Get ready for the jazziest jazz around

14. February 2018
Anna Maria Rüütmann

Let’s pretend that you have two amazing but separate things. Can you imagine it? Great. Now, put those two things together, to get something even better, something extraordinary ‒ the astonishing duo of Maarja Aarma and Teele Viira. The two singers have been known as strong solo artists, but the union of their voices was until now totally unheard to wider audience (a serious crime for Estonian Jazz). Fortunately, their first common stage debut was a great success and left the crowd yearning for more.


After “witnessing” the-hour-and-ten-minute performance there was one thing I was sure of – jazz is running in their veins. Teele Viira’s strong voice and Maarja Aarma’s powerful solos matched perfectly, without overpowering each other and letting their own individuality shine through. Stage decorations were minimalistic which made it easier to concentrate on the music, and the dim lights nicely complemented the soul vibe of the concert. All those small fragmented details of the band and the vocals created a musical mosaic which suited the bittersweet melancholy of late winter in the best way possible.


Now, let’s talk about the band. What took place in KUMU auditorium was simply phenomenal. Janno Trump, who has also won the Young Jazz Talent Award in 2017, proved once again to be extremely multifaceted on stage. Bass itself always provides deep tonal sounds and has the connecting quality in jazz groups, but Trump made it stand out, whilst supporting the melodious movements. The shifts in tone and rhythm were breathtaking but not overwhelming in any way.


We are not running out of talents just yet and the technical precision of Holger Marjamaa cannot be left unmentioned. The internationally known young pianist put on a world class show, from colourful piano solos to more profound pieces, adding an enchanting spectrum of sound to the vocals. Marjamaa undeniably radiates from music and his vibrant energy resembled everything that true jazz all is about. If you think you already know everything there is to know about the drums of jazz music, think again. Borka Hess, with his incredible techniques and awe-inspiring fills gave the audience the needed injection of 100% soul, with a tinge of blues. Hess is extraordinary well-rounded in the field of music and Jazzkaar is looking forward to seeing more of him on stage.


Last, but definitely not least, Maarja Aarma and Teele Viira. I had heard both of them as individual artists before and as they both have strong vocal timbers, the news of a duo concert left me questioning. Nevertheless, I was sold after the first 10 seconds. The vocal range of both of them left the crowd astounded and the interchangeable system of individual performances and duos are guaranteed to cause addiction after the first dose. The duo managed to connect their own creations with older pieces of Estonian jazz and blues, which formed a great contrast between the old and new. The personal touch included in the performance was even more enjoyable. Viira and Aarma always shared the back story of the songs and how the pieces came to be, the concert in a whole resembled more of a dialogue than one-sided communication.


There is no doubt that Maarja Aarma and Teele Viira, backed by great jazz musicians, gave something big as an addition to Estonian Jazz on that cold February evening. Their energy, soul vibe and musical will are just some examples of what The Young Jazz is all about. It was a great opportunity to listen to such talented artists creating a disappearing form of art. Moreover, the bittersweet feeling that followed the end of the performance was yet another proof that the crowd was left waiting for their return.


Maarja Aarma, Teele Viira & Band
10th of February, 5 pm at KUMU Auditorium


The band:
Maarja Aarma ‒ vocals
Teele Viira ‒ vocals
Holger Marjamaa ‒ piano
Janno Trump ‒ bass
Borka Hess ‒ drums


Check out the photos here.