Biography

I was born on 13th of October 1975 in Helsinki Finland. I started to play the guitar at the age of 11, when my older sister taught me some chords. During that time I saw a documentary of Jimi Hendrix on television and I was hooked. It made a huge influence in me. I believe the same thing has happened to thousands and thousands of guitar players, thank you Jimi! 

 

At the age of 13 I started to take guitar lessons more seriously at the Pop & Jazz Music Institute in Helsinki. Later I started to study at the same place to become a guitar teacher and I gratuated in 1999. I had great teachers: Keijo Pennanen, Harri Louhensuo and Jarmo Hynninen. The 1998 fall semester I went to Graz Austria as an exchange student, where I took lessons for example from Uli Rennert and Ed Neumeister. During that time I played in an international group called Tales, led by guitarist Krystzofa Gorniak from Poland. The other members where from Greece and Kosovo. We have performed with that group in Austria and Morocco and we also have released one album. 

In 2011 I started to study composing in Helsinki Metropolia Pop and Jazz Music Degree program with my wonderful teachers: Esa Onttonen, Mikko Hassinen and Vellu Halkosalmi. I graduated in 2017 and had a final concert at Koko Jazz Club in Helsinki with a line-up of a guitar/bass/drums trio and a string quartet. The quartet played my first piece for string quartet, which was strongly influenced by Dimitri Shostakovitch. Although I’m not a classical musician, but I’ m very interested in it. Genre limitations are not for me. I love music. That’s all.  

 

I formed my first own band in 1996. The group was called Free Control. We were active till 2002 and we released two albums. We continued with the same line-up to become my wife’s Johanna Iivanainen (singer/songwriter) group. We released her debut album in 2004 and the album was nominated as one of the best jazz albums in Finland. 

In 2004-2005 I joined a group called Loco Motife led by Iro Haarla and Ulf Krokfors and we released ´Penguin Beguine´ cd that won the Jazz Emma prize for the best domestic jazz album of the year. I also joined a group called Kurkirku, which released an album called ´The Mesh`, also nominated as one of the best jazz albums in Finland. 

In 2005 I formed a new group called Nordic Trinity with Juhani Aaltonen on saxophone and flute and Klaus Suonsaari on drums. Since then we have released six albums and toured Finland almost every year. We have made about 200 gigs and it’s always a pleasure and privilege to play with these gentlemen. I don’t know any better ways to learn music and playing and at the same time enjoy life than performing live with a great band. I love it!

In 2013 Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish) asked me to play on his solo album called ´The Life and Times Of Scrooge´. It was a great experience for me. Album was released in 2014 by Sony Music and it sold gold in Finland in just a few weeks. 

In 2014 I released my debut solo album called `Last Room´. I composed and arranged it to a group of ten musicians including a string quartet.

The top folk musicians in Finland pianist and composer Timo Alakotila and accordionist Maria Kalaniemi suggested in fall 2017 to me and Johanna that we should combine our duos and play together as a quartet. Soon it happened like in a fairy tail. We had just one rehearsal before our first gig and everything went so great that we decided to make a Christmas album. We have been playing Christmas concerts and also other concerts and it’s always a privilege to play with these fantastic musicians.

In 2019 I managed to do something that I wanted to do for many years: I recorded a solo album. The release will be in spring 2020 and it’s going to be literally a solo album, so it’s just me playing acoustic and electric guitars. In some of the songs I’m using a looper to make several layers.

 

When I think about all the guitarists that have made an influence on me, I really cannot emphasize Jimi Hendrix enough. I admire his playing, but also his abilities as a songwriter and a lyricist. Other guitarists that have made a big influence on me are (Here’s just a few names, no specific order, the list grows longer every day..): Bill Frisell, Ritchie Blackmoore, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Wayne Krantz, Tom Morello, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Mike Stern, Jarmo Saari, Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Ben Monder, Tommy Emmanuel, Guthrie Govan, George Benson, Django Reinhardt, John Fruciante, Joe Satriani, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Esa Pulliainen, Eric Johnson, Frank Gambale, Jeff Beck, Grant Green, Heikki Silvennoinen

 

I´ve been fortunate and honored to perform and/or record with ensembles and artists such as: UMO Jazz Orchestra, Lahti Sinfonietta, Joensuu City Orchestra, Kuopio City Orchestra, Pori Sinfonietta, Tuomas Holopainen, Troy Donocley, Johanna Kurkela, Anders Bergkranz, Wadada Leo Smith, Iro Haarla, Uffe Krokfors, Junnu Aaltonen, Klaus Suonsaari, Johanna Iivanainen, Severi Pyysalo, Kari ´Sonny` Heinilä, Mika Kallio, Mikko Innanen, Raoul Björkenheim, Thomas Törnroos, Kalle Katz, Rasmus Korström, Marian Petrescu, Mihai Petrescu, Antti Sarpila, Keith Hall, Pentti Lasanen, Tom Nekljudov, Jukka Perko, Lasse Lindgren, Mikko Kaakkuriniemi, Kari Ikonen, Jukka Eskola, Petri Puolitaival, Antti Lötjönen, Susanna Hietala, Jarno T. Karjalainen, Jaska Lukkarinen, Mika Kallio, Senni Eskelinen, Niko Votkin, Kalle Ylitalo, Ville Herrala, Timo Alakotila, Maria Kalaniemi, Teemu Takanen