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PEKKA PYLKKÄNEN BIO Pekka Pylkkänen’s (b.1964) musical career dates back to when he began playing the clarinet at the age of 10, although he started with piano lessons already at the age of 6. Pekka soon switched over to the alto saxophone and later his instrumental repertoire grew on to include different flutes, clarinets, saxophones and piano. As a child and a teenager he played in his school's big bands and orchestras as well as in many rock and funk groups. He graduated in 1983. He studied music at the Pop and Jazz Institute in Helsinki (which later on became the Pop and Jazz Conservatory) and ended up at the jazz department of the Sibelius Academy, from where he received his Master of Music degree in 2001, majoring in the saxophone in performance.
During this period he mostly performed with Latin music groups, since, in Finland (from the late 70's until the mid 90's) there was a huge boom of Brazilian and Cuban music), which may be pretty hard to imagine, if one looks at the map... In 1983 he met Bob Mintzer who was performing as a soloist with the (already then very active and highly regarded) UMO Jazz Orchestra. The day after the concert, Pekka went for a saxlesson with Mintzer , and these hours spent studying offered him a new perspective to playing saxophone.. The following year (after having spent 8 months in the national service's army- or mostly army marching band) Pekka travelled to New York to meet Mintzer again. Another culminating point for him was a jazz workshop in Espoo (a city close to Helsinki), where he met for the first time David Liebman who had been invited to lecture there.
In 1983 Pekka joined a new group, The Big Bad Family led by a late drummer/percussionist Upi Sorvali. That same year the band won the Finnish Big Band competition at Imatra (the town that is nowadays very well-known for its yearly Big Band Festival). The band also made a recording with the trombonist Dave Bargeron (Blood, Sweat and Tears, Gil Evans orchestra etc.) and appeared at the Pori Jazz Festival in 1986 as the main domestic performer of that year.
While studying in Finland, Pekka took a year off to attend the Rotterdam Conservatory during one academic year. He also studied privately in the USA with, for example, Dave Liebman and Dick Oatts. Later, he has participated in Master classes conducted by such virtuosos as Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell, Jack DeJohnette, Adam Nussbaum and Joey Calderazzo. Pekka Pylkkänen has worked as a studio-musician in recording studios, radio and TV. He has led his own bands, the Pekka Pylkkänen Group, the Quartet Pylssy and Pekka´s Tube Factory. In addition to composing music for these groups, he has contributed to works for the Onfonia Saxophone Quartet and some other groups. Pekka has toured European jazz festivals with, for example, the Finnish vocal group, How Many Sisters. As a saxophonist, he has also been the first on call for many international stars playing in Finland: Vince Mendoza, Eumir Deodato, the Odean Pope Saxophone Choir, just to name a few. Throughout Pekka Pylkkänen’s career he has worked for top Finnish singers and rock/pop groups as an arranger, bandleader and musician. He has played in many theatre productions, in such musicals as Cats, West Side Story and Mambo Kings. Pekka has crossed boundaries to the classical tradition as well. He has performed with the Chamber Orchestra Avanti, and (also as a soloist) with many Finnish symphony orchestras, playing contemporary classical music by, for example Kari Heinilä, Jarmo Sermilä, Kirmo Lintinen and Timo Hietala. For many years Pekka has been a member of the UMO Jazz Orchestra and Espoo Big Band in Finland. With these bands he has toured all over the world and has played in concerts and made live radio recordings with, for example, Grady Tate, Jiggs Whigham, Steve Turre, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Rich Schemaria, Gil Goldstein, Paquito D’Rivera, Madeleine Eastman, Maria Schneider, McCoy Tyner and Joe Henderson. Pekka has also played with the Bohuslän Big Band in Sweden and the North Sea Big Band in Holland. In addition to playing jazz, pop, rock and classical music, Pekka has always had a passion for Afro-Cuban rhythms. He is a founding member of both the Fiestecita (1983) and the Finnish All-Star Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra (1997), which recorded its debut album in 2000 with Pekka as a producer and musician. The salsa orchestra Fiestecita has performed at many festivals and carnivals with such musicians as Alex Acuña, Luis Conte and Arturo Sandoval. Today Pekka leads his own band, the Tube Factory. This 6-piece jazz group has toured in various countries around the globe, as well as recorded two CDs for Naxos Jazz label. The first one of them: Pekka Pylkkänen/Pekka's Tube Factory was released in 1999 and the latter: Pekka Pylkkänen's Tube Factory/Opaque in 2001. Both of these recordings have been very warmly welcomed in the world press. In addition to being active with his artistic work, composing, arranging and performing, he works as principal lecturer at the Stadia Helsinki Polytechnic, teaching the saxophone and the flute, improvisation classes, pedagogy and ensembles for undergraduate students in Stadia Helsinki Polytechnic, Pop/Jazz Music Department.
