Joystone is the latest musical excursion by the ever-inventive arranger, composer and musician Jimi Tenor. On Joystone the super-eccentric Finn teams up with Kabu Kabu, a trio of West-African musicians and ex-Fela Kuti sidemen lead by Nicholas Addo Nettey. The result is an exceptionally unique and inspired album that joins the dots between Dance music, Afro-beat, Funk, and Pop.
Despite it’s cosmic overtones Joystone was conceived in Tenor’s tiny garage in the city of Lahti in Finland and recorded, mixed and produced entirely by Didier Selin in Helsinki. Selin is the mastermind behind the award winning 2006 album Keep Reachin’ Up by Tenor’s wife Nicole Willis And The Soul Investigators. Adding spice to Tenor’s best work to date are the leading players in the budding Finnish jazz scene including trumpeter Jukka Eskola and saxophonist Timo Lassy. The resulting mash of Scandinavian jazz and polyrhythmic Afro-Beat and Funk is reminiscent of legendary Euro-eccentrics Marc Moulin and Placebo. However, it is Tenor’s captivating melodies, quirky humor, and genre-defying playfulness that are at the forefront of Joystone.
On “Sunrise”, for which there is a video of Tenor and band running around a forest, he murmurs his sources of inspiration: “Sunrise oh sunrise, my favorite time of the day. I wake up, make some coffee. Look at the garden and start making some music. Everyday pretty much the same, and yet so different.” “Hermetic Man” is an instantly recognizable Tenor tune with its loping melodic passages and subtle hints of 1970’s prog jazz. The sly spacey funk of “Smoking” contrasts the playful uptempo “I Wanna Hook Up With You”, and the album closes with “Dede”, a cinematic 7-minute opus that showcases the halkofon, a one-of-a-kind instrument invented and built by Tenor from sticks of wood used to heat up the Finnish sauna.
Jimi Tenor, was born as Lassi Lehto. His band Jimi Tenor & His Shamans released it’s first album in 1988, with Tenor’s first solo album dropping in 1994 and delivering “Take Me Baby,” his first big hit. He has released albums on SÃ¤hkÃ¶ Recordings, Warp Records and the Kitty-Yo label. He has recorded with a 55-piece Polish Orchestra and most recently appeared on the award-winning 2006 “Keep Reachin’ Up” album for his wife Nicole Willis and Soul Investigators. Curiously he has been called the “Elton John of jazz” and the “Barry White of Finland,” but we like to think of this mad musical genius, having fun while searching for the missing link between Sun Ra and Fela Kuti. Joystone finds Jimi Tenor reuniting with the legendary SÃ¤hkÃ¶ Recordings, the label that kickstarted his career back in 1994, and releasing through Ubiquity in North America, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.