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Jazz Rock/Fusion • Finland

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Pekka Pohjola picture
Pekka Pohjola biography
Jussi Pekka Pohjola - 13 January 1952 (Helsinki, Finland) - 27 November 2008

Pekka POHJOLA 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.

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

PEKKA POHJOLA Videos (YouTube and more)

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Harakka BialoibokkuHarakka Bialoibokku
Love Records 2003
$125.44 (used)
Mathematician's Air DisplayMathematician's Air Display
$29.99 (used)
Everyman JokamiesEveryman Jokamies
PHOJO 1983
Urban TangoUrban Tango
PHOJO 1982
$40.45 (used)
PHOJO 1997
$32.60 (used)
Warner Music Finland Oy
B the MagpieB the Magpie
$35.00 (used)
New Impressionist : A Retrospective 1979-1984New Impressionist : A Retrospective 1979-1984
$10.02 (used)
Flgith Of The AngelFlgith Of The Angel
PHOJO 1986
$24.72 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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PEKKA POHJOLA discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

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

4.19 | 92 ratings
Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva
4.22 | 165 ratings
Harakka Bialoipokku [Aka: B The Magpie]
3.73 | 107 ratings
Keesojen Lehto [Aka: The Mathematician's Air Display; The Consequences Of Indecisions]
4.12 | 169 ratings
3.85 | 56 ratings
Pekka Pohjola Group: Kätkävaaran Lohikäärme
3.70 | 43 ratings
Urban Tango
3.61 | 43 ratings
Jokamies [Aka: Everyman]
3.52 | 36 ratings
Space Waltz
4.02 | 36 ratings
Flight Of The Angel
4.07 | 32 ratings
Sinfonia Nº 1
3.50 | 29 ratings
Changing Waters
3.88 | 38 ratings
4.05 | 36 ratings

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

4.05 | 13 ratings
Pekka Pohjola Live in Japan
4.00 | 21 ratings
Heavy Jazz - Live in Helsinki and Tokyo

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

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

3.96 | 8 ratings
New Impressionist
4.26 | 12 ratings
Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva / Harakka Bialoipokku
4.17 | 9 ratings
Beauty and the Beast (Pekka Pohjola with UMO Jazz Orchestra)

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.19 | 92 ratings

Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kingsnake

5 stars Perfect jazzrockfusion with hints of symphonic prog and folk. This is a solo-album by a bassplayer, so you can expect some extended bass-soloiing, but it's never tedious or boring, because the drums/percussion accompanies it. Of course there's also a lot of organ and violinplaying by Pekka, wich is also something to cheer for. Pekka's bassplaying is impeccable, but drummer Reino Laine is also very strong.

It reminds me a bit of Return to Forever and Tony William's Lifetime (but without the guitars, of course). Because it's playful, well produced and it rocks. That's why I like jazzrockfusion, because it rocks. I can imagine not everyone will be into this, but I like it very much. This is the kind of record that's still strong after 50 years.

 Pekka Pohjola Live in Japan  by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Live, 1995
4.05 | 13 ratings

Pekka Pohjola Live in Japan
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by begnagrad

4 stars Pekka"s discography is filled with great albums, one of the few musicians who delivered quality music in every single one of them, a rare thing, many times I have been so disapointed at solo albums from seminal players, expecting some greatness, related to the bands they play with.

In this live album we find yet again another jewel from Pekka Pohjola, excellent playing and a great selection of songs, from different eras, in a single album, one wonders what else was performed and recorded while in Japan, surely enough material for a double album. If you enjoy his music, and don't know this live one, it surely will make you happy.

 Beauty and the Beast (Pekka Pohjola with UMO Jazz Orchestra) by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
4.17 | 9 ratings

Beauty and the Beast (Pekka Pohjola with UMO Jazz Orchestra)
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by begnagrad

4 stars Pekka Pohjola has been a source of inspiration for this listener, one of the most consistent musicians who delivered in all his albums not only great music but great writing.

What we have here is a magical album if you enjoy Pekka's music, all compositions are his save 1 collaboration and UMOi s by far and wide a great band, a music institution that counts with professional players in its ranks.

When musicians step out of "your" confort zone, meaning a style that challenges you or you do not fancy, then the listener is put in a difficult position, how to rate an album in a style you do not appretiate or like?

A different album it is if you are expecting the Pekka Pohjola of always, however, this jewel may bring enormous pleasure if listened in its own right.

