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.