Tallinn International Festival Jazzkaar is one of the flagship music events in Estonian culture and the biggest jazz festival in the Baltic countries. Well known for its unique and richly varied programme and bold solutions, Jazzkaar has been taking place annually since 1990. Its main hub is located in Telliskivi Creative City, a former industrial quarter now full of Bohemian style creative businesses, cafes and design studios. The ten-day festival Jazzkaar is the most visited festival in Estonia where over 3000 foreign artists from 60 countries have performed.
The peak moments of the festival have been covered by journalists from various countries and with the help of Klassikaraadio and EBU transmissions, millions of European jazz lovers have been part of it. Spring 2017 Jazzkaar festival was visited by 25 000 music lovers, which is an all-time record.
Estonian music industry chose Jazzkaar 2015 as the best music festival in Estonia. Jazzkaar has been named among the top festivals in Europe and has freshly been certified with the EFFE stamp of quality for 2015-2016 and 2017-2018. Jazzkaar is also a member of European Jazz Network that collaborates with other partner festivals in Estonia (e.g. Tallinn Music Week) and abroad (April Jazz, We Jazz, Kaunas Jazz etc).
In addition to the grand festival in the spring, MTÜ Jazzkaare Sõprade Ühing also organizes Jõulujazz (Christmas jazz) festival. Jõulujazz is an intimate two-week festival well-fitted into the season, that fills churches, concert halls, and clubs in the end of November and beginning of December with beautiful jazz music. In addition to that, the team also organizes concert seasons Talvejazz (Winter jazz), and Sügisjazz (Autumn jazz). Have a look here.
The biggest stars who have played at Jazzkaar are Bobby McFerrin (2011), Angie Stone (2009), Chick Corea (2012, 1994), Dianne Reeves (2010, 2017), Jan Garbarek (2012, 2003, 1997), Richard Bona (2014, 2011, 2003, 2002), John Scofield (2015, 2004), Charles Lloyd (2013, 2005, 1997, 1967), Bill Frisell (2014), Gregory Porter (2015, 2013), Pat Metheny (2014) and many others.
Winter Jazz: February-March 2024
Jazzkaar 2024: 21.04-28. 04 2024
Autumn Jazz: September-October 2023
Christmas Jazz: November-December 2023
In addition to the annual main festival in spring, Jazzkaar also organises Christmas Jazz as well as Winter Jazz and Autumn Jazz. Christmas Jazz is a two-week intimate and serene-sounding festival with an international line-up, taking place at the end of November and beginning of December, while Winter Jazz (January to March) and Autumn Jazz (September to October) are concert seasons presenting new projects by local artists and intriguing musicians from Europe. Winter Jazz also offers Estonian jazz musicians an opportunity to perform with their favorite artists from abroad and gain new experiences through international collaboration. Talvejazz and Sügisjazz are concert seasons that feature local artists, their new projects, and intriguing jazz gems from Europe.
Sügisjazz/Autumn Jazz 2023: September-October 2023
Talvejazz/Winter Jazz 2024: February-March 2024
Jazz Awards were given for the 17th time in 2023!
The goal of Jazz Musician of the Year Award is to acknowledge the most active, professional, and creative jazz musicians in Estonia. Estonian citizens, residents, or ensembles will be evaluated who have stood out with their creative work in the last three years. 2013-2018, the award was called Danske Jazz Award. In 2007 – 2012, it bore the name Elion Jazz Award.
The most important jazz award in Estonia has been won by:
Janno Trump (2023) – bass
Kirke Karja (2022) – piano
Holger Marjamaa (2021) – piano
Joel Remmel (2020) – piano
Raul Sööt (2019) – saxophone
Mihkel Mälgand (2018) – double bass
Mart Soo (2017) – guitar
Maria Faust (2016) – saxophone
Kadri Voorand (2015) – vocals
Meelis Vind (2014) – clarinet
Taavo Remmel (2013) – double bass
Villu Veski (2012) – saxophone
Kristjan Randalu (2011) – piano
Raivo Tafenau (2010) – saxophone
Siim Aimla (2009) – saxophone
Tanel Ruben (2008) – drums
Jaak Sooäär (2007) – guitar
Estonian Jazz Union and Jazzkaar give out the Young Jazz Talent award which is meant to acknowledge the initiative and good skills of young musicians and to encourage their pursuits. The Young Jazz Talent Award is given to up to 26-year-old talented musician who has achieved something remarkable and notably contributed more to their progress than their peers normally.
