Sakari Kukko Virret-kvartetti
Saxophonist Sakari Kukko is a true musical pathfinder. In fact, he was mixing jazz, Finnish folklore and global ethnic influences long before anyone had even thought of the term “world music”. Since his first appearance on the Finnish music scene in the early 1970s, Kukko has continued to break barriers.
In 1974, the saxophonist founded the group Piirpauke, which was to become one of the most internationally respected Finnish bands. To this day, Piirpauke has released a total of 21 albums. However, Kukko’s career didn’t start there. At the inception of Piirpauke, he had paid his dues as a sideman and played big band music with the Ogeli Big Band and the Tapiola Big Band.
Apart from mixing global folklore in his own magical way, Kukko has also arranged iconoclastic versions of classical pieces by Grieg, Beethoven, Shostakovich and Schubert. In 1985, as the Finnish national epic ‘The Kalevala’ celebrated its 150th birthday, the City of Kajaani commissioned Kukko to write a suite for the festivities.
In 2001, Kukko released the solemn quartet album ‘Virret’. Based on Nordic chorals and hymns, the disc became a massive success both artistically and commercially. The same territory was revisited two years later by ‘Joulu’. A theme album concentrating on Christmas hymns, it became another hit. On both of these albums, Kukko was backed by the Samuli Mikkonen Trio, i.e. pianist Mikkonen, bassist Ulf Krokfors, and drummerMika Kallio.
Sakari Kukko received the Finnish Jazz Federation Yrjö Award in 1976.