Kari Ikonen & Karikko @ Dizzy’s Club NYC


Kari Ikonen – piano, rhodes, moog synthesizer
Staffan Svensson – trumpet, flugelhorn
Sonny Heinilä – flute, alto flute, tenor sax
Vincent Courtois – cello
Ulf Krokfors – double bass
Mika Kallio – drums

New album “The Helsinski Suite” was nominated for 40.000 € Teosto Award for its compositions !!!

”I’m impressed. Ikonen’s overall vision is powerful and unique. This recording (The Helsinski Suite), to my ears is exquisite, mysterious, mystical, sensitive, strange, funny, subtle, reflective and beautifully played with each musician displaying great tone and feeling at the highest level. Bravo!!” -Bob Moses

”With The Helsinski Suite, Ikonen has created once again his own perspectives of, or reactions to, or elaborations upon, various genres. At the same time, he has set up opportunities for the members of Karikko to personalize his music through exceptional individual performances as well.”         -Cadence Magazine (USA)

“The Helsinski Suite is some of the finest music I have heard on cd for a really long time!”         -Jazznytt (NOR)

“No, this is too strong for my conventional taste” -Orkesterjournalen (SWE)

”The combination of cello, trumpet and flute was an unusual but inspired choice, and it gave Karikko a sound all its own.” -All About Jazz (USA)

“Karikko provided the very challenge we hope to get from jazz, and matched the austerity of the music with a new, utterly distinct kind of beauty.” -Rochester CityNewspaper (USA)

Kari Ikonen & Vincent Courtois
Kari Ikonen & Karikko at the Lutheran Church, RIJF 2009.
Photo by Thomas Frizelle.

For more than a decade, the Finnish pianist and composer Kari Ikonen has developed his compositional voice through his ensemble Karikko. Ikonen deploys Karikko’s instrumental and improvisational possibilities almost as if he were composing for an orchestra, creating a style that balances elegance and intimacy with boldness and expansiveness. Vibrant, swinging rhythmic elements pulse through his music at all times, in dialogue with the lyrical voicings and rich colours of the ensemble passages.

The 40-year-old Ikonen has studied piano performance and composition in Finland, most notably at the Sibelius Academy, as well as abroad at the Rotterdam Conservatory. His debut album, Karikko (Fiasko Records), won the Emma (Finland’s Grammy) for the Year’s Best Jazz Album in 2001. In addition to writing for Karikko, he also regularly composes works for a range of occasions and ensembles, such as for the Finnish radio big band, UMO. His compositions have been honoured internationally, taking first prize in the Julius Hemphill Composition Awards and in the Italian Scrivere in Jazz.

Ikonen is also an active member of various ensembles. He plays the piano in his own trio and the art-song/jazz-vocal ensemble Ahava. He also experiments with synthesizers and electronics in the electro-acoustic improvisation trio Gnomus, Markus Holkko Quartet and Sanni Orasmaa’s SLOmotive.

Interpreting Karikko’s detailed and diverse compositions requires versatile and imaginative collaborators. After a decade of line-up changes, Ikonen has now assembled the definitive Karikko ensemble. In addition to his own ensembles, the French cellist Vincent Courtois has collaborated extensively with the likes of Louis Sclavis, Michel Portal, Yves Robert and Rabih Abou Khalil. Gothenburg-based trumpeter Staffan Svensson has been heard frequently in concerts and on more than 50 albums with musicians like Anders Jormin, Bobo Stenson, Palle Danielsson, Jon Balke and Jon Cristensen. Bassist Ulf Krokfors is known for his work with Edward Vesala, Jarmo Savolainen Trio and Raoul Björkenheim’s Krakatau. Nowadays he can be heard in the bands of Iro Haarla and Juhani Aaltonen. Saxophonist and flutist Sonny Heinilä has pursued his own musical path, as a sideman to the likes of Edward Vesala and Jarmo Savolainen, and in his own projects, such as Tribus with Anders Jormin. Mika Kallio adds his exceptional ear for texture and colour to numerous groups, most notably Gnomus, Gourmet, the Sébastien Boisseau Unit, as well as in bands led by the guitarist Raoul Björkenheim or the saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen.

Recordings: Karikko (Fiasko 2001), Oceanophonic (Texicalli 2008) and The Helsinski Suite (Eclipse 2011)


Karikko @ Entranet Festival, Malmö (SE)
Photo by Nanja Pontoppidan.


Listen to the music at Soundcloud