Kuva/ Photo: Maarit Kytöharju
Mikko Iivanainen (b. 1975) grabbed the guitar first time when he was 11-years-old, one of the biggest inspirers being a documentary of Jimi Hendrix shown in the television. The guitar and music theory studies began at the Pop & Jazz Conservatory of Oulunkylä and continued on the secondary level, where he graduated as a guitar teacher in 1999. Fall 1998 he spent in the University of Music and Performing Arts of Gratz, Austria, as an exchange student where the international Tales Quartet was born.
In the beginning of 1990's Iivanainen heard guitarist Raoul Björkenheim's Krakatau-band for the first time which was an important experience and a push for Iivanainen to form his very own jazzband. In 1996 Free Control was born where, besides Iivanainen, played his collegues from Porvoo, bassist Lasse Lindgren and drummer Thomas Törnroos. In 1998 trio released a radiotape as their debut album Free Control (MPI/omakustanne). The impact of the energy of Jimi Hendrix and Raoul Björkenheim can be heard in Iivanainen's compositions but there is some sensibility in there as well. Free Control performed also with singer Johanna Iivanainen, wife of the guitarist, both on Jazz Federation's tour in September 2003 and on the soloalbum of the singer a year later.
Mikko Iivanainen had an idea for a long time to form a trio with saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen and drummer Klaus Suonsaari. In 2005 this idea was tested in action as the trio recorded a radiotape for YLE, where all the songs were mainly written by Iivanainen and Suonsaari. This session was released as an album, with the name of Wonders Never Cease (KSJazz), in spring 2006 when the trio, now called Nordic Trinity, did also a tour organized by the Finnish Jazz Federation. The album was praised by critics and also a nominee for the Jazz-Emma Prize in Emma Awards.
As a sideman Iivanainen has played for example in Loco Motife, a band of pianist-harpist Iro Haarla and bassist Ulf Krokfors, and in singer Mirella Pendolini's Kurkirku Quintet. With Johanna Iivanainen he has performed a lot as a duo, but they have also recorded children's music with the Pegasos-band on the album Yksisarvinen. Iivanainen also belonged to the permanent group of musicians of Steamin' Jazz Club that worked for a long time in Bar Mary, Porvoo.