1970, Finlands now late, great music icon Pekka Pohjola began
to pave the way for the unfolding popularity of symphonic instrumental
jazz-rock fusion in Finland. Although he tragically died at the end
of 2008, Pohjola would have appreciated Untold Stories,
the 2016 CD by Finnish jazz-rock guitarist Jartse Tuominen.
Released by the Germany-based Mig Music, Jartses CD is filled
with scintillating instrumental fusion that tastefully combines a
distilled 21st century jazz-rock with that Neoclassical, symphonic
Finnish classical instrumental rock sound that made Pekka Pohjola
such a vital, yet overlooked composer / innovator. Speaking about
the international flavor of his latest album, Jartse tells mwe3.com
"Ive always been huge fan of Al Di Meola, Pat Metheny,
Steve Morse, John McLaughlin, Joe Satriani etc. Seems like rock-jazz
is coming back finally, with a bunch of great new bands all over the
world playing rock-jazz, so I really hope it will find its way for
bigger audience." Untold Stories is actually Jartses
fifth solo album. On hand is Pohjolas late-period drummer Anssi
Nykänen (sharing percussion chores with Brannen Temple),
Harri Rantanen and Steve Bernal (both bass) and Pekka
Siistonen (keys). In the spirit of Pekka Pohjola, Jartse often
sprinkles his symphonic jazz-rock fusion sound with traces of musical
humourcase in point here
track six Trouble Shuffle. Recorded in both Finland and
Texas, Untold Stories is an all-around instrumental jazz-rock
fusion masterpiece by Finnish guitar wiz Jartse Tuominen. www.jartse.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
The Untold Stories interview
Can you tell us where youre from originally and where you live
now and what you like best about it? What are your favorites cities
and countries to perform in and / or visit?
Jartse Tuominen: Im from Finland , but Ive been
living in San Antonio Texas the last 18 years So Im going back
and forth all the time. I like to perform everywhere, it doesnt
matter what country or city it is. Im really lucky that people
come to listen to my shows. It feels so good that you can see the
audience is as much into music as we are.
mwe3: Being from Finland, what can you tell us about Finnish
music and who were your biggest musical heroes growing up? I was thinking
Pekka Pohjola was among the first and greatest jazz-rock composers
in Finland and all of Europe during the 1970s and 80s. Was Pohjola
an influence on you and being that he was, in turn, also influenced
by Finnish composers such as Sibelius, were the Finnish classical
composers an influence on your music too? Pekka also featured some
great guitarists (from Mike Oldfield to Seppo Tyni) in his music,
who are your favorite Finnish jazz-rock fusion guitarists? Did you
meet Pekka Pohjola or his band members?
Jartse Tuominen: When I grew up, I was listening to more to
guitarists from the USA and England. Of course, Pekka Pohjola was
and still is one of my heroes, Anssi Nykänen, who plays drums
on my albums, played years with Pekka also. I met Pekka few times
he was great guy. Pekka Tyni is another great Finnish musician. There
is a lot of amazing guitarists in Finland, so its really hard
to say who is my favorite. Finland is a small country but full of
great players. Sibelius of course, is a huge influence for all musicians
in Finland. We got Sibelius music from our mothers milk when
we were born! (lol)
mwe3: Would you say your music is even more greatly influenced
by the American jazz and rock legends and who were your other big
guitar influences when it comes to your playing and writing? What
do you think of the current jazz-rock instrumental music scene and
is it ripe for your kind of music? Its all timing!
Jartse Tuominen: Yes it is
Ive always been huge
fan of Al Di Meola, Pat Metheny, Steve Morse, John McLaughlin, Joe
Satriani etc. Seems like rock-jazz is coming back finally, with a
bunch of great new bands all over the world playing rock-jazz, so
I really hope it will find its way for bigger audience.
mwe3: What is the inside story on your 2016 CD release Untold
Stories and how does it compare, soundwise and compositionally,
with your earlier releases? When did you to write and record the music
for Untold Stories and how did you start working with MIG Music
in Germany? I noticed the CD is also being made available in the US
through MVD distribution, which is great. Are your other albums still
available on CD as well and why havent we heard your other albums
Tuominen: I did a way too much studio work for other people last
ten years, and one day I woke up and understood that I havent
done anything for my self. So I called the guys and asked if they
wanted to make some music with me. The deal with MIG helped a lot
too. Ive got great team to helping me out, so it was time to
make some noise. Untold Stories is the first CD I mixed and
mastered by my self, it will never happen again! (lol)
Its so much easier produce some one elses music. But I
think thats why Untold sounds more like me
know if its good or bad thing. Some songs on the CD I wrote in the
late 1990s but most of them are written 2010-2014. The song
Yeah Right, I wrote for Anssi. I just wanted to check
out how he would play on it and he did amazing job again, on that
song intro, all the bars are different. Im really happy with
my older CDs too. The guys did a great job with the Time Of Change
(2005, Rockadillo) CD also. Progressive was recorded 1991.
Its still good album. Northern Lights was recorded in
1992. Northern Lights has 9 tracks with vocals.
I was looking for new label and friend of mine contacted MIG for me
and after first meeting them, I really liked the way they handled
business. My earlier CDs are on sale at Amazon also. I wish
you had heard them, but its never too late! (lol)
mwe3: Tell us about the band you recorded Untold Stories
with. For example, Pekka Pohjolas 1990s era drummer
Anssi Nykänen is playing drums on several tracks here but you
also have another drummer Brannen Temple, do they share the drumming
chores? How did you assemble the musicians on Untold Stories and
who is in your current band that you tour with?
