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Jazz Pianist Jarmo Savolainen Dies at 48

One of Finland's leading jazz composers and teachers, Jarmo Savolainen, has died of a sudden illness in Helsinki.

Jarmo Savolainen
Image: Maarit Kytöharju / Imagekitchen

Savolainen, who had just turned 48, was one of the major figures in Finnish jazz in recent decades. His death on Thursday was announced on Sunday.

The pianist performed on dozens of recordings since 1985, including six albums for Dutch labels and two for a US label. These included well-known American jazzmen such as Dave Liebman, Rick Margitza, Tim Hagans and Billy Hart.

Savolainen's broad body of work ranged from solo piano pieces to big band compositions as well as TV and cinema soundtracks, including work for YLE.

He collaborated with ensembles such UMO, Espoo Big Band, the Avanti! chamber orchestra, the National Opera and Helsinki's CIty Theatre. He also spent five years in a band led by the late bassist Pekka Pohjola, one of Finland's most internationally acclaimed jazz musicians.

Savolainen began studying classical piano, but shifted to jazz when he went to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA. He won the Finnish Jazz Federation's Georgie award in 1994.

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