Jimi Tenor

They hated him in Russia because they thought they'd booked a techno act (Warp and Sahko, they wrongly reasoned, were a pretty sure bet for some knob twiddling). In Cologne the hardcore bleepers denounced him as a danger to elektronika with his flashy clothes and unusual habit of speaking to people. Even in his home city of Helsinki they say he can't blow sax and that his flute playing is a joke. No wonder he's only played two of his 1,000+ shows in Finland. In Sweden they just hate him because he's Finnish, and everyone in Sweden hates everyone in Finland because they're "poor, sad and thick". Jimi Tenor; for these reasons alone, you've got to love him, but there are plenty more reasons besides why you're gonna.

Jimi Tenor is ostensibly a 50's/60's/70's influenced lo-fi keyboardist, and, okay he does like Money Mark, but really he's more Elton John than John Barry. Jimi is the antithesis of the close-cropped, undemonstrative klub-kool that's dominated 90's dance music. He looks like an oddball, but is, in fact, on the ball. It's that thin line between clever and stupid which Jarvis treads with such aplomb. Style wise, Jimi Tenor has been described as part Andy Warhol, part Dean Martin and part Joe 90. Musically, well musically I think we need another paragraph.

Sun Ra, Miles Davies, Human League, curtis Mayfield, Tom Waits, Timmy Thomas, Cameo, Barry Adamson, even Gary Glitter: Jimi covers the waterfront. He made two albums on afore-mentioned Finnish label Sahko, one of which, "Europa", was conceived as soundtrack music for a movie later shelved. It was described in Muzik as "Barry White, Dean Martin (again!) and Esquivel rolling around in gravity free, satin l-u-r-v-e sheets". These recordings, and many of those on his forthcoming "Intervision" album on Warp, were made with russian analogue synthesisers on a tiny two-track in the old communist dancehall where he's been living in Helsinki. "I'm a one-take, no overdubs kind of guy," he elaborates.

One of the reasons why he records so quickly is probably that he's never in one place for very long. The Finnish techno scene (a handful of taciturn people in long overcoats with vitamin D deficiencies) couldn't hold his interest for much beyond puberty, so he ran away, living all over the bally place. In Berlin he delivered brownies (the chocolate confection not young girl guides, you understand); in Barcelona he began a collection of sunglasses which now threatens to eclipse the great Elton's; and in New York he took photos of Bobby the midget on ketamine, Katie the 560lb lady and Mike the 95% tattooed gentleman. Indeed, it was in the city that never sleeps that young Jimi first learnt the value of showmanship. As a souvenir photographer at the top of the Empire State Building he was expected to coerce and cajole interesting reactions from jet-lagged, seen-it-alls as they stood in front of the King Kong backdrop, and one way to do this was to show off. Jimi found he was a natural and he hasn't looked back since.

Now Jimi is moving towards his "Las Vegas phase", carrying his vibrant all-singing, all ivory-tinkling, one-man keyboard/sax/flute extravaganzas across continental Europe and on into South America, where in November he will be recording with local talent. Asked what sort or reaction he hopes to evoke from his audiences Jimi plumps for "happiness. I wish to make people happy when they see my show". That Jimi Tenor, he's a lovely fellow.