One drummer, but several bands and musical identities. Tõnis Leemets describes what Tanel Ruben has recorded on his album this time.
Throughout the last 20 years Tanel Ruben has proven himself as one of the best drummers among Estonian jazz-musicians... But not only that. As a musician he has tried more or less every style from free-jazz (Tunnetusüksus) to pop-jazz (Hinkus) and nu-jazz (Syncrotron). He has also taken part in numerous so-called 'usual jazz projects' and his maturity as a jazz-musician has probably been developed the most by his cooperation with such masters as Anders Jormin or Anders Persson/Yasuhito Mori. He has also played in projects involving only percussion instruments (Drum Prana, a trio with Vambola Krigul and Madis Metsamart). Lately he has been teaching percussion instruments in the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and in the Viljandi Culture Academy. In addition Tanel has been doing something that drummers often don't do – composing, leading a band and producing.
So far this combination has produced two records – 'Sentimental Call' by Tanel and Victoria (2003) and 'