Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble

Line up

  • Janne Halonen (Guitars, Vocals)
  • Joakim Berghäll  (Saxophones, Vocals)
  • Juha Räsänen (Drums)
  • Menard Mponda (Percussion, Vocals)
  • Mikko Pettinen  (Trumpet, Vocals)
  • Noel Saizonou (Lead Vocals, Percussion,Sax)
  • Sampo Riskilä (Bass)
  • Visa Oscar (Keyboards)

Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble takes the sounds of Benin, the homeland of Voodoo, and combines them with soulful songwriting, jazzy improvisations and funky beats.

Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble has been touring in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Benin, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Canada.

The music is written by the band's lead vocalist/percussionist Noël Saïzonou and guitarist Janne Halonen. The name of the band refers to their hometowns, which are over 6000 km apart



Most of the music for Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble's upcoming album was written in songwriting sessions, that took place in the village of Grand-Popo, Benin, West-Africa in April 2017. The band's musical leaders Janne Halonen and Noël Saïzonou worked for 2 weeks, 8 hours a day by the beaches of Gulf of Guinea, writing and listening music, discussing directions and recording demos. On one of the final days of those sessions, the duo began their morning by listening to some old American soul classics, and there came the idea to experiment on writing something in style 70's Afro- America. Halonen wrote the melodies and harmonies on one sitting, and the next morning Saïzonou showed up with the lyrics. "It came out really fast. After a day and a half a demo was ready, and it pretty much had all the elements of the final arrangement in it", Halonen recalls. "The groove of the song is based on Tchinkoume rhythm from Benin, which is one of the origins of Funk, but in this case the cycle starts in a wrong place. When Aaron and Jeremi Ahouandjinou came to play horns for the song, they were a bit amused about that, having a quite deep knowledge of their musical tradition."

Saïzonou describes the song as a reminder for everyone to base their lives on positive principles:
"The song is about the grace, that life has given to each of us. If one knows he has a talent of doing something, he should believe in it and work on it. One day his dream will become true."



Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble



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Nonvi Tche (My Brother

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