has always been one of the central locations of dynamic, dramatic
instrumental progressive Eurock music. Case in point being the much
missed musical genius of the late, great Finnish prog-rock maestro
Pekka Pohjola. Well Im happy to say one of Pekkas two
sons, Ilmari Pohjola plays on the 2013 CD by the group known
as Oddarrang entitled In Cinema. Headed
up by and featuring the music of drummer / multi-instrumentalist Olavi
Louhivuori, the seven track In Cinema CD clocks in at 54+
minutes and features an outstanding composite of musicians playing
Olavis music including Ilmari (trombone, guitar), Lasse Sakara
(guitars), Lasse Lindgren (bass, synths) and Osmo Ikonen
(cello). Having played with some of the greats of Euro jazz, including
Tomasz Stanko, Olavis drumming is innovative and excellent and
his cinematic instrumental prog-rock sound is the perfect backdrop
for these outstanding players. Somewhere in prog-rock heaven, Pekka
Pohjola is smiling down on his son and the great music in play on
this fascinating Oddarang CD. www.OlaviLouhivuori.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
by Kevin LeGendre
2013 had yielded a summer that, by British standards, was somewhat
heaven sent, the weather took a devilishly mischievous turn in the
second week of September. Rain came and went as frequently as our
electronic communications are intercepted, if Edward Snowden, still
a major news story at the time, is to be believed.
It was thus under a dark and turbulent sky that I made my way to a
hotel in Kings Cross to meet Olavi Louhivuori, and even though
the foyer was nondescript in design and décor, the mood was
lifted by the Finnish musicians definitely upbeat presence.
Which was hardly surprising as the drummer, composer and bandleader
of Oddarang was glowing from concerts at Kings Place in London
and the Band On The Wall in Manchester on the previous two nights.
Further pepped up by some coffee, he had much to say about where the
band is and where they are headed in what looks like a very bright
Tell me about the gigs in Manchester and London...
OL: It was great. We had such a good experience in Manchester. We
had a nice crowd. The audience was like one of the best ever
really intense. It was a huge reward after a long day because wed
traveled the whole day and we had problems with instruments, we lost
and we had just two hours sleep.
So when we got to play in Manchester it just felt so good, so we got
this energy and we still had this energy when we got here [London].
When we got on stage, it was a full house. People were really listening
The conditions play a big role. I love working in the studio but now
really nice interesting things happen on stage. Were quite excited.
Do you have a favourite type of venue?
OL: I have to say that now when we played at the Band On the Wall
this is the best possible venue for where we are as a band and what
type of music we play. We all felt that the Band On The Wall was that.
It was not a typical jazz club. It was open for many different kinds
of music and thats also what we like to do
Also the venue was not too
. you don't have to dress up. Its
an easy going place. Its relaxed. Everyone was sitting. It was
a really intense, beautiful atmosphere, even though it was a kind
of rock club. We can play really hard, heavy loud stuff but really
quiet stuff and it all worked beautifully.
Right now, it feels like this kind of club and atmosphere suits us.
And also if there is a chance to bring people from outside of a jazz
audience to hear us it's also nice. One way to do that is to play
in different venues, not just traditional venues.
youre not that well known in the UK at the moment people don't
have real expectations. In the best case they can be open-minded?
OL: Exactly. Its really important for me
if you come to
hear us and youre expecting to hear a jazz band you're gonna
be disappointed. Most of the people who come have never heard us.
The instrumentation is relatively unusual. How did you decide
on this combination or did you not decide? Did they just come together
OL: I kind of decided, ten years ago when I first had the idea for
the band. I dont know how much I remember but I do remember
that even before I knew the guys I knew I wanted to have cello, trombone
yeah I knew the line-up quite early before thinking
about who I should ask to play.
I don't really know what was the original reason for that line up.
I remember hearing one really nice album with Paul Motian, Gary Peacock
and then Wolfgang Muthspiel [guitar] and his brother Christian who
plays trombone. I liked that sound, but that was without cello. But
I kind heard trombone and cello in my head. I wanted to have a dark
With those two instruments you have the possibility of lots
of low register sounds. Do you listen to a lot of bass-heavy music?
Does that appeal to you?
OL: Hmm, maybe I do. It could be more like
I was playing a lot
of piano trio music at the time [With Joona Toivanen]. So maybe I
just wanted to do something different. I was doing a lot of jazz so
maybe when I started to think about the combination, the line-up,
I just wanted to go in another direction. I decided quite early that
I didn't want to have piano. It felt natural.
You can also have a certain melancholy with those instruments.
OL: Yeah, its true, trombone is not used that much. In Finland,
I don't know if theres hardly any like jazz bands [with it].
Trombone is more like in reggae music and some horn sections but theres
not that many bands that have trombones as a fundamental part of the
Trombone is a tricky instrument. You can't do the stuff with trombone
as you do with trumpet or there are not many people who can
do that, so thats one reason. There are a couple of really technical
trombone players in Finland, but thats not what I was looking
more lyricism and melodies?
OL Yeah, thats really important for me. I love melodies. I try
to write melodies that are
melodies. You were talking about
one guy who lives here he was listening to our music
and he told me that he misses Finland. When he closed his eyes he
said that our music sounded how Finland looks. We talked about melancholy
and thats a big part of the Finnish soul or inner sense, somehow
we have this melancholy deep inside the culture, in our nature.
