Sep 10 2015

CoCo’s back


After our extended spring tour the Contemporary Collective took a deserved summer break and  returns now fresh and rested – and crazy as ever – to the stage with a nice concert coming up in Helsinki, next week on Thursday, September 17th.
The jaZZanti-concert series takes place in the wood-paneled surroundings of the Laulumiehet hall. I played there the last time when we premiered my piano concerto. (If you want to have a listen there’s some excerpts on YouTube.)

Next, the band will take a leap across the Baltic pond to visit Berlin. On two consecutive nights, October 14th and 15th, we’ll play in the Neukölln club Sowieso, a place where otherwise heroes and legends like Brötzmann, Schlippenbach, Honsinger and Delius perform. – And now us!

And it doesn’t stop there, because in the same week we’ll visit the legendary Musiktage in Donaueschingen where we’ll play three shows on October 16th and 17th in the beautiful surrounding of the Museum Biedermann for contemporary art.
The Donaueschingen trip is in a way a return to the scene of crime, because this is the little town I grew up in, and the Musiktage hold a special place in my musical development.

Unforgettable memories include a soundcheck of Stockhausen’s ‘Michaels Reise um die Erde’ which I had managed to sneak into, where I ended up sitting next to the master at the mixing board in an otherwise empty hall, or a concert with the Radio symphony orchestra, conducted by Ernest Bour, in which the music was way beyond my limited understanding. Suddenly people started booing, shouting and leaving the hall. Asking my neighbour what had happened, I was told that there had been a major triad in the composition….

Now, for the Musiktage it will be time for a fresh wind coming straight out of Finland!
To get a taste you may want to watch one of the videos from our spring tour.
Looking forward to seeing you at one of our shows!

Aug 12 2015

Late summer 2015

After a summer that weatherwise didn’t happen (here in Finland), this late summer is showing itself from the prettiest side: sunny & warm with a gentle breeze of sea air streaming into Helsinki. Definitely a nice place to be!
And a lot is happening with the Helsinki Festival, the Flow Festival and the Viapori Jazz Festival starting these very days!

My own little contribution will be the official release concert of my new solo piano album ‘How Shall I Receive You’ on Saturday, August 22nd at 10 am in the Temppeliaukio Church.

How Shall I Receive You

The CD has been very warmly received; already before next weeks’s actual release 700 copies have been sold, which I guess is quite extraordinary in these days and times when CD sales are in a general decline. Yet I decided not to hop on the streaming-train, meaning I will not make any more CD’s available for streaming services like Spotify. Some of my albums are there and I noticed that I rather regret it as the services leave me with a feeling of being exploited.
If you are interested in my music there will always be some tracks on my YouTube-page to give you a taste and after that I will be happy to send you a copy of whichever CD you’d like to hear, straight to your home and at very little expense. Especially, if you compare it to the price of a cup of Starbuck’s coffee.

In fall there will be plenty of other opportunity to hear me live in the church (see the gig calendar). One very special recital will be on Thursday, October 22nd, when the great trumpeter Verneri Pohjola will join me for an evening concert in the church. We’ll bring some electronic gimmicks, too, and we’ll improvise our souls out. Welcome to listen!

And last, but definitely not least: the Contemporary Collective will open its fall season in Helsinki  at the jaZZanti club on September 17th, before conquering Germany in October.
As the saying goes: ‘…first we take Berlin, Sowieso, Oct 14th & 15th, then we’ll take the Musiktage Donaueschingen, Museum Biedermann, Oct 16th & 17th….’
Have a taste of CoCo:



I am happy and excited to announce my new solo piano album ‘How Shall I Receive You’ (SatnaMusic CD 151).
Recorded on March 2nd & 9th in the lovely acoustics of Temppeliaukio Church, playing on the church’s fantastic Steinway grand piano, I improvised on songs from the Finnish Book of Hymns.
Here is the ‘playlist’:


And here is a little video clip from the second evening of  recordings:

I hope you’ll enjoy!
The recording will be available from the usual sources (iTunes etc.) starting September, but if you’d like to have a copy sent to you earlier, personally, maybe even with a signature and if you enjoy beautiful covers (this one again made by Maarit Kytöharju), then just send an email to info(at) and you can already spend the summer with this beautiful music.

