Saturday, October 28, 2017

Emu Lehtinen (1947–2017)

Ilkka "Emu" Lehtinen (1947–2017). Photo: Digelius Music Newsletter 30 Oct 2017.

Emu Lehtinen in the center, surrounded by his friends at the 40th Anniversary Concert of Digelius Music Store at Music Theatre Kapsäkki in 2011. Photo: Yle Areena. Please click to enlarge the photo.

Emu Lehtinen died on Sunday, 22 October, two days after having been diagnozed with an aggressive case of leukemia. To the end he enjoyed his life as a jazz record seller at Digelius Music Store and an avid bird watcher with annual lengthy birdwatching journeys to India. Before them he would be listening to birdsong records instead of jazz.

I did not belong to his close circles, but in August 2014 I became a pupil of his. Because I know nothing about jazz I dediced to take advantage of the situation and started to buy a "jazz record of the week" from Emu. Often there were box sets which meant that there would be a break in the weekly rhythm since I wanted to focus on listening to each record instead of building a collection, and I needed several weeks to digest a box set. Emu had a story to tell to each record and performer.

My last buy from Emu personally was "Jazz on Film: Biopics", a six record box set packed with ten original soundtrack albums. Then came the shock news from which I have not yet recovered. But yesterday I visited Digelius and bought the next record selected by Emu to my shopping list – Brilliant Corners by Thelonious Monk with Ernie Henry, Sonny Rollins, Oscar Pettiford, and Max Roach, from 1956. 1957 was the magic year of jazz for Emu, and this is close enough.

In Helsinki we have had paradises of culture. The Academic Bookstore was my favourite for decades, but it lost its gloria due to bad management after the retirement of Stig-Björn Nyberg. I used to buy a book every week from there, but gradually I lost my appetite. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I started to frequent Digelius three years ago. There one could instantly sense the love for culture. I wish Digelius many prosperous years. The best way to honour Emu's memory and legacy is to keep buying records from Digelius.

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