Doctor of the Harmonica

Jouko Kyhälä 


01. F-Polska - 5:03
02. Juusjärvi - 5:40
03. Maanitusta - 5:09
04. Rakkolevää - 5:58
05. Mäkliinin Uni Ja Syrjälän Kaappoon Polska - 5:15
06. Orpolasten Polska - 7:00
07. Savikankaan Polkka - 3:11
08. Lyckönskan Menuetti - 3:16
09. Taklaxin Polskamylly - 6:27
10. Kaikuja - 2:17
11. Lappfjärds Brudmarsch - 3:55


Jouko KYHÄLÄ : diatonic and chromatic harmonicas

Piia KLEEMOLA : fiddle, kantele
Janne LAPPALAINEN : bouzuki, low whistle
Abdissa ASSEFA : percussion
Pekka LEHTI : bass



A mixture of finnish instrumental folk with new tunes and traditionals. Played by harmonica, violin, bouzoki, double bass, kantele and percussion. Serious delightful.

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.
Harmonica maestro and multi-instrumentalist Jouko Kyhälä belongs to the top rank of Finnish folk music players. In addition to his own Saalas project, he leads the remarkable Sväng harmonica quartet and plays with Pekka Lehti & Outo voima, Markku Lepistö and many others. He also plays solo performances, which can range from acoustic folk music to experimental electronic sound-sculpting.

Kyhälä's musicianship is wide-ranging: In addition to folk music he has been involved with free improvisation, avant garde, contemporary classical and electronic music. Session playing on pop and jazz projects is also familiar territory for him, and he has worked extensively in film and theatrical productions. Kyhälä also has solid experience of working in the field of contemporary dance: He has composed and performed music for seven full length dance projects and worked for over 10 years in the Suomussalmi group of Finnish improvisational dance and music pioneers. Collaboration with visual artists has also played a strong part in his development as a musician.

Jouko Kyhälä is the first and so far the only graduate of Sibelius Academy to major in harmonica. The folk music department awarded him a masters degree in 1999 and Jouko continued his studies to become, this year (to the best of our knowledge), the world's first doctor of the harmonica!

Kyhälä's first solo record IMA-C was released in 2000. In this composition, Kyhälä combined electronics, harmonica, vocals and jouhikko into a highly imaginative fusion. His next solo record, Saalas, was released in 2005. This record concentrates on acoustic expression, the folk music of Kyhälä's homeland as well as his own folk music compositions. Other records featuring Kyhälä in the last few years have included Markku Lepistö's Silta and Pekka Lehti & Outo voima's Sohjo (both released on Aito Records). Kyhälä has performed on over 20 recordings and has worked in numerous diverse musical line-ups.

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