Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Conventional signs 

“I am not only waiting for a phone call, but also introducing my ideas to the others. It is silly to claim that Estonia is lacking in these possibilities”, says drummer Tanel Ruben.

Tanel finds the rules for having a success as a musician the same everywhere. One must be good in his technical skills as well as in the establishing of relations with others. In Estonia we have only fifty men competing with each other but in USA there might be half a million of those musicians trying to survive in the fit-test.

Tanel finds his family’s support to his work most important. Since graduating school he has been constantly polishing his skills in music in different corners of Europe. According to him there are enough opportunities for education through practice, but one must make it all possible himself. Differently from pop musicians the jazz interpretators turn into distinguishable figures in a long course of time. Tanel claims that it is hard to find an output when a jazz musician is in his twenties. In Sweden he noticed that mainly middle-aged musicians made up the recognisable jazz groups. The young talents were living from the dole and practising at home.

“Today, we find good musicians in Estonia, but none of them have produced anything outstanding in jazz. They just earn their living as a musician and play the background tunes. As an exception, Jaak Sooäär and Weekend Guitar Trio make no bones about being different from the mainstream. I know what it means – it feels like being a little child. I get excited of the new things, but will soon move on towards another amusement.”, says Tanel.

Tanel believes that much of the jazz music is gained intuitively. Although nothing comes without the pre-knowledge, it is sometimes complicated to put the music down on the paper. Not everything could be formulated in a certain way. For instance, the making of free-jazz could be found more spontaneous, and is not meant to be discovered by the theoretical mind. “If people minded what others say about their improvisation there would be no jazz left in the world. Finally, we all appear to be a bit different, wherefore I find it important to develop the uniqueness in oneself. Actually, if we look around we could easily recognise people who have the need to be a rock star with the best car. They just take over the appearance of the other persons”, says Tanel Ruben. He believes that at least thirty seconds of one’s work should be dedicated to the improvisational theme. Otherwise, we are talking about composition. Improvisation determines jazz in jazz music. If the car wash company named Jazz contains improvisational work it might be honest enough to make a name with that title.

Tanel finds new music always in need, though it might be hard to find an output for it. At first Estonian musicians should perform in the local festivals. There must be some brochures, web comments or some other examples available before trying to make a contact with people abroad. Moreover, the organisers of the Estonian festivals know also the foreign producers. They exchange information, and the agents will probably pay a visit to Estonia as well. “It is very important to maintain the international relations. Right now my music could be found over seven internet music stores of Germany. I made my way there with the help of different international contacts. But it all started here in Estonia with people who know the local market of the targeted countries. Conventional sign is hidden in a hot sauna. Many decisions are made behind a stage with a bottle of vodka. This is common everywhere. It is grim, but true”, says Tanel.

Similarly to the producers, also the artists of the famous labels carry on certain approach to the music. Big companies just want to make money. Tanel claims that nowadays everyone is challenged to establish his own label, wherefore more styles and names are represented by the music industries. He explains that the independent companies do everything to prove their notion in the good music. However, after having the first success in their business the independent companies are often re-owned by bigger industries. All the stores are filled with music albums. But we do not know if people will get interested in those articles.

One should take his music with total seriousness. Tanel is not sure how to find the artists who cut a poor figure in the making of jazz, but he believes that it is noticed easily with the help of the audience – they always recognise the interpretators who do not sound great. “There is time for everything”, says Tanel, who still waits for a sensation in his concerts abroad. According to him some of the performances are just more exotic while others show path to the new contacts. He finds it good to have a performance anywhere. “It is important to be recognised – I find it the meaning of life”, says Tanel Ruben.


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