Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Koivistoinen, Eero

Koivistoinen, Eero, saxophones, composer; b. 13 January 1946. Koivistoinen is one of the all-time greats in Finnish jazz - and saxophone, although his first choices were classical - and violin. Koivistoinen enrolled at the Sibelius Academy in the mid-60's to commence his sax and composition studies. It bears noting that his composition teacher was no other than Aulis Sallinen.

Soon Eero put together his first ever improvising trio which boasted the talents of Edward Vesala and Pekka Sarmanto. In 1967 Koivistoinen's remarkable talents were rewarded as the newly founded Finnish Jazz Federation decided he should receive the first ever Georgie Award. Two years later Koivistoinen continued on the winning trail, but this time in international circles, as his group won the ensemble competition in Montreux. This award can be seen as the very first international recognition of Finnish jazz.

In the beginning of the 70's Eero refined his composer skills with one term at the Sibelius Academy and three terms at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Since then he has taught at the Sibelius Academy and the Pop & Jazz Conservatory.The UMO has remained one of Koivistoinen's homebases ever since its inception in 1975. In 1996, after gradually rising from saxophonist to composer and then conductor, Eero was appointed artistic director of the renowned group. As a conductor he has garnered respect not only locally, but also through his appearances in Germany, Norway and Denmark.

His recorded output began in 1967 with the eponymous debut of the blues-rocky, Hendrix-influenced Blues Section. Koivistoinen's first ever solo album was the poetry-infused Valtakunta in 1969. This debut marked the beginning of a career laced with literature-oriented works with inspiration ranging from the poetry of Lauri Viita and Pentti Saarikoski to the children's tales of Kirsi Kunnas. Ever since the early 70's Koivistoinen's album stack has grown steadily both with solo releases and appearances as a sideman.One culmination point was reached in 1983 when Koivistoinen put together a group of international megastars and recorded the album Picture In Three Colours. The band included musicians like Jack DeJohnette and John Scofield, and got together again in 1992 to record the critically lauded Altered Things. Another multi-national group was documented on the 1995 album Dialog.
Among Koivistoinen's projects of the 1990's is Trio X, which he founded in 1995. The group's unusual instrumentation of Eero's sax, Seppo Kantonen's piano and Severi Pyysalo's vibes stands to testify that this man is still eagerly trying out different ideas and will probably never find the confines of his own expression.

His extensive list of works contains the ballet Aiti Maa (Mother Earth) and a suite inspired by Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du  Mal. Eero Koivistoinen has also encouraged various experimental combos as the chairman of the composers' Zone Society.

In 1997 Eero was one of the arrangers of a special UMO/Tim Hagans project "The UMO plays Electric Miles".

Sometime Ago (1999); Zone: First Definition (1999); Mozambique Relief (2000); Wahoo! (2000); Eero Koivistoinen and Senegal Drums (2000); Helium (2001); Utu (2002)

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