Biography

photo: Maarit Kyöharju

Manuel Dunkel (b. 2.11.1971) comes from the city of Vantaa, Finland. Since mid-90´s he established as one of the essential voices in Finnish jazz scene. Dunkel´s playing is charcterized by rich saxophone sound, melodically strong lines and intense swing.

Dunkel got heavily into jazz 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 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). 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 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 features a jazz quartet and a string quartet arranged by Dunkel. 

As a featured soloist Dunkel has performed in Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Turkey, 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 in Helsinki he played and recorded as a soloist on a concerto ”Time Freeze” for saxophone , string orchestra and percussion. This piece was composed for Dunkel by pianist-composer Sid Hille.

In 2011 Dunkel received prestigous Yrjö -award from the Finnish Jazz Federation.

In 2019 he won shared 3. prize on international Esko Linnavalli Big Band composition contest in Helsinki, Finland.