Hot Heros

Hot Heros is, of course, a little play on words. It was while walking through Brooklyn, NYC some four years ago that three Finnish improvisers stumbled upon an old sign advertising that very indigenous treat eaten frequently as a snack or at lunch.

Saxophonist Sami Sippola, bassist Ville Rauhala and drummer Janne Tuomi recognized the possibilities at once. Those two words, including the quirky allusion to ”heroes”, would become the perfect name for their fresh band.

Even though Hot Heros was founded in 2015, the musicians have many lifetimes’ worth of experience behind them both as individuals and together in various guises and permutations. They have shared stages and studio floors from Scandinavia through continental Europe to the USA and beyond. They have worked with theater groups, circus, acrobat and dance ensembles and recorded and performed with renowned Finnish singer-songwriters and rappers.

The longest mutual history inside the band exists between Sippola and Rauhala, founding members of groundbreaking free jazz group Black Motor. After ten years and ten albums with drummer Simo Laihonen, it was time to make some difficult choices.

Black Motor goes on with Rauhala still in the line-up, but for the purposes of the new trio him and Sippola turned to their old friend and world-class drummer and percussionist Tuomi. Dozens upon dozens of shows together in bands like Rakka had finetuned their musical ESP to the highest possible level. Hot Heros’ debut album Fill Up with Old Time Salvation came out in 2016 to critical acclaim and was quickly followed by intense concerts as far Bulgaria and Russia.

Whereas the name of the band may contain a pun, the title of their sophomore effort is just about as straight forward as can be. Spelling it like it is, Folkjazz from Finland makes a big promise. But the no-frills name is also a testament to the creators’ abilities. They know they can deliver the goods with 100% accuracy if the territory chosen borders European free jazz tradition and Nordic folk tunes. This area is their native land.

The trio’s organic and soulful expression mirrors both the feel of the melodies, often born in the heart of nature, and the musicians’ past praxis with top improvisers like Peter Brötzmann, John Zorn, Juhani Aaltonen, Paal Nilssen-Love, Barry Guy, Iro Haarla and Raoul Björkenheim.

Folkjazz from Finland is inspired by the tangible (Sippola’s meanderings on how his relatives immigrated to the USA at the turn of the century) and the ethereal (Rauhala’s lucid dream of a visit from a shaman woman) alike. The legacy of trailblazers like Edward Vesala and Sakari Kukko (of Piirpauke fame) is in able hands with Hot Heros.

– Petri Silas