Jazz lovers first got to hear Jukka Perko (b.18 February 1968) at the Pori Jazz Festival in 1986. The performances of this young man of only 18 elicited rave reviews both in Finland and abroad, and his career rocketed.
The very next year, Perko was enlisted in the ranks of the Dizzy Gillespie's 70th Anniversary Big Band. For two years, he toured Europe, and the United States with the band.
Perko has since appeared with his groups and as a soloist
in more than 20 countries in Scandinavia, Central Europe,
the United States, Australia and the Far East. The Poppoo,
(a band he co-leads with vibraphonist Severi Pyysalo) has had a particularly full diary.
Despite his busy performing schedule, Perko also found time to begin his studies at the Jazz Department of the Sibelius Academy in 1987. That is where he teamed up with vibes player Severi Pyysalo in a close partnership which still continues. Over the years, Perko has studied privately with a number of distinguished teachers such as Rick Margitza and Phil Woods, to mention only two.
By 1989, Perko was already a regular member of the UMO Jazz Orchestra, the only professional big band in Finland. Five years later, he relinquished his place in the orchestra to concentrate on his solo career.
Perko is an in-demand soloist in the classical music community as well. Performing music from baroque to contemporary, he has appeared with such orchestras as the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Avanti Chamber Orchestra.
Inspired by Finnish poetry, Perko has written a large number of compositions. An excellent example of his fine arranging skills can be heard on his latest recording, "Music of Olavi Virta", which is deservedly the first Finnish release on the Blue Note record label.
Perko has received numerous prizes and awards both in Finland and abroad. In 1989, he was voted Jazz Musician of the Year by the Finnish Jazz Federation. In 1990, he won second prize in the RAI competition for young European jazz musicians in Rome, Italy. In 1993, he was the first jazz musician to be awarded the title of Young Artist of the Year by the Finland Festivals chain. 1993 was a successful year in other respects, too: The Poppoo was awarded second prize in the competition for European Jazz Ensembles held in Leverkusen, Germany and their record, "Garden of Time" was awarded the Emma prize for the best Finnish jazz release of the year.
Since 1990, Perko has taught jazz part- time at the Sibelius Academy and has been a visiting teacher and lecturer at a number of colleges both in Finland and abroad. In addition to his soloist and teaching engagements, he has devoted more attention to composition and a wide variety of projects will keep him busy for years to come.