Six Degrees of Vocalization

22. April 2018
Stefano Pocci

One of the finest creations of the long lasting tradition of vocal music in Estonia, the vocal ensemble Estonian Voices, warmed the atmosphere of a typical windy spring day the second day of the JazzKaar Festival.


In the waiting room at Vaba Lava, the three female plus three male choir entertained the audience with a varied repertoire of songs comprising intimate tunes in the classic Estonian vocal fashion, as well as jazzy melodies and apparent cacophonous sounds that eventually blended smoothly into sophisticated harmonies.


The delayed arrival of spring – kind of normal at these latitudes – was suggested by the ensemble’s entrance. Before they came on stage, the sounds of birds from the forest, a natural element very dear to every Estonian, set a peaceful mood in the hall for the concert. To reinforce the strong link with their country, the first tunes played were in Estonian, a surprisingly warm language when it comes to choirs and vocal music.


The ensemble was initially divided in two halves: three women on the left and three men on the right. During their performance however, they would walk – sometimes just two at a time, sometimes all at once – to switch places and alternate the colors of their different vocal timbres. This added a choreographic touch to the concert, coupled with the playful attitude of the singers in between the tunes. They would introduce their next numbers, but they would also joke with the audience, who warmly replied in the form of convinced applause and laughter.


There was time for a song dedicated to all the married couples: an intimate example stemming directly from the Estonian tradition. Then a jazzy piece inspired by Japan that featured a nice vocal scat solo by Kadri Voorand, probably the most extrovert artist on stage. Though possibly shier, the other vocalists were impressive as well: from the warm tenor voice of Mikk Dede, to the beatbox rhythms provided by Rasmus Erismaa, the soulful backdrop created by the baritone voice of Aare Külama (the Viljandi mees) and the two other female voices of Maria Väli and Mirjam Dede.


And when one could have thought that the surprises were over, here’s the ensemble loosening up in a collection of sounds that we could hear in a jungle. As they suggested before the piece, the audience was also free to let its inner animalistic soul react and scream (I could hear one woman howling behind me).


Before the end of the show, Kättemaks (revenge) written by another popular Estonian band, Curly Strings, created a more dramatic atmosphere – the tune is about problems couples have, which were rejected by the final funnier improvised requests from a stomping audience that always asks for more.


Estonian Voices


Kadri Voorand: vocals
Mirjam Dede: vocals
Maria Väli: vocals
Mikk Dede: vocals
Rasmus Erismaa: vocals
Aare Külama: vocals


Vaba Lava, Saturday, April 21, 4pm


Check out photos from the concert here