Kuva/ Photo: Maarit Kytöharju
Mikko Innanen (b. 1978) is a saxophone player and a composer originally from Lapinjärvi, Finland. Innanen started playing the alto saxophone at the age of ten and became later interested in jazz, thanks to the record collection of his father and Innanen's first saxophone teacher Bengt Ingelin. After studying at the Concervatory of Loviisa and the Pop/Jazz Concervatory nearby, Innanen moved to Helsinki in 1994 to study at the jazz department of Sibelius Academy where he received his Master of Music degree in 2003. In addition, he spent a year of his studies (1998–99) as an exchange student at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In the last ten or so years Mikko Innanen has established his position as one of the most innovative saxophonists and composers on the Nordic scene for jazz and improvised music. His earlier merits include winning the best soloist prize at the International Competition for Jazz Groups in Getxo, Spain in 2000 and achieving the first prize at the first Jukka Perko Saxophone Contest in Huittinen, Finland.
In November 2008, he received the Finnish Jazz Federation’s annual Georgie, Yrjö, Award as the Finnish jazz musician of the year. Arts Council of Finland awarded him a three-year grant for artistic work in 2009. He was also nominated for the Nordic Council's Music Prize in 2011.
Innanen is known for his work both as a group leader, a co-leader, a featuring soloist and a composer. He has formed many bands, such as Mikko Innanen & Innkvisitio, PLOP, Delirium, Gourmet and Mikko Innanen Trio. Besdies all these, he influences also in Kalle Kalima & K-18, Pekka Tuppurainen Röd/Blå, Wade Mikkola Contrasts, Tonight at Noon and The Chile-Finlandia Connexion, just to name a few. Despite the hardships in the field of jazz record business, Innanen has managed to stay active as a recording artist. To date he has published ca. 20 recordings as a leader or co-leader and about 15 as a sideman.
Innanen has performed and recorded with several internationally well-known artists, such as Anders Bergcrantz, Ted Curson, Ingrid Jensen, Verneri Pohjola, Juhani Aaltonen, Liudas Mockunas, Frank Gratkowsk, Jukka Perko, Aki Rissanen, Sylvie Courvoisier, Iro Haarla, Georgos Kontrafouris, Severi Pyysalo, Takayuki Kato, Ryan Blotnick, Hans Olding, Raoul Björkenheim, Ken Filiano, Barry Guy, Pascal Niggenkemper, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, James Ilgenfritz, Max Johnson, William Parker, Tom Rainey, Joe Hertenstein, Juan Pablo Carlett, Andrew Cyrill, Paal Nilssen-Love, Kresten Osgood, Klaus Suonsaari, Randy Peterson, and with many, many bands.