Saxophonist Jukka Perko’s rapid ascent to international fame began in 1987 when the legendary Dizzy Gillespie recruited the fresh nineteen-year-old into his big band. Perko’s dazzling talent was compared to the young Charlie Parker and won him rave reviews. Since the two years spent with Dizzy’s band, Perko has led numerous successful bands and ensembles, and has performed in over forty countries. Powered by his spectacular playing technique, and by mixing traditional jazz with some distinctly Finnish elements, he has earned his place as one of the most celebrated saxophonists of his entire generation.
Jukka Perko & Hurmio Orchestra’s debut album Music of Olavi Virta (2000) was the first Finnish record ever on a prestigious jazz label Blue Note Records. His next recording Kaanaanmaa (2002) with Virtuosi di Kuhmo Chamber Orchestra brought new dimensions to the Finnish identity and a hymn tradition. After this, he made four more recordings for Blue Notel, until in 2015 he recorded a duo album with pianist Iiro Rantala for German label ACT Music. The most recent recording in April 2017 is celebrating Dizzy Gillespie’s 100th anniversary.
His most current bands are Jukka Perko Avara, a sax trio with two guitarist, and Jukka Perko Early Birds, a project celebrating Charlie Parker’s 100th anniversary. In addition to his own groups, he is a regular soloist of symphony orchestras and big bands. Jukka Perko is also the Artistic Director of Helsinki-based Viapori Jazz Festival, as well as a teacher at the Sibelius Academy.
“Saxophonist Jukka Perko plays Dizzy. With a trio. What’s so exciting about that? Everything. Everything is right again: sound, musicians, idea, repertoire. When listening, one realizes that this music was once more ahead of its time than most people realized. And – when it’s played like this, it still gives a lot to think and feel.”Andreas Müller, Radioeins