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Samuli Mikkonen

Jazz pIanist and composer Samuli Mikkonen (b.1973 Jyvaskyla, Finland) is an emerging name in the European jazz scene.

His distinct and recognisable sound has its deepest roots in the landspaces and sounds of Central Finland, an area full of lakes and forests. Besides the Scandinavian and European jazz tradition, influences of Finnish as well as other ethnic musics can be heard, as well as 20th century classical music.

His latest project, KUÀRA, is an all-acoustic trio with drummer Markku Ounaskari and trumpet player Per Jorgensen, and their first CD on ECM Records, produced by Manfred Eicher, was released in November 2010. In 2012, another Norwegian, saxophonist Trygve Seim, has substituted Jorgensen in most of their concerts.

Mikkonen first appeared in the top-notch jazz bands of his home country Finland in the mid-90's, and has since then worked home and abroad, with a growing list of collaborators and different projects. Mikkonen has led a Scandinavian trio consisting of him, bassist Anders Jormin and drummer Audun Kleive. He has played sideman gigs for Kenny Wheeler, John Zorn, Mike Gibbs and Wayne Krantz. In Finland, he has been the pianist of choice for world jazz outfit Piirpauke and jazz/improvising artists Sonny Heinilä, Sakari Kukko, Mika Mylläri, Pekka Pylkkänen, Jouni Järvelä and Jorma Tapio. He will also appear on the forthcoming CD of Senegalese singer Julia Sarr, one of the most interesting musicians in the Paris world music scene.

Before Kuára, Samuli Mikkonen has released 4 CD's of his own, and plays on some 20 others.

Besides most European countries, Mikkonen has toured in Argentina, Chile, Peru, China, South Korea, Japan and USA. Performance venues include premier European clubs such as Copenhagen Jazz House and festivals home and overseas: Jarasum Jazz Festival, Beijing Jazz Festival, Umeå Jazz Festival, Bergen Nattjazz, IAJE and others. His concerts have been broadcast by BBC, YLE, Sveriges Radio, Danmarks Radio.

Improvising on the piano since the age of 3, Mikkonen has expanded his sound palette by taking extensive studies of both jazz music and classical composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. In the late 90's, he had a period of strong interest in electroacoustic music, studying with Jean- Baptiste Barriére of IRCAM, Paris.

As a composer, Samuli Mikkonen has written for his own hand-picked ensemble '7 Henkea', as well as jazz ensembles ranging from duos and trios to a big band. Commissioned pieces include 5 pieces for big band, works for small jazz/classical hybrid ensembles and music for theatre and TV.

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Kuàra, ECM Records 2010

"Mikkonen proved an even more astute pianist, tremendously interpretive while, at the same time, focused intently on his band mates. Beginning the set with a combination of inside-the-box strumming and outside-the-box voicings, his sense of dynamics was fundamental to the trio's success, as was Ounaskari's similarly astute ear.

John Kelman/All About Jazz

Piano, trompette, voix et percussions sont associés à leurs noms aux consonances nordiques. Les racines de leurs improvisations sont à chercher dans le flou de la frontière séparant la Finlande de la Russie, là où des peuples ont cherché à se consoler de l’exil par la musique. L’envie de plonger dans la profondeur des thèmes se mêle à la tentation de rester dans l’évocation....

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