Hammond organist Sami Nieminen (Marjo Leinonen & Viranomaiset, Pietarin Spektaakkeli) and drummer Juha Litmanen (Honey B & The T-Bones, Tempo Di Island) make up together Nieminen & Litmanen, one could easily say one of the most legendary and grooviest Finnish jazz-funk duos of all times. Everything started from their plan to play Lasse Mårtenson to honor the late singer and composer in a social evening held in Helsinki. Both musicians had already played together for years during the 1990’s in The Hypnomen orchestra and they decided to launch a spin-off project on the side of it in 2001. However, very soon they saw it had started to live a life of its own.
In the beginning, Nieminen & Litmanen was inspired by the Swedish duo Hansson & Karlsson. By the time, their jazz and funk-influenced and often cinematic instrumental music has included widely influences from various rhythm music genres, while they have been fusing it with blues to jazza nova, from reggae to afro rhytms as well as rock and old Schlager music to name some. The duo has released four distinguished albums as well as singles together with rapper Paleface, singer Jonna Tervomaa and The Mutants orchestra. Basically all their releases have equally gathered positive critical acclaim.
However, most of the Nieminen & Litmanen’s fame is due to their live performances, where improvisation always plays a big part. Through the years, the duo has been more or less active in performing with only a couple of more quiet periods. The duo has been always equally comfortable on live stages both at bigger festivals as well as in an intimate corner of a small music pub. They have also performed together with numerous different guests and features, although this never was the basis of their shows.
Outside of Finland, Nieminen & Litmanen have been performing live for example in Sweden, Russia, France, Germany and U.S.A. Organist Sami Nieminen has also performed for example in the line-up of British soul-jazz act The Filthy Six when they toured Finland.
Text: Joonas Kervinen
Main photo: Pasi Rytkönen
2nd photo: Jarmo Nauska