Photo: Ville Paul Paasimaa
Vibraphone player Panu Savolainen ranks among the top prospects in the Finnish jazz scene. Despite his young age, Savolainen has already gained attention especially with his own combo HERD, which won the first prize of the European Jazz Competition presented by Rotterdam’s North Sea Jazz Festival in 2011. Another noteworthy early accolade for Savolainen was the ”Artist of the Year” selection by Finland’s premiere jazz festival, Pori Jazz, in 2010. In 2014 Savolainen succeeded Iiro Rantala as the artistic director of Kalkkiranta Jazz Festival.
Savolainen has been mentored by such giants as David Friedman, Rob Waring, Jukkis Uotila, Tim Hagans and Dave Samuels, and among his collaborators we find such names as Bobby Hutcherson, Cedar Walton and Peter Erskine. He has studied at the jazz department of Sibelius Academy and Jazz Institute Berlin. A training in orchestral percussion adds a distinctive splash of colour to Savolainen's style. Indeed, his ability to draw from both of these musical traditions manifests itself in an irresistable cocktail of straight-ahead swing and technical prowess.
There is no doubt that it is this strong technical know-how and a great ability to insert his own personal style of playing into any given musical setting that have secured him a steady foothold at the top of Finnish jazz. This is a remarkable achievement for any musician - especially for one whose most memorable moments are still lying ahead.
ed. Annamari Innanen 7.11.2014