The Yrjö Jazz award 2016 was given to saxophonist Esa Pietilä (b. 1964) for his original, genre-defying work in the field of avant-garde jazz.
"Pietilä is known as a fearless improviser and musical visionary. His repertory is extremely versatile, including collaborations with classical orchestras. Moreover, he has brought not only Finnish but also international critics to their knees: the influential jazz magazine New York City Jazz Record shortlisted the debut album of Pietilä’s group Liberty Ship among the albums of 2013," Petteri Klintrup, the Chair of the Finnish Jazz Federation board, explained.
The Yrjö Jazz Prize is an annual award given to a Finnish jazz artist in acknowledgement of his or her outstanding contribution to Finnish jazz music. Awarded by the Finnish Jazz Federation, the umbrella organisation of Finnish jazz, the Yrjö was launched in 1967, the year that the Federation was founded. In 2015, the prize was given to bassist Ulf Krokfors.
The Varjo-Yrjö prize, granted by the Finnish Broadcasting Company, Yleisradio, was given to photographer Maarit Kytöharju.