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Pekka Pohjola

Jussi Pekka Pohjola was a Finnish multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer. Best known as a bass player, Pohjola was also a classically trained pianist and violinist. Originally Pohjola rose to fame as the bass player of the Finnish progressive rock band Wigwam, but he soon departed on a solo career, initially releasing Frank Zappa-nfluenced progressive rock albums. As his career progressed Pohjola developed a more novel musical style that could best be described as fusion jazz. In addition to Wigwam and his solo albums, Pohjola also played with Made in Sweden, The Group and the bands of Jukka Tolonen and Mike Oldfield.

Pohjola belonged to one of the most prominent music families in Finland. Conductor Sakari Oramo is Pohjola's cousin.

Pohjola studied classical piano and violin at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. After a stint with The Boys (the seminal Finnish band led by brothers Eero and Jussi Raittinen), he joined Wigwam in 1970, contributing on two of their albums before leaving the group in 1972 to pursue a solo career (although Pohjola did again contribute on Wigwam's Being in 1974). Pohjola's first solo album Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva (English: Resin Eye Bark Ear), released 1972, bears notable resemblance to the works of Frank Zappa. After leaving Wigwam Pohjola also played with the Jukka Tolonen Band for a short time. In 1974 his second solo album, Harakka Bialoipokku (English: Bialoipokku the Magpie), was released in Finland. The album saw Pohjola's sound developing to a more distinctive direction, with heavy usage of trumpets, saxophones and piano. The somewhat jazz-influenced album piqued the interest of Virgin Records executive Richard Branson enough to release it in the United Kingdom the following year under the name B the Magpie.

By the request of Virgin, Pohjola teamed up with Mike Oldfield to record and produce his third solo album, released in 1977 in Finland as Keesojen Lehto (English: Grove of the Keeso) and in the UK as Mathematician's Air Display. The album was later rereleased under the name The Consequences Of Indecisions and credited to Oldfield instead of Pohjola. Oldfield was impressed enough with Pohjola to ask him join him on his 1978 tour. As a result Pohjola can also be heard on Oldfield's live album Exposed, released 1979. In 1978 Pohjola formed The Group, who released a self-titled album the same year. In 1979, Pohjola released Visitation, his fourth solo album. All of Pohjola's solo albums from the 70s had exhibited fantasy influences, but these were undoubtedly strongest on Visitation.

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Remembering Pekka Pohjola

Read "Remembering Pekka Pohjola" reviewed by Anthony Shaw

Regarded by all as the finest bass guitarist ever to come out of Finland, and a composer who inspired a whole generation of late twentieth century Finnish musicians, Pekka Pohjola died near Helsinki on November 27 2008, aged 56. Although he lived his last years far from the lime-lights which he frequented in the 1970s and 80s, he is revered by many Europeans of his generation as a scion of the music for which his country has long been famous--dark, ...

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