Teemu Viinikainen is one of Finland’s best-known and most distinguished jazz guitarists. An emphasis on expressional power, swing and virtuosity are key elements in his playing but, above all, it is his strong presence, delicate touch and the subtle sound of his instrument that make the most immediate impression on the listener.
Viinikainen took up the guitar at the age of seven and enrolled at the Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory some years later. After that he pursued his studies at the Jazz Department of Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy, from where he graduated with his master’s degree in 2005. He has trained under the instruction of such world-famous guitarists as Pat Metheny and Wayne Krantz.
His first notable jazz group was the Finnish quintet U-Street All Stars, founded in 2001. They became very popular in Finland in the 00s, and it was through them that Viinikainen started to make a name for himself. Indeed, perhaps his biggest merit today is his reputation as a trusted and sought-after musician – the go-to guitarist for numerous top groups. While saxophonist Jukka Perko can be named as Viinikainen’s most important and long-standing partner in music, the guitarist has also performed alongside a host of international jazz giants, including Joe Lovano, Vince Mendoza, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Tim Hagans and Jeff Tain Watts.
At the moment, his most active group is the trio Teemu Viinikainen III with keyboardist Mikael Myrskog and drummer Joonas Riippa. Their debut album, Return of Robert Dickson, came out in autumn 2017 and was greeted with an Emma Music Awards nomination for the Jazz Album of the Year. Also, he is currently working on his first solo guitar album, which is due to be released in 2019.
“When I think of the true creative innovators on the guitar, Teemu Viinikainen’s name tops the list. Technically impressive and musically sublime, his music portrays the spectrum of human emotion that leaves the listener and his fellow musicians inspired.”
Tim Hagans, Grammy nominated jazz trumpeter and composer