Estonian jazz musicians got an appointment the weekend before to St John’s Eve in the magical harbours of island Hiiumaa to welcome the summer with good vibes and melodies.
The festival started on 19th of June in Ristna, the West of the island, one of the most savage landscapes and fresh breeze. There could not have been anything better to kick it off that the wild beats surfing the wind by Brian Melvin playing one of his bands Modern Times, matching perfectly with the scenery. Nice and relaxing views continued at Kalana harbour with the complacent music of the half Estonian and half Lithuanian band Tree Stones Quartet. The inspirational and chillout music was the cherry of the cake at night by the seashore with the stunning performance by singer Liisi Koikson and saxophone player Raivo Tafenau and their “Õhtu rannal” (night on the beach).
Sõru harbour was the next concert venue on 20th and 21st of June. A special place with a charming atmosphere where people could enjoyed the music both indoor and outdoor. Benches and blankets to sit down on the grass and have a nice and local meal while watching boats, yachts and island Saaremaa on distance as sightseeing: that is how jazz lovers roll. Even though if concerts took place inside a wooden big house, being outside was an option because you could hear the concert outside and a good sunbathe was possible for people who wanted to enjoy the good rhythms under the sunshine or having a nice barbeque with meat from the island.
A shot of intense music by Raul Sööt and his “Deeper sound” amused the first listeners followed by Kruglov-Sooäär Quartet. This band made an improvisation of well-known Russian songs but in their own key. Surprising was the talent of the littlest musicians from Hiiumaa called “Emmaste swing rock band”. Children and teenagers played different wind-blowing instruments and they let people know that the jazz has no age. After that the house was not only full of the sound by “Siim Aimla and Jüri Üdi klubi”, but was also full by the words from the biggest Estonian writers such as Juhan Viiding, Jürgen Rooste or Viivi Luik. The texts turned into lyrics with bossanova, swing or even folk metal melodies by the singers Mari Ranimois, Silver Laas and Liisi Koikson, switching all the time and making the concert unpredictable. It must be said how brilliant the performance of Siim Aimla was, who showed that there is no instrument which can resist his touch for the music.
Suddenly, the feet were stamping the ground, hands clapping the tights and hips were getting dislocated. The outstanding Drum Prana (directed by Brian Melvin) was the responsible for those uncontrolled body’s reaction in a delighted audience immersed in the African and Indian rhythms through their percussions and the genuine collaboration of the DJ P. Julm.
At the end of the night, the half of the hall was emptied of chairs to let some space for dancers who wanted to move the skeleton with Compromise Blue and their tribute to B.B. King. Happy feet were dancing for almost two hours.
Rein Rannap: are the only two words necessary to describe the first performance on Sunday. Emotional, energetic, original songs and classical versions, surprising and heartwarming interaction with the audience and his grand piano. This artist did not let anybody indifferent. Followed by Tiit and Ain Varts Ansamble with their jazzy and catchy melodies.
The acclaimed band Estonian Voices was so popular that the festival had to look for more benches for all the people that turned up just to hear this a capella group. Deserved acclamation to those six singers who do not need any other instrument but their vocal chords to make breathtaking and fun music at the same time.
The last two bands were Maria Faust Jazz Catastrophe, an experimental jazz group with no limits in the art of innovation, and Vaiko Eplik & Kristjan Randalu, a duo of a great pianist and a singer like a film character with a spectacular voice and sense of surprise. He found that a microphone is more like an amplifier of the voice and his accomplice seems to know what suits perfectly with him. The laughs were assured.
To sum up the Sõru Jazz experience, it was a perfect weekend with an incredible weather, audience, artists, places, sightseeing, food and atmosphere. Sõru Jazz is not only a festival of music, it is a whole experience for adults, teenagers, children and families. Activities for everybody, camping for the tightest budgets or cottages for bigger groups. There are no excuses to not attend, so if you want to kick off the summer in a great way the best option is to get a kick out of a good music and sun before the equinox in the Sõru Jazz.