A 4.5 star for me ... however the rating isn't possible so I have to settle for a 4


 Pekka Pohjola Group: Kätkävaaran Lohikäärme by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.85 | 56 ratings

Pekka Pohjola Group: Kätkävaaran Lohikäärme
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If I'm not mistaken this is the only PEKKA POHJOLA album to feature the word "Group" after his name. This time the line-up /instrumentation is as elemental and unvaried as it gets with Pohjola: the composer playing bass only, accompanied by Seppo Tyni (guitars), Pekka Tyni (keyboads) and the drummer Ippe Kätkä. The 44-minute album consists of only four tracks between 7'34 and 14'33 in length.

The opening title track ('lohikäärme' means dragon) is the longest of them. It sounds very good, especially for the calmer, rhytmically clear basic part with distinctive drum sounds. Time and time again it evolves into more hectic "chorus" part in which the electric guitar screams like a frightened person, to return back. It also contains a long guitar solo, but frankly the composition is seriously over-extended for its musical substance.

'Tehdasmusiikkia' (= Factory music) is a Fusion number centering on a playful guitar melody that appears in turns with the more soaring melodic lines. The unmistakable Pohjola touch is heard in the little details but this is far from the finest music he made. I'm not fond of 'Sampoliini' either, a fast joyful number that seems to be primarily a place to show off the musicians' virtuosity.

'Inke ja mä' (= Inke and me; referring to Pekka's divorced wife) is the highlight, and in my opinion among the best Pohjola pieces ever. Unlike this album in general, it is full of emotion, and that emotion is pretty melancholic, thoughtful and introspective. The way the repetitive "chorus" melody grows and grows -- orher movements being mostly very delicate -- is truly marvelous. This track is a perfect example of Pekka Pohjola's unique style. Since the album as a whole is not that interesting to me, three stars will do.

 Visitation by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.12 | 169 ratings

Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Pekka Pohjola's "Visitation", 1977, is not exactly the best place to start Pohjola's aquaintance, music composition wise. Better yet check on the flawless and clockwise performances by each member at every single moment. Amazing!

It's songwriting travels all the expected routes and shares the expected amount of atonalities and abrupt speed fast detours to be featured in a Prog page.

A perfectly threaded prog-eclectic-Rock/Jazz approach which includes a fusion of Latin flavors, "classic" Jazz and non prog strictly influences like Classical music and Big Band Jazz or Swing.

Once you see beyond its apparent "stiffness", you will notice its charms, yet the catchy riffs, more than once, are more annoying than catching, but its comedy like instrumental irreverence saves it from being just that.

Impeccable performances and a lot of spectacular highlights! Stick to that and start to imagine that maybe Mr. Frank Zappa will shed on some hilarious lyrics wherever he is.

3.5 PA stars.

 Views by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.05 | 36 ratings

Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars And this one then, the second (but the first collaborator's) review for the final PEKKA POHJOLA studio album. A taste of ignorance, compared to the large number of the early PP albums. Views was not a "band album" in the way the preceding Pewit was, instead the recordings were made in a half year's timespan with hardly the musicians of even each individual piece present in the studio at the same time. This boundary-free approach was the manager Tapio Korjus's idea. By the way, the long guest list includes Pekka's sons Ilmari on trombone and Verneri on trumpet. The three leaflet paintings are again by his dear Rita.

7-minute 'Waves' is beautifully serene, classically oriented, moody and Finnish-sounding opener featuring e.g. Laura Hynninen's harp, cello and Tapani Rinne's soprano sax. Very peaceful all the way compared to many Pohjola classics, and for that exact reason a nice addition to his catalogue. 'The Red Porche' originally written in 1993 for a stage play on Charles Bukowski, is exceptionally a funky, good humoured SONG with lyrics (vocals by Sami Saari, Kim Lönnholm and Pemo Ojala). My darling said it reminded her of the Ghostbusters song! There's also the certain FRANK ZAPPA-like wit in this well done performance. You gotta like it if you firstly accept such unexpectable move from Pekka Pohjola.

'Metropolitan' (14:05) is an elegant, many-coloured composition with elements reminding of American (Las Vegas style) entertainment music. There are strings, horns, reeds and a pretty unspectacular synth backing, but placed in an elegant manner along the way, ie. not building too massive sound layers. Not among the finest or the most original music he ever wrote, but very pleasant.

