Untold Stories
(MIG Music / Sledgehammer)


In 1970, Finland’s 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, Jartse’s 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 "I’ve 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 Jartse’s fifth solo album. On hand is Pohjola’s 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 humour—case in point here being 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
Jartse Tuominen

The Untold Stories interview

: Can you tell us where you’re 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: I’m from Finland , but I’ve been living in San Antonio Texas the last 18 years So I’m going back and forth all the time. I like to perform everywhere, it doesn’t matter what country or city it is. I’m 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 it’s 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 mother’s 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? It’s all timing!

Jartse Tuominen: Yes it is… I’ve 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 haven’t we heard your other albums yet? lol

Jartse 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 haven’t 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. I’ve 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)

It’s so much easier produce some one else’s music. But I think that’s why Untold sounds more like me… I don’t know if its good or bad thing. Some songs on the CD I wrote in the late 1990’s 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. I’m 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. It’s 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 CD’s are on sale at Amazon also. I wish you had heard them, but it’s never too late! (lol)

mwe3: Tell us about the band you recorded Untold Stories with. For example, Pekka Pohjola’s 1990’s 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?

Jartse 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. I’ve been playing with Anssi since the late 1980’s and is on three of my CD’s 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 player.

Brannen and Steve are in my band in Texas. I’m 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 didn’t 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 I’d 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 don’t 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… maybe so.

mwe3: 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 it’s kind of a cool riff, and a 9/8 time signature. It has little cat-ish mood. It’s 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 can’t get that tone out of any other guitar. I’m 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 D’Addario strings. I’ve been using them for the last 20 years
No, I don’t really consider myself a gear head. The only effect that I use is old 1960’s Vox wah pedal, it’s noisy though. I play straight into the amp. With the Les Paul and Mesa, I don’t 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?

Jartse 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. I’ve 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 . It’s good to have some humor in music. We Finns do have weird sense of humor, it’s really dry.

mwe3: How about acoustic guitars? Track 7, “Untold” has some acoustic playing on it. It’s a great deep track that adds in some excellent electric work too. What can you tell us about that track?

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 next year!

Jartse Tuominen: Plans are touring in Europe and USA, We just had to reschedule Germany / Benelux tour few months ahead, there will more shows. I’m working on new CD also, which will be out late 2017 or early 2018.


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