Kuva/ Photo: Maarit Kytöharju
Iro Haarla (b. 1956) is a Finnish jazzpianist, -harpist, -keyboardplayer, a composer and a groupleader. She studied piano and composing at the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki in the 1970's and has since worked as an important actor both in the Finnish jazzgroups and as a solo artist.
Iro Haarla had an important role in the music of her spouse, drummer Edward Vesala, especially in Sound & Fury -band from 1970s till the death of Vesala in 1999. Haarla's piano and harp were an essential part of the sound of Sound & Fury and the arranging work she did was vital for the activity of the band. The later work of Haarla reveals well how important her input to Sound & Fury has been.
Iro started the 21st century with soloconcerts and a duo album with saxophonist Pepa Päivinen. The British record label November released the album Yarra Yarra (2001) of the duo and it got great feedback around the world. Another duo partner for Haarla in the beginning of the 21st century was saxophonist Tapani Rinne. They didn't release any actual duo album but Haarla featured on Rinne's solo album Nectic. Later the pianist has featured in RinneRadio and played as a sideman in the new band of saxophonist Jorma Tapio, Rolling Thunder.
The productive co-operation with bassist Ulf Krokfors started also as a duo project. The album Heart of a Bird (TUM 2003) consists of compositions of both of the musicians and the moods of these compositions go together seamlessly. Haarla's and Krokfors' bandproject Loco Motife introduced complitely different moods on it's album Penguin Beguine (TUM 2005) that was recorded in the beginning of 2004. The entity of the album is a tour on different moods, from straight jazz to more freer expression and a ballad sang by vocalist Johanna Iivanainen. Penguin Beguine was awarded with the Emma Award in 2005 as the Jazz Album of the Year and was also a nominee for the Teosto Prize.
In 2005 ECM relesed Haarla's solo album Northbound where played, besides Haarla and Krokfors, a few Norwegian jazzlegends. The album got great feedback and later Manfred Eicher, who had produced also Haarla's first solo album, produced another great album, Vespers, from the Finnish-Norwegian quartet that was released in 2011. In 2006 Haarla was awarded with the official recognition prize of Finnish jazz field, the Georgie (Yrjö) Award.