Christmas Jazz brings light and warmth

18. november 2009

This year the festival takes place from November 29 until December 17 with guests from Brazil, USA, France, Germany and many other countries. Christmas Jazz with its more than 20 concerts always has a special atmosphere, since many of the concerts are held in churches and more emphasis is on the beauty of the human voice. Christmas music and pieces about winter are featured albeit in some moderation, so as not to dominate the event.

LOOK AT THE PROGRAM!

(Jõulujazz) festival actually got started by chance when the world-famous Danish bassist, Nils Henning Orsted Pedersen, who was always too busy to come to the annual Jazzkaar Festival in the spring, agreed instead to come to Estonia in December 1996 together with a Danish TV crew.

It should be mentioned here, however, that this was not in fact his first visit to Tallinn – in 1970s he gave several concerts here together with the legendary jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson.

The “minifestival” of those times has now grown into a grand festival lasting a fortnight and bringing together performers from all over the world. This year the festival takes place from November 29 until December 17 with guests from Brazil, USA, France, Germany and many other countries. Christmas Jazz with its more than 20 concerts always has a special atmosphere, since many of the concerts are held in churches and more emphasis is on the beauty of the human voice. Christmas music and pieces about winter are featured albeit in some moderation, so as not to dominate the event.

This year a highlight is the world-famous jazz pianist, Jean-Luc Ponty, whose list of co-operation partners stretches from symphony orchestras to performers such as Frank Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea and Al Di Meola. Ponty has sold over 6 million albums, which in the world of instrumental music, is a remarkable figure. This French virtuoso and composer gives a concert on December 16 with his jazz-rock ensemble in the new acoustic state-of-the-art Nokia Concert Hall in Tallinn.

Many music lovers are looking forward to the concert of the new generation Brazilian bossanova star, Giana Viscardi, who also loves fado and African rhythms. A star of the European club circuit, Christian Prommer, has made a name for himself as a soloist, DJ, a clever remixer and producer as well as a member of many ensembles, such as Trüby Trio. This time Prommer plays dance music together with his live-ensemble in Tallinn’s largest club, Rock Cafe.
One of the world’s most innovative drummers, Ari Hoenig, is here from New York together with his trio featuring Estonian jazz pianist, Kristjan Randalu.

All these artists are closely connected to America – Ponty has been living there now for 15 years, Viscardi studied jazz in Boston, Prommer’s roots are in America and Kristjan Randalu lives and works alternately in New York, Germany and Estonia. However, there is one more connection with America: this year Christmas Jazz celebrates the 100th anniversary of the legendary American clarinettist, Benny Goodman. The “Finnish Goodman”, clarinettist Antti Sarpila, performs together with the Estonian Police Orchestra Big Band and singers, Gerli Padar and Mart Sander.

As usual, many artists release new albums and compile new concert programmes for the Christmas season and several of these are also included in the festival programme. Maian Kärmas, Hedvig Hanson, Liina Saar and Helin-Mari Arder are young and noteworthy Estonian singers. Helin-Mari Arder’s concert Café Anglais is broadcast by the European Broadcasting Union to millions of music lovers. Young singer, Ingrid Lukas, who has lived in Switzerland for the last 15 years, comes to Estonia to present her debut album. Also one of Estonia’s favourite pop-rock singers, Ivo Linna, who recently celebrated his 60th anniversary, performs this time together with jazz musicians.

The concerts of the Andres Mustonen Jazz Quartet have always been one of the highlights of the Christmas Jazz festival. The long-time leader of the medieval music group, “Hortus Musicus”, Andres Mustonen – a violinist, conductor and world class musician – loves to present classical music in a modern setting. He has re-arranged classical pieces in a jazz idiom and performs them with great energy in one of the oldest churches in Tallinn, the Holy Ghost Church.