When music lecturer Martti Lappalainen founded a jazz club at the Tapiola Co-educational School, Matti Riikonen, who started playing the trumpet a few years earlier, got his musical direction. The jazz club soon expanded into the Tapiola Big Band, which became a key breeding ground for Mat for a career as a professional musician. He began studying trumpet at the Sibelius Academy, completing his studies with private lessons given by jazz trumpeter Tomasz Stanko.
Nearly During his five-decade career, Riikonen played in several major Finnish jazz ensembles. He often performed with saxophonist Tapio “Tuuppi” Tuominen in various ensembles and also played e.g. Helsinki collective, IMU Workshop and saxophonist Jorma Tapion in the Hugry Tribal Marching Band.
Riikonen has been a member of Edward Vesala’s band Sound & Fury since 1987. He played on three of the band’s records for ECM and has toured in Finland, Europe and the Far East. In the 21st century, Riikonen started playing in the band Halme Prospekt, which often performed e.g. At Tampere Jazz Happening. Mati’s last recording was the Hannu Salama & Free Radicals ensemble, which unites poetry and jazz and was released in 2020. Departure pass to the future.
Calling in addition, Riikonen worked as a respected sheet musician. His careful and beautiful handprint can be seen in several scores of Jukka Linkola’s compositions, and Riikanen’s transcription was also relied on by e.g. Iro Haarla and Baron Paakkunainen in their works. “When a stemman is drawn by a skilled and alert musician by hand, he is held and allowed to play with love,” Linkola has commented on his extensive collaboration with Mati.
When Petri Haussila showed the Finnish Jazz Federation’s introductory text about him from Riga, he himself commented on the text as unnecessarily pompous. Matti did not do his work because of his reputation, but because of his love of music. People who know Mati remember her as a friendly, humorous and warm partner who didn’t raise herself.
When After a long silence, the Tapiola Big Band started working again in the 21st century, Matti actively participated in its large-scale productions, giving his professional skills accumulated over the years to the use of this breeding orchestra of enthusiasts and professionals. He was always ready to help his playmate, be it a music enthusiast or an experienced top professional.
Musician friend Arttu Tolonen commented on Mati’s trumpet playing after hearing about the grief news: “As a trumpet player, he had a voice like himself – calm, subtly smiling, thoughtful. Maybe a little smiling. Friendly. That was Matti. ” And Iro Haarla recalled Mati’s playing at Sound & Fury: “The heavy trumpet parts sound like a clear and sure lead sound from the wind section – sparkling like the bright stars of the night sky.”
The author is a friend of Matti Riikonen.