Johan Ölander - drummer, teacher, composer


Johan Ölander, drummer and composer, currently lives in Turku, Finland. Born in the nearby town of Parainen, Johan started playing drums at the age of fourteen and soon found himself gigging with different bands at school parties and other happenings. Back then he immersed himself in rock and pop: an interest which eventually grew to embrace jazz and other types of music. Johan played on his first record in 1982, when he appeared with the Allright Band. This was a trio, consisting of drums, bass and guitar. Beginning with blues, the band rapidly extended its tonal palette, taking pop, rock, and reggae on board as it developed. In 1984 Johan went to Lappfjärd on the west coast of Finland to study music. It was an experience which changed everything. He became aware of what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Education! Most of it was of a very high quality, with lessons from several of Finland's top teachers and musicians. The tuition on his main instrument (as well as on piano and the theory of music) was very challenging. "You had to practice many, many hours a day", recalls Johan, "but it was a joyful time". One of the best things about Lappfjärd was it had the facilities for recording music: including a pretty good 16-track studio in which Johan and his friends recorded hundreds of songs (many of which ended up on records).

This phase of Johan's education lasted three years. During his second and third year he started teaching the freshmen how to play the drums: an occupation which also began to stretch to students beyond the school, and led to many of his present activities. Soon after the completion of his studies Johan, along with many of his old friends, moved to Stockholm, Sweden. Here they got together and played - in the company of a number of Swedish musicians - in different constellations and styles. Several of the bands in which Johan worked at the time ("Backseat Boogie" and "Linman", for instance), soon found themselves gigging in different Scandinavian countries.

In 1996 Johan released his first record: "Donīt Rock my Stone". This CD was an independent production, comprising five songs, which was recorded in Finland and Sweden. Taking its stylistic strength from pop - and riding on a strongly melodic edge - it was accorded fine reviews in both the Finnish and Swedish press, as well as on the radio.

In 1997 Johan decided to move back to Finland and settle down in Turku. In his new hometown he continued playing gigs with different musicians in different styles, taking on everything from jazz to rock. Pretty soon he also started to work as a drum and percussion teacher in Turun Seudun Musiikkiopisto (TSMO). Besides his work in this capacity, Johan also accompanies dance classes at The Academy of Art in Turku. In response to the rhythmic variety required by dance, Johan uses the lessons as a pretext for the employment of different percussion instruments, varying from the drum kit to marimba to all kinds of hand drum.

Over the years Johan has played drums professionally with many musicians and in many groups. In terms of live music, he has gigged extensively in clubs (both large and small), as well as appearing (indoors and outdoors) in other venues and different festivals - including Ruisrock, Rowlit, Baltic Jazz, Turku Jazz, Pargas Jazz and Blues and Kuopio Jazz and Blues (to name but a few). He has also participated in a large number of records, of which one of the most recently released is "Sweet Melancholy", by the noted singer/songwriter Eva Pohto. Another current band is a jazz organ-trio jazz called Alfred's Hat, with Ari Polojärvi on guitar, Hannu Hiltula on Hammond-organ and Johan on drums. Ari and Hannu also feature in Johan's jazz-quartet, along with Vesku Saloranta on doublebass. Johan and the guys have recently completed a jazz album which highlights ten of his original songs. Recorded on November the 6th and 7th by Miika Huttunen at Kallio-Kuninkala studios in Järvenpää, it was mixed during December 2008 and January 2009 by Ahti Impola in Pori's Cotton Music Studio. The CD was released in the fall of 2009.

CONTACT: johan.olander(at)
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