Mr. Harmonica Jouko Kyhälä steps out from his work with worlds's top harmonica band Sväng, to make his first solo album with special guests. Kyhälä has the exquisite touch on his catchy original tunes and the trads. Guest stars grace the session and add richness to the sound: Piia Kleemola (violin), Pekka Lehti (bass), Janne Lappalainen from Värttinä (bouzoki) and Abdissa Assefa (percussion). Delightful joy of playing! 'I came to read historic documents about a great wedding that went on for days on end. All the music was played by a single musician, often a fiddler. I began to wonder what he played on the fifth day. I reckoned that he couldn't have mastered a program of hundreds of tunes to satisfy the publics' longing to dance. Finally I understood that a folk musician could improvise to produce a given dance forever. He knew the rhythms and the melodies so well that he quite simply just went on playing polska, mazurka or polka. He played music, not tunes! This record is about the things I feel are important in my folk music: the joy of playing, the freedom of creating, improvisation and spontaneous reactions to the music making of others. I want to hear what people discover at the very moment they play music. I want to hear what they come up with on the fifth day of a party. I didn't arrange the other musicians' music beforehand, because I wanted to hear each time a fresh version by each player. The CD was recorded live as we played together in the same room. I did not want to record over or tidy up anything. This music was created as we played it, and that is what I want you to hear. This record contains many discoveries made at the very moment of playing music as well as other discoveries and delight aroused by them. I do hope that they have the same effect on you.' Says Jouko. 1. Polska in Fmajor (trad.) This tortuous polska melody is number 47 in a Finnish collection called Ilmajoen nuottikirja. I use a chromatic harmonica in the key of A. 2. Lake Juusjärvi (Kyhälä) Juusjärvi is a small lake close to my home. It's cliffs hide magnificent rock paintings of dancing human figures. This polska was inspired by the rock paintings as well as by the rhythms of Swedish 'triplet polskas', triolpolskas. I play it on a G chromatic harmonica. 3. Maanitusta / Persuasion (trad./Kyhälä) At the beginning of the last century, A.O. Väisänen collected examples of tunes played on the bowed harp. Without his work, we would know very little about bowed harp music. This tune is an improvisation that begins with a few themes from melodies collected by Väisänen, and then develops into an independent piece of music. The drone, the single, accompanying tone heard all through the piece, is typical of the bowed harp. I have come up with a tuning for harmonica that enables the drone to be played at the same time as the melody. The instrument is a G diatonic harmonica tuned to resemble a bowed harp. 4. Bladder wrack (Kyhälä) The tempo of old Finnish waltz tunes is very fast and the melodies zigzag up and down. This piece was inspired by these running waltzes. It's name comes from the ugly but beautiful bladder wrack (fucus vesiculosus) that also serves as an indicator of the condition of the Baltic Sea. This number is played on a C chromatic harp. 5. Mäkliini's dream and Kaappo Syrjälä's polska (trad.) The first polska was originally played by the Finnish-American Frank Hietala, and the second one comes from Matti Haudanmaa's repertoire. Our version is a game between two musicians. Looking each other in the eyes, they try to guess the other's thoughts: is he going to slow down or speed up, which part he is going to play next...? This piece is played on a diatonic harmonica in the key of G. 6. Orphans' polska (trad.) This peculiar polska melody comes from a collection of old folk music melodies called Vanhoja Pelimannisävelmiä. The melody has always made my imagination fly away from Finland. A kantele, a low tin whistle, percussion and a double bass transform the images in my mind into music. This tune is played on an A diatonic harmonica tuned in B minor. 7. Savikangas polka (Kyhälä) This polka is my tribute to the Finnish tradition of folk music harmonica. I have been especially inspired by Erkki Vihinen, Erkki Valkama and Reino Valkama. For this piece I use a Hohner G comet harmonica tuned by myself to what I call the "Emma minor"; a high seventh on the low octave and a low seventh on the high octaves. 8. Lyckönska's Minuet (trad.) I learned this beautiful minuet from the repertoire of Valter Enlund and Torsten Pärus, two folk musicians from Lappfjärd. In this version, Piia and I seek the sturdy spirit of the original performance. The harmonica is E chromatic. 9. Taklax potpourri (trad) This tune crystallizes my idea of improvising in folk music. The starting point of this lively, riotous polska were numbers 1033 and 1034 in the "older dance melodies", Ã"ldre dansmelodier, part of a collection of Swedish folklore in Finland called Finland Svenska Folkdiktning. We start by playing through the melodies but continue by taking more and more liberties as we go on: the musicians are encouraged to alternate the different parts or change the melody. The name of the game is to try and read each others' thoughts and play approximately the same thing at the same time. The instrument is a C diatonic harmonica tuned to an A Dorian. 10. Echoes (Kyhälä) The predecessors and closest relatives of the harmonica are the Jew's harp and the Asian Sheng. I was astonished to see Howard Levy incidentally imitate Jew's harp on a harmonica in Rudostadt, Germany in 1999. I became inspired by this and finally did discover how to play a single reed of the harmonica so that you can clearly distinguish different overtones. The instrument is a G diatonic harmonica. 11. Wedding march from Lappfjärd (trad.) Another piece from the repertoire of the great men of Lappfjärd, Valter and Torsten. Following the spirit of this record, Janne improvised different chords each time we played this tune. The harmonica is E chromatic.
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