Pekka Pohjola

bassist/ composer
pekka-pohjola

Kuva/ Photo: Taina Värri

Profile

Born1952
Death2008
Links

Pekka Pohjola (1952-2008) is without a doubt one of the greatest electric bass players in Europe. He studied classical piano and violin at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, all the while allowing his natural instincts to lead him to a career in rock 'n' roll. After a stint with The Boys, a pioneering group often compared to John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Pekka joined Wigwam in 1970, staying for four glorious years. Wigwam was one of the most influential Finnish bands in the Seventies, and apart from being quite succesful in Scandinavia they later became a cult band in England even before being signed by Virgin Records.

After leaving Wigwam Pekka did a lot of studio work and played a for a short time with the Jukka Tolonen Band and Made In Sweden. In 1977 Pekka formed The Group, recording their eponymous album in the same year. But most importantly, Pekka recorded his first critically acclaimed solo album, the delicious Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva, during his Wigwam days and his second (Harakka Bialoipokku, internationally known as B The Magpie) and third (The Mathematician's Air Display) albums were internationally released by Virgin Records.

Pekka's fourth solo album Visitation was released in 1979 and it was another big critical success. In 1980 The Group became Pekka Pohjola Group and they released the album Kätkävaaran Lohikäärme (The Dragon of Kätkävaara Mountain). The band toured extensively in Europe and Scandinavia in the early Eighties with different line-ups. Somewhere along the line the word Group was also dropped from the band's name, so that they became known collectively as Pekka Pohjola. Urban Tango (1982) was the first album released on his own Pohjola Records label, operated by Rockadillo. There followed some work with various television film music projects, one of them forming the basis for his album Jokamies, released in Finland in 1983. It was released in the USA and Germany under the title Everyman in early 1984. The album was an overnight success on progressive radio stations across North America. 

Space Waltz followed in 1985 and Flight Of The Angel in 1986, adding more converts to the legion of his loyal followers. However, in the late eighties Pekka got dissillusioned with the rock scene and disappeared for a couple of years to compose his first symphony. His Sinfonia no 1 with AVANTI! orchestra was premiered live in 1989 and was released on CD in 1990.

Pekka spent two years working on Changing Waters, which marked his majestic return to the recording scene as well as to the live circuit. His new band for the Changing Waters sessions featured Finnish top musicians Seppo Kantonen (keyboards), Markku Kanerva (guitar) and Anssi Nykänen (drums), who became his regular band. The CD was released in Finland in November 1992 and in Scandinavia, Germany and Switzerland in the Spring of 1993. In 1993 Pekka Pohjola played the band's first American shows in New York and Austin. In late September 1997 new studio album, called Pewit, was finally released after five years since Changing Waters came out.

In May 2001 Pekka Pohjola released Views, his first solo album in quite some time. Compared to his hard hitting rocked-out albums of the '80s, the sound on Views could be considered a toning down of the rock-solid guitar-based Pohjola sound boldly witnessed on '80s classics like Urban Tango and Space Waltz. Instead, the sophisticated harmonies on Views focuses on Pohjola's innate skills as a jazz and pop-classical composer-arranger. A number of musicians help take Pohjola's symphonic sound to the next level including long time Pohjola group members, keyboardist Seppo Kantonen and guitarist Markku Kanerva. With it's heavy accent on strings and brass arrangements, Views takes a good look back to Pohjola's trend-setting second album, released on Virgin in England back in '75 with the title B The Magpie.