by Petri Silas :: 2003
These days probably the most respected big band educator in Finland, Petri Juutilainen commenced his musical life as a guitarist at the age of eleven. Six years later, after having heard recordings by Count Basie and Oscar Peterson, Juutilainen switched over to the trombone.
In 1972 he enrolled at the Sibelius Acedemy and took a post at the Tapiola Big Band (later known as the Espoo Big Band). Slide Hampton and Jay Jay Johnson were among the initial inspirers of the budding brassman. Three years went, and Juutilainen began to enter the session circuit. There had also been talk of forming a new big band, and in 1975 it happened after a workshop led by Heikki Sarmanto. The UMO was conceived, and Petri was among the founding fathers.
In 1983 Juutilainen became a full-time freelancer and also began his 15-year tenure at the helm of the Settlemen Big Band. In the beginning of the 80's Juutilainen travelled to New York City and started studying chart copying on Broadway. The newly-found copyist's skill would yield Petri a healthy amount of his income after his homecoming.
In 1985 the trombonist had his first teaching experience at a big band summer camp. From those days onwards Juutilainen has taught annually at a multitude of various big band-related happenings.
In the early 90's Petri founded his own seven-man group Swing Connection, which set out to play traditional swing tunes with modern gusto and bravado. Throughout his career the brassman has also written his own tunes and arranged dozens of pieces.
In 1993 Juutilainen was invited to lead the Helsinki Police Big Band, and this assignment kept the man busy until early 2002. Aside from his hands-on involvement in music, Juutilainen is also an arduous administrator.