marks the thirty-fifth year in the career of guitarist Jukka Tolonen.
The Rocky Road retrospective collection aims to provide
an overview as well as to highlight some of Jukka's best works.
things must be considered when examining Jukka's music and professional
life. Firstly, there's the wide scope of his versatility. Throughout
the years, Jukka has performed and recorded music of many styles
and genres, often simultaneously! Rock, pop, jazz, classical, funk,
blues, boogie, reggae, worldly fusions and more. As a solo performer,
in duos and trios, with bands, big bands, acoustic and electric,
Jukka has covered a lot of ground and he's done it all with the
ease of a highly gifted professional.
it's the combination of his astounding technical skills as a player
and his melodic /compositional abilities. Together, these two elements
form a powerful force that many other guitarists could only hope
Jukka's approach to playing, his motivation and attitude, has always
been that of true devotion, one of all consuming passion. During
the first decade of his career, with all the praise and adulation
that was bestowed upon him, Jukka might have accepted the role of
"Guitar God". Instead he chose a more unassuming path, one that
would lead him to many challenging adventures but would also take
him through some lean times.
first venture into the big time was as guitarist for the successful
progressive jazz/blues/rock fusion band Tasavallan
Presidentti, who recorded four classic albums in their six
year existence. Simultaneously, Jukka worked as the unofficial guitarist
for the legendary Wigwam,
appearing on two of their albums. Through this exposure, Jukka built
a solid reputation for himself as a distinctive and electrifying
player. But it was his first four brilliant and highly imaginative
solo albums, where Jukka broke through to a new level of musicianship
and public acclaim, earning legions of devoted fans, blowing Finnish
and Swedish audiences away on stage and on record. Even today, those
four albums, Tolonen!, Summer Games, The Hook and Hysterica are
considered classics in the world of progressive jazz/rock fusion.
During the years of their release, Jukka's stature among musicians
and fans alike became immense and he was as revered at home as Clapton,
Beck and Page were in their land. His fame traveled abroad as well,
albeit on more of a cult level, throughout Europe and even USA,
where no less than four Tolonen albums were released to underground
critical raves. The mid seventies saw the formation of the Jukka
Tolonen Band, a new line-up featuring another distinguished guitarist,
Sweden's Coste Apetrea (ex Samla/Zamla), American drummer
Bill Carson and a slight veering off into more jazz and funk territory.
They released two excellent Love albums: Passenger to Paramaribo
and the live album Montreux Boogie, including all new live material.
A third JTB album followed, continuing in a jazz mode, featuring
keyboardist Joachim Kuhn. Jukka finished off the decade with the
magnificent solo acoustic album, Mountain Stream.
early eighties found Jukka with a slightly changed profile, starting
off with the High Flyin' album, containing the stand out tracks
"Punta Arabi" and "Nitchevo". The high points in this period were
the classic acoustic guitar duet recordings with Sweden's Coste
Apetrea, Touch Wood and Blue Rain, both brilliant works of exceptional
skill, melody and sensitivity. Jukka's 1982 reggae album, In A This
Year Time, was an interesting excursion and his rock vocal album
Radio Romance featured some catchy numbers and his usual electrifying
guitarisms. Jukka's following as a live performer remained strong,
particularly in Finland and Sweden, and he continued to be active
on stage, in several line-ups including Bill's Boogie Band with
Swedish vocalist/percussionist Bill Öhrström. One highlight, which
unfortunately very few people were able to experience, was Jukka's
role in Jim Pembroke's short lived project, Filthy Rich also featuring
Finnforest guitarist Pekka Tegelman. Jukka returned to finish off
the eighties in spectacular form when he joined legendary world
fusion pioneers, Piirpauke,
for one marvelous album Zerenade in 1989.
the nineties, Jukka has been working in more of a rock format, with
Jukka Tolonen Trio releases Last Mohican in '94 and Big Time in
'96. While musically these albums are a bit more conventional than
his work of the seventies and eighties, the music is skillfully
executed and reaffirms the enduring fact that Jukka's "chops" are
as well honed as ever. The decade concludes with Jukka returning
to the Piirpauke fold for a new album set for a 2000 release.
the peaks and valleys of Jukka's career, one thing remains true
to this day. No matter which of his groups is on stage, regardless
of the format in which he is presented, when Jukka Tolonen sets
his fingers to the strings, audiences, listeners, he and his band
members, all come alive. The atmosphere is electrified, the energy
from the sound and sight of his playing exhilarates and transforms
everyone present. This is the key to Jukka's everlasting continuity
and success, as the stunning guitar player he will always be.