Tuominen: Anssi Nykänen on drums, Harri Rantanen on bass,
Pekka Siistonen on keys are my Finnish team. Brannen Temple on drums
and Steve Bernal on bass. Ive been playing with Anssi since
the late 1980s and is on three of my CDs and he is just
an amazing guy/drummer Pekka Siistonen has been playing in my band
since 2005, and he is on my Time Of Change album also. Harri
and Anssi are the most used rhythm section in Finland, so it was great
that Harri had a chance to play on the new CD also as he is an amazing
Brannen and Steve are in my band in Texas. Im so lucky to play
with those guys. Brannen plays with everyone in USA, like Robben Ford,
Eric Johnson etc, so he is a busy man.
Brannen and Steve are playing with me in the USA and in Finland the
band is Rami Eskelinen on drums (Trio Töykeät, Gill Evans,)
Pekka Siistonen on keys and Jari Heino on bass. Best of the bests
in Finland! Joeri Hommerson is on bass on some European shows.
mwe3: Were the Untold Stories tracks recorded live with
the band in the same studio or was there a lot of on location recording
for example with other musicians in other studios? I saw the album
was recorded in both Pori, Finland and in Texas. Tell us about the
Texas connection on Untold Stories. Is this your favorite way
of recording and what are the differences in the recording studios
of Finland and the US?
Jartse Tuominen: Unfortunately no
we had to record it
in different countries. Anssi and Harri did drums and bass at Sunset
studios in Pori, Finland. I was on skype, but I didnt have to
say a word what they were doing, they just nailed it. I recorded drums
and bass at Salmon Peak studios San Antonio with Brannen and Steve.
Pekka did keys at his home studio and I did everything else in my
home studio in San Antonio
it worked out pretty well actually,
but Id rather play everything at same time in studio with live
band. I think working at studios is pretty much the same everywhere.
I really do enjoy studio work.
mwe3: Do you consider the music on Untold Stories to
be very Finnish in origin? Can we discuss a few tracks here? For example,
track 4 Time To Go is a great anthemic track with a strong
melody that Pekka Pohjola fans would love. Are some of the tracks
more melodic in nature while others are more heavy fusion? Do the
heavy jazz melodies represent the strong Finnish connection in your
music? Seems like Untold Stories has a great mix of both the
melodic and the heavy jazz.
Jartse Tuominen: I think some of the song has a lot of Finnish
melancholia. We are melancholic people! (lol) Actually I wrote Time
To Go for my friend who killed her self. Not such a beautiful
story behind the song. When I write songs, melodies just comes into
my head. I dont really have to compose them that much. One of
those weird but good things
Some one told me that you can hear
even some Finnish folk music in my melodies
How about track 8, Nine Lives? That has a great circular
like Bolero melodic idea. Is that one of your favorite tracks to play
live and what else can you say about Nine Lives? Do you
have a cat? (the 9 lives punJ)
Jartse Tuominen: Thank you sir! I think its kind of a
cool riff, and a 9/8 time signature. It has little cat-ish mood. Its
a funny song to play alive. A lot of jamming
Yes I do have a
cat named Boogie, and a dog called Mesa of course! I guess my next
pet will be Gibson! (lol)
mwe3: What can you tell us about your Gibson guitars? What
guitars are you playing on Untold Stories and how has your
choice of guitars changed over the years? Do you have an endorsement
deal with Gibson guitars and also Mesa /Boogie as far as amps go?
How about picks and strings, do you have favorites? Do you consider
yourself a gear head?
Jartse Tuominen: Gibson makes just perfect guitars, I cant
get that tone out of any other guitar. Im playing 2012 Gibson
Les Paul on the CD
its an amazing guitar! I used to play
a custom Jackson, and that is still a great guitar also. Yes, I do
have an endorsement deal with Gibson, and Mesa/Boogie. Dreams come
true deals. I use Jim Dunlop pics and DAddario strings. Ive
been using them for the last 20 years
No, I dont really consider myself a gear head. The only effect
that I use is old 1960s Vox wah pedal, its noisy though.
I play straight into the amp. With the Les Paul and Mesa, I dont
really need any pedals.
mwe3: Do you like injecting humor into your music while keeping
the heaviness? I noted track 6, Trouble Shuffle has a
fun groove thing going on that combines a kind of rootsy and bluesy
groove. I guess people crave some humor in their music somehow! Do
Finns have a good sense of humor?
Tuominen: Yes! Heh-heh, there is a lot of jokes on the album.
I just like little musical jokes. Trouble Shuffle is one
of them. Ive never heard anyone doing blues which goes into
7/8 and 9/8 before. You can hear there are little licks from Steve
Ray, BB, Ritchie Blackmore and few others. Funny thing is that a lot
of people think that it is just another blues. I like to have little
jokes here and there and most of time no one gets them, but that makes
the jokes even better. I can imagine some one dancing to Trouble
Shuffle and it then goes 7/8, so odd timing might be little
challenge for dancing . Its good to have some humor in music.
We Finns do have weird sense of humor, its really dry.
mwe3: How about acoustic guitars? Track 7, Untold
has some acoustic playing on it. Its a great deep track that
adds in some excellent electric work too. What can you tell us about
Jartse Tuominen: Thank you. I play a lot of acoustic guitar
also. I just like the sound of the nylon string guitar. Steel strings
acoustics also of course. I do most of my practicing with acoustic
guitar. Untold was one of those songs I just had to write
out. The song has kind of dreaming vibes, there is always hope, I
do have radio J in my head though.
mwe3: Tell us about your musical plans for the rest of 2016
and into 2017. Now that Untold Stories continues making inroads
into the jazz-rock music world, I hope you can plan on recording and
releasing another album as good as Untold Stories same time
Tuominen: Plans are touring in Europe and USA, We just had to
reschedule Germany / Benelux tour few months ahead, there will more
shows. Im working on new CD also, which will be out late 2017
or early 2018.