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Personnel: Pepe Ahlqvist - Lead Guitars, lead Vocals
with: Umo Jazz Orchestra (16 peoples!)
and Yka Putkinen - Rhythm Guitar
Olli Haavisto - Slide (tr.12) and Rhythm Guitar (tr.5)
Abdissa Assefa - Percussion

Notes: A distinguished member of the European blues elite, Pepe Ahlqvist (b.1956) is an internationally famous Finnish blues artist. Already as a young boy in the mid 1960`s he had a clear vision of his future as a blues musician. During his almost 40-year-long career he has frequently performed with many legendary blues artists. He has managed to maintain his popularity through the years by presenting fabulous and successful recordings with various bands and giving over 5.000 gigs and concerts. Pepe is considered a talented and personal singer-guitarist-harmonica player with individual style who also writes his own songs. He has been touring in Europe and in USA and Canada. He has also performed as a guest soloist in a large number of concerts by international blues legends in Finland, for example for BB King in 2004 and 2006. Nowadays Pepe works as a solo artist from acoustic gigs to big band concerts.
" - The Finnish blues artist Pepe Ahlqvist will be known to many European blues lovers as he has been active since the early seventies and made some excellent records along the way! Though many will recall him as a singer and harmonica player, here he has dropped the harp and taken up his first instrument, the guitar – and how! Not that he is a flashy player – far from it, but the notes he chooses are just right – quality over quantity. The Umo Jazz Orchestra are the kind of outfit all too rarely heard these days, a big, swinging and genre hopping outfit, akin to the Ray Charles Orchestra at its best, or Gil Evans Band (think particularly when they worked with Cleanhead Vinson). Pepe sings well in a variety of styles, from the swinging jump-blues of the opener to the blues-rcoing cover of BB King’s ‘So Excited’ that closes the set – in between there are soul numbers, a variety of blues styles, some wonderful modern(ish) jazz with a cover of Horace Silver’s ‘Senor Blues’, funk via ‘Dancemaster’ and even the almost jazz-meets-rap of ‘T’s And B’s’. This kind of big band blues comes along all too rarely, which means it is invariably worth listening to – and this release is sheer class. - " ~~ by Norman Darwen

Pepe Ahlqvist