Second-generation Dallapé Orchestra aspires to win hearts and minds again
Legendary 12-piece now fronted by Juha Hostikka
By Pirkko Kotirinta
If one Finnish dance band can be characterised as "legendary", then that orchestra would have to be Dallapé.
Its list of soloists include Finnish popular music greats such as Georg Malmstén and Olavi Virta, and it even had its own stylish bus with which it zig-zagged the country’s dusty roads for 3-4 months without a break in the hectic summers of the 1930s.
With a repertoire consisting of hundreds of dance tunes, Dallapé escorted more than a few Finnish couples of the time into the harbour of matrimony, and people from near and far came to admire and listen to the stylish musicians in their shiny tuxedos.
And that is exactly what they hope will happen once again.
“White tux, black trousers, patent leather shoes”, opera singer Juha Hostikka lists the livery of the grand new Dallapé that he leads.
Hostikka, 38, has put together a new orchestra carrying the legendary Dallapé name.
The twelve musicians between the ages of 30 and 50 are the best in the business.
The accomplished members include Anssi Nykänen, Arttu Takalo, Varre Vartiainen, and Harri Rantanen.
“None of them hesitated for a moment when I asked if they were interested”, Hostikka says contentedly. The idea is for the new Dallapé in turn to keep up the superb Dallapé sound, and for longer than just one record’s worth.
“I signed a document committing myself to looking after the orchestra and to acting in its best interests”, Hostikka explains.
With the document that was signed last year, Hostikka actually bought the rights to the Dallapé name and brand.
The name "Dallapé Orchestra" has been protected since a 1994 ruling by the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland.
Protection for the orchestra’s name was applied for by Eero Lauresalo (1908-1996) and his son Juhani Lindroos.
Lauresalo (formerly Lindroos) played in the original orchestra (established in 1925) from the 1920s until 1978. He also arranged a huge amount of music for the ensemble.
“My father and I wanted to make sure that the name Dallapé would remain in capable hands”, Juhani Lindroos explains.
“I am extremely satisfied with the way things have turned out. A good person has been found to carry on the orchestra."
Even the “old” Dallapé was in action until very recent times.
“Having said that, the gigs we played were few and far between”, Lindroos explains. “We played as a sextet, and occasionally as an octet.”
Hostikka had earned the trust of the Dallapé veterans in the mid-1990s while playing the saxophone for the group for a couple of years.
“Already then I thought that one day it would be great to play with a larger Dallapé ensemble”, Hostikka recalls.
Now the moment is at hand. The new Dallapé’s debut album will be released on the Blue Note label towards the end of May.
The CD contains new compositions too, carefully arranged for the larger band.
In the course of the summer, Dallapé will play a number of big gigs at various jazz and other festivals and the group’s touring season will culminate with a concert in Helsinki in August.
Stand-up comedian and actor Markku Toikka will tour with the orchestra as an MC and stand-up artist, and singer Sami Saari has been hired as the touring vocal soloist.
The orchestra did not want to take on any of the household names from the Finnish pop music scene as a permanent lead singer.
Still, occasional visiting artists will be used. On the debut album, Finnish pop music veteran Topi Sorsakoski, for one, gives his rendition of a tango number.
On another tango track, Hostikka’s own impressive voice is heard.
On tour, Hostikka's singing talents will primarily be harnessed to tango interpretations.
Hostikka received his first singing lessons at the age of 18 from his father’s friend, singer Reijo Taipale.
Voice studies at the Sibelius Academy followed only much later, after the pop and jazz studies.
Juha Hostikka is now officially the fourth Dallapé bandmaster.
In his time Lindroos-Lauresalo inherited the job from Martti Jäppilä (1900-1967).
Jäppilä, an accomplished accordion player who gave the band its distinctive sound, ran quite a business empire around the Dallapé Orchestra in its heyday.
At first Dallapé operated as a registered association, which was a handy way to avoid paying taxes.
Dallapé published sheet music, and it even had its own music institute, where for example Olavi Virta studied.
“Well, humppa*, for one, forms a significant part of the Finnish popular tradition. Maybe we should set up a humppa university”, Hostikka smiles. He's only half joking.
*Note: Humppa is a Finnish musical/dance phenomenon that really needs to be heard rather than described. Something like a fast foxtrot in structure, it allegedly took its name in the 1950s from the "oompah-oompah" music of bands at the Oktoberfest in Munich, and the bouncy tunes and dances remain popular even today, especially in the provinces.
A fuller description can be found below.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 22.3.2010
Olavi Virta (1915-72), Finnish hearthrob and "King of the Tango" (Wikipedia)
Georg Malmstén (1902-81), Finnish-Swedish singer/songwriter/arranger/actor (Wikipedia)
Dallapé (Wikipedia) (In Finnish only)
PIRKKO KOTIRINTA / Helsingin Sanomat