jazzahead! 2017

27.04.2017 – 30.04.2017

Jazzahead, held annually in Bremen, Germany is considered the most important international gathering of jazz music professionals and concert goers. Finland has been chosen as the partner country for jazzahead 2017. Eight Finnish artists will perform at the official showcase. 

Jazzahead consists of a high-level showcase festival and a trade fair, and since 2006 when the first jazzahead! took place, the event has grown constantly.

Showcase artists

Aki Rissanen Trio

Pianist Aki Rissanen has been quickly rising among the few top forces of the instrument in Finnish Jazz. He has released 7 albums under his own name and has recorded with such names as Dave Liebman, Rick Margitza, Tim Hagans and Verneri Pohjola. His latest album Amorandom (Edition Records) has been critically acclaimed all around the world and the pianist is gaining a growing reputation on the European scene. Rissanen leads the Aki Rissanen Trio with Antti Lötjönen on bass and Teppo Mäkynen on drums.



Dalindèo is a sextet founded in 2003 and led by composer and guitarist Valtteri Pöyhönen. The group’s unique sound consists of danceable rhythms, strong melodies and an emphasis on the craftsmanship of top musicians, with influences drawn from composer giants such as Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin and Duke Ellington. Dalindèo’s fourth album Slavic Souls blends contemporary jazz with traditional Finnish Tango music and northern schlager, taking a somewhat darker turn than their previous works.



Saxophone player Mikko Innanen is one of the most accomplished Finnish composers and musicians on the international jazz circuit. He is also the leader of Gourmet, a sextet formed in 1997 and featuring exuberant music by Innanen and Esa Onttonen (guitar). Besides the two, this unconventional ensemble features trombonist Ilmari Pohjola, accordionist Veli Kujala, drummer Mika Kallio and tubist Petri Keskitalo.

Gourmet's facebook page

Kari Ikonen Trio

Kari Ikonen Trio’s two albums, released by German label Ozella, have gained a lot of international success, making the band busy playing in clubs and festivals all over Europe and in the USA. German JAZZTHETIK and American Something Else Reviews chose the trio’s debut album Bright on their lists of the best jazz albums of 2013. The follow-up, Beauteous Tales and Offbeat Stories from 2015 and was immediately picked as the "jazz album of the week" at NDR and one of the hot new releases at The Europe Jazz Media Chart. 


Raoul Björkenheim Ecstasy

Raoul Björkenheim formed Ecstasy in 2010, bringing two young talents, Pauli Lyytinen and Jori Huhtala, along with long-time accomplice Markku Ounaskari, into the spotlight in a repertory of original compositions painting swirling polyrhythms with a free-tonal palette. With influences ranging from Korean and African music to contemporary chamber music and free rock, Ecstasy's mission is to elevate its audiences with high energy and a dedication to adventurous sound. 


Tenors of Kalma

Tenors of Kalma is a trio formed by the utterly versatile Berlin-based guitarist and composer Kalle Kalima, genre-hopping multi-instrumentalist Jimi Tenor and drummer Joonas Riippa. Mixing jazz elements with electronica and their very own unique spices, They released their debut album Electric Willow in 2015 via ENJA Yellow Bird Records. 


Verneri Pohjola Group

Trumpeter and composer Verneri Pohjola has been in the international spotlight for the past few years, as his latest album Bullhorn (Edition Records) was released to critical acclaim in early 2015. With his new group Pohjola performs the compositions of his late father, legendary Pekka Pohjola. The versions will be released as an album in 2017 by Edition Records. 



VIRTA's brand of art combines textures of Nordic jazz, electronica and post-rock with avant-garde sensibilities. On their second album Hurmos their compositions have gravitated more and more towards electronic sounds. The trio and their quirky instrumentation have already raised international interest and have performed at, to mention a few, the 12-Points festival in Dublin, Match & Fuse Festival in Oslo and Pori Jazz in Finland.


Finland is the partner country

The partner country status will mean wide attention for Finnish jazz in Jazzahead program, including the Finnish Night on 27 April, the Gala Concert on 28 April as well as the Club Night, spreading all over the city of Bremen on 29 April. The opening showcase night will present eight Finnish bands at the stages in Hall 7 and Kulturzentrum Schlachthof. At the fair, a partner country lounge as well as the Finnish umbrella stand will be the place to get in contact with the jazz scene, festivals and other culture field players of Finland.

The country partnership of Finland is kicked off with Kultur aus Finnland, a two-week cultural festival taking place in the major cultural institutions of Bremen. Kultur aus Finnland dates are 15–30 April 2017. Produced by the Finnish Institute in Germany, the festival features visual arts, literature, contemporary dance as well as circus.

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