A solemn figure stands on the dimly-lit stage with a trombone in his hands. To the concentrated man's right is a rack filled with flickering sound effect units, on a stool by the rack lie two didgeridoos. This man is Markku Veijonsuo, the lead trombonist of the UMO Jazz Orchestra. But tonight the brave brassman is in the frying pan by himself. Tonight is the night when this Finn breaks the rules and follows his muse — tonight he has a date with destiny.

Markku Veijonsuo spent his childhood and teens in the small town of Kangasala near the city of Tampere, Finland. Born in 1961, he began playing the guitar in local rock groups at the age of fourteen. This formative activity is echoed today in the way in which the trombone wizard laces his innovative solo shows with an exciting array of sound processing equipment.

Picking up the trombone when he was sixteen years old, Veijonsuo commenced his studies at the Tampere Conservatory. Moving swiftly on to continue at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, he gathered live experience through concerts in the ranks of every noteworthy Finnish big band. The first chair of the trombone section at the renowned UMO Jazz Orchestra has been Markku's since 1984, a good ten years before he got his MA.

In many ways reminiscent of the situation in a classical orchestra, the safe surroundings and camaraderie of a big band might seem like a wet dream for many a musician. But Markku wants the best of both worlds: As a passionate and capable instrumentalist he knows that he can never pacify his spirit by existing only in the Ellingtonian world — even though with the UMO he has had the opportunity to work with the likes of Kenny Wheeler, Dizzy Gillespie and Gil Evans.

— In a way the artistically broadminded concept of the UMO Jazz Orchestra is a dream come true for me. Through this ensemble I have had an excellent opportunity to delve into many different styles and eras of creative music. To my knowledge the way in which the UMO has commissioned big band pieces from contemporary classical composers is extremely rare.
Veijonsuo, who was inspired on his path to free musical expression by the likes of Albert Mangelsdorff, cites that the profound private lesson he took from Steve Turre in New York City in 1992 was a turning point in his career. Discovering anew the joy in music he first felt as a teenager while listening to the albums of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the brass master began to approach the vibrating air that is sound in a totally novel manner.


The snowball which eventually grew into Veijonsuo's avantgarde avalanche was a solo show in Helsinki at the very end of 1997. After careful preparation and mindmapping the trombonist took to the stage and unleashed his novel concept to the world. Since that night these everchanging concerts, which the procreator likes to call "solo-operations", have been performed to critical acclaim on such respected events as the Viitasaari Time Of Music Festival, the Tampere Jazz Happening and the Avanti! Suvisoitto in Porvoo.

Already the first live shows were welcomed so positively that in 1998 Veijonsuo decided to start planning his debut album. Performed live in the studio and captured on tape by the trombonist's soundman Sepi Myllyrinne, 'Kara kara' was released in 1999. Favourable reviews from such magazines as The Wire (UK) underlined the fact that the first ever Finnish trombone solo album had tapped into a very creative artery.

The Hi-Fi community seemed especially appreciative of the enveloping Dolby Surround sound of 'Kara kara', but the most notable aspect of the work was Veijonsuo's inimitable way of utilizing sound processing equipment to broaden and manipulate his tonal palette. Never too much in the spotlight or used tastelessly, these contraptions have been a cornerstone in Markku's glorious solo cathedral ever since day one.

— A sound processing unit represents for me a way of transforming the trombone into something weird, wonderful and alien. Therefore I like to make clear distinctions in between the fx'd tunes and the acoustic pieces. When adding, say, a long delay to the trombone it becomes a totally new surreal instrument. I have recently taken this idea one step further by beginning to collaborate with electronic instrument boffin Mika Rintala. With this mad scientist I have developed a Theremin-style invention, which is presently connected to my horn.

