The marriage of space and time - Festival Jazzkaar

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05/02/2018 The marriage of space and time

Reviews Anna Maria Rüütmann

A snow globe with idyllic scenery and a miniature wind up music box attached to it creates a harmonic symbiosis with time and space, grabbing your attention to the fullest, and hypnotising you ‒ that’s how I would describe the breath-taking concert of Kulgejad (an Estonian word that means “the passersby”). Despite the rough weather of Estonian February, Mart Soo’s virtuoso performance gave something ineffable for the listener’s soul to truly trigger the musical sense for every single member of the audience.


Mart Soo, known as one of the leaders of improvisational jazz, generated an indefinite matter of the future, past and present time zones, to create a blend of memories and moments. A remarkable notice to mention is that even though all the members of the group had a completely different musical style and pace they managed to form a melodious flow in a unanimous way. The whole concert resembled waves, as the tempo rose and fell, the effect of variable acoustic tunes was aggrandised with lighting. The higher the volume, the brighter the lights, this led the listener from slow build ups, characteristic to Estonians, towards a musical euphoria.


The vocals of Tuuli Velling should be separately accentuated. Her dulcet voice complemented the music perfectly, not overwhelming or being too mild. The improvisational sounds she created had a soothing sense and her emotional performance left no-one indifferent. Raun Juurikas, who played the keyboards, had a great influence on the end effect. His solos, professionally simplistic, yet extremely profound, enchanted the audience’s sense of time, as if the 80 minutes had never ticked. One member of the band who most certainly cannot be left unmentioned is Heikko Remmel, whose signature double bass timber is recognisable for every dedicated jazz fan. His skill to enhance the low sounds of the bass, usually left in the background, generated a whole new dimension to the compositions, adding deepness to the vibrant improvisational jazz.


And then, of course, Brian Melvin, who is in a class of his own and should have a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Believe me, if you see this guy, you are going to be speechless. His out of the box beats and his manner, full of energy, gave that small kick needed for smooth late winter Estonian jazz. But the star of the show was still Mart Soo, whose minimalistic interpretations made audience think about the things that matter the most, deliberately different for everyone. The concept of transforming music into a messenger that would convey a meaning to every individual, rather than occupying the listener’s entire mind, is challenging, yet absolutely necessary to compose, for greater cause, so to say.


Taking everything into consideration, the concert was a true masterpiece in its own separate dimension. An important characteristic of improvisational jazz is that it cannot be repeated in any way, it is transient. Therefore all the notes and all the musical-philosophical ideas will be lost in time, waiting to be found on another day, when the moment is suitable. Nevertheless, the fascinating flow of melodies was a perfect 4800 seconds of a snow globe effect, taking one back into the right place, somewhere deep inside their memories, on the right time, just as they like it.


Mart Soo Kulgejad
3rd of February, 5 pm at KUMU Auditorium


The band:
Mart Soo ‒ guitar
Tuuli Velling ‒ vocals
Raun Juurikas ‒ keyboards
Heikko Remmel ‒ double bass
Brian Melvin ‒ drums