Thursday, March 18, 2004
Brochard brings out his contrabass. Immediately, his “metal” hand starts to saw the wood into pieces of discord. The Frenchman is embullient, but his interpretation leaves no sign of the emotions. We hear the sound of the didgeridoo as the last reverberation of the human soul. The music turns into a story composed of squeaking tunes which appear in reverse order. One man beside me shouted out:”The pig has appeared in a new form!”. The chairs in the bar are creaking with the sounds of the mutineer. We can hear the explosions. The opposing directions meet in the crossroad. Brochard’s hand strokes slowly the warm strings with the bow. The battle scene is filled with monotonous melody. Suddenly, the listeners raise their heads. Is it really human voice in the avant-garde machinery room? It sounds like David Hykes. But there is no meditation. Brochard pushed the wrong button - he whistles with his throat to accompany the cry of the contrabass. There are no traditions kept in the free-style jazz. Brochard would be invisible without the capital of his skills. In the end, we can sense the Jewish intuition in the presentation of the sad story. But the music is still too eclectic to follow a certain ideology. Lamentation stops with no final solution. Brochard cools down the strings of his contrabass and takes a rest.
Next to show up is Ramon Lopez. The Spanish percussion master fills the space with interchange of bellicosity and peace-loving course. One could percieve the fusion of echoing noises as an extra harmony. The uncontrollable phon humanises the avant-garde mode. Lopez presents the urban mood with the unordinary sounds of the percussions. The audience remains silent. There is no time given to culmination. The bass and the bells are boring. Then the colourful tunes appear. The soundless hi-hat takes us to a print-house where plates meet the papers. The audience is far from feeling the touch of the beat. We want to dance, but there’s no space given to the listener. Lopez starts a rock n’ roll theme. He gives the tunes more robust pulse. His left hand bounds from the snare into the air to show his self-confidence on the stage. The Spanish drummer looks like Elvis Presley in bullfighter’s arena. Good composition. Twenty minutes have passed. Lopez disappears.
After a little break the international trio comes together: Eric Brochard, Ramon Lopez and Jaak Sooäär. The space is filled with ambient sounds of Sooäär’s guitar. The journey starts with faces looking into different directions. This time, the Estonian takes the lead. Jaak Sooäär gives no time for the southerners to intercourse. In the background of the be-bop intro the drums play a protest and contrabass continues the old weeping song. The trio is very skillful in timing. They hardly ever communicate with each other. The music becomes stormy. Everything changes very fast. We want to dance. We have the rhythm but perceive no emotions. People are happy to hear bossanova for five seconds. But it was not a mean. The musicians oil the machines and enter the next field of their eclectic interpretations. They have proved themselves in the avant-garde movement by being able to compromise fast. The music stops without the final jam session. It was a short show. At least we can’t remember having experienced the beauty of the music.
Although we recognise the amazing information flow, we are scared of the technical perfectness. Avant-garde jazz makes the listeners re-value the human skills. What else could reflect the soul of the musician? Maybe, the mistakes that occur with passion.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Few years ago, when walking in the streets of Tallinn the tourists could notice the café revolution of Estonia. There were irish pubs and fancy cafeterias in the heart of the Old Town, but only one jazz bar - Roosa Klaver. That dark basement was filled with music for many years. It was not a problem to find the audience, but hard to keep such a little place opened in the expensive region of the city.
Today, jazz concerts in Estonia are project-based events with a few stationary places to gather its audience at the weekends. In Tallinn, Von Krahl and McCools have jazz musicians occasionally performing in the dim light of the bars; and in Pärnu we could find Jazz Café, which deals more with the development of their catering menu than do pay attention to the jazz programs.
People like to go to Jazzkaar every month, but would also like to sit down and relax with jazz music after ordering a glass of calvados and plate of olives. The Estonian jazz festivals have led the audience of the jazz clubs to the different concert halls and bars of the country. People believe there are no musicians to play jazz in the local clubs every week, though we could notice the many interpretators lacking in output for their music. Cotton Club or Dizzy hardly ever introduced the talents of Estonia, but surely were cosy places for having a dinner with business-partners. In contrast, Jazzkaar brings together jazz artists from different generations, but would not give you time for a dinner.