The title track (7:34) is also rather mellow; the sound is very fresh and suitably light. It is notably less adventurous or crescendo-like than several Pohjola classics, but enjoyable. You don't always need such virtuosity or dynamics! The final track 'Us' (11:32) ought to have some more power in order to save the album from being too toothless. Yes, especially the brass brings some spine, and the distinctive bass in the middle is an unmistakable Pekka Pohjola moment. Again, not necessarily among the greatest Pohjola compositions ever, but very good and easy to enjoy. This concerns the whole album that indeed has a wide scattering of ratings. It leaves me with a positive feeling, hence four stars.

 Pewit by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.88 | 38 ratings

Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Here's the first review for the second last of PEKKA POHJOLA's studio albums. The core band was his longest-living one, from 1992 to 2002: maestro himself plays only bass (except keyboards on 'the Great Knight of the Rock'), accompanied by Seppo Kantonen (p, keyb), Markku Kanerva (g) and Anssi Nykänen (dr). 'Toy Rock' features also three saxophonists, and 'Ordinary Music' a string sextet. Percussionist Mongo Aaltonen appears on two tracks. No compression was used with this album (=the silent moments are even more silent and the louder moments louder). Pewit is 62 minutes long, almost half an hour longer than several of his early classics; quality naturally always comes before quantity, but the length makes the listener more forgiving towards the least favourite moments.

The opener 'Rita' (11:23), named after Pekka's then new love, can be listed as one of the great Pohjola classics, as it grows from delicate simplicity to majestic heights. The beautiful melody, the emotional depth, the superb dynamics and the compositional full circle... they're all here. 'Melkein' (13:47) also has marvelous melodic sections, but I don't enjoy the idiotic stomp! stomp! sections. The better parts, featuring e.g. synth soloing, are lovely. 'Pewit' starts delicately with an accordion-sounding keyboard, piano and acoustic guitar, joined soon by bass and drums; the music grows gradually in a familiar Pohjola style, and the electric guitar carries the gorgeous melody like in a STEVE HACKETT number.

'The Great Knight...' has a separate, long piano intro full of Rachmaninoff-like romanticism, while the band piece unfortunately features a very naive, tivoli-type joyful approach that I don't like. I can't understand why the equally joyful 'Toy Rock' has a 40-second intro of just intendedly poorer sonic quality. Here are the mentioned saxophones, and the groove gets quite wild at times, but truly not my cup of tea.

The 19-minute 'Ordinary Music' is a totally unpredictable musical journey featuring even some atonal experimenting. It's a difficult and perhaps a bit disjointed but still quite interesting piece of UNordinary music. All in all, Pewit is an album of big contrasts and dynamics, most likely spellbinding the listener with certain moments and annoying him/her with some others. 3½ stars rounded up for all the musical bravery and a good leaflet layout with Rita Hartwig's paintings.

 Visitation by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.12 | 169 ratings

Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars PEKKA POHJOLA's fourth album Visitation is regarded by many as his finest, "the true musical fruition his early albums had clearly promised" (Robert Silverstein's liner notes, originally on Warner's CD re-release, unimaginatively circulated also on Svart Records' recent vinyl gatefold release). I personally prefer the debut Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva (1972), but this one indeed is more energetic and modern, more virtuotic and bold, sonically more brilliant, and it contains both the guitar that was absent on the debut and the woodwind/brass that was absent on the Oldfield-collaboration Keesojen Lehto (1977). One sad thing is the shorness of this album: 32 minutes.

I'm not going to argue against all the hype, but much of the music is not exactly up to my taste, not the Pohjola style I'm fond of; it's slightly too sharp and brassy at the cost of the more introspective & emotional side, with the clearest exception in the lovely closing tune 'Try to Remember'. I openly admit that my fourth star is more objective than subjective, but no less deserved anyway: anyone declaring Visitation a masterpiece is absolutely right, at least if (s)he truly loves it personally.

Only six tracks in total, why not some words on each. 'Strange Awakening' has a great sound especially in the beginning featuring an echoed piano, and the soprano sax solo by Pekka Pöyry is awesome as is the outstanding bass near the end, but as a composition per se it could be a bit less repetitive. 'Vapour Trails' is very adrenalin-dosed jazz rocker in which guitarist Seppo Tyni (Pohjola's bandmate from The Group) takes the leading role.

