Markku Ounaskari

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Creative Finnish jazz drummer who has played with scores of ensembles.
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Starflowers
It has been said of jazz drummer Markku Ounaskari that it would be easier to list the Finnish ensembles he has not played with than those he has. Born in 1967, he studied at the Oulunkylä Pop & Jazz Conservatory and the Sibelius Academy and began his career in the '80s playing with legendary groups Piirpauke and the Pekka Pohjola Group. In the '90s and 2000s he played live and on scores of albums with multiple jazz formations, including all the major Finnish names, but also with big, internationally renowned artists like Lee Konitz and Kenny Wheeler. In 2007, he debuted on ECM with Swedish kantele player Sinikka Langeland on her Starflowers album (he would later go on to record several more albums with her). His work on the record so impressed ECM head Manfred Eicher that the producer invited him to record his own project for the label. The resulting album, Kuára, recorded with pianist Samuli Mikkonen and trumpeter Per Jørgensen, was inspired by the ancient traditional folk music of Finland. Released in 2010, it won an Emma Award (the "Finnish Grammys") for best Finnish jazz album of the year. The albums Aleatoric (with Aki Rissanen and Robin Verheyen) and Years (with Kari Heinilä, Lena Willemark, and Anders Jormin), both on Edition, followed, and in 2018 he appeared with American guitarist Ben Monder on Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu's ECM debut, Absence.