Petri “Pope” Puolitaival

Petri Puolitaival (b. 1972) got interested in playing the saxophone in high school and gained skills quickly. In the beginning of the 1990s he studied altosaxophone in the Conservatory of Oulu and played in the Oulu Big Band until he was accepted to the Pop/Jazz Conservatory of Oulunkylä in 1994. In the conservatory Puolitaival studied under Jari Perkiömäki and Pentti Lahti and continued his studies in 1996 at the jazz department of Sibelius Academy where he graduated in 2004 with a Master’s degree. In the late-1990s he played in many bands of his fellow students, for example in Mikko Pettinen’s Sticks Sextet. Puolitaival performed at the Young Soloist Concert of UMO Jazz Orchestra in 1998.

Puolitaival formed his first own band in the beginning of the 21st century. In this quintet Puolitaival himself, pianist Mikko Helevä, bassist Janne Antikainen, drummer Tommi Vainikainen and singer Johanna Iivanainen combined smoothly Nordic jazzsound and the bop tradition. The group recorded a radiotape and did a Finnish Jazz Federation’s tour in April 2001. In July the same year Puolitaival played as the lead-saxophonist for the Swinging European junior big band in their 1-month tour in Europe. In 2004 Puolitaival played his second tour organized by the Finnish Jazz Federation in the brass section of In the Spirit of Jaco Pastorius, a band formed by bassist Timo Hirvonen and drummer Jussi Lehtonen.

Although Puolitaival has become known as a stylish bop-saxophonist, he has widened his scale of expression during the years. For example in the rock-band Leningrad Cowboys Puolitaival has played since 2003. At the same time also Dalindèo was born, a band combining Brasilian rhythms with modern dancefloor jazz, where Puolitaival playes mainly flute. This successful band has been performing actively in Finland and abroad and thus keeping also Puolitaival busy in recent years. Despite of the busy schedule of Dalindèo, Puolitaival has had time for his own band, Petri Puolitaival Band, that was formed in 2004. The band playing pricipally Puolitaival’s compositions has performed once in a while and it has also recorded a radiotape in 2005.

Besides active performing, Puolitaival also teaches saxophone at Ebeli, the pop/jazz department of Espoo music school.