Olli Hirvonen is a Finnish guitarist currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Fluent in various styles from jazz to rock to more experimental sounds, he has formed a highly unique style combining these different influences. As the winner of the 2016 Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition, Hirvonen is definitely one of the most accomplished Nordic musicians of his generation.
Hirvonen started studying classical guitar in Finland when he was 9, which helped him develop an ability to sight-read that continues to be an asset today; in New York, he’s a go-to guy for composers looking to test out demanding new music. He received his first electric guitar a year later, and became enamored of Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore. (In fact, one of his earliest bands played nothing but Deep Purple.) A guitar teacher introduced him to jazz in high school, and slowly but surely he became immersed in the music. His late teen years, as well as his undergrad tenure at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, where his mentors included Raoul Björkenheim, were all about internalizing the bebop language, and he spent many hours absorbing George Benson, Grant Green and the like.
In 2011 he moved to New York to pursue his master’s at Manhattan School of Music, and his creative world opened up. He met many of the comrades he continues to gig with today, studied classical composition and electro-acoustic music, and discovered the thriving avant-garde. That meant the outré side of jazz and classical, sure, but also Nels Cline, Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth and other explorers. Hirvonen earned his master’s from Manhattan School of Music in 2013 and, three years later, won the prestigious Socar Montreux Jazz Electric Guitar Competition, presided over by John McLaughlin. He’s earned critical acclaim from DownBeat and other outlets for his work in the saxophonist Brian Krock’s ensembles as well as for his own dynamic catalog as a leader.
His outstanding 2017 release on Edition Records, New Helsinki, features Walter Smith III on tenor saxophone and Adam O’Farrill on trumpet, in addition to the musicians who fill out the interactive quartet on Displace: keyboardist Luke Marantz, bassist Marty Kenney and drummer Nathan Ellman-Bell.
Olli Hirvonen - guitar
Luke Marantz - piano
Marty Kenney - bass
Nathan Ellman-Bell - drums
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