Combining elements from classical, electronic and jazz, keyboard maestro Kari Ikonen and his long
time ensemble Karikko have established themselves as true champions of art music and as one of the
finest contemporary jazz bands in Finland. They are adored by critics and jazz fans alike. They have
received multiple award nominations and won several awards.
Composer and pianist Kari Ikonen creates vivid imagery and haunting musical landscapes that are augmented by his team of virtuoso musicians.
Kari Ikonen – keys
Sonny Heinilä – sax & flute
Laurent Blondiau – trumpet
Vincent Courtois – cello
Ulf Krokfors – bass
Mika Kallio – drums
After having studied piano for four years (1989-1993) in Jyväskylä Institute of Music, Kari Ikonen continued his studies in 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, 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.
He has performed with many different groups and musicians, for example Karikko (as a leader), Mr. Fonebone, Quartet Coyote, Ahava, Gnomus, Ingrid Jensen, Henry Lowther, Eero Koivistoinen, Jukkis Uotila, Sonny Heinilä etc. With these artists he has performed at many domestic and international festivals, including Pori Jazz, April Jazz, ITA Festival, Boulder, Colorado and Appleby Jazz Festival, England.
His compositions have been played by various small and large ensembles, such as UMO Jazz Orchestra (Finnish Radio Big Band), which has premiered several his compositions, including “Unia” (1997), “Nosreglo” (1998) and “Luoto” (2000). The last-mentioned won the first prize in the Jazz Orchestra category of the Jazz Composers Alliance/Julius Hemphill Composition Awards in USA, 2000 (he was also among the finalists in Small Group category). Another victory came in August 2002,
when Ikonen’s composition “Peikkola” (2002) won the first prize in “Scrivere in Jazz” competition in Sardegna, Italy.
He has also worked as a teacher (jazz piano, ensemble, solfege) in Jyväskylä Institute of Music 1993- 94, Jyväskylä University music education program 1993 and Sibelius Academy Jazz Music Department since 1998.
After making two Karikko albums (Karikko and Oceanophonic, 2001 and 2008 respectively) with Fiasko Records Kari Ikonen joined Eclipse Music for the third Karikko album “The Helsinski Suite” in 2011. The first Karikko album had earned the band the EMMA award (the Finnish equivalent of the Grammy award) for best jazz album in 2001. In 2011 they were nominated again. Early in 2012 Ikonen’s composition for the album earned him the high honor of being nominated for the Teosto
The Helsinski Suite (2011) – CD and download (ECD-201109)
Kari Ikonen & Karikko: Oceanophonic (2008, Texicalli TEXCD 086)
Gnomus: Diagnosis (2007, Fiasko Records FRCD-29)
Mr. Fonebone: Hit and Run (2007, Texicalli)
Gnomus: 28 août 2005 (2005, Fiasko Records TOTAL 4)
Gnomus: II (2004, Fiasko Records FRCD-17)
Ahava (2001, Fiasko Records FRCD-7)
Kari Ikonen: Karikko (2001, Fiasko Records FRCD-5)
Mr. Fonebone: Live featuring Ingrid Jensen (2000, Texicalli TEXCD3000)
Gnomus (2000, Fiasko Records FRCD-1)
Quartet Coyote: Moisturizing (2000, Texicalli TEXCD 030)
Mr. Fonebone (1997, Antti Rissanen ARFCD-463)