The secret how the many jazz clubs in the western Europe survive lies in the phenomenon of jazz tourism. In Tallinn, jazz bar beside McDonalds in Viru Street was targeted to Finnish vodka-tourists, who could afford the expensive beer, but were not staying for the evening concerts. Estonian citizens would have liked to enjoy the local jazz music of the bar, but couldn’t afford the same menu that kept the foreign audience busy during their stay. The place was closed down, and re-conditioned for an irish pub named O’Malleys.
It is nice to have Ella Fitzgerald playing on a scratchy vinyl, but one also wants to experience an event with the appearance of the musician on the stage in the very same room of the speakers. The objectives a jazz club should meet are the quality, the atmosphere and the various jazz interpretations to be presented in live shows. “Jazz, like any language, has its own grammar and vocabulary. There’s no right or wrong, just some choises that are better than others”, Wynton Marsali has said. Mutuality in opportunities is the key to the success of a jazz club. When establishing a place for music we should ask the opinion of the artists first. They know their audience better than we do, because they have looked into the eyes of their listeners. Joy is beauty, and beatuy is happiness. One should serve the artists in order to serve their audience.
It is true, there a many wannabe freaks, who emphasize on the appearance of jazz as a style, and do not care of the alchemy of the music. However, when one is already in the mood for jazz he/she wants also to sense the passion that inspires the maker of the music. A jazz club should be opened to everyone. The club might want to focus on the old traditional image of the well-known blue-lighted clubs of the 1950’s, and still keep the stage opened to funky jazz as well. Moreover, there is a crying need for a place where young musicians could show their talents in jazz. Thus far, few of the students from the Estonian Music Academy and other academic institutions have had the opportunity to show their skills in jazz to the fans of the music.
Similarly to the festivals the jazz clubs of Estonia will probably only survive through the wide audience of different tastes in jazz music. The artists of traditional jazz, bossanova and fusion do all have something in common – the need for existence. They inspire each other, but stay independent. And so do the different listeners of the performers who feel comfortable as long as the place provides jazzy atmosphere with respect to their different notions in the music.
A jazz club should be wide in space in its every meaning. The club visitors and the artists must sense the gravity of jazz, and not the need for investments into the continuity of the business. The quality of the jazz club depends on the smiley people, and all the rest will come with it.
Sunday, March 14, 2004
Today Jazzkaar brings us sunlight throughout the year. We are welcomed to join the concerts of the various interpretators in Autumn Jazz (Sügisjazz), Nõmme Jazz, Christmas Jazz ( Jõulujazz), Student Jazz (Tudengijazz), Spring Jazz (Kevadjazz), Summer Jazz (Suvejazz), and in the music events in the middle of Estonian nature.
Since 1995, Spring time in Estonia has been always filled with the music of various talents from all over the world. Besides the capital Tallinn one could listen to jazz in Pärnu, Tartu and Viljandi. “Jazz will bring the spring“, said Anne Erm, the director of the festival Jazzkaar.
This year the first concert of Kevadjazz took place on the 2nd of March in Café Amigo and was supported by the US Embassy in Estonia. It was the performance of the wonderful Ericka Ovette, who is a well-known storyteller in soul music and also noted as the follower of Ella Fitzgerald.
Anne Erm has called together artists who represent the different moods of jazz. Among the many, we should name Horre Zeiger and his big band which was founded in 1954. The orchestra has played various western jazz hits throughout the Soviet Union era in Estonia. Today, Horre Zeiger will play his piano together with old and new talents in jazz. In autumn the big band will celebrate its 50th birthday.
The Spring Season will end on Wednesday, March 24 with the legendary Estonian funk and jazz vocalist Marju Kuut who appears in BonBon during the Jazz Lounge vol.9 session. Jazz concerts will continue in April where one of the most famous music groups will be Earth, Wind and Fire Experience.