aki rissanen pianist / composer

Aki Rissanen Trio Amorandom


Aki Rissanen, piano; Antti Lötjönen, bass; Teppo Mäkynen, drums & Petri Ruikka, visuals



Aki Rissanen Trio is one of the most interesting Finnish jazz groups today. Studying classical piano early on has left a strong mark in the pianist’s playing style. Add to that the open-minded young man’s influences from electronic contemporary music, the end result is decidedly different from other piano trios. The shiny elegance of Teppo Mäkynen’s and Antti Lötjönen’s rhythm section, two Finland’s most sought-after players, completes the sound of the experienced and hard-working trio. The recent, highly praised long player, ‘Amorandom’ (Edition Records, UK 2016) demonstrates the band’s high energy extremely well. Over the last few years Aki has quietly been building a name in the international jazz world both as a leader and as a sideman. With ‘Amorandom’, he delivers his most authoritative work to date. There’s a fluidity in his playing and a boldness in his composing that deserves widespread praise and real recognition for one of the finest young European pianists. Described by Downbeat as a ‘rising star around Europe, ‘Amorandom’ is the work that will introduce Aki Rissanen’s startling new talent to a global audience. This music takes on a visual identity and is influenced by static, electronic minimal music, Western classical impressionism and Nordic lyricism. As Aki explains: ‘The music on this album is based on an animation movie, to which I composed a soundtrack a few years ago. Although the original music has gone through many stages of transformation, you can still hear a cinematic flavor in it’. Rissanen maybe best known for his work with the Verneri Pohjola Quartet on Edition Records and ACT Music as well as with Dave Liebman on Ozella Music in Germany, yet he has made this album entirely his own. The quiet humility; the comradeship between long standing partners and friends; the classicism; a lyrical melancholy and distinctive rhythmical drive and finesse in his playing develop into a coherent statement. ‘Amorandom’ is set to make Aki Rissanen the new European pianist everyone is talking about.


Pianisti Aki Rissasen kokenut triokokoonpano on tämän hetken mielenkiintoisimpia kotimaisia jazzyhtyeitä. Brittiläisen Edition Recordsin alkuvuodesta 2016 julkaisema Amorandom-albumi on huima voimannäyttö yhtyeen kyvyistä ja levy on kerännyt tasaiseen tahtiin viiden tähden arvioita. Levy esittelee pianistin johtaman yhtenäisen triokokoonpanon, jossa mukana ovat maamme arvostetuimpiin muusikoihin kuuluvat basisti Antti Lötjönen ja rumpali Teppo Mäkynen. Bändiliideri Rissanen on tehnyt vakuuttavaa nousua kotimaisen jazzin eturiviin ja samalla kansainvälisesti seuratuksi jazzmuusikoksi, joka on osoittanut kyvykkyytensä osana lukuisia maineikkaita yhtyeitä ja myös sooloartistina. Erittäin onnistunutta Amorandomia onkin helppo veikata Rissasen kansainväliseksi läpimurroksi. Tuore levy esittelee trion, joka on hioutunut tiiviiksi komboksi keikkailtuaan viime vuosina myös audiovisuaalisen, animaatiota ja livemusiikkia yhdistävän konseptin kanssa. Kehuttu visualisoitu projekti toi yhteen elokuvaohjaaja Tuula Leinosen ja kotimaisen animaatiotaiteen edesmenneen grand old manin, animaattori Antti Peränteen samannimisen elokuvan, visualisti Petri Ruikan videotaiteen ja Rissasen musiikin. Kolmikon rytminen, mutta samalla lyyrinen ilmaisu on erittäin korkealla tasolla laajan yhteisen soittohistorian ansiosta. Luonteva musiikillinen kommunikaatio on se punainen lanka, jonka ympärille trion musiikki voi rakentua ja erottua kilpailijoistaan. Rissasen melodisissa sävellyksissä läikkyy aito löytämisen riemu ja lahjakas trio, jossa kullakin jäsenellä on luonnollinen roolinsa, antaa kappaleille mahdollisuuden puhjeta kukkaan. Väkevän trion yhteenhitsautuminen on kuultavissa levyllä ja konserteissa.



liner notes from ‘Amorandom’:

Many of today’s jazz musicians are renaissance men. We have vast knowledge of the history and craftsmanship of several genres of music. Technology has indeed made it possible to explore music on the internet at a very fast pace. We seem to have “everything” at our finger tips. Maybe this is our way to keep up with today’s intense lifestyle, but this has often made me wonder, why cannot I focus on anything? Especially in a small country like Finland, I’ve found myself playing all kind of things, from mainstream to avant-garde and almost everything in between. I’ve faced the problem that many other artists have encountered too, how to concentrate on one’s own music while still being involved in many projects and styles? Nevertheless, as demanding it has been, I’ve always liked the beautiful anxiety of being an artist and not knowing what is going to happen next!

For me, the piano trio has not been the dearest musical set-up. Although it offers lots of liberty and chances to use the piano’s full capabilities in communication with the other musicians, I’ve always felt that there are too many good trios around and everything has been done before. It took guts to make a trio album. Fortunately, my fellow musicians here came to help me at the perfect time. The trio was really born under the lucky stars! The readiness of these musicians is fascinating and there is no real need for verbalizing anything, neither in studio nor on stage. People ask me if there are any other players in Finland because those two seem to be everywhere. The answer is yes, but there is only one Antti and one Teppo!

The music on this album is based on an animation movie to which I composed a sound track few years ago. Although the original music has gone through many stages of transformation, you can still hear a cinematic flavor in it. I also felt mature enough not to hide my musical influences which are pretty evident, but at the same time I feel that my own voice is more present than ever before. In a way, I have needed to step a bit back in time to be able to side-slip from what I have been to who I am now (and maybe will be in the future).

I want to thank Antti and Teppo once again for their incredible musicianship, my sound engineer Mikko Raita, who has given lots of support at various stages of this album, my mastering engineer Svante Forsbäck, who made the music sound like silk, Tuula Leinonen and Markus Partanen for inviting me to score the movie, the artistic director of Koko Jazz Club in Helsinki, Timo Hirvonen, who has provided a spot for musically developing the trio to this point, Finnish Music Foundation (MES) for invaluable support and of course Dave Stapleton from Edition Records for his trust and the most pleasant beginning of a collaboration! And last but definitely not least, I owe my deepest gratitude to Nathalie who has always believed in me.



Julkaisut/ Releases:

Amorandom, Edition Records UK 2016, 
new major international release on Edition Records, out March 4th 2016

Beautiful Anxiety, KSJAZZ USA 2009
acclaimed extended trio album on KSJAZZ featuring Rick Margitza and Magnus Broo

Aki Rissanen, piano, Rick Margitza, sax, Magnus Broo, trumpet, Antti Lötjönen, bass, Ville Pynssi, drums, Olavi Louhivuori, drums

“Aki Rissanen is the one to watch, and it’s only now that the pianist’s own distinct identity is emerging. Rissanen is a musical storyteller, a jazz musician with something to say.” STUART NICHOLSON, JAZZWISE MAGAZINE, UK

“Rissanen’s cleverly conceived and wonderfully executed international debut has the power to stop you in your tracks.” JAZZ JOURNAL, UK

“Aki is a tremendously musical, passionate and soulful person and has a high energy level. He is one of the best young pianists I have heard in years.” DAVE LIEBMAN

“Rissanen’s fine trio is a formidable force, with fresh musical intelligence to match flawless techniques.” THE GUARDIAN, UK