Suddenly a meteor shoots out of nowhere over the nightly September sky and illuminates the landscape. Jaak Sooäär wrote the song “Sabaga Täht” in memory of this light-event at the beginning of the millennium on the island of Vormsi off the Estonian west coast. In a recording with his band Eeste Keeled (Estonian strings) the song became quite popular for some time, and now Jaak Sooäär has named his new album after this song. The title has been translated into English as a precaution: A Shooting Star. In German this is called “Sternschnuppe”. The song is includes in a purely instrumental version, the text is printed in Estonian and English in the booklet.
Jaak Sooäär is a guitarist and one of the most famous jazz musicians in the Baltic States. When he was born in 1972 in Tallinn, Estonia was still a Soviet Socialist Republic. At the age of seven he became a member of the Estonian Boys’ Choir and soon embarked on his first concert in the USSR tours with them. He later studied in Tartu, Tallinn and Copenhagen and began working in the jazz and pop scene in his home country in 1989. Now the list of internationally prominent jazz musicians with whom he has worked with is impressive. Since 2001 he has been teaching guitar in the Jazz Department of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (Eesti Muusika- ja Teatriakadeemia) in Tallinn and has headed this department since 2004.
“A Shooting Star” is an extremely quiet, melodious and sonorous album. This does not automatically result from the instrumentation with electric guitar (Jaak Sooäär), bass (Ara Yaralyan) and drums (Markku Ounaskari). In addition to compositions by the bandleader, there are pieces by Ara Yaralyan, some of which are arrangements of traditional Armenian songs – and two pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach. Jaak Sooäär is not of the opinion that a Bach cantata should have a higher value from the outset than a folk song: “I am interested in quite different styles – from Bach to punk. Today, the most interesting music is mostly created between styles,” he says.
Thus on the new album different intimate, sometimes melancholic-looking musical narratives fit together, which would otherwise hardly have found each other.
Light also plays an important role as the theme of another piece – not as a sudden enlightenment, however, but as something almost absent: “Kaamos” is the penultimate piece. This is a Finnish word for the time around the winter solstice, when the sun does not rise in Tallinn, Helsinki and St. Petersburg and everyone remembers it all the more intensively.
Jaak Sooäär – electric guitar; Ara Yaralyan – double bass; Markku Ounaskari – drums