Seppo Paakkunainen

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His first name could lead to honorary family status with the Marx Brothers, but his last name couldn't be anything but Finnish. This modern jazz musician took the unusual but not unheard of route of expressing…
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His first name could lead to honorary family status with the Marx Brothers, but his last name couldn't be anything but Finnish. This modern jazz musician took the unusual but not unheard of route of expressing both ends of the harmonic spectrum, focusing on the study of flute and baritone saxophone beginning in the early '60s at the Sibelius Academy. In the middle of the following decade, he studied composition at the Berklee College of Music and the aesthetics of this institution seem to have clung to his work ever since. Having acquired a degree of technical proficiency, he has been able to work regularly in recording studios. His most creative work involves a combination of jazz aesthetics with ethnic music, and within this mingling of styles, he has created some highly original works. His group Karellia combined jazz and Finnish folk music in the '70s, getting a jump of several decades on the flocks of bands that would follow suit. This was just one of his musical innovations. Next up was Finnish Latin jazz, a notion that might seem incomprehensible but not to someone who has slogged through one of this country's ten-foot snow drifts. Obviously, music such as this could help heat up a winter night, and the popular reaction to his Conjunto Baron project proved the truth of that notion. Paakkunainen then began a more experimental collaboration with Lapp singer Nils Aslak Valkeapaa, a combination of jazz and her traditional style of singing known as joiku. He has also created music for both stage and film, and occasionally plays on large group projects of modern jazz artists, such as Anthony Braxton and George Gruntz.