Henrik Otto Donner, one of the most influential figures in the jazz scene and Finnish music industry in general, passed away this June.
TUM Records has now released the maestro’s final album, And It Happened… The Music of Henrik Otto Donner (TUM CD 039) which collects together Donner’s compositions throughout his career. The earliest compositions are from 1963 and the latest ones from 2007. Donner made new arrangements of the compositions in 2012, and he was preparing the compositions still before his death.
The four instrumentals on the record feature Juhani Aaltonen (tenor saxophone) as the soloist, while Johanna Iivanainen is the vocalist on the other four compositions. The album also features a 12 member string ensemble led by Mikko Hassinen and a 21 member big band TUMO, which consists of the best Finnish jazz musicians.
And It Happened... cover art
Henrik Otto Donner was born on November 16, 1939. Beginning his career in the late 50’s, Donner was one of the cornerstones of Finnish jazz, both as a trumpet player and an overall cultural entity. He started studying music theory at the Sibelius Academy and later was mentored and taught by people such as Terry Riley and György Ligeti. Together with drummer Christian Schwindt he co-led a quintet which went to record the groundbreaking album For Friends and Relatives. Later he led two jazz groups, theOtto Donner Treatment and The Otto Donner Band. Donner also composed movie soundtracks and music for UMO.
In 1966 Donner, Schwindt and music journalist Atte Blom founded Love Records, a pioneering label that went to release some of the most important albums of Finnish jazz, rock, ethnic and political music of the 1970s.
Between 1970 and 1974 Donner was the director of the entertainment section of the Finnish Radio. From 1994 to 2006 Donner served as the chairman of Teosto, the Finnish copyright organisation for composers, lyricists, arrangers and music publishers. From 2000 to 2005 he was the Professor of Arts. In 1993 he founder DER Studios, an audio recording mastering company, where he kept producing albums still in 2010s.