Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble has signed a record deal with Bafe’s Factory, 29.4.2017 at Jazzahead! 2017 in Bremen, Germany.
New album will be released in 2018!
It was meant to be just a musical adventure between friends, when three guys from Finland packed their gear and headed down to Benin, West Africa, in january 2012. The outcome only turned out to be a little too fascinating to be just left there. Now, over 4 years later, Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble has released 3 critically acclaimed albums and toured by far in nine countries. I fact the 8 piece just released it’s 3rd album and first live record in November 2015. ”The Road is Long - Live at Savoy Theatre” was recorded on one take on previous New Year’s eve, and it was only released in vinyl and digital format.
The concept of the band is to take traditional Voodoo rhythms of Benin, and combine them with soulful songwriting, jazzy improvisations and funky beats. The music is written by the band’s lead vocalist/ percussionist Noël Saïzonou, and the guitarist Janne Halonen. The name of the band refers to their hometowns, which are over 6000 kilometers apart.
Having residents of two continents in the same band has created plenty of challenges over the years. Flying is expensive and African passports and Schengen visa practices have caused plenty of setbacks in European outer borders. Despite of all that, the group has been able to keep things going, and has gained a reputation of true survivors. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Janne Halonen - guitars, vocals
Noël Saïzonou - vocals, percussion
Juha Räsänen - drums
Sampo Riskilä - bass
Visa Oscar - keyboards
Mikko Pettinen - trumpet, vocals
Joakim Berghäll - saxophones, vocals
Menard Mponda - percussion, vocals