Finland & Elsewhere

Posted: January 14, 2014 in folklore, zappa
Kulttuuritalo (Culture house) concert hall, Helsinki, September 22, 1974. Ruth Underwood, Chester Thompson, Matti Koskiala, George Duke. Tom Fowler and Frank Zappa. Matti Koskiala, a veteran Finnish drummer and percussionist, is teaching the band to play a Finnish tango, Satumaa.

Kulttuuritalo (Culture house) concert hall, Helsinki, September 22, 1974. Ruth Underwood, Chester Thompson, Matti Koskiala, George Duke. Tom Fowler and Frank Zappa. Matti Koskiala, a veteran Finnish drummer and percussionist, is teaching the band to play a Finnish tango, Satumaa.

.

Matti Laipio, the author of the article about the Helsinki 73 concerts published on the Finnish magazine Intro, had a lot of further contacts with FZ in the years to come. In 70’s Matti was in touch with Antero Virtanen who has read the post about Road Tapes #2 and contacted this blog informing that some other stories about Frank Zappa and Matti are included in the Finnish edition of Barry Miles’ “Frank Zappa” (in the US: Barry Miles, “Zappa – A Biography”, Grove Press, Oct. 2005). Also, on the Zappa Books web site, Antero found an article from another Finnish magazine about the Shashlik events mentioned on the book. Here is his contribution.

.

There is some knowledge about Matti Laipio and Frank Zappa in the Finnish edition of Barry Miles’ “Frank Zappa”. Actually the translation includes a 10 pages long bonus text “Zappa and Finland” by Esa Kuloniemi. Here’s a shortened version of such text.

Matti Laipio became the PR manager of record company Scandia Music in 1971. That year he met Zappa in the Stockholm concert and made a radio interview on him. In August 1973 Zappa arrived straight from Australia to Helsinki to arrange a two nights’ concert in September. The two sold out concerts happened in the Finlandia house.
The most interesting thing outside the concerts was that Zappa was taken to a Ladies afternoon dance in a Helsinki restaurant: Vanha Maestro. We used to have these dance happenings, where only the ladies were allowed to pick up men of their desire for a dance. At the dance Frank heard the Finnish version of tango for the first time. The Finnish tango is something like Argentinian flavoured melody with German march beat.
In Autumn 1974 Zappa and Dick Barber were here to arrange his concerts. This time Matti Laipio took him into Shashlik, a Russian restaurant where Frank had negotiations with Finnish bass and violin player Pekka Pohjola (Wigwam) about a recording project in Caribu Ranch studios in Montana. the project didn’t finalize, though. In Shashlik they met also a bunch of young Finnish ladies, who were celebrating a bachelorette party, because one of them was getting married – actually in the same weekend when The Mothers were about to perform in Helsinki. Zappa was invited to join the wedding party. Zappa immediately ordered Barber to change their arrival earlier so he and Gail could participate in the wedding party in the same Hesperia hotel the Zappas would stay. And they joined the party. Zappa got acquainted with the married couple so well that he visited the couple two years later at their home.
After the Hesperia hotel wedding party Matti Laipio asked Zappa if he would like to amuse his Finnish audience with a special number of Finnish tango. Frank thought that was a brilliant idea. So Matti got the notes for a Finnish tango “Satumaa” and took them next day to the rehearsals in the Kulttuuritalo. George Duke was fast to learn the melody, but Chester Thompson couldn’t figure out the rhythm, so Matti called a Finnish drummer Matti Koskiala for help. The Kulttuuritalo has a recording studio down stair and Zappa asked to book it for recording. This is how the guitar solo for “Inca Roads” was recorded. The rest of the concert was published on YCDTOSA vol 2.
If I can recall correctly Matti Laipio was mentioned as one of the producers. Matti Laipio visited Los Angeles in 1976. Frank asked him to come and live with his family on Woodrow Wilson Drive. He was accommodated in a small guest cottage. He tells that the main house was a blue, plastered wooden house with a work space down stairs. The actual studio was built only later on, but in the workspace he saw mountains of archive reels and R&B & Doowop records.
One day Matti’s wife visited the residence and she was given a welcome party where Moon Unit performed a dance and played a small harp. Ahmet was only two months old. At that time Zappa was working in Record Plant studios to complete his assignment with Warner. According to Matti Laipio he was mostly playing guitar solos on basic tracks, but in the studio there were on call also some of his musicians. Laipio met there at least Eddie Jobson and Patrick O’Hearn. During his stay in the studio Laipio remembers that at least “Lemme Take You To The beach” with Davey Moire’s vocals was recorded. Zappa defined it to be his summer hit single.
In Los Angeles Laipio was coaching a Finnish rock singer Jussi Raittinen for his Nashville album and they had negotiations with Capitol Records for the details. When they went to Capitol Records they bumped up to Frank Zappa. He was there to sell his summer hit, but without success.
Matti Laipio kept on his relationship with Zappa up to the finale and visited him in LA again in the turn of the years 1989-90. He tells about their discussions on Zappa’s participation in politics and businesses in the East-European countries. Laipio also tells that Frank had an interest in the Soviet Union market and had connection with a Moscow concert arranger Stas Namin, whose grandfather was Anastas Mikojan, one of the Soviet leaders. They had plans for a big media center.
Since Matti Laipio had plans to visit Hungary and was to visit the Hungarian president Matias Szyros, Frank got a business idea also with him. When Laipio got back to Helsinki, he got some 20 pages of fax to take with him to Matias Szyros. Matti also arranged Zappa’s visit for financial negotiations with the Troika Bank in Moskow.
Last time Matti saw Frank in 1992 in Los Angeles. At that time Frank was editing his old tapes with London Symphony Orchestra and correcting the poorly played parts. Laipio was on his way to New Orleans Jazz festival and when he was leaving the Zappas, Frank pointed out:” I wonder, why you like New Orleans. I find it disgusting. However, now, Moon (26) would also like to go there.” Laipio arranged that Moon could stay in the same hotel as he was and the parents were relieved. In the same afternoon, however, the Rodney King riots started and the airport was closed. Laipio regrets that he was that close to be a babysitter for a grown up Zappa daughter.

