Juhani Aaltonen, who started his musical career in the late 1950s, has been a big idol and role model for about every younger Finnish saxophone player. In the 1960s he played with the modernists of the time, ao. with Edward Vesala, Otto Donner, Heikki Sarmanto and Seppo "Baron" Paakkunainen. In 1968 he received the Georgie Award from The Finnish Jazz Federation.
In early 1970s Aaltonen joined Tasavallan Presidentti (The President of the Republic), a legendary (jazz)rock group led by the guitarist Jukka Tolonen. In 1974 he was one of the musicians founding UMO Jazz Orchestra. Internationally he played ao. with Graham Collier Big Band and, most noteworthy, with the Norwegian Arild Andersen Quartet which made two albums for ECM in the late 1970s.
Though Aaltonen appears on a great number of albums, the albums of his own have been rare, especially after Prana (w. Reggie Workman and Edward Vesala on Vesala’s Leo Records, 1981). The debut, Etiquette, came out in 1974. Strings, a collaboration with Otto Donner, was The Album of the Year 1976 chosen by the Finnish Broadcasting Company. A follower to that, Strings Revisited, was released in 2003 on TUM Records, the comparatively new leading Finnish jazz label. There’s also another TUM recording by him from year 2004, with Reggie Workman and Andrew Cyrille, Reflections (TUM CD 007).
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