Saxophonist performing freejazz / avant garde with his groups & various artists internationally
Born: December 9, 1964
Esa Pietila´s original style of avant garde / impro / freejazz and various projects of his -
trio - quartet with ECM artist Iro Haarla - solo saxophone concerts etc., have stabilized his
position performing on the national / international jazz circuit, and have led him to play in
USA, Canada, Italy, Germany, Norway, Sweden, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria,
Iceland, England, USA, Australia, New Zeeland, Brazil and Cuba.
Esa has performed with the names like Michael Jefry Stevens, Harvey Sorgen, Heiri Kaenzig,
Jeff Siegel, Karl Berger, Mark Helias, John Esposito, Mathias Eick, Iro Haarla, Olavi
Louhivuori, Aki Rissanen, Antti Lötjönen, Otto Gardner, Franziska Baumann, Christoph
Baumann, Banz Oester, Mike Nock, Claudio Fasoli, Anders Begcrantz, Odean Pope, Raoul
Björkenheim, Brian Melvin, Markku Ounaskari, Uffe Krokfors, Filip Augustson, Hilmar
Jensson, Arthur Kell, Johannes Mössinger, Kjartan Valdemarsson, Fabian Kuratli, Jarmo
Savolainen, Mika Kallio, Mikko Innanen, Seppo Kantonen, Ville Herrala and Erling Kroner.
Esa has also stood on stage with many global jazz luminaries, e.g. Joe Henderson, McCoy
Tyner, Carla Bley, David Liebman, Vince Mendoza, Maria Schneider, Ray Anderson...
Recently Esa has performed mostly with his improvised solo saxophone concerts, with
newly born "Brain Inventory Trio" together with USA pianist MIchael Jefry Stevens and cellist
Juho Laitinen from Finland, duo with drummer Harvey Sorgen (NYC), duo with Jeff Siegel,
(NYC), trio with pianist john Esposito (USA), trio with drummer Mika Kallio & Swiss bass
player Heiri Kaenzig, trio with Estonian guitarist Jaak Sooäär & MIka kallio (drs), 4 Streams
Quartet with Iro Haarla, Ulf Krokfors & Markku Ounaskari, duo with German pianist
Johannes Mössinger. Esa has also performed with a Finland based freejazz group Loco-
Motif hosted by pianist Iro Haarla and Uffe Krokfors and with Swedish-Finnish
cooperational quartet called “Comet”. A Scandinavian quintet “Nordik Kollektiv” was a
project in 2005 with trumpet player Mathias Eick from Norway and a piano player Kjartan
Valdemarsson from Iceland.
In 2007 Pietilä started a series of totally improvised solo saxophone concerts, which will
continue annually in Finland & abroad. In 2009 he released the album "Karhea" - a
complitely improvised cd of solo recordings.
Along with his engagements at international festivals, Esa has also been a regular visiting
teacher and lecturer at annual IASJ symposium led by Davib Liebman.
Esa has released alltogether eight cd�'s by his name. Among them is a totally improvised
solo saxophone cd “Karhea” released in 2009 in which he creates long forms with
improvisational approaches on various themes, motives & ambient soundscapes.
Additional projects also revolve around with his groups . - international guests added with
the groups. eg. Brian Melvin (USA), Claudio Fasoli (Italy), Raoul Björkenheim (USA) to name
a few... An Important project for Esa was also a co-operational scandinavian group called
“Nordic Kollektiv” which started out on spring 2005 touring in The Netherlands and in
Scandinavia, expressing their personal view of the “Nordic sound” and free-playing, plus
collective improvisation. Esa has also toured many times in duo setup with German pianist
Johannes Mössinger, and has performed trio concerts with Swiss bass player Heiri Kaenzig.
Pietilä also plays with a Finland based freejazz group Loco-Motif, hosted by pianist and
ECM artist Iro Haarla and Uffe Krokfors. Newly added project for him is a Finnish - Swedish
collectiv group “COMET” with Tuomas Ojala (dr), Filip Augustson (b) & Verneri Pohjola (tp).
Pietilä�'s formal education consists of mater´s Degree at Sibelius Academy jazz
department in Helsinki, private lessons in the USA with David Liebman, Ellery Eskelin
Tomas Franck and such. His most notable composition teacher is composer / bandleader
Starting back from 1980 Pietilä has led a number of his own groups. His international
career got a big boost late 1998, as the Dutch label A-RECORDS /CHALLENGE released his
album “Fastjoik”. This collection of individual and multifarious compositions was
performed by Pietilä's Finnish quartet in the 90�'s with the Swede trumpet virtuoso Anders
In Finland, apart from his own groups, to name a few, Esa Pietilä has also performed in the
ranks of the UMO Jazz Orchestra, plus many small band projects performing the modern
sound of Finnish jazz / freejazz projects. Esa has composed music not only for the
aforementioned orchestras, but also for numerous jazz productions by the Finnish
Broadcasting Corporation YLE, for experimental projects with saxophone quartet, music for
saxophone & electronics, and for a string quartet, solo instruments, big band and a
multitude of national projects ranging from dance theater pieces to documentary films, On
june 2002 he was one of the composers for a concert organized by IASJ (international
association of schools for jazz) meeting kept in Helsinki, with world-wide known David
Liebman (saxophone, Usa ) as a soloist.
My Jazz Story
Already at young age (13 years) my playlist included a lot of avant garde and free jazz
artists like Eric Dolphy, Albert Ayler, Orrnette Coleman and of course John Coltrane. The
musical travel for me was to begin--the route led me to begin to study jazz in general in
my teens & young adult years, playing also at the same time in many big bands, national
small band projects etc. I studied at Sibelius Academy Jazz Department, Helsinki (years
1987-1996) and received a master´s degree in Jazz. I took part also on numerous
masterclasses and private lessons of e.g. David Liebman and others in USA....Later, on I
was to switch back to my “first love situation”--to perform mostly the avant garde and free
side of jazz.
- Alber Ayler - The Black Box (9 cd compilation)
- John Coltrane - Interstellar Space
- Tomasz Stanko - Almost Green
- David Liebman - The seasons
- Edward Vesala - Satu
- Jan Garbarek - Triptykon
- John Zorn - Cobra
- Keith Jarret - Fort Jawuh