As is clear, the equipment is there for a valid reason and therefore the idea of "the one who dies with the most toys wins" has no resonance in the philosophies of Markku Veijonsuo. By electronically embellishing the acoustic properties of his brazen bazooka, the fearless Finnish trailblazer joins the ranks of such innovative interfacers as Japan's Toshinori Kondo or USA's Ben Neill and Jon Hassell. At the time of writing, these daring trumpeters form Veijonsuo's only peer group.


Genres of music are quaint handles for the lazy listener. They make it easy to state "I just love the French Impressionists" or "Oh, how I hate jazz". Markku Veijonsuo chooses to run endless rings around his audiences with programmes that dart recklessly from humorous multiphonic ditties to dirge-like passages to playful demonstrations of superior technical control and beyond.

Aside from the sounds Veijonsuo conjures up from the trombone or his sci-fi effects, he pays tribute to Mother Earth with the didgeridoo, the horn of the aboriginal tribes of Australia. Marrying the futuristic with the ancient has a timeless quality which appeals to the man. He says that for him the driving force is still the search for pure musical emotion. In Veijonsuo's mind this childlike enthusiasm is a strict antithesis to such values as trendiness or commercialism. By listening to himself the radical trombonist has learned to trust his instincts, which veer more towards the Dionysian than the Apollonian.

A major component in Markku's expression is improvisation. Often trapped by the scores of the UMO Jazz Orchestra, the trombonist builds his own world on little motifs or moods. Veijonsuo's rack includes a delay unit which enables him to form loops of up to 198 seconds. After creating such a soundscape, the man can use this sequence to e.g. realtime duetting with himself. These layered instant compositions come often close to electro-acoustic contemporary pieces or ambient music.

— I have found myself in very rewarding situations when improvising with people from outside of the jazz genre. Diving in at the deep end with classical musicians has opened new vistas, as have the freeform experiments with modern dance artists. These situations make it possible, even mandatory, to forget the jazz and blues clichés so prevalent in the normal jam sessions.

— Another enjoyable arena is the ambient soundscaping I often use as a starting point for solo improvisation. As an extension of this I like to put the audience right in the middle of the action by using a quadraphonic soundsystem in my concerts. The next logical step seems to be multivisual shows, because I believe that as a whole music should be a somewhat mystical, otherworldly and even unexplained phenomenon.

For the last calendar year Veijonsuo was chosen as a recipient of a state grant. Taking full advantage of the situation he deepened his musical relationship with accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen and toured Finland with a fierce improvising trio consisting of himself, bassist Lasse Lindgren and drummer Mika Kallio. This 12-month "working vacation" also gave Markku ample opportunity to update his computer-based home studio and explore the possibilities of his new Composers' Desktop Project -program developed at the University of Bath in the UK.

Other high points of 2000 included the project 'Trombone Meets Electricity' with Kalev Tiits and Mika Rintala, an appearance in the movie 'Huomenna, taas' about improvisation as a member of composer/trumpeter Otto Donner's daring group Free For All, and three gigs in the ranks of the internationally lauded Jimi Tenor's funky new group. Markku also made some moves in the political side of music by joining the artist board in reedsman Jorma Tapio's Tse-Tse Club and co-founding the association Sampo in cahoots with members of Nada and Free Okapi and such musical free-thinkers as recent Georgie Award -winner, saxophonist Pepa Päivinen.

— One of the definite highlights and most challenging commissions of the year was composing music for the concert 'UMO Juhlii 6', installment six in the big band's 25th birthday celebrations. I tried to break the mould of the usual jazz format by joining UMO's sound with ethnic instrumentalists, ambient and other electronic pre-recorded music, visuals, and poetry. And of course, a quadrophonic sound system.

Next up the man, who appeared alongside the legendary Edward Vesala (1945-99) already in 1985 on the composer/drummer's album 'Kullervo' is planning to collaborate with the most respected Vesala alumnus, guitarist/composer Raoul Björkenheim. Novel developments for the solo show are also being considered. It is easy to see that had the vanguardian Markku Veijonsuo been on location at the historically stormy 1913 Paris premiere of Igor Stravinsky's 'Le Sacre du Printemps', he would have sided with the progressive, not the regressive.