Tell me more about the band. Its been together ten years
now. Have you always played with this line-up?
OL: Yeah, when I formed the band I did have a little more of a chamber-ish
jazz idea. Lasse Sakara, the guitar player, was really into Bill Frisell
and that kind of sound. He was one of the first guys who I realized
I want to have this guy in the band, he was doing something a bit
different, he was not this kind of jazz bebop guy.
It was more about sound
textures. And Osmo Ikonen [cello] is
my cousin, hes more like a brother because our mums are twins.
Also I wanted to have a guy who plays cello, but not like this really
classical kind of approach. So that was an easy choice. Trombone -
that was an easy decision. And the bass player, I didn't want to have
OL: I didnt want to have a jazz sound. With each player I wanted
to have more like a music-making approach instead of a soloist. I
was playing so much jazz in traditional line-ups that when I was thinking
about forming my own band I wanted to have a different approach from
what I was doing.
But these musicians come from a lot of different areas of Finnish
OL: The bass player Lasse Lindgren, me and him come from a jazz background,
but everybody else comes from different areas.
I first saw you about 12 years ago in the Joona Toivanen Trio
at the Yyvaskyla jazz festival. How important was that experience
OL: Well, we still play together but not nearly as much. Were
now just putting up songs for the next album. That trio was like a
home where I grew up as a musician. We all started to play jazz together,
nobody knew what this music was about so we started to study together
and play together and try stuff, which was really nice. Three guys
totally open about stuff and extremely excited about everything
In Yyvaskyla at the Jazz bar we hosted a jam even though we were under
age. We had a special permit. We were just practicing and playing
all the time. And those were really important years. So the value
is huge. I don't know what Id be without that experience
talk about the new record, In Cinema. There is a film connection,
OL: We had one session for the movies because we released it as a
soundtrack in April 2012 for four short films and then we recorded
the album in May. The four short films
. thats really how
things came together. I was really slow with Cathedral [the previous
album]. I was playing so much I really didnt have time to focus,
so it took four years, and I didn't want that to happen again. I wanted
to make sure I was faster.
We had been thinking of hosting some kind of club in Helsinki. I didn't
know what the idea of theme would be, so I got this idea that we should
do something with directors, so we had four nights and for each night
we had a new director. I knew all the directors so we had a little
conversation about the movie they would make and I wanted each director
to make more like a video installation, this kind of abstract stuff.
The idea was to make this piece of art together, not like music on
top of the film
totally integrated. That was a really nice way
to make sure that songs would happen. I had a heavy deadline to work
to so especially for the first club night, it was really stressful
but it was good. It didn't take me long to write the material.
Did you see the images before writing the music?
OL: Yes that was a really nice way for me to compose. I didn't have
to sit down and wait for inspiration. I had the picture, all the movies
are really beautiful and they have strong themes. Actually, it was
quite an easy process for me to compose. It was like a platform that
I could use. I always asked to get the movie a week or two before
the club night, then we had a couple of rehearsals. Each night when
we had the club we played one set of our own music then we showed
the film and played together, it was Oddarang in Cinema. That was
the name of the club.
After making music for the films, did you want something else
for the album?
OL: No, I wanted to have those songs but I had to make adjustments
because the movies are long 15 minutes. We have all of the
songs from the movies made shorter but they are the same songs. And
then three others. Actually, one or two of these songs were made for
the movies but I realized they didn't fit the picture but I was able
to use them just as songs.
The connection between music and cinema for you is a deep one.
OL: Yes, it is really. When I was thinking about what kind of approach
I wanted to have for our third album I really wanted to have this
visual thing combined with music.
Do certain images suggest melodies or rhythms?
OL: Well, for example the first movie I got I watched it and I didnt
do anything. Then afterwards things started to emerge. I spent some
days with the piano writing some melodies. I started to think how
can I add these melodies to this movie, but each song is different,
and a lot of unconscious things were going on.
The picture is abstract in a way
you can just have the faces
of people in one movie, different characters, or nature, a branch
is moving or something. I really felt the power of music when you
add music to a picture - you just add the soul. It made me feel like
I have lots of responsibility
thinking maybe I had a totally
different idea than them [the directors]. But they were all quite
you have any favourite film composers?
OL: I watch lots of movies but I don't have any soundtrack CDs. For
me its not like you have the music and you have the picture.
The movie is the combination.
So what are some of your favourite films?
OL: Being a Finn, I love quite a few Aki Kaurismaki films. Hes
a really well known Finnish director. He makes really beautiful, sad,
humouristic movies about Finns, he won in Cannes a couple of years
ago and hes really well known. If theres someone whos
capable of capturing the Finnish character and soul, hes doing
that. I love Italian Fellini, Japanese like Kurosawa. I know there
are great film composers, frankly the soundtrack can feel even corny
without the film. It has to be the combination.
Would it be possible to see Oddarang performing to a film in
OL: We did it last April in Finland, we played in an old movie theatre.
My idea is every now and again to do a special cinema concert. Its
like another concept. Thats like a special thing that we do
now and again.
What about future plans for Oddarang?
OL: Everything was done so intensively for this album. It took only
one year to write all the music record and we have the CD in our hands.
So maybe Im now breathing in and lets see what happens.
But ideas are starting to come
Thanks to interview writer Kevin LeGendre and to EditionRecords.com