Story-telling through jazz

  • 2011-04-21
  • By Sam Logger

PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM: The Baltics are into the swing of jazz as the European Jazz Orchestra gets ready to play.

RIGA - Jazz music has always fascinated, with its virtuosity, melody and arrangement. It has never been easy, as the main goal is to tell a story which is full of complexity and secrecy. Still, it owns this ability to tell a story effortlessly. This is what draws crowds around jazz. And the Baltic countries are welcome to enjoy this story-telling in three concerts by the visiting European Jazz Orchestra.

It was in 2005, when two major jazz oriented institutions – the Danish-based ‘Swinging Europe’ and ‘EBU Big Band’ – joined forces and established European Jazz Orchestra in the way it is known right now. The musical project is unique in its formation. Shaped by musicians from different European countries, the jazz orchestra changes its conductors, arrangers, and members of the band annually to maintain the fresh sound in their music. Moreover, the age range of the musicians is 18-30, thus, the orchestra is constantly enclosed in the spirit of the young. It lets the music become a lot more challenging and diverse, unifying both the intensity and peacefulness. Today more than 300 young musicians have already played for the orchestra, including Latvian music star Intars Busulis, who was a part of the project in 2005.

European Jazz Orchestra has toured throughout the world. Probably this is the reason why the orchestra promotes ‘world jazz’ in 2011. The music is penetrated by ethnic traditions of European and African-American legacy. And listeners will be guided through this story by the Finnish conductor and composer Jere Laukkanen.

Most likely it has to be said that jazz music is something that is not made for every person’s ear. Those who are used to dominant music, such as pop, in today’s industry, European Jazz Orchestra may sound even irritating. As the key features of jazz are to awaken some forgotten emotions and exert the body’s strings, the music is some sort of a mix of unexpected vibrations. Indeed, many can find themselves placed in the musical vastness where thoughts get their biggest power and where the frames of the accustomed popular music do not work anymore.

Bill Falconer of has stated that the orchestra is “a wonderful gift for this turbulent world.” Arguably, he has a point. From the very beginning jazz music has served to portray the lines of life. And by that time, when this music style had emerged, it was almost impossible to impersonate these feelings using the traditionally strict music structure implemented by serious music. There was a necessity for this music to have no limits or determined forms, just the way life had had. So jazz gladly invited improvisation, swinging vibe and structural chaos into music.

Nowadays it has not changed, and neither has life. European Jazz Orchestra as the mediator connects the listeners to what is obvious – the feeling to live is just as unpredictable as the music itself. And actually it is the main reason why this concert has to be attended. Jazz music is never about just listening. From the first chords, the listener will transform into the participator. This is where the soulful melodies will let everyone trace his leap of destiny, and maybe even find some answers which were hard to get. How can jazz do it? It is no pure magic or anything mystical! At the end of the concert probably everyone will understand that music is able to open the hidden imagination. The only difference between jazz or popular music in this case is really a chance to stimulate a very personal journey which leads to the unknown.

European Jazz Orchestra will perform in Liepaja, Latvia, on April 25 and Tallinn, Estonia, on April 27. They will also star in the festival Rigas Ritmi on April 26, which will take place in Riga Congress Hall.