Kuva/Photo: Maarit Kytöharju
AR Quartet is a group composed of four promising musicians, mainly performing the frontman, pianist-composer Artturi Rönkä’s pieces. Surely the biggest feather in Rönkä's cap is the prestigious "Artist of the Year" prize, received at the Pori Jazz Festival in 2013. Despite his young age, he is already a distinguished and internationally awarded composer, who draws from both the traditions of modern jazz and contemporary music in his writing. The final touch, however, comes from the quartet’s seamless cooperation and free-flowing improvisation.
A European influence is present in AR Quartet in many ways. The group’s saxophonist, Sampo Kasurinen, and the maestro Rönkä himself have studied music abroad in addition to their home country; Kasurinen in Berlin and Rönkä in Paris.
The quartet has also carried off several prizes already, both in Finland and Europe. In May 2012 they won the Finnish qualifying heat for the inter-Scandinavian Young Nordic Jazz Comets competition, representing Finland in the final round in Copenhagen. The Finnish YNJC jury praised the quartet's performance and expression as "strong and dynamic" and their interaction as "natural and immersive". In next September, they received the second prize in Jazz Hoeilaart competition, in Belgium. And at We Jazz festival in December 2013, the inaugural year of this new jazz happening organised in Helsinki, they were granted the “Rising Star” award. With the help of the award the group began to work on the release of their first album.
AR Quartet’s debut, AR Quartet (Fredriksson Music), came out in March 2014. The album is in many ways a distillation of the group's strengths; tightly-knit co-operation, high-class material and unique voice, all of which promise a bright future for them.