I posted this once long ago, actually 6 and a half years ago, truly a lifetime in the days of parenting youngsters. At that time I mentioned it was one of my favourite fusion albums due to a long-standing predilection for the amalgamation of classical or chamber music with jazz. Well, briefly let's go over it again and start with the ingredients that make up the recipe for this haute cuisine.
Juhani Aaltonen (born December 12, 1935 in Kouvola, Finland) is a Finnish jazz musician (tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, flute), strongly influenced by the later Coltrane. Aaltonen has been active since the 1950's and has worked with Heikki Rosendahl, Eero Koivistoinen, Edward Vesala, UMO, Arild Andersen and Heikki Sarmanto among others.
A quick search on my blogger console shows he was involved or mentioned in connection with the following outstanding albums posted in these pages in the past: Kalevala Orchestra, Heikki Sarmanto, and my old favourite Pettersson. As a solo artist however I have heard all of his work until and including the 1989 work but I cannot say I really enjoyed any of it with the exception of the ECMish and occasionally atonal Etiquette, from 1974. Next:
Finnish musician, composer and arranger. Born on November 16, 1939 in Tampere, Finland, died on June 27, 2013 in Pietarsaari, Finland. In 1966 he founded Love Records with Christian Schwindt and Atte Blom. He had also worked as a chairman of the Finnish composers' copyright society Teosto.
OK-- founder of Love Records, clearly a musical genius here. Notice he was also involved with Pettersson and moreover, played on the amazing Linkola work Proto-Funk. In his group the Otto Donner Treatment, he made two stunning fusion/modern classical music masterpieces everyone should know.
So let's combine these two geniuses and add in some Finnish supporting musicians of the highest calibre and training and we pretty much know we can't go wrong on this release-- nor do we, ever. You will see that Donner is responsible for the compositions. Also note that this has been reissued a few times, including to CD, though what I will present below is a vinyl rip. Some of the compositions are decidedly atonal indeed, such as the A2 Saxballad obviously an extempore by Aaltonen (and highly typical of his solo records), but two-thirds of the way through, a gorgeously cloud-like string section flies in and takes the song out to the cumulo-sphere (as it were) with some very tasty and enjoyable harmonies, as if in an Elon Musk Space rocket that for once fails to blow up, or a sweet saccharine diatonic taste to make palatable the quinine-tonic alkaloidal atonal. And then, for some very brief but heavenly moments-- we're weightless in the outer space of music...
Throughout the record the string section is very much in prominence as guaranteed by the title, the template being perhaps some of the classic (in the sense of well-known and prestigious) arranged jazz albums of which of course there were so many back in the sixties and going all the way back to the seminal Charlie Parker with Strings. (Incidentally, that Stan Getz album he mentions on that page, called Focus, and recorded way back in 1961, is a big favourite of mine too, and clearly, also a template for what was planned here. Although my biggest favourite has always been Chas. Mingus' Let my Children Hear Music,which I've mentioned many times before...)
Obviously, though, as I've stated so often before, bringing in the European classical music education into the recipe, like a michelin chef using the freshest produce, is what really took it far, far beyond any of the previous American attempts at fusing all the human 'musics' together into one cohesive whole. The track I mentioned earlier as my favourite, the very poetically entitled My Next and Only Love (a tribute to the old standard My One and Only Love):
We have never, I repeat never, scaled the auditory art heights these artists did back then, back in 1976, in my opinion.
It's like the question often asked of physicists by children today, is there an Einstein alive today, active in the science community? And the answer of course is No-- at least not yet, followed by, you may turn out to be that next Einstein. Of course, not to discourage those poor kids, there probably won't be anyone to rival Newton and Einstein for another hundred years or so probably...
Finally, to summarize the other recommended albums that are related or similar:
Stan Getz - Focus (1961)
Otto Donner Treatment's 1970 album
and 1980, with Jukka Linkola:
Juhani Aaltonen's Etiquette (1974)
Kalevala Orchestra (1978)
Jukka Linkola's Proto-Funk (1979)
Petri Pettersson's XXX (1979)
Heikki Sarmanto 1989