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Finnish pianist, harpist, and composer Iro Haarla is a classically trained musician with a bent toward atmospheric modern creative and chamber-style jazz. Born in 1956, Haarla studied piano and composition at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy and was headed toward a career as concert pianist before meeting drummer/bandleader Edward Vesala in 1978. Haarla put her solo career on hold and embarked on a romantic and creative partnership with Vesala, whom she eventually married. For two decades, Haarla collaborated with her husband on arranging and developing his own compositions especially with his Sound & Fury ensemble with which she recorded several ECM albums. Also during this time, she began learning how to play various instruments including the harp, koto, accordion, and analog synthesizers, all of which she became adept on. After Vesala's death from heart failure in 1999, Haarla embarked on a solo career, releasing the album Penguin Beguine on Tum Records in 2005. She followed up with the quintet album Northbound featuring trumpeter Mathias Eick, saxophonist Trygve Seim, bassist Ulf Krokfors, and drummer Jon Christensen on ECM in 2006. In 2010, she appeared on the trio album Heart of a Bird with bassist Krokfors and saxophonist Rasmus Korsstrom. In 2011, Haarla returned to her ECM quintet for the album Vespers.
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