Born in 1964, Pekka Pylkkänen began playing the clarinet at the age of ten. He soon switched to the alto saxophone, later taking up different instruments, including flutes, clarinets, saxophones and piano. He received his Master of Music degree from the Sibelius Academy in 2001, majoring in the saxophone in performance. While studying in Finland, he took a year off to attend the Rotterdam Conservatory. He also studied privately in the USA with, for example, Dave Liebeman and Dick Oatts. He has participated in Masterclasses conducted by such virtuosos as Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell, Jack DeJohnette, Adam Nussbaum and Joey Calderazzo.
Pekka Pylkkänen has worked as a studio musician for recordings, radio and television broadcasts. He has led his own bands, the Pekka Pylkkänen Group, the Quartet Pylssy and Pekka’s Tube Factory. In addition to composing music for these groups, he has contributed works for the Onfonia Saxophone Quartet and other ensembles. Pekka Pylkkänen has performed at European jazz festivals with, for example, the Finnish vocal group How Many Sisters. As a saxophonist he has also been the first on call for many international stars playing in Finland: Vince Mendoza, Eumir Deodata, the Odean Pope Saxophone Choir, to name only a few.
Throughout his career Pekka Pylkkänen has worked for top Finnish singers and rock/pop groups as an arranger, bandleader and musician. He has palyed in many theatre productions, in such musicals as Cats, West Side Story and Mambo Kings, and has crossed boundaries into classical repertoire performing with many Finnish symphony orchestras, playing contemporary classical music by Kari Heinilä, Jarmo Sermilä, Kirmo Lintinen and Timo Hietala.
For many years, Pekka Pylkkänen was a member of the UMO Jazz Orchestra and Espoo Big Band in Finland. With these bands he has toured all over the world and has played in concerts and made live radio recordings with artists including Grady Tate, Jiggs Whigham, Steve Turre, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Rich Schemaria, Gil Goldstein, Paquito D’Rivera, Madeleine Eastman, Maria Schneider and Joe Henderson. He has also played with the Swedish Bohuslän Big Band and the North Sea Big Band in Holland.