Petri Silas (the Finnish Music Quarterly magazine 1/2001)


THE WIRE, July 1999

Karakara opens with a fogbound steamer in a fjord soundscape, the languid hallmark of jazz from Europe’s far North. But things get altogether more lively as Finn Veijonsuo growls through his trombone with a good-humoured ferocity worthy of the great Ellingtonian trumpeter Bubber Miley. Elsewhere, Albert Mangelsdorff’s multiphonic technique is an obvious point of reference. Veijonsuo is an articulate and imaginative musician, whether simply soloing or orchestrating his blowing within varied live electronic settings.

CADENCE, August 1999

If Finnish trombonist, digeridoo player and electronic music maker Markku Veijonsuo isn’t already involved in composing movie soundtracks, he should be. His impressive release Karakara is lavished with many brilliant shades of color. It’s gripping, too, as good drama should be. Veijonsuo,is a fine trombonist in the George Lewis tradition, who, like Lewis, is very comfortable with electronics.He sometimes sound like he’s blowing into something like a ring modulator or vocorder device that supplies additional pitches to his delivery, but at other times the multiphonics are apparently produced the old-fashioned way, by vibrations of his very own larynx. In addition to playing a bunch of top-shelf unaccompanied solos, Veijonsuo also utilizes live electronics as a bandmate. His delightfully buzzy (sometimes processed) digeridoo makes a hell of a backdrop for some high energy trombone blowing when he turns on the delay boxes. Here’s a forward-looking musician who’s not afraid to use quite simple harmonies to put together several spacey cinematic structures. Veijonsuo puts on quite a show. (Walter Horn)

ITA JOURNAL, Volume 29, number 1, Winter 2001

In this album Markku Veijonsuo takes avant-garde trombone music to a new level. All sound were produced by Veijonsuo and performed live, exactly as in a concert situation. His multiphonics, speaking and playing simultaneously, especially as demonstrated in Luukasen Päiväuni, are skillfully interwoven around what themes there are. Since there are no backing tapes or overdubs of any kind on the album, his performances are all the more amazing, as all sounds had to be captured by the soundman in the Helsinki studios where they were recorded.

Tekninen Egotrippi is a tour-de-force of avant-garde jazz playing, combined with squeals, noises and multiphonics intermingled with every conceivable Watrous-like cliché that has ever been recorded. The album’s name is derived from Karakara, which is a study in sounds possible on the didgeridoo. The intricate rhythms and sound derived in this work are a testament to the originality of Veijonsuo’s imagination. In Message the didgeridoo is used as an almost ground bass accompaniment to the electronic sounds produced by Veijonsuo. It is a true collage of strange sounds that can be produced by one person. Alm is over seven minutes of uninterrupted multiphonics that demonstrates a fantastic control of this element of performance, but seems to go entirely too long for this writer.

This is an album that will have an appeal to anyone interested in all avant-garde sounds possible on both the trombone and the didgeridoo, with electronically created loops and controlled usage of realtime electronics. It is a true experiment in sound, and a tribute to Veijonsuo’s imagination. (Larry Campbell, Louisiana State University)



Markku Veijonsuo hat ein soloalbum im wahrsten Sinn des Wortes eingespielt. Er spielt wie in einer Konzertsituation ohne Playback und verwendet nur an einigen Stellen zusätzlich zur Posaune Liveelektronik und ein Dijeridoo, um sein Spiel klanglich anzureichern und zu verfremden. Ein Album mit Soloposaune ist etwas besonders rares und adhoc wird den meisten nur der Name Albert Mangelsdorff, dessen mehrstimmiges Spiel der Finne aufnimmt und weiterentwickelt, einfallen. Das langjährige Mitglied im UMO Jazz Orchester erweist sich wahrlich als ein Meister auf seinem Instrument. Mit viel Imagination zeigt er die Möglichkeiten des modernen Posaunenspiels auf. Das Album ist vom Beginn bis zum Ende spannend, abwechslungsreich und swingend. Das Fehlen weiterer Instumente wird eigentlich nie als Manko empfunden. Dem finnischen Posaunisten ist mit seinem Album Karakara ein bedeutendes Werk gelungen. (EW)


