Pianist and composer Mika Pohjola presents a weekly concert series at the Finnish Church (Finska Kyrkan/Suomalainen Kirkko) in Stockholm spanning July and August 2014. The series features notable guest artists from Sweden and Finland, in a duo and trio format, who will perform with Pohjola every Wednesday starting at 11:30 am. They will present music in the jazz and Scandinavian troubadour idioms, including jazz standards, original compositions and hymns.
The series will feature Finnish singer-songwriter Fredrik Furu (July 2), Åland Islands native Johanna Grussner with Swedish saxophonist Peter Nordwall (July 9), guitarist Ola Bengtsson (July 16), bassist Filip Augustson and drummer Peter Danemo (July 23), Finnish singer-songwriter Eeppi Ursin (July 30), Finnish saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen and Swedish vocalist-cellist Anni Egecioglu (August 6) and Finnish saxophonist and composer Pekka Pylkkänen (August 13).
The Finnish Church is located at Slottsbacken in the Old Town District (Gamla Stan) in Stockholm, next to the King's Castle.
Mika Pohjola (born 1971) is a Finnish-born jazz pianist and composer, who resided in New York City from 1995 to 2012. Currently he lives in Stockholm, Sweden. He is one of the most prolific Scandinavian jazz musicians in his generation. Pohjola has released more than thirty albums under his own name, most of them jazz, but also several large productions with Scandinavian themes, among them Moomin Voices, containing the music of Tove Jansson's famous Moomin characters.
Pohjola was born in Helsinki, Finland, and grew up in the neighboring city of Vantaa, where he received his education in classical piano, theory, counterpoint and composition. At the age of 15, Pohjola moved to Stockholm, Sweden to study jazz and classical music. Pohjola received a Degree in Jazz Improvisation and Education from the Royal College of Music at age 20 in the Spring of 1992. His senior recital included his first recorded adult compositions.
After graduating from Stockholm, Pohjola moved to Boston, Massachusetts to study under a scholarship at Berklee College of Music. His Berklee professors included Herb Pomeroy, Gary Burton, Phil Wilson, Ed Bedner, and Hal Crook. It was at Berklee where Pohjola met several of his performing and recording collaborators of the 1990s and 2000s, among them Jill Seifers Walsh, Johanna Grüssner, Fernando Huergo, Matt Penman, Roberto Dani and Mick Goodrick. Pohjola graduated from Berklee with honors and several prizes in 1994. That same year he recorded Myths and Beliefs (GM Recordings), produced by Gunther Schuller.
Pohjola settled in New York City in 1995 and became a part of the thriving downtown jazz scene. He briefly studied with pianist Sal Mosca, who was a student of the legendary Lennie Tristano. Pohjola performed in the late 1990's at several New York clubs, Blue Note, Birdland, Smalls and The Jazz Standard. His collaborators included Chris Cheek, Mark Turner, Miguel Zenón, Ben Monder, Drew Gress, Mark Ferber and several others. Pohjola started touring Europe regularly, mostly as a bandleader and composer where he performed with his New York-based ensembles. As a counterbalance to his quartet, he formed a freely improvising duo, Sound of Village, with Yusuke Yamamoto. Their home became the Knitting Factory in New York City, but they also did two notable appearances at Steinway Hall. In 2000, Sound of Village recorded its self-titled album. Their tours included appearances at several jazz festivals in Scandinavia and Japan.
In the recording sessions of his first four albums as a leader, Pohjola's interest and knowledge in the possibilities of the recording studio grew from a mere documentary medium into a compositional tool. He had recorded two multi-tracked songs for his Landmark album in 2002, featuring multiple voices with fellow Finnish vocalist Johanna Grüssner. The success of Landmark led to further cooperation with Grüssner, and the first recording of the entire catalog of the original Moomin music songbook by Tove Jansson. Moomin Voices was released in two versions (2003 in Swedish; 2005 in Finnish). The follow-up album, A Lark in the Snowstorm (2006), featured Pohjola's original-minded arrangements of legendary tangos.
Pohjola has ever since living in Sweden (in the late 1980s) been a specialist in collaborating with jazz vocalists. Pohjola performed regularly with Nashville-based vocalist Jill Seifers Walsh and released three albums.
Since 1993, Pohjola has been a frequent clinician at conservatories in Scandinavia. In the years 1995-2008, he was also the jazz principal and big band leader at the international Nilsiä Summer Music Camp.
Pohjola is a Steinway Distinguished Artist since 1997, and a major visiting artist at Berklee College of Music since 2006.
Currently Pohjola is enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm where he studies toward a Master's Degree in Jazz Composition.