose much of what it really deserves,when entering the last part and the musicianship gets very funky and somewhat out of place.Soon though Juha Bjorninen will appear with an almost FOCUS jazzy soloing of high quality,Gustavson starts to dominate again with strong organ work and the wind section is back on fire for the nice ending,which features plenty of great breaks.

This modern symphony is actually a very good introduction to any fan of music to the progressive rock ideology.Additionally it comes as a great example of Jukka Gustavson's endless talent and strong composing skills,despite the few misplaced minutes.Warmly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Bluesion - Sinijuurta etsimässä klisee-viidakon vilinässä by GUSTAVSON, JUKKA album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Bluesion - Sinijuurta etsimässä klisee-viidakon vilinässä
Jukka Gustavson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars This was my first solo album by the ex-member of WIGWAM, about twelve years ago. I used to enjoy it a lot, but later I began to see its faults more clearly. After listening to several other albums I believe this is one of the weakest. It's surely interesting and very personal, but it feels somehow half baked to me. First of all, Gustavson should have used more musicians.

Many tracks feature just his piano and/or synths and some vocals: 'Tervetuloa-rag' (Welcome Rag) is a lively jazz piece for solo piano with his wife Leena repeating "tervetuloa" in the beginning. 'Song of the Secret Person of the Heart' is Jukka and keyboards only. The playful song itself is charming at first, but it continues too long without much change, so it begins to bore after repeated listenings. 'Varo - ihminen!' (Beware - human!) continues - far too long - in the same vein. It doesn't help that he changes into English midway. The closing track 'Everyday' adds nothing new really. All these compositions have a feeling of rehearsal (don't get me wrong: the playing is very skilful and also the sound quality is clean) and they would have improved a lot with fuller arrangements.

Completely English-language 'A Frozen Tear' is a hazy, slow track featuring also Pekka Nylund on electric guitar and Tom Nekljudow on drums. At once you hear the difference: it's free of the rehearsal impression of the forementioned tracks even if it has a sort of a wandering/wondering spirit.

'In Search of a Blue Root in the Acid Rain and the Low of a Cliché Thicket' is the oddity here. It's a collache of endlessly repeated and overlapping spoken (or loudly whispered) words such as a thicket and a quagmire and strange sound effects evoking the impression depicted in the long title. 'Palokärjen lento yli vuonon' (Woodpecker's flight over a fjord) is a romantic lied for high soprano voice, very sentimental and a bit over the top actually. Later it adds a spoken narrative in Italian by Giuseppina Mäkelä and some sound effects, ie. flapping of the wings and the bird's scream.

Bluesion is very interesting and charming work in its own way, but for the negative sides (too sparse instrumentation etc) it falls below three full stars.

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