'Image...' has a semi-melancholic depth which is occasionally buried in the guitar/brass-heavy arrangement; with more elegant and introspective approach throughout the track I'd enjoy it even more, but those fond of virtuoso playing will find a lot to enjoy here. Very bold and rhythmic 'Dancing in the Dark' is my least fave track, graced by e.g. Markku Johansson's trumpet solo. Guitar is again unnecessarily loud. 'The Sighting' opens interestingly without guitars and percussion but the arrangement becomes again quite heavy. Aale Lindgren's oboe is a nice detail in it.

Finally the intimate and introspective side takes over in the beginning of the marvelous 'Try to Remember': this would also function as an example of a masterful and extremely rich arrangement. It features the woodwinds and strings of The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Here the various instruments are not climbing on each other's neck as on the more hectic tracks, instead the arrangement has several phases using different instruments. A masterpiece combining the emotion, virtuosity and grandiosity, and one of the finest Pekka ever composed. Risto Kurkinen's cover drawing is not as good as on Keesojen Lehto, but it definitely works better on the vinyl format.

 Keesojen Lehto [Aka: The Mathematician's Air Display; The Consequences Of Indecisions] by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.73 | 107 ratings

Keesojen Lehto [Aka: The Mathematician's Air Display; The Consequences Of Indecisions]
Pekka Pohjola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The four earliest PEKKA POHJOLA albums have recently been re-released on gatefold sleeve vinyl by Svart Records. This is the third one, probably the best known internationally because it's a collaboration with MIKE OLDFIELD (producer, guitars). All music is composed by Pohjola however. Relistening to it now made me think that it's musically not as strong as the other three albums. Sadly so, since Oldfield is among my favourites from the 70's. Maybe this once-in-a-lifetime collaboration of two musical geniuses wasn't so harmonic musically as one would have hoped it to be. Of course Pekka did participate in Mike's concerts a couple of years later (double live album Exposed, 1979), but no more studio collaborations followed.

'Oivallettu matkalyhty' (The Perceived Journey Lantern) features Pohjola's bandmates Georg Wadenius (g), Wlodek Gulkowsi (synth) and Vesa Aaaltonen (dr) from MADE IN SWEDEN, curiously not Oldfield, even if it wasn't among the pieces that were initially recorded in Stockholm before the invitation to make an album in Mike's countryside home studio. It is an interesting, guitar-centred piece, but relatively hard-edged and cold, missing the certain Pohjola magic -- which comes very much alive in the second track 'Kädet suoristavat veden' (Hands Straighten the Water). In it Pohjola's bass, piano, harpsichord and string-syntheziser is accompanied by Mike on guitar and his sister Sally Oldfield on ethereal background vocalising. The harpsichord-led intro circulates the heartfelt melody familiar from WIGWAM's 'Pride of the Biosphere' (on Being, 1974). The slightly too dominant electric guitar in the end adds the Oldfield flavour.

Side A is finished by 'Matemaatikon lentonäytös' (The Mathematician's Air Display, also the album title of the Virgin release; the original release was naturally from Love Records). Pekka on bass and keyboards, Mike on guitars, plus Pierre Moerlen (GONG) on drums. In Pekka Pohjola's biography it's said that the recording of drums isn't very succesful, and if you pay attention to them you'll probably agree; they do sound quite blurred. The crescendo composition itself is an outstanding Pohjola classic.

The majority of the B side is nearly 16-minute, two-part 'Pääntaivuttelun seuraukset' (The Consequences of Head Bending). By the way, the titles were invited by the Finnish singer-songwriter Hector, whereas on earlier Pohjola albums it had been Mats Huldén, ex-Wigwam. There's interesting progression in this piece, but here and there, especially in the beginning, it feels rather lifeless and academically dry. Gulkowski's synth solo is nice. Both guitarists appear on this track but their styles are easily identified; the Oldfield solo backed also by Moerlen's bells is a highlight.

The 2-minute closer 'Varjojen varaslähtö' (False Start of the Shadows) is a humourous little piece, again featuring Sally's voice. Mike plays mandolin and whistle -- the latter makes me a bit annoyed. As usual, the musical jokes are not so interesting on repeated listening. The cover art by Risto Kurkinen is great. This is a classic album I'd really want to enjoy more, but it's not completely succesful in my opinion, and it's only 35 minutes long. Therefor only three stars.

 Visitation by POHJOLA, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.12 | 169 ratings

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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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