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Estonian Jazz and the Avant-Garde: Far-out in the Baltics

By Published: July 27, 2005
WIDTH=250 HEIGHT=169>However, probably the most influential and original of Estonian electronic outfits is Kismabande, a group notorious in Estonia for never sounding the same twice, and who performed a sizzling, abstract set of futuristic electronica at Jazzkaar 2005. The group is led by Aivar Tonso, an outstanding figure on the Estonian electronic music scene since the early 1990s and head of the avant-garde record label Ulmeplaadid — an unlikely favourite of the late British DJ and champion of the alternative, John Peel.

With Jazzkaar showing no signs of slowing down, and the scene in Tallinn bubbling up in ever-more effervescent combinations, the future looks bright for Estonian jazz. Recently, Jaak Sooaar has founded the Estonian Jazz Federation, modelled after Scandinavian equivalents — organisations pledged to furthering the cause of local jazz - and also set up a jazz club in Tallinn, both of which endeavours are going a long way towards crystallising a still-embryonic scene. Sooaar's not resting there, though. Future plans include making a record with The Estonian Guitar Octet and a series of concerts bringing jazz heads together with contemporary classical musicians. Throw into the pot the invigorating presence of European Improv and Scandinavian electronica, not to mention traditional Estonian folk forms, and this tiny Baltic state looks set to produce something truly fresh and exciting.

A musical revolution, indeed.

Photo Credit:
Mart Soo; Annika Metsla

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