New Jazz From Finland

Finnish jazz has gained recognition and fans around the world from the days of Edward Vesala, Heikki Sarmanto, Olli Ahvenlahti and Matti Oiling. Building from that tradition, today’s Finnish jazz scene is more flourishing than ever. Ranging from Dalindèo’s groovy retro sounds to Oddarrang’s cinematic crossover and Elifantree’s eclectic electronics, and not to mention Espoo Big Band’s jazz-rock fusion, Kalle Kalima’s adventurous guitar tones and the melodic piano jazz of Aki Rissanen Trio.

Dip your toes into Music Finland’s frequently-updating playlist of the freshest Finnish jazz below!

Featured cover artist: Anni Elif

New Jazz from Finland

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Nicole Willis

The music of Brooklyn-born Nicole Willis has been described an urban fusion of soul, jazz and funk. As a creative soul, she is inclined to break down traditional barriers. She is constantly searching for new sources of inspiration to make her music novel and exciting. Willis is best known from her collaborations with The Soul Investigators and Jimi Tenor. Her latest album, My Name is Nicole Willis was made together with UMO.

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Timo Lassy

“Quality swinging jazz with a difference!“, as Gilles Peterson calls it. Saxophonist Timo Lassy has cemented his position at the helm of the burgeoning new Finnish jazz scene. He has worked with an international all-star cast ranging from the Italian style-master Nicola Conte to US jazz vocalist José James as well as extending his talents into the art of film-music by composing for the soundtrack of the movie Moomins on the Riviera.

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Jori Huhtala 3

Bass player Jori Huhtala has performed and recorded with a numerous top artists in Finland, e.g. Eero Koivistoinen, Raoul Björkenheim, Jussi Fredriksson, Jussi Lehtonen and Sid Hille. Huhtala is also an active composer and he's written music for many of the groups he performs with. Jori Huhtala 3 is his latest vision for a group to perform his compositions.

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Verneri Pohjola & Mika Kallio

Trumpet player Verneri Pohjola and percussionist Mika Kallio teamed up to write a soundtrack for Perttu Saksa’s documentary film Animal Image. Their album, which shares its title with the film, is a meditative and minimalistic work consisting of six songs.


Drummer/producer Teppo Mäkynen (of Teddy's West Coasters, The Stance Brothers, The Five Corners Quintet) presents his new major work, 3TM. The trio consists of Mäkynen, tenor sax man Jussi Kannaste and bassist Antti Lötjönen. Mäkynen, manning the drum seat in the combo, is using samples and sounds here to break off from the standard aural image of the jazz trio. What we have instead, is a new world of sound rooted somewhere in between acoustic jazz and abstract electronic music, blurring the lines of genre and time. Their debut album, Form, won the equivalent of best jazz album award at the Finnish Grammys.

Aki Rissanen

Over the last years, pianist Aki Rissanen has made a name for himself in the international jazz world both as a leader and as a sideman. His trio's recent, critically acclaimed album 'Another North' on Edition Records, with Antti Lötjönen on bass and Teppo Mäkynen on drums, is his most authoritative work to date. His previous album Amorandom won the Finnish Grammy for the best jazz album of the year in 2016.

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Maxxxtet is an unprejudiced and fresh jazz quartet, featuring alto saxophone/bass clarinetist Max Zenger, trumpeter Tomi Nikku, bassist Teemu Åkerblom and drummer Joonas Leppänen. Max, an adventure-seeking, multiculturally interested and multilingual musician writes tunes strongly influenced by his past and future experiences, adventures and encounters.

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Mopo is a collective of three musicians from Finland. The energetic band saw daylight in the fall of 2009 as a result of a bar fight. Mopo (a moped) accelerates easily from zero to speed of light, but mostly the trio steps on a gas pedal for a ruff ride in the countryside. The band draws their inspiration from jazz, punk and the Finnish nature. Their latest album, Mopocalypse, was released in January 2018.

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Olli Ahvenlahti

The legendary Finnish pianist/composer Olli Ahvenlahti has returned with his first new jazz work in decades! On his new album "Thinking, Whistling" Ahvenlahti teamed up with the Jaska Lukkarinen Trio, one of the most highly-regarded ensembles in Finnish jazz. From funk-influenced acoustic jazz to heartfelt ballads, the band are delightfully in a world of their own, drawing from Ahvenlahti's effortless pianism and the trios natural swing.

