Imagine sunny Kadriorg Park on an early spring evening in February. This is exactly the atmosphere in Kumu auditorium, starting from the very first notes of the concert by Estonian singer-songwriter Helin-Mari Arder and Andy Fite – an American jazz guitarist, singer and songwriter living in Sweden. Winter jazz really does bring springtime closer!
This beautiful duo, working together for about ten years now, performed in the Winter Jazz Festival nine years ago. The joy of meeting again was great, both for the audience and the artists themselves. Both musicians have created a lot of music on their own through the years. And it is only natural that two so hard-working and talented artists recognized this in each other already ten years ago and united it on stage. This has led to a magical interaction that is solid as a rock, but yet so warm and beautiful.
The concert started without a longer talk and the music seized the audience right away. The first song was from the new album “Really Just Friends”, which is mostly comprised of original tunes by Andy Fite. After that there was the nicely swinging “Do You Know What? (I’m Starting to Like You)” from the first CD (I’m Starting to Like You). The whole repertoire was in English and the songs were by turns from the first and the newest CD.
With the listeners the duo took faster and slower steps, laughed and cried. There were serious moments and some raw language, some bebop scatting from Helin-Mari Arder and surprising and humorous vocal improvisational moments from Andy Fite, including, for example, a very nice surprise: a solo on kazoo! We must also mention his excellent technique on guitar.
The emotionally varied colors of the songs, with love as leitmotif, and the vitality and humanity they expressed, created a dynamic that somehow bound up the whole concert as if it was one story. The encore songs also carried the same energy. In the first of them, “How Many Times Do I Have to Say I’m Sorry”, Helin-Mari Arder’s masterfully phrased solo was especially memorable. The connection between the audience and the artists remained strong until the very last – third— encore. There too the duo kept their excellent sense of humor, improvising a speech-like vocal duet (not real words), a spicy argument in the everyday life of a couple.
As I was walking home after the concert and thinking about it, I realized I was smiling, and for good reason. Helin-Mari Arder and Andy Fite gave so much of themselves, and I believe that both younger and older listeners were very positively charged by this concert. To conclude my impressions of this sincere, beautiful and utterly professional concert I can say just one thing: amazing!
Check out the photos here.