OM JAZZ 9/99

På stora scenen under Tampere Jazz Happening, senhösten 1998, stod en ensam trombonist, Markku Veijonsuo, intill en mängd elektronik. Han använde inte tekniken för att maximera ljudeffekterna. Han ville komplettera sitt trombon- och didgeridoospel, inte dränka det i diverse klanger. Då var det ett år sedan han gav sin första solokonsert. För denna cd valde han inspelningar gjorda i studion under ett halvår.

Veijonsuo har fötterna på jorden, allt han gör sker med jazzkänsla och ofta starkt rytmiskt. Fem av numren är akustiska. Han kan använda wawa-sordin på traditionellt sätt och spela med stark blueskänsla. Tekninen egotrippi är ett härligt trombonsolo med humor och kraftig rytm. Han spelar själv en svarande stämma som ger spänninng och håller samman musiken. I titelnumret hörs han ensam på didgeridoo, med små nyansskillnader och en levande rytm skapar han musik som lockar till förnyat lyssnande.

Veijonsuo, född 1961, medlem i kända storbandet UMO sedan 1984, har han givit ut sitt första soloalbum, delvis med nyansrikt använd elektronik. (Sven Boija)


Markku Veijonsuo: Karakara

Silence 110 FIM (MNW)

On this album trombonist Markku Veijonsuo stretches the limitations of his instruments's tonal possibilities. Karakara is a revisit to the places familiar to everyone who have experienced his art in a concert situation. This is not so much "jazz" as multifarious "farting" through an astounding amount of tonal spheres.
Chronologically, the very first growl comes from the Australian aborigines' didgeridoo and the last from a bank of hi-tech sound processing equipment. This way the artist takes us from age-old mythical worshipping places to modernistic cathedrals which are painted with frescoes of sound. Glimpses of humour are also present as Veijonsuo shouts and mumbles through his horn. Sounds, melodies and harmonies abound. Fortunately, the pulsating Message also treats us to a driving beat.
Jukka Hauru, Helsingin Sanomat
(the leading Finnish morning newspaper)



Veijonsuo, Markku: Karakara
Whaletales; Luukasen päiväuni; Solidarity; Tekninen egotrippi; Karakara; Message; Alm; Taivas, Zeniitti
Markku Veijonsuo (trombone, didgeridoo, live electronics)
1998. Silence cd

Trombonist Markku Veijonsuo is an unprejudiced musician who travels in between musical genres. It makes no sense trying to categorize his art solely as jazz or contemporary classical music. Veijonsuo is like an explorer who strives to utilize each and every possible sound from his instrument as imaginatively and richly as humanly possible. His playing has a true sense of greatness, and he is constantly searching for his boundaries while operating in the uncharted landscapes of self-expression. The man's pieces for solo trombone are insightfully embellished by his use of electronics. It truly comes as no surprise that the national jazz critics' poll of Jazzrytmit magazine chose Veijonsuo as the trombonist of 1998.




The "Vapaat Äänet" -tour at the Kanneltalo, Helsinki

Francois Corneloup Trio and Markku Veijonsuo & Kimmo Pohjonen DuoAs I listened to the new creative music conjured up by the groups this time in the fire on the "Vapaat Äänet" -tour package, only one question arose. Why is music like this on offer so very seldom?

Maybe societies who value "freedom" are in actual fact afraid of true freedom and "independent" ideas. If market researches can't label a project neatly under one specific heading, the whole venture is immediately chucked into the category of "marginal".

