The Yrjö Jazz award 2016 was given to saxophonist Esa Pietilä (b. 1964) for his original, genre-defying work in the field of avant-garde jazz.
“Pietilä is known as a fearless improviser and musical visionary. His repertory is extremely versatile, including collaborations with classical orchestras. Moreover, he has brought not only Finnish but also international critics to their knees: the influential jazz magazine New York City Jazz Record shortlisted the debut album of Pietilä’s group Liberty Ship among the albums of 2013,” Petteri Klintrup, the Chair of the Finnish Jazz Federation board, explained.
The Yrjö Jazz Prize is an annual award given to a Finnish jazz artist in acknowledgement of his or her outstanding contribution to Finnish jazz music.
Esa Pietilä´s solo album Times & Spaces connects the acoustic expression of solo saxophone with live-electronics. The double album is a strong artistic statement and exploration into the world of improvisation. The album consists of two discs, one with acoustic expression and the second one with live-electronics which connects tenor saxophone´s acoustic expression with immense possibilities of live-electronics. With live-electronics Pietilä creates diverse atmospheres and unique musical ambients. Pietilä exploits the use of live-electronics with his own personal ways e.g. with motion censors and other unusual controllers to tweak sounds etc. Times & Spaces is the second solo saxophone album of Pietilä.
Internationally acclaimed Finnish contemporary composer Kalevi Aho wrote a tenor saxophone concerto and dedicated it to Esa Pietilä. Esa will do the premiere performances of the new concerto with two Finnish orchestras in march 2016. The concerto is the first (and only one) in the world written for tenor saxophone from a truly notable composer of major international “big league”. The concerto will present Aho´s extraordinary compositional skills, orchestration technique and his magnificent ability to write for a solo instrument as a soloist for orchestra. In the concerto Aho has used all the possible (and extended) playing techniques for the todays modern tenor saxophone to handle plus allowes some room for Esa´s improvisational skills. Esa Pietilä is proud have the privilige to do the first performances of the concerto. The first performance of (a double premiere) is on 10th of march with Pori Sinfonietta at city of Pori in Finland and the second premiere will happen on 17th of march with Lappeenranta City Orchestra in Lappeenranta, Finland
Graffiti Play, a 40 minute orchestral piece composed by Esa Pietilä premieres its (world) First Performance in Helsinki oct. 5th 2014 with conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen & Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. The work is written for a contemporary, improvising jazz trio and saxophone as a soloist for the orchestra and it also contains parts in the orchestra, where the orchestra members improvise too. Besides Pietilä at saxophone, in the trio, there is Mika Kallio on drums, Ville Herrala on bass & Janne Tuomi with extra percussion. Esa-Pekka Salonen is one of the leading conductors in the world and the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra has gained vast reputation all over the world with its uncompromising and intransigent work on the field of modern contemporary & avant-garde music field. The artistic leader of Avanti! is the worldwide renowed clarinetist Kari Kriikku.
Editor (The Guardian & Jazz Journal) and Jazz enthusiastic Wif Stenger has made his top 10 list of Finnish Jazz releases 2013-2014. We´re proud to announce that Liberty Ship´s “Approaching” belongs into the list. Thanks!