• ARTO JÄRVELÄ - violin
  • TIMO MYLLYKANGAS - acoustic bass
  • TIMO ALAKOTILA - harmonium
  • MAUNO JÄRVELÄ - violin
  • MATTI MÄKELÄ - violin
  • TOMMI PYYKÖNEN - violin
In the early eighties, a group of young fiddlers from the tiny village of Järvelä began making some noise in local folk music circles. JÄRVELÄN PIKKUPELIMANNIT ("Little Folk Musicians of Järvelä") descended from a line of folk musicians going back to the late 1800s. Performing folk tunes from those villages, they attracted attention with their arrangements (most folk tunes at that time were played straight with no embellishments), their harmonies, new compositions, influences from Swedish folk music and their youth (ages 17-25). Also significant was the fact that they started to play folk tunes from all over Finland, not just from their own locale, which was the standard practice.
The first big break for the group came when they landed first prize at the Finnish Championship Competition for Folk Music Groups in Mäntsälä, Finland in 1982. At this time the band consisted of: ARTO JÄRVELÄ - fiddle, his brother JOUNI JÄRVELÄ - acoustic bass, brothers JARMO and JUHA VARILA - fiddles and TIMO ALAKOTILA - harmonium.
In 1983, JÄRVELÄN PIKKUPELIMANNIT financed and released their first record, an EP of eight traditional tunes from the Kaustinen area, an area long recognized as a thriving folk music center, rich in culture, tradition and talent. It was at this time that the group began to establish themselves at the annual Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, playing at dances and making their own concerts.
1984 saw the addition of two new members to the group: uncle MAUNO JÄRVELÄ - fiddle and JANNE VIRKKALA - acoustic bass. Jouni switched to fiddle, thereby making the fiddle section five strong and consequently much more powerful. By this time, word of the band's talents had leaked to various parts of the world.
Their first album was recorded in 1985 and released in February 1986 on the Olarin Musiikki label of Finland. Laitisen Mankeliska had a wide assortment of traditional tunes from around Finland, original compositions from Arto and Timo and pieces by legendary composers/fiddlers Konsta Jylhä and Viljami Niittykoski. 1986 was topped off when they were voted "Band of the Year" at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival.
1987 was a momentous year for JÄRVELÄN PIKKUPELIMANNIT, starting off with their setting the world's record at the Kaustinen Festival's "Night Quadrille", playing a whopping 1 hour 32 minutes, non-stop, for a massive crowd of hundreds of wild dance fanatics. This helped to solidify their reputation as an exciting live act. This outstanding work, half traditional tunes, half original compositions, was released in spring of 1988 and received instant critical acclaim, winning them the Finnish Radio Corporation "Tunnustus Prize" and the "Album of the Year" award from Helsingin Sanomat, Finland's biggest daily newspaper. JÄRVELÄN PIKKUPELIMANNIT abbreviated their name to the simpler (and more easily pronounceable!) JPP.
The release of their third album, I've Found A New Tango, boasted a spirited arrangement of the classic jazz tune "I've Found a New Baby" and a sprightly collection of tangos, popular among Finnish dancers in the sixties and, in fact, still very much alive today.
One should keep in mind that throughout the years, JPP's stature and reputation at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival has strengthened and expanded to the point where now they are top attractions every summer. Their concerts, dances and late night jams are highlights of the festival and never fail to drive their legions of devoted followers absolutely berserk.
Early '92 JPP hit the US for a three week tour of the west coast, organized by the Finnish-American community. Their fourth album, Pirun Polska, was released.The big event, however, was the release of the first JPP video, PUIKKORISTIKKO, making its premiere at the Kaustinen Folk Festival. The eight minute film has since been broadcast on French and German television and has won a Special Prize in Video Competition at the 23rd International Short Film Festival in Tampere, Finland.
Violinists Matti Mäkelä and Tommi Pyykönen become official members, replacing Jouni and the Varila brothers on tours. Another highlight was the world premiere of Timo Alakotila's four part work "FOLKMOODS WEST," performed by JPP and Vaasa Big Band at Vaasan Spelit festival.
In January 1994, JPP's fourth album Devil's Polska was released on Green Linnet's Xenophile label. European activities took them on a short tour of Switzerland, followed by the release of JPP's fifth album Kaustinen Rhapsody, a dramatic and magnificent leap in artistic progress, an album that establishes them as serious contemporary composers, arrangers and players of the highest order, beyond all classification. In July, JPP and Näppärit (fiddling students of Mauno) hit the states for a two week tour, including the ISME Convention in Tampa, Florida, followed by dates in Seattle and the Bay Area. In August, Kaustinen Rhapsody was rush released on Xenophile to coincide with the FINNISH FEVER tour, which took JPP and MARIA KALANIEMI group through the midwest and northeast. Sold out shows in Chicago, Minneapolis and New York were complimented by live radio broadcasts on WNYC, NY and MPR in Minnesota. Solid press coverage in Billboard and the New York Times among many others.
1995: JPP returned to the US in July for a short tour of the Northeast highlighted by concerts at the Central Park Summer Stage concert series in New York City at the World Financial Center.
1996: Third tour of Switzerland in November. JPP Orchestra and UMO Big Band perform Timo Alakotila's ambitious composition "Folkmoods West" to a sold out crowd in Helsinki, gathering rave reviews.
1997: Timo Myllykangas (from the bands Folkkarit and Troka) replaces Janne Virkkala on bass. JPP showcase performance at SXSW Convention in March in Austin, Texas. Spring tour of Switzerland.
1998: Lillehammer festival in Norway and an NRK TV broadcast. US tour in April including the Knitting Factory in New York and the Old Settlers Festival in Austin, Texas. New album, String Tease, released on NorthSide in October.
1999: NorthSide releases History, a collection of tracks from the band's recordings before String Tease. A tour with Väsen includes the World Music Institute / Symphony Space in New York City, the "Mountain Stage" national radio program, and the Nordic Roots festival in Minneapolis.
String Tease
String Tease

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