Ridgeway Arts Presents brings 2013 Finnish Jazz Musician of the Year Kari Ikonen to the Bay Area

Ridgeway Arts Presents brings 2013 Finnish Jazz Musician of the Year

Kari Ikonen to the Bay Area for workshops & performances

The pianist/composer will perform in concert and do workshops with area students

Wednesday, March 29 – Sunday, April 2

“Kari Ikonen shows a sparkle and gently questing spirit that engages the listener…”—Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise

“Inventive, spright and clever…world-class good.—Something Else Reviews


Ridgeway Arts, a non-profit dedicated to developing the Bay Area educational and performance scene, presents Finnish pianist/composer Kari Ikonen in workshops and performances March 29-April 2. Performing with Ikonen are bassist Jeff Denson, and André Sumelius on drums. While in town, Ikonen will mentor local young musicians who will also perform. Appearances include:

  • Wednesday, March 29, 8 p.m. at the Village Theatre and Art Gallery, 233 Front St., Danville.
    • Ikonen performs new and original music, with students featured in the first part of the performance.
  • Thursday, March 30, workshop at Art Boutiki, San Jose.
  • Thursday, March 30, 7:30 p.m. at Art Boutiki, 44 Race St., San Jose.
  • Friday, March 31, workshop at Napa Valley High School, Napa.
  • Saturday, April 1, 3:15-5:5 p.m. workshop at California Jazz Conservatory, Berkeley.
  • Saturday, April 1, 8 p.m. at California Jazz Conservatory, 2087 Addison St., Berkeley.
  • Sunday, April 2, 4 p.m. at Chez Hanny, 1300 Silver Avenue, San Francisco, CA


After having studied piano with Matti Laukkanen for four years (1989-1993) at Jyväskylä Institute of Music, Kari Ikonen continued his studies 1994 in piano and later in composition at the Jazz Music Department of Sibelius Academy, with such teachers as Jarmo Savolainen, Jukkis Uotila, Anders Jormin, Maria Schneider, Mike Gibbs, Sonny Heinilä and Olli Kortekangas. He also spent a semester of 1996 in Rotterdam Conservatory, where he studied with Rob van Kreevelt. He got his master’s degree from Sibelius Academy in 2001.

Kari’s main instruments are piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano and analogue Moog synthesizer. In addition to his own trio and his international sextet Karikko he plays in the extraordinary Quartet Ajaton, afro-pop-jazz group Trio Toffa, jazz-folk ensemble Ahava, the electro-acoustic improvisation trio Gno mus, the art-pop/world/jazz trio Slo Motive, and jazz groups Kolhoz and Markus Holkko Quartet,performing frequently in Finland and abroad. He has worked with many internationally known musicians, such as Bob Moses, Lee Konitz, Ingrid Jensen, Jeff Denson, Ronen Itzik, Ernesto Simpson, Henry Lowther, Stan Sultzman, Ron McClure, Marc Bernstein, Vincent Courtois, Nelson Faria, Rafael Barata, Alfredo Paixao, Per Oddvar Johansen, Magnus Broo, André Fernandes, Gunnar Halle, Dayna Stephens, Poogie Bell… Raoul Björkenheim, Eero Koivistoinen, Jukka Gustavsson, Otto Donner, Manuel Dunkel, Verneri Pohjola, Teppo Mäkynen, Timo Lassy, Jukkis Uotila and Sonny Heinilä.

Ikonen has performed in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Iceland, The Faroe Islands, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Czech Republic, Armenia, USA and the Soviet Union. His playing and/or compositions can be heard on more than 30 records.

Ikonen has composed a lot of music for different small groups and larger ensembles, e.g. UMO Jazz Orchestra, European Saxophone Ensemble, Uusinta Chamber Ensemble Tanguedia Quintet and The Norwegian Radio Orchestra. Ikonen has also done several projects for the stage, both dance and theatre. In 2000 he won the first prize at the International Julius Hemphill Composition Awards (Jazz Composers Alliance, USA). His debut cd Karikko consisting of his compositions for different ensembles, was chosen as the best Finnish jazz-cd of 2001 by the Jazz-Emma prize (Finland’s Grammy) and in 2002 he won the first prize in the ”Scrivere in Jazz” big band composition contest in Italy. His latest album The Helsinski Suite was nominated for a 40.000 € Teosto-prize for its compositions. In 2013 he got the Yrjö Award as the Finnish jazz musician of the year.

Ikonen has worked as a part-time professor (jazz piano, composition, ensemble, solfege etc.) at Jyväskylä Institute of Music 1993- 94, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre 2007-2011 and Sibelius Academy Jazz Music Department since 1998.

Ridgeway Arts, Inc. is a non-profit serving the Bay Area jazz scene led by renowned jazz bassist/composer/educator/community activist Jeff Denson. The organization is built upon a series of initiatives designed to enhance and fortify the Bay Area scene, and to make a strong contribution to the national landscape of jazz and the arts in general. Ridgeway Arts presents concerts, releases exceptional recordings, organizes educational and community outreach activities, and other projects.