French accordionist, Julien Labro, and Finnish guitarist, Olli Soikkeli met each other at a festival in Colorado in 2016. Both based in New York City, they decided to join forces and collaborate on playing, writing originals as well as arrangements drawing from their diverse musical background. After performing several shows in NYC and across the East Coast, they went into the studio to document some of the music, which led to Rise & Grind (2017), their latest recording project. Joined by Brazilian bassist, Eduardo Belo and drummer, Raj Jayaweera, they’ll be performing music from their release as well as new takes on jazz standards, Gypsy repertoire and new original compositions.
Heralded as “the next accordion star” by Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune, French-born Julien Labro has established himself as one of the foremost accordion and bandoneón players in the classical and jazz genres. Deemed to be “a triple threat: brilliant technician, poetic melodist and cunning arranger,” his artistry, virtuosity, and creativity as a musician, composer and arranger have earned him international acclaim and continue to astonish audiences worldwide. His latest recordings, From this Point Forward (2014), Infusion (2016) and Rise and Grind (2017) all feature original compositions and arrangements by Labro, and have been lauded by critics as innovative and genre-bending. Labro has released over 10 albums under projects that he has led, and guested on countless recordings for artists such as Cassandra Wilson, Frank Vignola and more. His long list of classical collaborations include A Far Cry, Spektral Quartet, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St Luke’s, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, Grammy-winner guitarist Jason Vieaux, Pulitzer prize winning composer Du Yun and many more. Labro’s jazz projects include the Julien Labro Quartet, The Chanson Experiment and Hot Club of Detroit. Labro has performed, and collaborated with diverse artists such as Brazilian legend João Donato, big-band leader Maria Schneider, vocalist Cassandra Wilson, Lebanese oud master Marcel Khalife, Argentinean pianist Fernando Otero, saxophonists Paquito D’Rivera, Miguel Zenón, James Carter, Chris Cheek, Jon Irabagon and Victor Goines, clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, composers Bryce Dessner, Du Yun and Avner Dorman, harmonica extraordinaire Howard Levy, percussionist Jamey Haddad, and guitarists Howard Alden, Larry Coryell, Frank Vignola, Tommy Emmanuel, and John and Bucky Pizzarelli.
Olli Soikkeli was born in Nurmes, Finland in 1991 where he picked up the guitar at age 12. After a few years of playing, Olli was introduced to the music of the great Django Reinhardt and since then has made Gypsy Jazz his main focus. Shortly after Olli was found playing in jazz clubs and festivals all around Finland. After touring all across Europe with musicians such as Paulus Schäfer and Arnoud Van Den Berg, Olli decided to move to New York City in 2014. Since then Olli has played legendary venues such as Birdland Jazz Club, Blue Note and the Lincoln Center. Despite his young age he’s already played with stars such as Bucky Pizzarelli, Stochelo Rosenberg, Tommy Emmanuel, Andreas Öberg, Cyrille Aimee, Anat Cohen, Antti Sarpila and Marian Petrescu. 2014 Rhythm Future Quartet's debut album was released. 2016 Rhythm Future Quartet's second album Travels was released which received rave reviews including best 2016 jazz albums by the Huffington Post and All About Jazz magazines. The Wall Street Journal wrote: “Olli Soikkeli, a riveting finnish guitarist who combines astonishing dexterity and speed with pure soul in a way that places him among the worthiest current day successors to the legacy of the great Django.”