A Finnish Feast: Hundreds of Free Songs from Earth's Least Corrupt Country
Three live tracks from the 2004 Pori Jazz Festival and other songs
"The Blues Lady Of Finland," who's from the small central Finland town of Kuopio, opened for Bonnie Raitt at the 2003 Puistoblues Festival and has drawn comparisons to the famed U.S. singer. The three songs here (a link to a fourth is broken) feature that modern country/blues element, and are a good showcase for Lyytinen's gritty vocals and slide guitar (the former being more accomplished and personable than the latter). "High G" features a somber tale shifting between understated and upbeat, "Long Ago" possesses an ascending quality and "Maybe" is a slower reflective blues with a long but not overly original guitar solo. The other four band members are solid, but nothing one won't hear in plenty of similar groups. Offering well-recorded live tracks is a definite plus since even common solos gets the extra energy frequently lacking in the more restrictive atmosphere of a studio. There's also four free songs performed with the band Dave's Special at and an alternate "Long Ago" at the 2004 SXSW Music Festival web site.
Pasi K. And Hurmos
Two songs and three live performance videos
The two short songs (use the "Ã„äninäytteitä" link) are Finnish folk, not jazz, but good examples of the genre and make it easy to picture them doing an afternoon park concert during Keitelejazz. But the videos (the "Videoita" link) are a better bet, both musically and because of the ability to watch a loose and informal group at work.
Video of "Aijo"
This female trio-led group is pop, not jazz, but since they were a featured Keitelejazz act and probably best appreciated by sight as well as sound this video is worth mentioning. It's a step above typical Euro pop thanks to some traditional folk instrumentation elements countering lyrics that get rather primitive and savage in tone at times (a plus). Better than most for a quick sample of the popular Finnish music scene.
I am not generally a fan of the huge wasteland of free electronic/experimental albums floating around the net because they tend to be giveaways for good reason. But this indie Helsinki band has a "what the heck is this" quality in a positive sense. Long moody ambiance, quick and humorous sonic battles, modern ethnic and more are jumbled in here. Some is more jarring than pleasing, so a pick-and-choose approach may be necessary. A nice touch is most of the albums are available by the song or in a .zip format, allowing surfers to audition a piece and then download the whole collection if it's to their liking. Also, while I don't recommend many videos, their 80MB animated "Karaoke" is a hip and humorous six-minute Star-Wars-Cantina-Meets-Akbar-And-Jeff diversion worth streaming once, if not necessarily downloading.
Three songs by pianist/composer Heikki Sarmanto
Sarmanto, one of Finland's jazz pioneers, asked May to record some of his compositions in Spanish, backed by the Finnish Tapiola Sinfonietta ensemble, according to May's web site. These songs are of the melancholy showtune/folk variety, with May's low vocals coming in delicate and even. A decent listen for those into strings and Streisand - no sarcasm intended - but nothing that makes these compositions feel groundbreaking.