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Markus Ketola

b. 1968

Markus Ketola is a sought-after musician and composer who has studied piano and classical percussions in addition to his main instrument, drums. His 15-year career as a musician spans all kinds of projects from band gigs and barn dances to theatre productions and musicals. Today Ketola is known primarily as an influential figure in the jazz scene.

Ketola joined UMO Jazz Orchestra in 1993 and has also performed, among others, with EBU Big Band, Bohuslån Big Band, and Norrbotten Big Band lead by the trombonist Tim Hagans. He has worked with many smaller jazz bands, some of which have been experimental cross-over groups such as Free Okapi, acknowledged at the Finnish Valopilkku Awards in 1999, and Kerava Quartet, which has performed and recorded Eero Hämeenniemi’s composition for string quartet and drums.

As a composer, Ketola is interested in creating complete works. His pieces are built up with skilful harmonies and melodies. Being a rhythm professional, he also gives room for drum solos.

Ketola graduated from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in 1998. In the same year, the leading Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat chose his Tila Ensemble’s first album, “Tila”, as the jazz album of the year. The following year the record won the Finnish Jazz-Emma prize. Ketola has composed music for UMO (Jatkumo, Lake End 2003), individual soloists and international productions of the European Broadcasting Union and YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company. His latest composition was performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra for a feature-length television drama, “Puhdas päämäärä” (YLE TV1, 2005).

Tila Ensemble’s tracks, which blend elements of Slavic and folk music, offer a foretaste of Ketola’s interests. The drummer, who has a strong sense of space and dramatics, has played folk music in the accordionist Maria Kalaniemi’s line-up and has spiced up the Indian raga music as part of Eero Hämeenniemi’s group, Nada (Nada, Alba 1999). The word Nada translates as transcendental, universal sound, and it is precisely the universal nature and versatility that characterise Ketola’s career. Recently, Ketola has broadened his skills by studying challenging South Indian carnatic music.