Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Jukka Linkola Octet's Proto-Funk from 1979

I must repeat how lucky I am to have such friends spread widely over the world, who can introduce me to artists and recordings I would be utterly unfamiliar with were it not for them.  It's hard enough trying to find new material with a tiny self-imposed budget of about 300 dollars a month plus whatever paypal and ebay (those collusive thieves) deign to give me from vinyl sales, as we know, one record alone can use up my entire monthly GNP.  And then of course there are the undeniable needs of both young children and wives (of which I have only had one, actually, so far), who complain about the abuse of a household budget for the purpose of humoring a hobby that might as well be collecting battlestar galactica figurines or cabbage patch kids from the eighties in her terms of comprehension, for whenever I play something new to her I receive either one of two stock answers depending on the last one employed:
"Isn't that the same record you played me last week?"
or my personal favourite:
"Aren't you just buying the same record over and over again without realizing it?"
The fact that she doesn't remember repeating these same two sentences to me so many times should, of course, worry both of us, but rarely does, perhaps because the female tendency to repeat phrases is never really called into question within the household.  Good luck to the man who does attempt this feat.  But if the case were instead that my hobby consisted in buying new shoes (womens or mens) every week, this story would be entirely different…  So much so that this blog could actually have made me a millionaire as I review, like so many other stupid fashion blogs, what I've bought this week beside ads for the latest John Varvatos shoes and Paul Smith suits… rather than hunting for a record that fewer than a hundred people in a world of seven billion care about…

Back to the friends.  It's impossible to keep on top of what we are trying to do: resuscitate the lost musical treasures from the past decades of rock history, from all over the world, no country excepted, to assess what's worthy of preservation.  So I am eternally grateful that there are others to help me who will send material they find that is extraordinary and worth hearing.  This is a labor of love from beginning to end.  Also a labor of time, which I have in short supply, unlike the love for music, which I have in endless supply.  And um, love for my wife which is even more limitless.  Oh yes it's wonderful to share a home and a computer with her.  That there is a proviso-- not to share this music publicly, only to one's closest friends, does make it occasionally bittersweet, but I know that eventually the best music will make it out to the fresh air it deserves to breathe.

This particular record-- is just incredible, and it belongs to the friend who has already shared with us Carita Holmstrom, the astonishing progressive songwriter Petri Pettersson-- for me one of the greatest discoveries of the last two years-- and other Jukka Linkola albums including the magnificent ballet Banana which was posted on the old prognotfrog site-- and which I believe still is his masterpiece.  Amazing he created it when he was only 21!  TS tells me the link is still active there for those who are curious.

Here you will find some amazing fusion, chamber composition, intensity and energy, coming from the genius composer's hand.  The whole album uses an ancient Greek theme, although it's entirely instrumental, with such references as dithyrambos (a style of poem) and athmos (I remember from Univ. it means breath or soul, because it's the cognate of Indian or sanskrit atman and French 'ame', in fact, the English word breath probably derives from the first part of atman.  I read in a recent review article that there is still fierce disagreement, even though molecular genetics and new statistical analyses were hoping to clear up the issue, about who those Indo-Europeans were, who spread their language over all of Europe and half of Asia about 5000-8000 years ago.)

Notice in the discography he made two other albums with this lineup, one called "Lady in Green" in 1982 (which I haven't heard yet) and another called "Scat Suite" from 1983 which I have heard, and I can relate to you that it is far more jazzy and far less satisfying, as you'd expect, for by this time fusion was on the way out all over the world.

When you have a look at the man's biography and discography (sans octet), you can see he was quite prolific. The album he made in 1980 with Otto Donner is highly recommended for the progressive fan, being similar almost to a weaker Samla Mammas Manna album.  It's called "Kuinka Myöhään Valvoo Blues?"

As a sample track I will present to you the first, Proto-Funk, which is a perfect representative of the remainder.  Sit back, turn it up loud, and think of how happy and beautiful the musical world was back then-- 35 years in the past, half a lifetime ago, and thank my friend, who knew enough to introduce us to this lost album.

From the back, I will reproduce most of the blurb:

This album is long overdue.  Jukka Linkola Octet, the little big band of comtemporary jazz, has paid its dues.  The group received particular attention at the Pori Jazz Festival 1978, where the Octet played engagingly both by itself and together with several internationally established musicians in the heated jam-sessions of the festival.

And now here is the first album of the JLO, filled with fire and sensitivity seldom heard even in live appearances.  Just listen to the intense but controlled power of the opening selection PROTOFUNK, the misty awakening optimistic rise of MORNING SONG, and the variable rhythms and moods of the DITHYRAMBOS suite.

As a composer, Linkola has been compared to Chick Corea.  Though there are similarities, this music is pure Linkola consisting of material whose originator knows his musicians and their abilities perfectly.  Do I dare compare him to Duke Ellington?  Anyway Linkola sure knows how to use the innumerable possibilities of sound combinations offered by his multitalened reed and brassmen...

by Jaakko Tahkolahti

To be honest, comparisons to Duke or Chick are inappropriate, he is completely unique as a European composer.



    thanks to those friends...

  2. really my love nice music...the rhythm is out of space!!!

  3. listening to this at the moment...Nice Album...Thanks goes out to you and your Friends !

  4. Jukka Linkola Octet - Lady In Green (1982)
    Hi-Hat HILP-155

  5. oh wow, thanks, at the time I wrote this I had not heard the Lady in Green, but my friend sent me his rip a couple of days back...