Esa Pietilä´s multifaceted expression of saxophone deals with many different musical “genres” and also mixes them very creatively. He can be found appearing as soloist for orchestra or other larger ensembles (such as Avanti! chamber Orchestra with conductor Esa Pekka Salonen in 2014), and performing with his many duo collaborations with contemporary classical & new music chamber musicians, playing totally free improvisations at his solo concerts, performing with his own contemporary & freejazz oriented groups & projects eg. the latest award winning “Liberty Ship” quartet (which album “Approaching” voted for “The Album of the Year 2013, by the New York City Jazz Record).
Besides his Liberty Ship, solo saxophone, Esa Pietilä 3 and other aforementioned projects, Esa has been expanding his musical “playground” with contemporary classic music genre, mixing together free jazz, improvisation and composed music. He also performs as a soloist with chamber orchestras & larger orchestras. In 2013 performed the premiere performance of Saxophone Concerto “Grounds” by widely known Finnish composer Eero Hämeenniemi. Eero´s concerto “Grounds” (taylor made for Esa) was performed by Se ensemble with famous conductor Santtu Matias Rouvali, having room for Esa´s improvisational skills to shine also in the concerto) The concerto was performed with Finnish Se ensamble and conducted Santtu-matias Rouvali… in 2014 Esa had the privilege to performed with world class conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen & Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. The concerto he premiered was called “Graffiti Play” (written by himself) for saxophone, improvising, contemporary jazz trio and chamber orchestra.
Pietilä has a “mission” to premiere new saxophone concertos and other larger scale works for saxophone & orchestra. On the next years, there will be performances of such works from Finnish composers, from Esa himself and others. He is also interested on hearing suggestions from composers and conductors to perform and premiere various works from the field of today´s contemporary music.
few new duos of Esa has also born to the compound field of improv & contemporary music. The duo Kujala- Pietilä Treatment with accordionist Veli Kujala in which they both include live-electronics in their improvised & composed duo context. Another duo “Unprecedented” with kantele artist Eija Kankaanranta is also a set-up with contemporary music & improvisation.
As a composer, Esa has composed music not only for the aforementioned groups, but has also been commissioned to write larger scale contemporary compositions for e.g. Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Zagros Ensamble, UMO Jazz Orchestra, different sized string orchestras, saxophone quartet, string quartet and for numerous jazz productions for the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation YLE. Esa has also written music for solo instruments, various mixed instrumentation groups and a multitude of national projects ranging from dance theater pieces to documentary films. For the near future, on the composing table, Esa has pieces for small contemporary ensembles & saxophone, string quartet & saxophone, concerto for chamber orchestra with electric violin & saxophone, saxophone concerto with symphony orchestra etc.
His playing and recordings has been thanked by such internationally well-known critics, reviewers and editors like Stuart Nicholson (UK), Laurence Donohue-Greene (AllAboutJazz-New York), Henning Bolte (The Netherlands), Don Williamson (Jazzreview.com), Robert Spencer (Cadence USA), Matthew Wuethrich (ALL ABOUT JAZZ) etc. His Liberty Ship Quartet´s album “Approaching” was nominated as an ” ALBUM OF THE YEAR – Best new releases 2013″ by The New York City Jazz Record magazine.
Esa´s groups & projects has stabilized his position performing on the national / international circuit, and have led him to play in USA, Canada, Japan, Italy, Germany, Norway, Sweden, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Iceland, England, USA, Australia, New Zeeland, Brazil and Cuba. He has performed with the names like Paal Nilssen-Love, Michael Jefry Stevens, Harvey Sorgen, Heiri Kaenzig, Jeff Siegel, Karl Berger, Mark Helias, John Esposito, Mathias Eick, Iro Haarla, Franziska Baumann, Christoph Baumann, Banz Oester, Mike Nock, Claudio Fasoli, Anders Begcrantz, Odean Pope, Raoul Björkenheim, Brian Melvin, Markku Ounaskari, Uffe Krokfors, Olavi Louhivuori, Aki Rissanen, Antti Lötjönen, Veli Kujala, Eija Kankaanranta, Lasse Marhaug, Tommi Keränen, Eivin Lonning, Simo laihonen, Oyvind Storesund, Ville Rauhala, Jari Hongisto, Sami Sippola, Stine Janvind Motland, Filip Augustson, Hilmar Jensson, Arthur Kell, Otto Gardner, 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…
In 2007 Pietilä started a series of totally improvised solo saxophone concerts, which will continue annually in Finland & abroad. The music is documented in 2009 released album “Karhea” and in 2017 released “Times & Spaces”
Along performing his music at international festivals, Esa Pietilä finds time to give masterclasses on improvisation which he has done ie.g. in Boston, Berklee Music school of Music, Louisville, Kentucky “Jamey Aebersold Jazz Program Studies”, Laval University in Montreal, Privatiuniversitet Wien, Graz University Jazz Department, Luzern Musichochschule in Switzerland, Malmö Royal Academy of music (Sweden), Reykjavik FUI Music School, Conservatory Giuseppi Tartini in Trieste, Italy, Conservatory Antonio Scrontino in Trapani, Sicily etc.
Pietilä was the artistic director of 2014 born Helsinki Free Fall festival that presents many kinds of new music on the fields of contemporary music, contemporary jazz, new music & improvisation.