Hailing from the costal town of Pori, Sami Sippola was born in 1971. He commenced playing the alto saxophone in his early teens both by jamming with local bands and by starting to learn the ropes at the Pori Conservatory. As the time of the mandatory military service arrived in 1990, he enrolled at a military band – all the while also honing his chops with various jazz and rock groups.

A move to Tampere in 1998 proved to be an important decision, as Sippola then became better acquainted with the city’s vibrant music scene known both for the easy-going camaraderie and the DIY mentality, especially prevalent in the jazz sector and personified in people like drummer Janne Tuomi, composer/multi-instrumentalist Kusti Vuorinen, saxophonist Masa Orpana and bass player Ville Rauhala.

At the turn of the Millennium, Sippola had become as much a mainstay of the North Tavastia scene as the aforementioned, and he was often heard perfoming alongside them. Apart from jazz and improv ensembles like Rauhala’s World Peace Orchestra, the saxophonist could frequently be found on stage and in the studio with groups ranging from blues to rock to folk and beyond.

Key recordings from this transition era, which also marked the switch from alto to tenor saxophone as the main tool of expression, are Jazzgangsters’ Peace (2005), Groovy Eyes’ Tube Radio Broadcast (2003), Kusti Vuorinen’s Suurin Onni (2005), and Masa Orpana’s Honky Tonk Man (2005).

Aside from working with many line-ups representing a vast array of styles and genres, Sippola has collaborated with theater and performance groups like Circus Absurdus and Flamma. In 2003, the saxophonist composed the music for Risto Blom’s prize-winning short film Huoneesta toiseen.

May 2005 became a very decisive point in time for it was then that Sami Sippola, bassist Ville Rauhala and drummer Simo Laihonen formed the industrious free jazz band Black Motor.

In early 2013, Sippola and Rauhala co-founded the new, immediately highly-tipped team Hannibal & Musta Moottori with rapper Hannibal Stark and drummer Janne Tuomi.

As an era came to an end in late 2014 with Sippola announcing his departure from Black Motor, Hannibal & Musta Moottori changed their name to Hannibal & Hot Heros. The group will continue to operate as a quartet with the original line-up and as the instrumental trio Hot Heros (Rauhala, Sippola, Tuomi).

Petri Silas, March 2015

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