This way of thinking has led to the fact that in music the most commonplace is now the most predominant and also most accepted. We are terrorised by repeated attacks of bland mediocrity. As a value, safety has irreversibly risen above quality.

Therefore the live-electronically laden meeting of Kimmo Pohjonen, a lauded accordionist on the folklore circuit and Markku Veijonsuo, a tried and tested trombonist from the fields of jazz, was not in any way a success — if we measure success only by the amount of sold tickets.

It really is a miracle we still have such openminded musicians as Pohjonen and Veijonsuo. Worth wondering is also a forum such as "Vapaat Äänet", where the marketplace, the media and the audience can meet up with no preconceptions of absolutely anything.

As a note to the people who are only interested in the marketability of a product I must say that the imaginative moment of creativity which was laid before our senses by Veijonsuo and Pohjonen was definitely longer than the stretch between two paychecks. This quality of universal timelessness was further underlined the very moment Veijonsuo grabbed his didgeridoo. The "big fart" of the Australian aborigines passed through spheres and centuries.

Veijonsuo and Pohjonen widened their soundscapes to apocalyptic measures by consulting their banks of electronics to build loop upon loop of varied sounds and pulsating beats. But the rhythmic building blocks were still all the time very human: Grunts, handclaps and various taps and raps on the instruments.

The twosome's impressive and colourful garland of sound had brutal mythical elements, humour and even dancability. As their musical relationship further develops, the duo is bound to venture into more impulsive areas of spontaneity. And through following this path, their compositional components will become even more bountiful.

Jukka Hauru, Helsingin Sanomat
(the leading Finnish morning newspaper)



Trombonist Markku Veijonsuo's "solo-operation"
at the Atheneum Hall in Helsinki

Markku Veijonsuo, a mainstay in the UMO Jazz Orchestra, has decided to take a serious trip deep into the sea of possibilities offered by his beloved trombone. On this journey he has inevitably left the confines of jazz way behind. This concert was not really an example of free improvisation, but it also wasn't a display of strictly composed contemporary classical music.

By openmindedly throwing all the aforementioned elements in the same cauldron, Veijonsuo managed to forge his solo into a very exciting display of varied performance techniques. The drama-wise backbone presented by the man's various thematic nuances and leitmotifs only helped to make the experience more mouthwatering.

Almost all the compositions were Veijonsuo's own.

Apart from the acoustic trombone (with and without the plunger), the show consisted of a multitude of realtime electronics and the Australian aborigines' mythical growling horn, the didgeridoo.

Veijonsuo's tonal palette was a thing of wonderment: At one point he produced chords by blowing and singing through the trombone simultaneously. And when the man multiplied these sounds with his radical usage of chorus and delay devices, the soundspheres grew to truly huge proportions.

The audience was also treated to bit of a groove Veijonsuo-style. He looped a sequence of the didgeridoo, layered his handclaps on top of the horn and then grabbed the trombone to solo on top of the whole instant composition.

Very interesting and at many times magnificent. During some moments the spirit of Albert Mangelsdorff seemed to hover above the audience. This original pioneer of polyphonic trombone also popped into mind as sometimes Veijonsuo seemed to overlook nuances or maybe could have benefitted from a tad more compositional approach.

If Veijonsuo takes these minor "complaints" to heart, his already great concerts will bloom into even bigger works of art.

Jukka Hauru, Helsingin Sanomat 3rd Feb 1998
(the leading Finnish morning newspaper)


SOUNDI Kesäkuu 6/2000

7. Markku Veijonsuo: soolokonsertit pasuunalla

- Vanhemmiten helposti juuttuu nuoruutensa mieltymyksiin, ja minunkin on ollut vaikea löytää avantgardistisempaa musiikkia kuin 1960-luvun jazzissa ja ns. vakavassa musiikissa kehitettiin. Kuitenkin viime aikoina olen pari kertaa saanut Veijonsuon pasuunalla soittamista soolokonserteista. Niissä on ytyä.
photo by Timo Kelaranta