Vibraphone player Panu Savolainen ranks among the top prospects in the Finnish jazz scene. Despite his young age, Savolainen (born 1990 in Lahti, Finland) has already gained attention especially with his own combo HERD, which won the first prize of the European Jazz Competition presented by Rotterdam’s North Sea Jazz Festival in 2011. Another noteworthy early accolade for Savolainen was the ”Artist of the Year” selection by Finland’s premiere jazz fest, Pori Jazz, in 2010.
Panu Savolainen has quickly secured a steady foothold in the active Helsinki jazz circles thanks to his knack at effortlessly inserting his personal style of playing into the given setting. Ensembles as varied as the aforementioned vibes-bass-drums trio HERD, Savolainen’s other three-piece which features the unique combination of vibes, guitar and sax/clarinet, Ohne, and composer Kerkko Koskinen’s all star big band are just a few examples of Savolainen’s recent work. An additional highlight for Savolainen was his concert as a soloist with the prestigous UMO Jazz Orchestra, alongside sax man Jukka Perko, one of the legends of Finnish jazz. Savolainen also currently composes and leads the Proprius ensemble, which recently debuted at the Viapori Jazz Festival in Helsinki.
"HERD Live!!", the debut album of the trio, saw the light of day in September 2011, also marking the recording debut of the young vibraphonist. Captured on tape during the band's winter 2011 tour in Finland, the CD offers a proof of the combo's tight sound as a coherent unit already ranking among the top groups on the scene.
Savolainen’s mentors include David Friedman, Rob Waring, Jukkis Uotila, Tim Hagans and Dave Samuels, and collaborations the likes of Bobby Hutcherson, Cedar Walton and Peter Erskine. He studies at the Jazz Department of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. What makes Savolainen a unique jazz player is his background in classical percussion. That being said, his playing is a fresh combination of no-nonsense swing and technical finesse, always serving the music at hand.
An up-and-coming artist is often easily buried under a list of awards, mentors and collaborations, but the main feat of Panu Savolainen is none of these. It is and will be his ability to bring out a wide palette of colors from his instrument in order to paint a sonic picture remarkable for any artist, let alone for one with most of his memorable playing still ahead.
Discography as a leader:
HERD: Live!! (2011)
Discography as a sideman:
Baby Boy Varhama: The Year of the Blues (2007)
Indica: Pahinta tänään (2009)
Heads & Tales: Looking for an Answer (2011)
Kerkko Koskinen Orchestra: Trains & Letters (2011)
Fredator: Rebirth of the Bad (2011)
Erik Lindström Awardees: Eric's Tunes (2011)
Recordings for Radio & TV:
HERD (YLE National Broadcasting Company 2010)
Siim Aimla Oceans 4 (ETV Estonian Television 2010)
Olli Hirvonen Quartet (YLE 2011)
HERD (Bassoradio FM 2011)
HERD, Helsinki Music Centre Opening Ceremonies (YLE TV 2011)
Varre Vartiainen (YLE 2011)
-Young Nordic Jazz Comets, best soloist 2009
-Young Nordic Jazz Comets, winner for Finland's competition 2010 (with Ohne)
-Pori Jazz Artist of the year 2010
-Sibelius Academy DIG-stipend 2010
-Erik Lindström Award 2011
-Best Group at European Jazz Competition 2011 (with HERD)