The winners of Young Jazz Talent award:
Tobias Tammearu (2023) – saxophone
Anett Tamm (2022) – vocal
Rita Ray (2021) – vocal
Marianne Leibur (2020) – vocal
Karmen Rõivassepp (2019) – vocal
Lauri Kadalipp (2018) – saxophone
Janno Trump (2017) – bass guitar
Heikko Remmel (2016) – double bass
Aleksander Paal (2015) – saxophone
Kirke Karja (2014) – piano
Holger Marjamaa (2013) – piano
Kaspar Kalluste (2012) – drums
Joel-Rasmus Remmel (2011) – piano
Peedu Kass (2010) – double bass
Sofia Rubina (2009) – vocals
Kadri Voorand (2008) – vocals
Erki Pärnoja (2007) – guitar
Since 2009, the Jazz Promoter Award is also given out. The goal of this award is to recognize a person or organization who has notably contributed to introducing and developing jazz music in Estonia.
Jazz Promoter Award has been given to:
Haapsalu kultuurikeskus & Gülnar Murumägi (2023)
Classical radio (2022)
Philly Joe’s TV (2021)
TUJA / Tudengijazz (2020) – oldest jazz music festival in Estonia
Radio Tallinn & Maian Kärmas (2019) – jazz promotion on larger scale
Kristiina Liivik (2018) – head of Saue Music School and festival Visioon
Rene Jakobson (2017) – for photographing jazz musicians and the music life
Philly Joe’s jazz club (2016) – restoration of the jazz club tradition in Tallinn
Tiit Paulus (2015) – long-term valued lecturer, band member, and composer
Guido Kangur and Pille Lukin (2014) – for regularly organizing concerts and festival Sõru Jazz
Valter Ojakäär (2013) – for his musical contribution and music programmes
Aivar Trallmann (2012) – organizer of jazz events in Viljandi
Toivo Unt (2011) – artistic director of Nõmme Jazz
Boris Paršin (2010) – teacher and organizer of festivals and concerts
Ain Agan (2009) – professor of Tartu University Viljandi Culture Academy and organizer of Viljandi Guitar Festival
In 2016, also a new category Jazz ensemble of the Year was introduced. Nominee of this category should be a band that is active, has successfully played at least for three years and should have released at least one album. The band should be at least a duo.
Jazz ensemble of the Year has been given out:
New Wind Jazz Orchestra (2023)
Joel Remmel Trio (2021)
Kadri Voorand in duo with Mihkel Mälgand (2020)
JT Conception (2019)
Kirke Karja Quartet (2018)
Peedu Kass Momentum (2017)
Estonian Voices (2016)
Jazz Composer of the Year was given out for the first time in 2018.
Karmen Rõivassepp (2023)
Peedu Kass (2022)
Erki Pärnoja (2021)
Mingo Rajandi (2020)
Maria Faust (2019)
Kristjan Randalu (2018)
During the whole of Jazzkaar in the spring, cool jazz concerts can be heard and seen in Tallinn’s city space – in public transport, port, airport, squares, streets of the old town, and elsewhere. By involving many local artists, dancers, and passing public, the musicians create chances for exciting musical participation. Each concert is unique, the mood of the concert depends on the place, weather, participants, audience, and of course the musicians. Be ready – jazz could surprise you at any moment!