Alexi Tuomarila

Pianist and composer Alexi Tuomarila is a well known name in the European Jazz scene. With extensive touring behind him as a leader as well as with trumpeter and ECM artist Tomasz Stanko, Tuomarila has become a regular in many European jazz projects. Kingdom is Alexi’s new trio album with long term comrades Mats Eilertsen and Olavi Louhivuori (following the hugely successful release of Seven Hills in 2013).

Pauli Lyytinen Magnetia Orkesteri

Pauli Lyytinen is a Helsinki based musician and composer. Lyytinen´s approach to music is always improvisatory and experimental regardless of the genre. As saxophonist he´s been studying and exploring widely extended sounds and techniques and the use of effect pedals with acoustic sax.

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Raoul Björkenheim Triad

Triad is a fresh burst of energy on the finnish imrov scene, bringing new vitality to compositions by Coltrane, Monk and Hendrix, alongside Björkenheim’s own eclectric pieces. He and Ilmari Heikinheimo have played together as the duo Heim(o) since 2010, arriving at a near-telepathic level of communication and a fluent sense of form. With Ville Rauhala joining them in the summer of 2013, they found the perfect accomplice with whom to create some glorious mayhem, enriched by overtones of African and Indian music as well as jazz and rock.

Iiro Rantala

Rantala's solo career kicked off with his 2011 ACT debut “Lost Heroes”, which won the Jazz album of the year 2011 German Critic’s award. In June 2012 Rantala received the ECHO Jazz for Best International Pianist. To date Rantala has released seven records on ACT Music.

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Verneri Pohjola

Trumpeter and composer Verneri Pohjola is acknowledged as a jazz star in the making. In June 2017 Pohjola released Pekka, an album that promises to be a defining moment in Finnish culture, reinterpreting the music of Verneri’s late father Pekka Pohjola, the internationally acclaimed and revered prog-rock bassist and composer, through the prism of his son’s unique vision.

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Jukka Perko Tritone

Alto sax man Jukka Perko, one of Finland's leading jazz artists, presents a new project Tritone, where he joins forces with the dynamic rhythm section of Antti Lötjönen and Teppo "Teddy Rok" Mäkynen. Perko, once a member of the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, has put together a set of tunes made famous by Dizzy for the re-evaluation by the highly talented trio.

Anni Elif

Vocalist, cellist and composer Anni Elif Egecioglu (born 1986) has gone through many musical phases with her unique voice. After having released many albums with various groups she now releases the first album in her own name. Edith is mainly based on the lyrics from the groundbreaking and modernistic universe of poet Edith Södergran. 

Black Motor

Founded by saxophonist Sami Sippola, bassist Ville Rauhala and drummer Simo Laihonen, Black Motor crashed on the Finnish jazz scene with a furious attitude in 2005. On Branches the trio's powerful free music brims with energy, melodic innovation, and a strong sense of unity.

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Drummer and vibraphonist Okko Saastamoinen formed his quartet OK:KO in 2015 together with pianist Toomas Keski-Säntti, saxophonist-flautist Jarno Tikka and bassist Mikael Saastamoinen. OK:KO has already gained positive attention at the Young Nordic Jazz Comets showcase, and We Jazz festival awarded the band leader Okko Saastamoinen with an honorary title “We Jazz Rising Star” in 2016.

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Dalindèo is a sextet founded in 2003 and led by composer and guitarist Valtteri Pöyhönen. The group’s unique sound consists of danceable rhythms, strong melodies and an emphasis on the craftsmanship of top musicians. Their fourth album Slavic Souls blends contemporary jazz with Finnish Tango and northern schlager.

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Jukka Eskola Soul Trio

Jukka Eskola (born 1978) is a Finnish trumpet player who ranks among the most sought-after jazz artists in Finland. He has become known as the leader of the Jukka Eskola Quintet, Jukka Eskola Orquesta Bossa, and as a member of The Five Corners Quintet, Finland’s most successful jazz outfit to date, plus the live band of Jimi Tenor, to name but a few. His latest musical endeavor is Jukka Eskola Soul Trio, whose latest, self-titled album was released in 2017.