Avant-Garde Jazz / Post-Fusion Contemporary • Finland
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Composer, Arranger , Pianist, Lecturer born. 9. 3. 1945

1952-1966 piano-courses in Sibelius-Academy youth department

1966-1969 solo department courses, majoring piano

1969-1975 Music Dramaturgist in Finnish Broadcasting Company, theaterical department

1975-1985 Sibelius-Academy, Music Education department. Vice lecturer

1979-1982 Finnish Theatre Academy. Vice lecturer

1985-1991 Sibelius-Academy, Music Education department. Hourly instructor

1991- Sibelius-Academy, Music Education department. Lecturer of improvisation and keyboard-harmony

1994-1997 Sibelius-Academy, Music Education department. Department Head

2000-2002 Sibelius-Academy, Music Education department. Department Deputy

2002-2008 Sibelius-Academy, Music Education department. Lecturer of improvisation and keyboard-harmony

2008- Freelance musician and composer

Thanks to snobb for the addition

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ESA HELASVUO Discography

ESA HELASVUO albums / top albums

ESA HELASVUO Think - Tank - Funk album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Think - Tank - Funk
Avant-Garde Jazz 1973
ESA HELASVUO Omat Hommat album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Omat Hommat
Avant-Garde Jazz 1974
ESA HELASVUO Onnimanni album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Avant-Garde Jazz 1976
ESA HELASVUO Q album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Avant-Garde Jazz 1977
ESA HELASVUO Singing Grand album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Singing Grand
Avant-Garde Jazz 1990
ESA HELASVUO Stella Nova album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Stella Nova
Post-Fusion Contemporary 2013


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ESA HELASVUO Think - Tank - Funk

Album · 1973 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Matti P
In 2015 I wrote the interview-based liner notes for the Svart Records LP reissue. I'll add parts of my article, but otherwise this review is based upon my album listening right now.

Think-Thank-Funk is one of the most innovative and boundary-free albums that were made in Finland in the seventies. It was the debut album of Esa Helasvuo (b. 1945), who at that point had already achieved a lot in the Finnish music scene. His entire career demonstrates an open-minded approach to music, without being restricted by imaginary fences between various genres. For roughly two years in the mid-sixties he played keyboards in The Sounds, a popular beat group inspired by The Shadows. He became known among studio musicians, and little by little he also received arranging duties.

He had also made his mark as a composer long before this album. Working as a musical dramaturgist at the theatrical department of the Finnish Broadcasting Company from 1969 to 1975, he wrote music for dozens of films and theatre pieces, as well as songs for individual artists. Instead of presenting his album idea to Love Records where the brave fusion of avant-garde and jazz would have felt more at home, the 28-year old composer and his collaborator Hasse Walli marched to the office of Toivo Kärki, the head of the schlager-oriented Finnlevy. Kärki, the legendary figure in the Finnish popular music history, could see the music's revolutionary value just by reading the score and promised to publish it, even if he predicted the poorest sales in the company's history.

Some of the music on Think-Tank-Funk was heard beforehand in a live performance. "I had my first concert as a composer in the Sibelius Academy. I chose the musicians in order to operate unpredictably on the line between free jazz and concert music. The choice for the core trio was easy: I had played with bassist Teppo Hauta-aho and drummer Edward Vesala in jazz clubs." The recording of the album took just one day, and another one was used for the mixing. "Hasse Walli was extremely efficient as the producer. Only three takes or less were needed for each track."

The albums starts with a 14-minute 'Mixed Fruit Flavoured Chorus' for dark-toned strings in an avant/modern art music fashion. A challenging but positively impressive piece! 'Mixed Balance of World Peace' (3:16) has Helasvuo's elegantly played piano backed by violins, viola and double bass. The first part of the title piece is more clearly jazz, albeit very experimental and improvisatory-sounding, highlighting Hasse Walli's electric guitar and Helasvuo's electric piano that may remind you of Chick Corea and other legends.

Was the arrangement for 'Lily Flower' an hommage to Toivo Kärki, the piece's composer? Helasvuo gives another kind of a motive: "I had played that tune in dance hall gigs. Markus Allan sang it with such delicacy that I wanted to make a dreamy instrumental version of it." For a casual listener his free-ish version is perhaps more likely a bit chaotic than dreamy, though. The two 'Dialogue' pieces for two violins Helasvuo had written for the concert.

The psychedelic/progressive rock influence is especially felt in the charmingly peculiar 'Song for a Tube' sung by Helasvuo's wife Pirjo. It was inspired by Pink Floyd, whose Atom Heart Mother had made a big impression on Helasvuo. "I was fascinated by their minimalistic loops, but I wanted to add some colour and counterpoint into the harmonization." The title track's second part continues the electric jazz ensemble's improvisatory approach for nearly ten minutes. Usually I'm not very fond of such free-jazz stuff, but this sounds interesting and bright, not too stuffy or restless.

The initial reception for this album was indeed pretty quiet and perplexed. For an open-minded jazz & modern art music listener it definitely offers a fascinating and unpredictable listening experience, and it deserves a high rating for its brave and boundary-free uniqueness that manages not to collapse into its own cleverness.

Esa Helasvuo's discography includes also the all-too-forgotten vocal music gem Huomenna sinä tulet (Polarvox 1985) sung by Susanna Haavisto.

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