Joona Toivanen (solo piano)
Joona Toivanen released his first solo piano album Polarities through Swedish Footprint Records in 2013. It was very well received by both the press and the audience, and the follow-up solo piano album Lone Room will be released in September 2016.
On Polarities, Toivanen not only uses the traditional sonic landscape of the grand and upright piano, but also stretches the sound by the use of prepared piano and adding multiple layers into the music. “The prepared piano often sounds very percussive but I tried to find some softer tones within that realm. The most important thing for me is to make the new sounds serve the compositions at large, to strive for the main goals of the music: the melodies and the moods”, Toivanen says. He uses for example magnets in altering the sound of his instrument, and the music also differs from the more traditional solo piano works in terms of structure. A large part of the music is composed, as opposed to often more freely improvisational solo piano concepts in jazz.
Joona Toivanen created a bit of jazz evolution… -Hufvudstadsbladet
Hypnotizing minimalism; the possibilities of the prepared piano strike the listener with their irresistible pulse. – Turun Sanomat
Evocative and at times superbly beautiful – GöteborgsPosten
Overwhelmingly beautiful solo piano album – Kauppalehti Optio
Listed at Top 10 Finnish Jazz Albums, 2013-2014 by Wif Stenger (The Guardian, Jazz Journal)
Joona Toivanen trio
Arriving from Finland is one of the most stunning and interesting trios on the scene in recent years. The group, led by pianist Joona Toivanen, strikes at first listen; theirs is a new language, capable of adding a new impression, unexpected and illuminating, to the endless literature of the piano trios. The Joona Toivanen Trio breathes in northern European moods that recall the last decade, knowledgeable of those who created their own language of jazz tradition overseas, and with strength and dedication are looking to redefine the boundaries of the trio format.
The new work of Joona Toivanen Trio is an additional outcome of their common vision, which has given rise to a sizable number of remarkable projects and records. The Finnish pianist, still accompanied by Tapani Toivanen on double bass and Olavi Louhivuori on drums, composed an album that strikes a balance between the modern and the traditional, and between quiet, distinctively Nordic jazz moods and openness to new sounds and new expressive forms. This all is made even more intriguing by the outstanding empathy among the three musicians, who are able to cleverly back one another and, through refined mutual listening, reach a remarkable degree of interplay and responsiveness. Thus, each of them plays a leading role, in turn, and bears the responsibility for steering his band-mates towards new directions, new vibes, new melodic insight. The “liaison” between the Finnish trio and CAM JAZZ began in 2010, when the album At My Side was released. Of course, many things have happened from that time to this “November” release (including Joona Toivanen’s solo experiments and Olavi Louhivuori’s fruitful association with Claudio Filippini and Palle Danielsson), which this trio benefited from, as one realizes when listening to this new album. Eleven tunes, the authorship of which is equally shared between the bandleader and Louhivuori, also saving space for the title track by the double bass player. From the opening track “Moon Illusion” to the closing track “Open, Closed”, there is a quiet feeling in the air: time drawn out, a soft touch and sober, balanced arrangements. A journey in search of a clear, pure, crystalline sound. An elegant, refined tone. A thoughtful album, that never stops looking for new inspirations, between skillful song-making and moments of intriguing improvisation.
November was nominated in the category “Best Jazz Album” in the Finnish “Emma Gala” in 2015.
Recorded in Gothenburg on 21-23 February 2014 at Svenska Grammofonstudion – Recording engineer Oskar Lindberg
Mixed in Helsinki on 27, 28 February 2014 at Studio Kekkonen – Mixing engineer Mikko Raita
Cover photo by Andrea Boccalini
Liner notes by Brian Morton
Courageously beautiful jazz. The trio has an uncanny skill to connect what are essentially elements of traditional jazz to light music. They succeed in turning miniatures into a large fresco, which sounds fantastic and admirably depicts the group’s deep musical landscape.
Suomen Kuvalehti/Petri Sajari 3/2006
…redolent of Bill Evans, Joona Toivanen’s piano jazz sounds simultaneously fresh and individual, timeless and unbounded.
Keskisuomalainen/Pentti Ronkanen 23.1.2006 ★★★★★
Jazz & Fly Fishing
Jazz & Fly Fishing is a jazz quartet, a fly fishing community, a surrealistic film project and a dream come true. It all started in Helsinki in 2008. Two young men met in a pub and came up with the ingenious idea of putting together a jazz band of fly fishermen – and film it. Finally available on DVD, Season One tells the true story of the band´s 2009 tour in northern Scandinavia.
Our first tour was an intense experience. With two cameramen and a soundguy following us like a shadow, we toured Finland, Sweden and Norway, playing gigs on everything from big festivals to desolate arctic hilltops. We fished some of the finest waters in Scandinavia, and our trusty J&FF-mobile took a severe beating from the 10.000 miles of road covered. An interesting discovery was that after some weeks of touring, jazz and fly fishing started to intertwine completely to the point where I started mixing up whether we were going fishing or playing. It felt a bit like that weird state when you ́re half asleep and can ́t tell what ́s real and what ́s part of the dream. I was in love.
Just before the tour started, we launched a blog. During our tour, the blog had gained a surprising number of followers all over the world, so we decided to keep it running. I started to realize that the project that was supposed to be a two month, once-in-a-lifetime tour was quickly becoming a lifestyle.
For me personally, playing jazz music and fly fishing are two sides of the same coin: two strange, totally pointless human activities that pretty much make up the meaning of life for me. Without jazz and fly fishing, life would be unbearable. – Text by Håvard Stubø, Jazz & Fly Fishing
Jazz & Fly Fishing:
Håvard Stubø (Norway) – guitar
Joona Toivanen (Finland) – piano
Tapani Toivanen (Finland) – bass
Fredrik Hamrå (Sweden) – drums
Find out all about Jazz & Fly Fishing at their website/blog at www.jazzandflyfishing.com
In addition to his career as a musician, Joona has studied music pedagogy at the Royal Academy of Music at the University of Stockholm. He has been teaching piano and improvisation and had workshops at music schools around the world (Trinity College, Dublin; Northern Metro Institute of Technology, Melbourne; Daya Music School, Jakarta, Indonesia, among others).
When touring with his solo piano project Polarities, Joona will be offering workshops for music schools and academies. The contents can be discussed according to the students’ level and needs, but the main focus will be in the creative process, working with musical ideas, sound and the use of prepared piano.
If you wish to book a workshop with Joona, or a private piano lesson in the Gothenburg area in Sweden, please feel free to get in touch!