What I’m Listening To – Part 4 – Pekka Pohjola

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What I’m Listening To – Part 4 – Pekka Pohjola

I’m back again for another edition in this series. This time we go to Finland, the place where I’m from, and the artist I’m going to talk about is Pekka Pohjola (1952-2008). He was a bass player, band leader, and composer. He was a brilliant bassist. Frank Zappa once asked Pohjola to join his band. Pohjola declined the offer.

The main reason I like Pohjola is not his bass playing though, great as it is. What made him really special was his song writing. I think it’s a downright crime he’s not better known. He wrote music that was funny, beautiful, harmonically challenging, technically challenging, quirky, entertaining, but never easy. Rather than ramble on about him, I ask that you listen to the songs I’ve posted below. I’ll include short descriptions of the songs, along with my thoughts. Do give this music time. It might not be instantly accessible.

Imppu’s Tango

This is one of Pohjola’s more funny songs. The melody in this one is a bit nutty.



Vapour Trails

An older, more funky, fusion type thing. There’s some very nice playing on this one.


Benjamin (Introduction)

One of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. The change from a minor tonality to major over the sus4 chord really works. This is a song that is in no hurry. Absolutely great. There is also a longer version of this, which is called just “Benjamin”, which isn’t an introduction.



A slightly more recent one. I love how the bass stays on one note while the chords change, after 2:18.


Urban Caravan

A rare one in that it has vocals. The singer is Kassu Halonen and he has a bit of a challenging melody to sing.

That’s all for this time. I hope you enjoyed Pohjola’s music, and this post.



Elmo Karjalainen


  • Terry Augar says:

    Hi again Elmo
    I am sad to say I never heard of Pekka until now…Wow ! wonderful music..I can fully understand why Zappa wanted to work with him !!! They are one and the same Mind. Very intricate and flowing in every direction at once..Awesome, and not a dog growl in site
    Another band I`ve only just discovered is “Hidden Trails”

  • John Wenlock-Smith says:

    Hi Elmo
    I’m currently listening to a lot of LIve weather Report the legendary live tapes boxset and the live and unreleased 2CD set, plus i watched the Jaco movie on amazon recently and i’m also listening to the new Vangelis boxset Delectus that i’m reviewing for http://www.theprogressiveaspect who i write for
    there is so much good music out there thanks for sharing the pekka lin ks – i will investigate this further too and I’ve heard Hidden Trails that Terry is on about too they are good as well

  • hey Elmo; someone on the post mentioned Frank Zappa and yeah; right on.. it has all the hallmarks of the European jazz/rock/classical nuances.. Focus was another group i kinda heard in this album.. I”m listening to some old Yes stuff and Jack Bruce albums I retrieved from my collection.
    Jeff Beck does a great rendition of “Caruso” with the tribute to Pavarotti with Zucchero..Strunz Farah is another duo who are mind blowing Flamenco masters; who really do it up nicely.. I”m also into Django; Ottmar Liebert; Alberto Tarin;
    Larry Carlton; Joaquin Rodrigo and Weather Report. Cheers

  • John says:

    I’ve heard the name Pekka Pohjola but I’m sorry to say I haven’t listened to any of his work until now. I like what I hear and will look into more.

    A favorite of mine that I listen to often is a Swedish blues player that goes by the name Slidin’ Slim. His CD, One Man Riot is a top favorite of mine.


    He also works with a band called Dead Soul


    Another band I’m looking into is from Germany called In Laudenum


    I hope you don’t mind the links. Listen when you have time, I think you’ll enjoy these.

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