There are over 130 activities in the city space project, and in addition to Tallinn, the musical surprises will also make it to the streets of Tartu, Pärnu, Viljandi, and Harjumaa. The concerts of the city space programme are brought to you with a good partner of ours – Georg Ots Tallinn Music School, Heino Eller Music School, Tartu University Viljandi Culture Academy, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Sally Studio, Elron, Kultuurkapital.
Free concerts day
During the Jazzkaar festival cool pop-up concerts can be heard and seen in Tallinn’s urban space – at markets, theatres, shopping centres, squares, cafeterias, streets of the old town and elsewhere. By involving many local artists, dancers, and passing public, the musicians create chances for exciting musical participation. Be ready – jazz could surprise you at any moment! In addition to Tallinn, the musical surprises will also make it to Tartu, Pärnu and Viljandi.
Home concerts take place in various homes in Tallinn and Harju county. On these days, audience will enjoy concerts in exclusive and unique homes and musicians will have the chance to perform in more cozy and intimate environment. Last year’s home concerts have been quite popular so we will continue to organize these lovely events.
This home concert tradition started in 2015 where Finnish drummer Tatu Rönkkö performed in numerous family’s kitchens.
Jazz Talks is a meeting place for the organizers of world’s different jazz festivals, top foreign journalists, and our own musicans, journalists, culture promoters, and melomaniacs. Engaging Saturday morning panels on timely topics are free for all and take place in Estonian or English.
Jazzkaar continues to have educating the young audience in focus!
The purpose of the family concerts is to offer children and their parents high quality entertainment. We educate the young audience on jazz music and bring up new open-minded and informed culture-lovers. Jazzkaar organizes 3-4 family concerts a year with both Estonian and foreign artists performing. We also create special productions.
JazzDanmark (leading partner), Jazzkaar in Estonia and Hot Club in Portugal have come up with the idea to let young jazz talents in Europe tour around in a “jazz caravan” to three different countries each year in between 2018-2021.
The core of the project is to prove that children are as valid performers to play for children as adult musicians. In this way the audience will be listening to their equals which is not seen that often, especially in the ‘children’s jazz’ area. Hereby we hope to inspire the young audience to maybe become musicians themselves by experiencing musicians of their own age.
As a part of the 3-year project there will be development of new young journalists, who will be reporting from the concerts in a more approachable way for the target group. In this way we hope to build a stronger audience in the field of jazz music. There will be a total of 5 talented musicians from each country in the age group of 9-14 years, and two young journalists between 12 and 17 years old from each country. The first mentor for Estonian musicians will be drummer and educator Ahto Abner.
October: Creative Europe Kick Off Meeting (2017)
December 3rd + 4th: Preparatory Forum, Copenhagen (2017)
1st. workshop: Tallin, APRIL (2018, 2019, 2020)
2nd workshop: Portugal, JUNE (2018, 2019, 2020)
3rd workshop: Copenhagen, JULY (2018, 2019, 2020)
October 2020: Final Forum
The project is funded by Creative Europe.
Collaboration project Kids Can
It’s important for Jazzkaar to value the environment and sustainable lifestyle in our choices. We give our best to work responsibly and respecting our surroundings. We care about the environment from the organizers’, partner’s, and audience’s perspective. This is the only way we can continue doing one of the coolest and most important festivals in Estonia also in the future!
We cannot change the world overnight, but with our audience and partners, we can take the first five steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle:
- Together is better! Most of the festivals’s concerts take place on the same territory – Telliskivi Creative City where an organic city space has been created to experience and enjoy the festival.
- All starts with the person! Let’s start with the little changes within ourselves. The day starts with a smile, because there’s never too much good music and lovely feeling! Creators, musicians, and listeners – we create Jazzkaar with our cozy coexistence!
- Food is for enjoying! We also offer healthy choices, prefer Estonian produce and and food-makers from Estonia.
- We move thoughtfully! The city space deserves a longer gaze and a nice walk. Come on foot, public transport, or by bike! It’s easy to get to the festival area, there is also a bike park. We use the most environment-friendly partner for the necessary transport.
- Trash is valuable! Jazzkaar starts with 100% recycling of trash.