Risto Toppola is a guitarist and a composer in the forefront
of the Finnish jazz scene. He combines jazz, pop and world music in
versatile and experimental ways. In addition to the acoustic and
electric guitars, he also plays other stringed instruments,
such as bouzouki.
Toppola has joined the ranks of the established jazz musicians in Finland
by performing with the Finnis Radio Big band (UMO) as the Young Soloist of the year.
Since then he has played with various Finnish and foreign musicians like
Tim Ries, Bernard Fowler, Adam Nussbaum and Jukkis Uotila.
With his own group, Risto Toppola trio (RTT), he has played since 1994.
In 1995 the trio took the second prize at the European Jazz Contest in Belgium.
The new line-up of the trio, with Jussi Lehtonen on drums and Timo Hirvonen on bass, started in 2005.
Toppola has performed ie. in France, Sweden, Poland, Holland, Estonia, Portugal and Switzerland. Apart from performing clubs and festivals, Toppola has also played in various studio projects.
Toppola has studied ie. with Wayne Krantz and John Abercrombie.
He is a well respected teacher himself. He currently teaches at the and the Sibelius Academy and at the Savonia University of Applied Sciences.
Toppola has also started his doctoral studies in Sibelius Academy.
The Folkjazz project is based on the idea of fusing ancient Finnish folk themes with modern sounds and grooves and the elements of jazz improvisation.
The music is filled with exciting sounds of the electric guitar, the trumpet, the cajon and other world drums. The rhythms are from Africa, influenced by the drumming of Tony Allen. The musicians are Risto Toppola, guit/arr. (FIN), Bruno Schorp, bass (FR), Ludovic Lagana tp (CH), Jarne Wildeboer sax (NL) and Bruno Duval drums (CH).
The group is a colourful multicultural European project combining a sense of deep tradition with some truly unique sounds of today.
The Folkjazz group has performed in Geneva and in Kuopio, Finland and held workshops about the fusion of world rhythms and Finnish folk music.