Iro Haarla (1956) studied piano at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki with Izumi Tateno and also studied piano and improvisation with Heikki Sarmanto and composition and arrangement with Einar Englund. In the late 1970s, Haarla began her collaboration with percussionist Edward Vesala that continued until his death in 1999. In addition to being Haarla´s musical partner, Vesala was also her husband and the father of her two daughters. Her musical collaboration with Vesala included a membership in Vesala´s Sound and Fury ensemble and working on various other projects with Vesala, including music for several plays and movies. With Vesala, Haarla recorded several albums for ECM Records as well as Vesala´s own Leo Records playing piano, harp and keyboards.
In addition to working with Vesala, Haarla has, at various times, been a member of saxophonist Tapio Rinne´s Rinneradio, saxophonist Jorma Tapio´s Rolling Thunder, bassist Antti Hytti´s and saxophonist Jone Takamäki´s Otná Eahket quartet and various other groups. She has also performed with saxophonists Juhani Aaltonen, Trygve Seim and Tomasz Szukalski, trumpeter Tomasz Stanko and many other leading European jazz musicians.
In the last few years, Haarla has increasingly performed her own compositions both as a solo pianist, with concerts in Japan and the Czech Republic in addition to Finland, and in smaller ensembles such as her duo with saxophonist Pepa Päivinen, which published the much-lauded album Yarra Yarra in 2001. One of her compositions was also performed by the UMO Jazz Orchestra with Tomasz Stanko as the featured soloist in a concert broadcasted by EBU in 2002. Recently, Haarla recorded an album of her own compositions with Trygve Seim, trumpeter Mathias Eick, Ulf Krokfors and drummer Jon Christensen for future release on ECM Records.
Ulf Krokfors (b. 1966) first began playing the bass
with composer and trumpeter Henrik Otto Donner´s quintet in the
mid-1980s. Krokfors quickly made his mark by playing with Edward Vesala´s
Sound and Fury ensemble (1988-1990) and guitarist Raoul Björkenheim´s
Krakatau (1988-1999) and recording with both for ECM Records.
After those early engagements, Krokfors has become the most in-demand bass player in Finland and his resume reads like a Who´s Who of the current Finnish jazz scene. Most importantly, in addition to his cooperation with Iro Haarla, Krokfors is a member of the Juhani Aaltonen Trio, plays in the trio and quartet of pianist Jarmo Savolainen, continues his cooperation with Donner in the latter´s Free For All ensemble and belongs to the 12-member Suhkan Uhka ensemble. Other frequent collaborators include pianist Samuli Mikkonen, saxophonist Rasmus Korsström and saxophonist/flutist/pianist Sakari Kukko.
In recent years, Krokfors has increasingly focused on his own compositions, some of which have already been featured on the first albums of Suhkan Uhka (Suhka, TUM CD 001), the Juhani Aaltonen Trio (Mother Tongue, TUM CD 002) and the Iro Haarla & Ulf Krokfors Duo (Heart of a Bird, TUM CD 004) as well as on a number of other recordings.
Anders Bergcrantz (b. 1961) is one of the internationally best known Swedish jazz musicians and has been leading his own groups and making his own recordings since the 1980s. In Finland, he has performed as a soloist of the UMO Jazz Orchestra and as a member of the Zone ensemble among other engagements. Bergcrantz´s many recordings include In This Together (Dragon), Live at Sweet Basil (Dragon) and The Anders Bergcrantz Quartet (Dragon) by the Anders Bergcrantz Quartet and Twenty-Four Hours (Dragon) by a larger group led by him.
Mikko Innanen (b. 1978) is a young saxophone player
and composer who graduated from the Sibelius Academy in 2003. He has played
with a number of groups including Delirium, Triot, Nuijamiehet, Gourmet,
Mr. Fonebone, the French piano trio Triade, The European Jazz Youth Orchestra,
Itchy and the UMO Jazz Orchestra. Innanen has been featured on a number
of recordings, including Sudden Happiness (TUM CD 008) by Triot with John
Tchicai and Eclexistence (TUM CD 010) and Delirium (Fiasko) by Delirium
as well as recordings by Teddy Rok 7 (Jupiter), Gourmet (Fiasko), Mr.
Fonebone (Texicalli) and Nuijamiehet (Fiasko).
Rasmus Korsström (b. 1969) first began playing saxophone with Henrik Otto Donner in the late 1980s and also played with Ulf Krokfors for the first time in Donner´s groups. In the late 1980s, Korsström participated in one of Edward Vesala´s Sound and Fury workshops and, from 1988 until 1992, studied at the Jazz Department of the Sibelius Academy. In the years since, Korsström has played with most Finnish jazz musicians with frequent collaborators including keyboardist Jukka Gustavsson, trumpeters Antero Priha and Markku Johansson, pianist Seppo Kantonen, guitarist Pekka Tegelman and bassist Make Lievonen.
Mikko Iivanainen (b. 1975) has increasingly been making a name for himself on the Finnish jazz scene as a versatile guitarist. Iivanainen studied with Raoul Björkenheim, among others, and often performs with his spouse, Johanna Iivanainen. Their collaborations include the group Free Control, which has issued two albums Free Control (MPI) in 1998 and Free Control II (MPI) in 2001. Johanna and Mikko Iivanainen also often perform as a duo.
Antti Hytti (b. 1952) is a versatile musician with his background principally in improvised and ethnic music. Hytti was the co-founder and bassist of the original Piirpauke ensemble in the mid-1970s. Long-term collaborators have also included Edward Vesala, Tomasz Stanko, Jone Takamäki and Sakari Kukko. Over the years, Hytti has led or co-led several of his own groups, including Suhkan Uhka, Otná Eahket and many others.
Tom Nekljudow (b. 1960) has been active on the Finnish scene for improvised music since the late 1970s playing everything from traditional jazz and swing to latin jazz, fusion and free jazz. He played with Raoul Björkenheim already in the late 1970s and studied with Edward Vesala in 1983 and 1984. In the early 1980s, Nekljudow played in Piirpauke and Roommushklahn (with Björkenheim, Jone Takamäki, Jarmo Savolainen and Antti Hytti). Currently, he is a member of the Juhani Aaltonen Trio.
Tomas Törnroos (b. 1975) is a young drummer based in Porvoo. In recent years, Törnroos has been particularly active on the improvised music scene of his hometown. He has performed with a number of Finnish groups representing a diverse range of musical styles, including Free Control with Mikko and Johanna Iivanainen.
Reino Laine (b. (1946) is the true grand old man of the Finnish jazz drummers. Laine started playing drums already in the early 1960s and initially modeled his style after Elvin Jones. During more than four decades, Laine has played and/or recorded with virtually all Finnish jazz musicians.Johanna Iivanainen (b. 1976) is a versatile singer who has been much in demand during the last few years. In addition to working with her husband Mikko Iivanainen in Free Control, she is also the vocalist of Unit 6 and a member of the vocal group JimJamMurMur. Iivanainen has also performed with a number of more established Finnish jazz musicians ranging from swing clarinetist Antti Sarpila to saxophonist Eero Koivistoinen and Henrik Otto Donner. Her first solo recording, Johanna Iivanainen (Silence), was nominated for the Emma Award as one of the best Finnish jazz recordings in 2004.