photo: Maarit Kyöharju
Manuel Dunkel (b. 2.11.1971) comes from the city of Vantaa, Finland. Since the mid-90´s he was established as one of the essential voices in Finnish jazz scene. Dunkel´s playing is charcterized by focused saxophone sound, melodically sophisticated lines and solid time feel.
Dunkel got heavily into jazz while in his teens and first studied at the Oulunkylä Pop & Jazz school. He was fascinated especially by saxophonists John Coltrane and Michael Brecker. In 1990 Dunkel entered the Sibelius-Academy jazz program in Helsinki, where he earned his Master´s degree in 2004.
Since 1994 he has been a member of the saxophone section in UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra (the leading professional big band in Finland). In the -90´s Dunkel build his reputation as an adaptable and expressive musician in various musical settings. Dunkel`s skills and strong playing were soon noted by public and critics, and he was voted as” Tenor Saxophonist Of The Year” in Jazz Rytmit- magazine 1999-2001.
In the early 2000’s Dunkel toured Far East with Espoo Big Band and with Jukka Perko & Hurmio Orchestra (a band which recorded succesful CD for the Blue Note Records). In 2001 he toured Finland and Sweden with his his scandinavian band TONIC, featuring norwegian keyboardist Christian Wallumrød and swedish trumpeter Anders Bergcrantz.
Since late -90’s Dunkel has toured several times in Mid Europe various groups such as his own quartet, Platypus Ensemble and UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra.
Since 1997 Dunkel´s quartet has toured several times in Finland and performed on international jazz festivals in Finland, France, Greece, Morocco and Serbia. Dunkel has released six solo albums and they include mainly his original music for a quartet. “Meeting Point” (Texicalli Records) was released in 2013 and it includes music for a jazz quartet and string quartet composed and arranged by Dunkel.
As a featured soloist Dunkel has performed in Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Turkey and Japan. He has also worked with internationally renowed jazz musicians such as Anders Bergcrantz, Paul Jackson, Rick Margitza, Eric Truffaz and Kenny Wheeler.
In 2009 Dunkel was featured soloist with string orchestra and percussion on a concerto “Time Freeze”. This piece was composed for Dunkel by pianist-composer Sid Hille and it was performed and recorded live in Helsinki.
In 2011 Dunkel received the prestigous Yrjö -award from the Finnish Jazz Federation.
In 2019 he won the shared 3. prize on the International Esko Linnavalli Big Band composition contest in Helsinki, Finland.