Risto Toppola started to play the jazz guitar as a student of Otto Berger at the age of 15. Before this, he had played classical piano but he got bored with it. After a couple of years with Berger, he enrolled to the Pop & Jazz Conservatory in Helsinki. He took part in one of the workshops by Edward Vesala and studied with Raoul Björkenheim, whose controlled crazyness Toppola admired. This relationship continued when Toppola was accepted to the jazz department of Sibelius Academy in 1989.
Toppola became known among the jazz audience in 1992 when he performed as the Young Soloist of UMO Jazz Orchestra. The next year he formed his own band, Risto Toppola Trio, together with bassist Ape Anttila and drummer Markus Ketola. Risto Toppola Trio performed mainly Toppola's compositions. In 1995...