Biography

divider

Pianist Aki Rissanen (b.1980) quickly rose among the few top forces of Finnish jazz. Over the last years, he has also made a name for himself in the international jazz scene especially as a leader of his own trio. Although originally classically trained, he has always had a heart for improvised music and jazz.

With the new solo album Divided Horizon, released in June 2021 on Edition Records, he’s chosen a sophisticated and solitary path, focussing on solo piano and the unique instrument, the Omniwerk. Divided Horizon originates from a contrasting duality in Aki’s music. There’s a strong influence of neo-classical music blended with contemporary jazz improvisation. An older sound reminiscent of the baroque era is combined with a minimalist influence and electronic abstraction. The Omniwerk is an instrument of unique conception – an experimental hybrid keyboard invented by Finnish instrument builders Jonte Knif and Jukka Ollikka inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s original concept. It both plucks and bows, combining a baroque era lute-harpsichord and violin-like sound in one.

His debut album Amorandom (Edition Records, 2016) with Aki Rissanen Trio was critically acclaimed all around the world and he gained a fast growing reputation on the European scene. The album received praises at home and abroad on prestigious newspapers like the Guardian and jazz magazines like Jazzwise. Finnish main newspaper Helsingin Sanomat selected the album as “The Best Jazz Album of the Year”. The album also won the Finnish Grammy, the Emma Award for the Best Jazz Album in 2016.

Aki Rissanen Trio released their second album Another North in November 2017 (Emma nomination) and the third one Art In Motion in September 2019, both on Edition Records.They are ambitious and rhythmically intense albums that have risen Aki Rissanen Trio undeniably into the front of the whole European jazz field. At the moment they are touring internationally on a regular basis. The trio features Antti Lötjönen (b.1980) on bass and Teppo Mäkynen (b.1974) on drums. Both players are the most sought-after musicians in the Finnish scene. They are founding members of one of the most successful Finnish jazz act, The Five Corners Quintet and they have collaborated with such names as Timo Lassy, Verneri Pohjola, Ilmiliekki Quartet, Jukka Eskola, Jukka Perko, Jeff ´Tain´ Watts, Nicola Conte, Ricky-Tick Big Band, Umo Jazz Orchestra among many others.

Aki Rissanen studied classical piano for 12 years in Finland and jazz and improvised music at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique in Paris, France. He took private lessons in New York, USA and Cologne, Germany in 2005-2008. In 2009, he graduated with a Master’s degree from the Sibelius Academy Jazz Department in Finland after studing jazz piano and composition for 7 years.

His teachers have included Jarmo Savolainen, Jukkis Uotila, Kirmo Lintinen, John Taylor, Jim Beard, Anders Jormin, Hervé Sellin, Markku Hyvärinen, Jouni Kuronen, Seppo Kantonen and Frank Carlberg, to name a few.

In addition to his high merits in the Solo Piano Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival and La Defense competition in France, Rissanen has been best known for his works with saxophonist Dave Liebman on German Ozella Music and trumpeter Verneri Pohjola on British Edition Records and on ACT Music in Germany.

He has shared the stage with UMO Jazz Orchestra, The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Dave Liebman, Rick Margitza, Randy Brecker, Sten Sandell, Tim Hagans, Emil Strandberg and Robert Ikiz among others. He has performed in most of the European countries, USA, Japan, China and North Africa.

Besides his trio, he leads a quartet entitled Sininen Syksy featuring classical soprano Mari Palo, guitarist Teemu Viinikainen and drummer Joonas Riippa which performs the music of the Finnish composer Leevi Madetoja. He co-leads the trio entitled Aleatoric with Robin Verheyen (sax) and Markku Ounaskari (drums) and the Aki Rissanen // Jussi Lehtonen Quartet featuring the sax legend Dave Liebman.

Other groups include France-based Grio and The Designers and the Finnish bands Mikko Hassinen Elektro GT and Lauri Porra Flyover. He has released 11 albums as a leader or co-leader in UK, USA, France, Sweden and Finland.

DISCOGRAPHY
as a leader / co-leader

2021          DIVIDED HORIZON, Aki Rissanen Solo, Edition Records, UK

2019          ART IN MOTION, Aki Rissanen Trio, Edition Records, UK

2019          IKIZAKI EP, Aki Rissanen – Robert Ikiz Duo, Stockholm Jazz Records, SE

2017          ANOTHER NORTH, Aki Rissanen Trio, Edition Records, UK

2017          ALEATORIC: SONGS FOR SOLSTICE, with Robin Verheyen and Markku Ounaskari, Eclipse Music, FI

2016          AMORANDOM, Aki Rissanen Trio, Edition Records, UK

2015          AKI RISSANEN // JUSSI LEHTONEN QUARTET WITH DAVE LIEBMAN, Ozella Music, DE

2014          STURM, Aki Rissanen Solo, Ilma Records, SE

2013          ALEATORIC, with Robin Verheyen and Markku Ounaskari, Eclipse Music, FI

2009         BEAUTIFUL ANXIETY, Aki Rissanen Trio + Rick Margitza & Magnus Broo, KSJAZZ, US

2008         SEMPLICE, Duo with Robin Verheyen, Alba Records, FI

2007         LA LUMIÉRE NOIRE, Aki Rissanen Solo, Aeon / Ilma Records, FR

2004         WARP!: ONE NOTE STORIES with Verneri Pohjola, Eeppi Ursin and Joonas Riippa, KHY, FI