LIST OF RELEASED RECORDINGS: AS A LEADER: PEKKA PYLKKÄNEN: PEKKA'S TUBE FACTORY (NAXOS JAZZ 86028-2), 1999 PEKKA PYLKKÄNEN'S TUBE FACTORY: OPAQUE (NAXOS JAZZ 86068-2) 2001 BIG BAD FAMILY (FINAL MIX , FMCD 105), 1996
AS A PRODUCER AND MUSICIAN: JERE LAUKKANEN'S AFRO-CUBAN JAZZ ORCHESTRA (NAXOS JAZZ 86056-2 FIN) 2000
AS A MUSICIAN: KULTTIS BIG BAND:KULTTIS WORKSHOP (KTBB 001) 1988 BIG BAD FAMILY (Kompass KOLP 94) 1988 THE BULLWORKERS (BULL 1005, 2005) 1988 NORTH SEA BIG BAND- BIG BAND DEN HAAG...WITH FRIENDS (Via BW 9950204) 1994 GALAXY: NOBEEL (Global Music Centre GMCD 9705) 1997 ESPOO BIG BAND: LIVE IN AUSTRALIA (EBBCD 003) 1998 HOW MANY SISTERS (with Umo Jazz Orchestra): STOLEN MOMENTS , (Prophone Records PCD 064) 2002
and various POPULAR MUSIC RECORDINGS
A FEW CUTS FROM CD REVIEWS: ”Pylkkänen is among the jazz elite in his native Finland. A stalwart member of the fabled UMO Jazz Orchestra, Pylkkanen shows his crafty wares on his solo debut for Naxos Jazz.On Pekka’s Tube Factory, the multi-reedman displays a fine compositional pen, expressive, accomplished technical skills and a keen ear for arranging.” - Glenn Astarita- www.allaboutjazz.com- July 1999
”Neben seinen ausgezeichneten solistischen Leistungen auf verschiedenen Holzblasinstrumenten, zeigt sich Pekka Pylkkänen auch als versierter Komponist, der sich fur alle Titel verantwortlich zeigt.” - JazzLive 125/99
”Taking time off as a member of the UMO Jazz Orchestra, Pekka Pylkkänen makes his leader debut with a sleek ride.” - C.Michael Bailey- www.allaboutjazz.com. July 1999 ” The Finnish wind specialist Pylkkänen leads a tight sextet trough moody, atmospheric pieces that explore with a purpose.....As accomplished a group of musicians as these are, the human element is always present- a touchstone on the mournful but beautiful ”Lumi” and a vivid theme in the intertwined layers of The Picture of Dorian Gray, an evocative take on the beauty and sadness of twisted desire.” - Hilarie S.Grey- JazzTimes- May 2002 He certainly maintains a very individual and always interesting sound.” - John Henry-Audiophile Audition - March 2002
”Pekka Pylkkänen is back with another notable collection of razor sharp contemporary jazz. Pylkkänen, once again, blows through his variety of winds on this collection of mostly his originals.” - C.Michael Bailey - www. allaboutjazz.com ”
Kein Wayne Shorter, kein Jaco Pastorius, kein Joe Zavinul spielen hier ausgelassen (und glucklicherweise auch keine, die sich dafur halten), hier musiziert eine ferfekt harmonierende Band, die ein wenig nordische Schwermut in die Kompositionen bringt, ohne diese damit völlig zu uberfrachten: Besonders hervorzuheben sind das virtuos- gewitzte ”Tom Cat”, das hypnotische ”The Picture Of Dorian Gray” und das hinreissend melancolische ”Black Pearl” - der Schallplattenman Sagt, 3.12.2001 Pekka Pylkkänen’s Tube factory, Opaque, Naxos Jazz, 860682
Dans la suite du précédent CD, Pekka Pylkkänen est lui aussi saxophoniste à quoi il ajoute la flûte, la flûte alto et la flûte indienne. On est dans un jazz moderne – contemporain comme on dit sur certains sites de jazz – avec « keybords » contrebasse et « basse »électrique, etc. Un jazz aux accents traditionnels et moderne tout à la fois. Un jazz qui a du souffle! On entend le vent, la pluie. On voit « Un trou dans la boue », dernière pièce de cet album, et un arc-en-ciel au dessus de nos têtes, car c’est un album joyeux, un jazz festif, non un blues plaintif. Je l’ai aimé comme un tout, un intégral. Moi j’y voyais une suite qui coulait comme une goutte de pluie le long d’une fenêtre, avec des méandres. Une continuité. Bon album, qui va bien avec le précédent, encore là dans la continuité, du saxophone! - D.I. Ecoutez pour vous, 12.1.2003, Michel Handfield “A refreshing, contemporary sound yet not overly saccharine or over-produced…. ‘Fungi’ is one of the album’s many highlights. Drummer Marko Timonen commences with a military style march roll on snare drum as Pylkkänen’s gorgeous, rich melodic soprano sax work converges in unison with Kantonen’s equally melodic chord progressions. ‘Fungi’ boasts wonderful lyricism, clear and concise thematic movements and progresses amiably as a mini- suite. Pekka Luukka’s hard-edged guitar interlude in the mid- section adds a different dimension to this composition as he effectively transcends the sweetness and ethereal atmosphere into a gutsy and somewhat soulful motif…. On ‘See How She Sleeps,’ we hear more gorgeous melodies as Pylkkänen performs on the flute along with Kantonen’s lush and strikingly beautiful piano ruminations…. Pylkkänen is a major talent. Four and 1/2 stars.”—All About Jazz /