Every year Tallinn Music Weeks rocks the city with an overload of performances and activities determined to impress any particular taste or style. The festival features different programs across multiple venues on the city between March 27th to the 29th, and the themes range from the Danish Institute presented program of their national artists at Von Krahli Aed to an alternative electro party at Telliskivi’s Erinevate Tubade Klubi presented by Baltic Scene. Among these Jazzkaar and Estonian Jazz Union graciously presented the most intense jazz program of the festival, hosting ten incredible performances in Tallinn’s hottest jazz bar, Theatre NO99.
As usual, NO99’s elegant ballroom style architecture, its grand swooping staircase and seemingly never-ending bar are always a pleasant sight. During the showcase two concert halls on the upper floor featured alternating thirty minute concerts between the stages, keeping the audiences energized as they hurried to find themselves good seats in between shows. Hosting a small cocktail bar upstairs and a lounge across the entire bottom floor, the atmosphere was as smooth and sophisticated as the musicians of the evening. Set-up as a somewhat of a jazz pilgrimage, where the crowds wandered left to right in pursuit of a place in the audience, the halls were alive and buzzing with conversations, laughter, and camera clicks.
Starting off the line-up was Ingrid Lukas, whose exotic blend of traditional Estonian music and her own unique melodies make for an unmatchable style. Based in Switzerland, the artist is true to her Estonian roots and in case her sultry vocals and one-of-a-kind music was missed she will perform during this year’s Jazzkaar Festival this April. As the concert closed, the audience keenly made their way to order cocktails and find a place in NO99’s second theatre room where Paul Daniel Band took the stage. Despite opening with Ingrid Lukas’ fusion of jazz and pop, guitarist Paul Daniel, keyboardist Raun Juurikas, drummer Kaspar Kalluste, and double bassist and the chairman of Estonian Jazz Union Peedu Kass took the audience back to basics with their impeccably played classical jazz grooves. Adding to this list of local talents is Kadri Voorand, who graced the stage as a part of a cappella group Estonian Voices and as a leading vocalist of the-jazz-meets-classical-orchestra Avarus Ensemble.
Jazz is flexible, fluid and spontaneous and the venue and style of the evening fit with this definition. From conventional and classical to bizarre improvisations, the Estonian bands performing that night (aside from Polish upbeat jazz band Jazzpospolita) raised the bar for prospective jazz artists anywhere. With such a robust range, jazz is a genre that can generously encompass the psychedelic guitar melodies of Robert Jürjendal and the progressive beats and brass tunes of Phlox under one vivacious, delightful roof.