Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Pohjola, Mika (Antero)
Pohjola, Mika (Antero), composer, producer, pianist, educator, b. Helsinki, Finland, 1 December 1971. The son of a Helsinki-based jazz guitarist with a great record collection, young Pohjola never heard jazz live. His father is Heikki Antero Pojola (b. April 14, 1938 in Karkola, Finland), a jazz guitarist who lives in Helsinki, Finland. His mother is Anneli Trustedt, (born Hirvela) (b. March 11, 1947 in Tampere, Finland). She's a lecturer in work environment and medical rights. She lives in Stockholm, Sweden.
His early musical training included the Helsinki Cathedral boy choir, Cantores Minores, and the Conservatory of Vantaa, from where he earned a diploma in piano and traditional counterpoint in 1987. By the age of twelve, he was already hooked on recordings by Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and Charlie Parker, which lead his interests toward improvisation. When Pohjola moved to Sweden, he found a teacher, Alvaro Is Rojas, who taught him the mechanics of improvisation and harmony. Pohjola graduated from the Swedish Royal Academy in 1992, and continued his studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston (1992-94), where his teachers included Gary Burton, Herb Pomeroy and Ed Bedner.
After his arrival in New York in 1995, Pohjola naturally gravitated to the downtown scene and soon carved out a niche for himself with his eclectic brand of jazz. Alongside his gigs at the New York clubs (Blue Note, Birdland, Knitting Factory, Visiones, Jazz Standard, Cornelia), Pohjola has frequently toured Europe (U.K, Germany, Ukraine, Italy and Scandinavia), Canada, the U.S. (NY, DC, MA, CA) and Japan. Pohjola has worked with saxophonists Chris Cheek, Miguel Zenon, George Garzone and Mark Turner, guitarists Ben Monder and Mick Goodrick, bassists Drew Gress, Matt Penman, David Ambrosio and Fernando Huergo, drummers Roberto Dani, Yusuke Yamamoto, Mark Ferber, Jeff Ballard and Jeff Williams, and vocalists Johanna Grussner, Jill Seifers and Rigmor Gustafsson.
Presently, Pohjola operates in many strikingly different contexts - the freewheeling Sound of Village Duo; the more defined context of his electric quintet, MikaSonik; an improvising trio with Drew Gress and Mark Ferber, the progressive rock band, Stuck; folkloric journeys with Fernando Huergo Jazz Argentino and various recording environments, which result in works such as Moomin Voices, a re-worked portrait of the famous Tove Jansson fairy-tale Moomintroll.
In addition to his career as a composer, producer and pianist, Pohjola works as a part-time lecturer in improvisation, composition and music business.
On the Move (1997); Myths & Beliefs (1997); Announcement (1998); Special Edition (1999); Live at the Blue Note (2000); The Music of Mika Pohjola (2002); Landmark (2002)
With Yusuke Yamamoto: Daytime Sessions (a home loft recording, 1999); With Johanna Grussner: Hur man raddar karleken & annat (2000); With Yusuke Yamamoto: Sound of Village (2001)
Johanna Grussner Band (1995); Gary Davis Heckard: Improvisations (1997); Stuck: We're Stuck (2002)
Orange (1994); Moomin Voices (2003)
As producer and arranger:
Orange (1994); Moomin Voices (2003); Muumilauluja (2005); Scandinavian Yuletide Voices (2005)
Radio and television broadcasts:
1993-2002: Numerous recordings as leader and sideman for YLE, The Finnish Broadcasting Company, Radio and TV.
1998, 1999, 2001: Various recordings for SR, The Swedish Broadcasting Company.
1998: BBC World Service ("Jazz Matazz" hosted by Alyn Shipton)
1996: Live recording for DR, The Danish Broadcasting Company
1996: BBC Wales ("Live from Brecon Jazz")
2003: Headlines Magazine (In Harmony with Music of Manhattan, by Tim Bird)
2001: Helsingin Sanomat (Living the American Dream, by Jukka Hauru)
1996: Hufvudstadsbladet (You Can Get There If You Really Want To, by Mikael Kosk)