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Joakim Berghäll

Based in Helsinki, I am a composer/musician allergic to all sorts of boundaries. My main instrument is the saxophone, as in tenor, baritone, alto and soprano. In August 2013 I finally managed to release my debut album (with ten pianists from the top of improvising Finland: Iro Haarla, Kari Ikonen, Seppo Kantonen, Antti & Juha Kujanpää, Samuli Mikkonen, Aki Rissanen, László Süle, Joona Toivanen and Alexi Tuomarila). Before you could have found me playing with Tsuumi Sound System or Auteur Jazz, for example.

I began my musical studies with the cello at the age of three, and I'm lucky enough to still get to play it from time to time although I definitely can't consider myself a cello player. I'm also very occupied with percussion, since I work as a musician in the Theatre & Dance Academy of Helsinki, and since many bands seem not to need just a saxophone player but someone who can handle them shakers and such as well. I have also had about a dozen of gigs playing bass and/or guitar during the past year. These are very close instruments to me and I keep them available at all times at home. Recently I've also started doubling with bass clarinet and flute.

As a composer I've mainly written music for small jazz ensembles, but also for large orchestras. I do chamber music too, and it's something I eagerly study at the moment, but my chamber music seems to end up being quite "rhythmic". All kinds of world music has always appealed to me, and the search goes on. I especially enjoy going to the library to fetch new music I haven't heard before - then I come to the rehearsal room, start listening to the records and try to jump right in with my own instrument. This is brilliant, you get to rehearse and improve your ear with great musicians and you might even get to know various kinds of weird techniques on your instrument - and at the same time get inspired as a composer. Some day, if I manage to flip my reluctant attitude towards the free music providers in the internet, this might be even easier to accomplish.

Besides composing, giggin' and playing to dance lessons I also teach young saxophone players near Helsinki once a week. At summertime I mostly travel playing. 18 countries I've been lucky enough to tour in so far, around Europe. In 2014 I will have my first performances in the States. There's a huge dilemma to be solved in this - my traveling is a burden for myself, my family and mother nature as well, and yet at the same time it's the very thing I love the most. There's not much I can do to compensate my frequent flying, I'm trying my best as a cycling & recycling vegetarian, but I know it's not nearly enough. Two years ago I tried to make a difference composing a piece written for string quartet & tenor saxophone titled "A Meal Beneath The Surface" - a statement in three movements on the subject of global warming.

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Primary Instrument




Willing to teach

Beginner to advanced


Currently teaching at Vantaa Music Institute, besides band camps during summertime. 12 years of experience as an educator on all levels ranging from music schools to students of Sibelius Academy and the Royal Music School of Sweden.

Clinic/Workshop Information

Free improvisation based on folk melodies - workshop.

Concert Schedule

Album Discography

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