Kuva/ Photo: Jarkko Rönnholm
Ari Jokelainen (b. 1976) started to play saxophone in high school in Oulu and continued it at the Pop & Jazz Conservatory in Helsinki after graduating from high school. The lessons with Jari Perkiömäki developped his musical skills a lot and in fall 1997 Jokelainen was accepted to the jazz department of Sibelius Academy. One of the first bands for Jokelainen in Helsinki was Unit 6, formed by Jokelainen, singer Johanna Iivanainen, pianist Jari Kanninen, guitarist Sami Linna, bassist Teemu Keränen and drummer Tommi Vainikainen, that released their debut album No. I in 1999. Unit 6 has been active since 1996 and has done two tours organized by the Jazz Federation and performed a lot at the jazz festivals in Finland.
In 1999 Jokelainen was awarded with the Artist of the Year Award of Pori Jazz Festival and performed on the festival e.g. with the trio of American pianist John Hicks. In summer 2002 Jokelainen played also an important gig at Pori Jazz Festival when he performed with the Saxophone Choir consisting of the Finnish saxophonists and formed by the American jazzlegend Odean Pope. Jokelainen has also been a member of many big bands since the middle of 1990's, one of the most long-lasting big bands being Bygga Big Band that Jokelainen has conducted since 2003. In May 2003 Jokelainen performed as a lead alto saxophonist of the European Jazz Orchestra for three weeks in Europe and Canada. In recent years Jokelainen has also been playing with Espoo Big Band.
Ari Jokelainen has for a long time been a technically skilled and precise alto saxophonist, who manages even the most complicated bebop patterns and the softest ballads. One of the most recent projects of the saxophonist are Ari Jokelainen Quartet and the attachments in Nat Newborn Big Time, Sid Hille Jazz Orchestra and Ricky-Tick Big Band. On the 21st century Jokelainen has also played on the two first albums of saxophonist Timo Lassy. He also teaches saxophone at the pop/jazz musician degree program at the Metropolia university of applied sciences and conducts JASO big band.