Born in Oulu, Finland, vocalist-composer Riikka Keränen (ré-kah/que-ræ-nenh) is one of the noteworthy and distinctive jazz artists of the vibrant Finnish music scene. On her debut album 'A Vision of a Garden', to be released by the Flame Jazz Records in 2022, she fuses jazz aesthetic and improvisation with evocative stories.
'A Vision of a Garden' is an expressive quartet album focusing on intuition and observations about love and its many faces. It is a modern jazz-inspired piece of music, with lyrics and musical storytelling at the center. The album aims to update the traditional vocalist-led jazz piano trio line-up to this day with new musical material: on the original songs of the album traditional standard structures have been abandoned in the forms of songs, creating new challenges and opportunities for the musicians to construct their improvisation. In addition to Riikka the quartet consists of Finnish jazz musicians pianist Juho Valjakka, double bassist Jori Huhtala and drummer Anssi Tirkkonen.
The Finnish songstress is versatile, equally comfortable fronting small ensembles in concert halls as well as in intimate jazz clubs. Everywhere she sings – be it London, Los Angeles, Helsinki or Cape Town – audiences are enticed by her cultivated phrasing and scatting, all with a dark, naturally rich sound.
Riikka holds a Master’s Degree in Music majoring in jazz performance. On top of studying at the prestigious Sibelius Academy in Finland, she has also had the pleasure to spend years abroad diving deep in jazz and improvisation studies at the Guildhall School of Music in London and at the Malmö Music Academy in Sweden. “Growing up I was exposed to a lot of music and great teachers. I guess playing the accordion and the electric bass along with singing helped me to deepen my skills to listen and embrace musical information. Jazz came into my life at a later stage when I was 17, but immediately I was enthralled by the subtleties in its harmonies, structures and phrasing.”
Through the years, Riikka has performed with various groups besides her own band — for example the Finnish Jazz Grammy and Teosto-prize nominated vocal ensemble Signe, and the folk-pop Ylva Haru — and recorded on Finnish labels Eclipse Music and Soit Se Silti. In 2008, Riikka was the 2nd runner up in the Bothnian Jazz Competition for young soloists.