Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Innanen, Mikko (Aleksi)
Innanen, Mikko (Aleksi), alto, soprano and baritone saxophonist, composer; b. Lapinjarvi, Finland, 28 February 1978. He's the youngest of the two children (sister Petra, b.1970 is a painter) of Esko (b.1945) and Seija (b.1946, maiden name Aittoniemi). Family moved to Loviisa when Mikko was 10 years old. Nowadays his parents live in Pernaja and his sister in Helsinki.
At the age of 10 he started playing the alto saxophone (his first sax teacher Bengt Ingelin, a jazz enthusiast, was the conductor of the local brass band) and shortly after discovered his father's comprehensive jazz record collection, getting into Coltrane, Monk, Parker, Ellington etc. Once seriously interested in jazz, he learned fast. At 12-13 years old he was already playing with professional musicians from the neighboring town Porvoo, mainly in the local big band and traveling as far as Greece to perform at the Korinthos Jazz Festival in 1991.
In 1993 he commenced his studies at the Sibelius-Academy in Helsinki under the tutelage of such teachers as Jukka Perko, Raoul Bjorkenheim, Kari "Sonny" Heinila and Anders Jormin. In 1994, at the age of 16 he eventually moved to the Finnish capital Helsinki to be able to get through high school while studying music at the Sibelius-Academy. Every summer since 1992 until 1996 he took part in the annual Imatra Big Band Festival big band-course. The impressive list of teachers there included names like Herb Pomeroy, Manny Albam and Maria Schneider. He performed as a featured soloist with the UMO Jazz Orchestra (Finnish Radio Big Band) at the orchestra's annual young soloists' concert in Jan.1996.
Other activities from the early stage of his career (he started playing professional jazz and occasional blues/rock/entertainment gigs at 15) include a one-hour radio broadcast from 1994 "Mikko Innanen Quartet" with Innanen's interview and performances of jazz standards; concerts with the jazz quintet Mr Fonebone all over Finland and also in Berlin, Reykjavik and Boulder, Colorado (their debut-cd in 1997 incl. two of Innanen's compositions); appearances on the Finnish television; concerts and a lot of rehearsals with Nuijamiehet (w./ Kalle Kalima, Lasse Lindgren, Mika Kallio) and Gourmet, bands from the more experimental side; playing concerts with Finnish big bands in France, Russia, Sweden and Bulgaria. He graduated from high school in May 1997.
In Aug. 1998 he moved to Copenhagen for a year to study at the local Rhythmic Music Conservatory as an exchange student. He took lessons from a.o. Tomas Franck, Marilyn Mazur, Lars Moller, Thomas Clausen and Han Bennink and attended numerous jam sessions and concerts both at the school and at local jazz clubs. During that year in Denmark he established co-operation with several musicians from the Danish jazz scene. Most of that co-operation still remains in existence, most actively within bands Delirium (w./ Kasper Tranberg, Jonas Westergaard, Stefan Pasborg) and Triot (Nicolai Munch-Hansen, Stefan Pasborg). Delirium has toured Finland, Denmark and Estonia (a.o.Tampere Jazz Happening and Copenhagen Jazzhouse); Triot has played concerts in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Spain and France (incl. a tour with guest saxophonist John Tchicai in 2001). In the spring of 2000 Nuijamiehet toured Finland along with Marc Ducret Trio; the debut-cd of Nuijamiehet was released later that year featuring five of Innanen's tunes. Mr Fonebone toured Finland with guest trumpeter Ingrid Jensen in Dec.1999, Jan.2001 and July-Aug.2001 and eventually released a live-cd together. Innanen was the Best Soloist Prize winner at the 2000 International Competition for Jazz Groups in Getxo, Spain and the winner of the first Jukka Perko Saxophone Competition in 2001. Finnish jazz critics have voted Innanen for the runner-up alto and soprano saxophonist of Finland on two successive years, 2001 and 2002. Scandinavian jazz journalists have likened his sax style to that of Jan Garbarek, David Liebman and even Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler. He has been a featured soloist of UMO Jazz Orchestra in 1996, 2001 and 2003 but also worked there as a section man accompanying international names such as Toots Thielemans, Diane Schuur, Tim Hagans and The New York Voices. In the summer of 2000 he toured nine European countries with The European Jazz Youth Orchestra cond. by Helge Albin along with musicians from 14 European countries. He eventually took his Master of Music degree from Sibelius-Academy in 2003.
Mikko Innanen has also performed with the following bands and musicians: Han Bennink, Jaak Sooaar, Idiot (w./ Jarkko Hakala, Liudas Mockunas, Markku Ounaskari), Itchy (Jacob Dinesen, Jeppe Skovbakke, Rune Kielsgaard), 4 Vintages Saxophone Quartet (w./ Sakari Kukko, Jukka Perko, Juhani Aaltonen), Onfonia - sax quartet (w./ Markus Holkko, Pekka Pylkkanen, Esa Pietila), Triade (Cedric Piromalli, Sebastien Boisseau, Nicolas Larmignat), Mikko Innanen Quartet (variable line-up), Jim Beard, Chris Connor, M.A.Numminen, Jarmo Savolainen, Seppo Kantonen, Uffe Krokfors, Eero Koivistoinen, Jonas Muller, Samuli Mikkonen, Markus Ketola and Niclas Knudsen. Between 1995 and 2003 he has performed and his music has been played several times on the Finnish tv and radio channels and also on the tv and/or radio channels of 10-15 other, mostly European countries both. Innanen has played clubs and/or concerts in the following countries: Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Germany, the Czech Republik, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain and the U.S.A.
Mr Fonebone: Mr Fonebone (1997), Mr Fonebone Live (2000); Gourmet: Glamour & Decadence (2001); Delirium: Delirium (2002)
The European Jazz Youth Orchestra 2000 conducted by Helge Albin
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/artists/minnanen.htm (interview 2002)
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