TALLINN - It's unavoidable. The Christmas lights are out, the gingerbread huts are up, the Old Town's tree is glowing, and the shopping centers are bustling with holiday spirit. It's unavoidable, the Christmas season has come. And whether you wrap the holiday spirit around you like a warm winter quilt or bah-humbug it away, Christmas will be Christmas in Tallinn.
This year's Jazzkaar Christmas program has already lived up to its holiday reputation, providing tourists and residents alike with a month-long play list of jazz. With November behind, the three-week festival is adopting a more festive sound with concerts like "The Echo of Silence" and "La Folia."
On Dec. 1, at the Niguliste Museum-Concert Hall, Estonian virtuosos Hedvig Hanson, Andre Maaker and Oleg Pissarenko will perform a chilling concert to welcome the long winter. "The Echo of Silence" is, as close as jazz music can achieve, just that. As the press release exults, "Chilling, colorful, unconventionalâ€¦ this is how you would portray the northern lights." To be honest, I have no idea how musicians could possibly capture the Aurora Borealis in jazz notes. But if Hanson, Maaker, and Pissarenko accomplish this miracle, my respect is theirs.
One night later Jaak Johanson and Robert Jurjendal, another respected Estonian duo, will spice up Tallinn's Town Hall with "The Probable Badges." The two musicians have been friends for years, playing casually in cafes, Tallinn courtyards and the Old Town's House of Music. Those who know the duet will be quick to buy up tickets, and those who don't have nothing to lose in following the example.
"La Folia" will bring back the early days of jazz with a touch of baroque. This ensemble's music resonates with Vivladi, whose compositional aesthetic surpasses the notion of musical eras. With three of Estonia's best jazz players behind the notes, "La Folia" is sure to be one of the festival's most popular concerts.
And then we have the American. Anyone who knows bass knows Michael Manring. His recordings on Windham Hill, Unusual Weather, Toward the Center of the Night, and Drastic Measures have earned him international fame. Throughout the 1980s, Manring played in the Montreux Band alongside a handful of well-respected musicians. This group of free thinkers inspired much of the decade's acoustic music, as Manring himself continues to do today.
If there's one more name to mention, it's Courtney Pine. The man has earned his fair share of fame, and is possibly Britain's most accomplished saxophonist. The musician, alongside his trusty band, will present his latest album "Resistance." According to critics, the record touches on all of Pine's favorite bases: African music, jazz funk, dub, soul and drum n' bass with an "unfaltering musicality and sense of fun."
As these winter days seemingly become shorter by the minute, an early evening jazz concert is defiantly a good way to cope. Even if you've never heard any of the abovementioned names, it sure beats wandering around in Estonia's sub-zero temperatures. Wouldn't you agree?
Runs until Dec. 15
(+372) 611 44 05