All the best,

Federation tour poster

Now the dates are set and a fine tour it will be, indeed:
The Contemporary Collective will perform eleven concerts in eleven cities during thirteen days in May.
The Finnish Jazz Federation in co-operation with SatnaMusic has organized a tight schedule for us, and provides us with the luxury of a tour bus and a sound technician.
Being chosen for a jazz federation tour is a bit like winning a jackpot, when for once you don’t have to do it all by yourself. The jazz federation office takes care of travel arrangements and accomodation, there is a public relation office, Creatika, taking care of the promotion and what’s best: you even get paid in the end! (Thanks to the support of the ministry of culture and various cultural foundations!)

So, we’re very much looking forward to these concerts and we hope to see you there!

May 5th Contemporary Collective Akustiikka concert hall, Ylivieska
May 6th Contemporary Collective Validi Karkia-club, Pori library, Pori
May 7th Contemporary Collective Pitskun kulttuurikirkko, Helsinki
May 8th Contemporary Collective Flame Jazz, Café Tiljan, Turku
May 9th Contemporary Collective Philly Joe’s, Tallinn, Estonia
May 12th Contemporary Collective Music college concert hall, Kaustinen
May 12th Contemporary Collective Conservatory concert hall, Kokkola
May 13th Contemporary Collective Nurmes-talo, Nurmes
May 14th Contemporary Collective Conservatory concert hall, Joensuu
May 15th Contemporary Collective Music center, Kuopio
May 16th Contemporary Collective Pikkuteatteri, Lahti


solo piano       DSC01516

I spent two wonderful evenings with my favorite grand piano in my favorite hall recording new improvisations.
Since ‘Deep North’ in 1996 and ‘Reflections’ in 1997 I’ve only rarely done solo piano sessions. Even on my solo album ‘ONE’ (2011) the piano sections were part of a greater texture. (I layered a host of other exotic instruments over each other, starting from theremin and percussion to iPod and ukulele.)

Having played solo improvisation matinees in the Temppeliaukio Church on a weekly basis since 2001, with the 325. concert coming up in summer 2015, it was a natural thought to want to capture the atmosphere of this unique environment on a new CD.
In recent years I noticed more and more often while playing that fragments of hymns would occur to my improvising mind, melodies I would then incorporate into whatever texture happened to be going on at a given time.
On the occasion of my 250. concert I had once planned to play a new hymn every week, the songbook number of which would be corresponding to the number of the concert. After a while, however, I found this concept too restrictive, as it wouldn’t allow me to remain as thoughtless as possible, to just be listening impartially to the flow of music pouring out of my hands.

So, now it seemed time to delve again (and properly) into this large repertoire of wondrous, mystical melodies, the Book of Hymns.
When playing through the book, testing the songs for angles on how to mold and customize them, turn them into personal statements of mine, I noticed how deep-rooted this music was in my system.
I had never considered church music to play an important role in my musical development, having moved from the Beatles to Zappa already in my early teens, visiting the Donaueschinger Musiktage, listening to Stockhausen, Ligeti and Schlippenbach for the first time in my late teens.

Now reading the Finnish Book of Hymns I didn’t of course recognize any of the songs from their name, but when I played ‘Nyt tahdon käydä vastaan’ and realized it was the song I knew as ‘Wie soll ich Dich empfangen’ (‘Oh, how shall I receive thee’), I got touched very deeply in a sort of pre-conscious spot.
I started remembering how I went to church with my parents as a small child, I remembered the hall, the lights, the uncomfortable chairs (previously benches), even the smells of winter coats the people next to me were wearing came back to me, and how we kids were hushed back to the sacristy while the grown-ups listened to the oh, so long sermon.

So, there I sat last week, in this magnificent hall with this magnificent Steinway grand piano, relating to my childhood memories and these melodies that are clearly a part of it.
Only in retrospect I realize how emotional and somehow integrating the experience of this recording session was for me.

I love recording. I love the state of concentration that comes over me like a warm blanket when ‘the red light is on – tape running’.
I love the act of improvising, inventing different chords on the spot, adding little interplays and textures here and there.
I am grateful to the Temppeliaukio Church and its administration for allowing me to play my music there.

Love and gratefulness – this is essentially what was there to be captured on those evenings and I sincerely hope that it will come across on the recording as well, inviting you to be still with me, to just listen.

‘How Shall I Receive You’ (SatnaMusic CD 151) will be available by June 2015.