In our ever popular "New Artists to Follow" series we take a look at some of the most exciting and fresh newcomers in Finnish music. This time we feature four current acts from Finland's flourishing jazz scene: Selma Savolainen (in the cover image), North of Kallio Ensemble, Uusi Aika and Peela.
Find a playlist with all our "New Artists to Follow" below the introductions!
Selma Savolainen is an emerging vocalist who combines Finnish folk sounds with jazz and alternative singer-songwriter styles. Her band features some of the most sought-after musicians on the Finnish jazz scene – Max Zenger on clarinets, Tomi Nikku on trumpet, Toomas Keski-Säntti on piano, Eero Tikkanen on double bass and Okko Saastamoinen on drums. Savolainen's debut record "Horror Vacui", released May 2023 via UK-based label Whirlwind, is a set of emotive songs composed and arranged specifically for this sextet. It explores fear of emptiness, renunciation and sudden discoveries.
North of Kallio Ensemble
North of Kallio Ensemble’s unpredictable line-up is comprised of vocalist Jennie Storbacka – a finalist in talent show The Voice of Finland; keyboardist Lasse Piirainen – winner of the Finnish leg of the Eurovision song contest with his duo Norma John in 2017; along with more traditional jazz players, drummer Tuomas Timonen and bassist Ville Herrala. While not the most conventional lineup, their music is far from conventional too: the band describes their music as ”nordic jazz with cinematic soundscapes and influences from all of the members' musical journeys throughout the years”. Their debut "Constellations" was released in March 2023 on Eclipse Music and features Jukka Eskola.
The music of jazz quintet Uusi Aika is described as "meditative, deep jazz music for turbulent times". Their eponymous debut album was released in November 2022 on the We Jazz Records. While the band operates with acoustic instrumentation and organic sound, their slowly unfolding music has been said to resemble deep abstract electronic music or experimental dub. “I wanted to create a band that would play something connected to free jazz, but with a distinctly melodic approach. I wanted the sound of the band to be gentle and peaceful, all acoustic”, says Uusi Aika’s founder, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Otto Eskelinen.
Peela was was founded in 2016 by six young jazz musicians, performing compositions by guitarist-composer Johannes Granroth. Their flexible groove draws from jazz, funk rock and neo-soul and gives the musicians a lot of space to play around and improvise. Peela's compelling rhythms mostly end up into instrumental pieces, but occasionally Maja Mannila – the band’s singer who also has an impressive solo career – adds some sparkly and ornamental vocals. At the moment Peela readies their 3rd album, the successor to “Layers” (2018) and "Stepping Stones" (2020). The next full-length, due out in early 2024, has already been teased with the singles Don’t Touch My Pizza and Liar.