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Pekka Pylkkanen


Born in Helsinki, Finland, on September 23rd, 1964. At age 4 started to listen intensively to records that his father brought from his business trips abroad, consisting of New Orleans jazz, musical show soundtracks and big band and Latin-American music. Started to play piano at age 6, but had to stop it after a while because of a change of the school.

Finally picked up the clarinet at age 10 and at 12 got his first alto sax. Played in the school’s orchestra and big bands, later on also in jazz and funk groups. Started the musical studies at the Pop and Jazz Institute, later on got into the Pop and Jazz Conservatory which led further to studies at the Sibelius Academy.

Spent one year studying in the Netherlands, at the Rotterdams’ Conservatory.

Studied privately in the US with David Liebman, also with Bob Mintzer, Bob Sheppard, Gary Keller, Dick Oatts. Lessons also with Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Brookmeyer, Tim Hagans, Richie Perry, Jukka Perko, Jukkis Uotila, Thomas Franck,


Final concert at the Sibelius Academy, year 1996

Master’s Degree from the Sibelius Academy, year 2001

Extra studies in Sibelius Academy, from 2003 on

Degree in Education, University of Helsinki, year 2005


Started his professional career while already studying, performing in clubs and working in theatres and studios. Also an active member of big bands and latin groups. A founding member of the Big Bad Family and Fiestecita, both very well-known groups in Finland at the time. Formed his first own groups in the beginning of 90’s. Played full-time in the UMO Jazz Orchestra from 1995 to 1998, and still continued playing occasionally there. In 1995 moved for a while to Sweden where worked with the Bohuslan Big Band. A founding member of the Jere Laukkanen’s Finnish Afro-Cuban All Stars, also produced the CD for the Naxos Jazz that got wonderful reviews for example in the Los Angeles Times.

In 1996 produced and conducted a big band CD, Big Bad Family, that was given the EMMA prize the same year. Also played in Espoo Big Band and free-lanced intensively.

Studio work from 1983 on. Played actively in various big bands and latin groups in the 80’s and the 90’s. Also played with Bohuslan Big Bnad in Sweden for several months in 1995, touring all over the Nordic Countries.

Worked as a musician in musical shows, such as Cats, Oliver Twist, Mambo Kings, West Side Story and Producers and Chicago.

Free-lancing with pop groups and singers from 1985 on.

Performing with various visiting artists, such as Odean Pope, David Liebman, etc.

While playing with the UMO Jazz Orchestra and Espoo Big Band, toured in the US, Germany, Sweden, Australia, New Zeeland and performed and recorded with, for example: Grady Tate, Joe Henderson, Mercer Ellington, Madeleine Eastman, Paquito D’Rivera, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Michael Abene, Jim McNeil, McCoy Tyner, Jiggs Whigham, Paul McCandless, Gil Goldstein, Steve Slagle, Dick Oatts, Bob Mintzer, Gary Smulyan, New York Voices, etc.

Performed also contemporary classical music by Charles Ives and Finnish composers such as Paavo Heininen, Jukka Linkola, Jarmo Sermila and Kirmo Lintinen.


Having formed first own groups in the early 90’s and having played at various festivals and clubs, started also writing music for those groups. Performed at the Cotton Club Helsinki, Winter Jazz, and Kerava Jazz. In 1996 formed the still existing group Pekka Pylkkanen’s Tube Factory, performing in Silkki Jazz, Lahti Jazz Market Place, Ateneum Hall, Jyvaskyla Summer Jazz, etc. Recorded the first recording for the Naxos Jazz label in 1998, Pekka Pylkkanen: Pekka’s Tube Factory that was very warmly welcomed by both professionals and critics. Got invited to perform at the Beijing Music Festival in 1999. Second CD Pekka Pylkkanen’s Tube Factory: Opaque was released in 2001 and was welcomed as warmly as the previous recording. The band has since then toured around the world, performing in China, Japan, Korea, USA, Norway, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina. Tours intensely in Japan- (May-June 2008 consisted of 16 concerts all around Japan in 3 ½ weeks, November 2008 22 concerts in 4 weeks, both Korea and Japan,). Also performs actively with pianists Greg Burk and Markus Niittynen as duo. Composes music constantly for different line-ups. Duo-concerts with Greg Burk, for example at the ISIM Conference in Chicago, 2007. Performs and records with saxophone quartet Onfonia. His third CD: Listen! was released digitally by Art Of Life Records in 2008 and the physical CD was released by LUMINO RECORDS in 2009.