.

I also found an article about the Shashlik events with very nice pictures, from the family magazine Apu (available here).

The first picture is Zappa with the reporter at Shashlik,  the fourth picture is Zappa with M A Numminen an underground veteran in Finland, the fifth is with Kirka Babitsin a late rock vocalist and the sixth with one of the girls at Shashlik. Then there is a picture of Gail and Frank in the mentioned wedding party with bride and groom Eva and Christian von Alfthan and a smaller pict of Eva’s sister Hannele Helkama-Rågård and aunt Maria Helkama.

Gail and Frank in the wedding party with bride and groom Eva and Christian von Alfthan

Gail and Frank in the wedding party with bride and groom Eva and Christian von Alfthan

As a wedding gift Zappa and the Mothers performed an improvisation of “Approximate” with words telling about Eve and the apple and boosted up with vague jumps.

There is a rumor, that very funny pictures were taken during Zappa’s visit to family von Alfthan’s home two years later, but they haven’t been published anywhere to my knowledge.

.

Thank you Antero!

Some of these, and more stories from Finland are told in “Frank Zappa in Finland”, an article by Esa Järvi, available at the moment here.

.

Leter one night, slime.oofytv.set sent another photo from the wedding party (as a comment here). Are they performing Approximate for bride and groom?

at the weddding party, performing Approximate? (photo by Reijo Porkka)

at the weddding party, performing Approximate? (photo by Reijo Porkka)

at the wedding party, back, mark of the photographer

at the wedding party, back, mark of the photographer

.

thank you slime.oofytv.set, for shedding new light on the episode!

.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. slime.oofytv.set says:

    one more photo [front/back] from the same day:

    regards

    slime.oofytv.set

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s