Juhani Aaltonen
(b. 1935) began his career as a free lance musician in 1961 at the same time as he started his studies at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. After one year, Aaltonen dropped out of school and became a full-time musician. During the 1960s, he performed extensively with trumpeter Henrik Otto Donner, saxophonist Esa Pethman, pianist Heikki Sarmanto, percussionist Edward Vesala, and many others. In addition, Aaltonen was one of the early members of the progressive rock group Tasavallan Presidentti and played both on its first album in 1969 and on the recently published new recording after a break of many years. In the 1960s, Aaltonen also worked in the dance orchestra and the popular music orchestra of the Finnish Radio thereby starting a career in popular music, in those days a necessity for a Finnish jazz musician with a family to support.

In the early 1970s, Aaltonen studied briefly at the Berklee School of Music in Boston and continued his cooperation with Heikki Sarmanto and Edward Vesala in various groups. Towards the end of the decade, he was a member of Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen´s quartet for about three years. Aaltonen was also one of the founding members of the Finnish New Music Orchestra (UMO) in 1975 and continued in the orchestra until 1986. Aaltonen left UMO after receiving a 15-year artist´s grant from the Finnish State.

During the 1980s, Aaltonen continued his close cooperation with, among others, Edward Vesala, Heikki Sarmanto, pianist Jukka Linkola, Henrik Otto Donner and vocalist Maija Hapuoja. As part of this cooperation, Aaltonen performed as a soloist in a number of larger orchestral works, including Heikki Sarmanto´s Suomi Symphony that was performed at New York´s Carnegie Hall in 1988.

During the 1990s, Aaltonen enjoyed a particularly close cooperation with Heikki Sarmanto comprising a number of concert tours and recordings, including an 8-part suite for flute called Pan Fantasy and a composition for flute and piano called Silver Spell. Since the late 1980s, Aaltonen has also performed and recorded religious music.

Ulf Krokfors (b. 1966) first began playing the bass with composer and trumpeter Henrik Otto Donner´s quintet in the mid 1980s. Krokfors quickly made his mark by playing with Edward Vesala´s Sound and Fury (1988-1990) and guitarist Raoul Björkenheim´s Krakatau (1988-1999) and recording with both for ECM Records. After those early engagements, Krokfors has become the most in-demand bass player in Finland and his resume reads like a Who´s Who of the current Finnish jazz scene. Most importantly, in addition to the Juhani Aaltonen Trio, Krokfors co-operates with pianist/harpist Iro Haarla, plays in the trio and quartet of pianist Jarmo Savolainen, continues his cooperation with Donner in the latter´s FREE FOR ALL ensemble and belongs in SUHKAN UHKA. Other frequent collaborators are pianist Samuli Mikkonen, saxophonist Rasmus Korsström and saxophonist/flutist/pianist Sakari Kukko.

Tom Nekljudow (b. 1960) has been active on the Finnish scene for improvised music since the late 1970s playing everything from traditional jazz and swing to latin jazz and fusion. However, Nekljudow´s primary focus has always been on freely improvised music. He played with guitarist Raoul Björkenheim already in the late 1970s and studied with Edward Vesala in 1983 and 1984. In the early1980s, Nekljudow played in Sakari Kukko´s Piirpauke ensemble and in Roommushklahn with Björkenheim, saxophonist Jone Takamäki, pianist Jarmo Savolainen and bassist Antti Hytti. Nekljudow still continues his co-operation with Hytti and Takamäki in SUHKAN UHKA and the quartet Otná Eahket in addition to playing in various other groups.

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