Pekka Pylkkänen’s Tube Factory has played more than 300 concerts during the last few years, most of them abroad.

Other current projects include the Pylkkänen/Ezequiel Quartet, together with the Brazilian drummer Carlos Ezequiel, the Irish bassist Ronan Guilfoyle and American/Italian pianist Greg Burk. Another project together with the Brazilian master-pianist and composer Jovino Santos Neto. From 2010 on a new group called Pekka Pylkkanen Global Unit has been performing on different corners of the world.

The newest project called Pekka Pylkkanen NY Connection will start during the spring of 2011, featuring Jay Amderson on bass, and Phil Markowitz on piano.

Recordings as a leader for Naxos Jazz:

Pekka Pylkkanen: Pekka’s Tube Factory (released in 1999)

Pekka Pylkkanen’s Tube Factory: Opaque (released in 2001)

Recordings for YLE The National Broadcasting Company: With the Tube Factory in 1997, 2000 and 2004; with The Onfonia Saxophone Quartet in 2002 and 2004; with pianist Greg Burk as a duo in 2008.

First appearance in China at the Beijing Music Festival, 1999

Appearances on festivals such as: Trondheim Jazz Festival (05), Beijing Jazz Festival (07), Jarasum Jazz Festival (07), Water Village World Music Festival (07), Jazz It Up! Shanghai (07), Providencia Festival de Jazz (07), San Pedro Festival De Jazz (07), IAJE/New York (07), La Plata Festival De Jazz (03),(09), Jazz Peru (03), Jazz En Abril (05), major jazz clubs in Japan, Argentina, Peru, China, concert hall and Broadcasting Studio (TV) appearances in Korea. Pylkkänen/Ezequiel Quartet appearancs at the Copenhagen Winter Jazz Festival 2010.

Hong Kong International Jazz festival on 2010 plus hudreds of club appearances in Asia, Europe and the Americas.


Started giving saxophone and flute lessons already in -83, continued to teach at local music institutes, including the Pop And Jazz Conservatory, Kerava Music Institute and also at the Joensuu Conservatory. Started teaching full-time at the Pop and Jazz Conservatory in 1997, leading to a post at the Stadia Helsinki Polytechnic in 2000, heading the wind instrument department, teaching saxophone and flute, improvising and ensembles and lecturing in the teacher training program. Year 2002 became Principal Lecturer and stayed in the school’s board for many years, also joined/visited many international conferences and committees while working as such, including IASJ Jazz Meetings, IAJE, Nord Plus/Nord Puls (Nordic Countries Network for Jazz Colleges), worked a few years also in an unofficial board of Nord Puls (Working Group) etc.

Has been giving master classes, private instruction and workshops around the world, including Finland, Sweden, China (many cities), Argentina (many cities), Peru, USA, Japan, Brazil.

For the moment works as a lecturer and as the Head of the Pop/Jazz Music Degree Programn and as the general head of music program at the North Karelia University of Applied Sciences in Joensuu, Finland.

Full-time teaching position from 1997 until 2000 at the Pop and Jazz Conservatory.

From 2000 until 2007 working as a principal lecturer at Stadia Helsinki Polytechnic, and as the Head Of Wind Instrument Department. Teaching duties: instrumental lessons, improvisation and pedagogy, coaching ensembles and workshops. Also heading the international affairs and joining committees and conferences worldwide. Has been giving workshops and lecturing in Ingesund College of Music (Sweden), Turku Conservatory (Finland), Escuela de Musica Contemporanea (Argentina), EMU Education Musical (Argentina), Collegium CEIM (Argentina), Jazz House Peru, MIDI School of Music (China), Contemporary Music Institute (China), Institute for Performing Arts (China), Shanghai Conservatory (China), PAN School of Music (Tokyo, Japan), Nagasaki University (Japan), Universidad de Rio Grande Do Sul (Porto Alegre, Brazil), Souza Lima Conservatory (Sao Paulo, Brazil), EMESP Tom Jobim (Sao Paulo, Brazil) Helsingör Musikskola (Denmark), and Carl Nielsen Academy (Denmark), Koyo Conservatory (Japan), Hong Kong Institute of Education (Hong Kong), Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (Hong Kong), Tokyo College of Music (Japan).