Most prestigious Finnish Jazz Award to drummer Markus Ketola

Drummer, composer, Doctor of Music, Markus Ketola has been awarded the 45th annual Finnish Yrjö award by the Finnish Jazz Federation. The Finnish Broadcasting Company’s Varjo-Yrjö prize was given to the Helsinki-based record shop Digelius Music for its long career and influence on Finnish jazz consuming.

Jazz drummer Markus Ketola has studied classical percussion while working in miscellaneous dance floor combos, musicals and theatre orchestras. Since 1993 Ketola has played in the ranks of the UMO Jazz Orchestra, appearing in concert with numerous top soloists and leaders, such as Michael Brecker, John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Kenny Wheeler and Mercer Ellington. Ketola has also performed in various big band backing sections, such as the NDR Big Band (Hamburg, Germany), Norrbotten Big Band (Luleå, Sweden) and European Broadcasting Union Big Band. Beside the big band league, he has had lots of renowned small ensembles, latest with legendary American tenor saxophonist Lenny Pickett, French bass player Dominique DiPiazza and Swedish guitar player Max Schulz.

The jury for the Yrjö award highlighted Ketola’s virtuosity in controlling entities in his drumming, his use of space and his ability to create musical edges. He was also credited for his clear vision and understanding of music that is emphasized in the UMO’s variety of styles in their repertoire. Ketola’s long career, his degree and his activity in Finnish jazz scene, weren’t overlooked either in the process.

At the same occasion the Finnish Broadcasting Company awarded Digelius Music record store with a Varjo-Yrjö (Shadow-Yrjö) for their tireless work for the Finnish jazz culture. For decades Digelius has been an important channel for Finnish contemporary jazz to spread out and find its audience. The shop was opened in 1971 and it still holds its place among the Helsinki jazzers as a haven in Viiskulma (Five Corners), and a place of visit for the international jazz enthusiasts too.

The latest Yrjö winners

Saxophonist Manuel Dunkel (2011)
Saxophonist Joonatan Rautio (2010)
Guitarrist Teemu Viinikainen (2009).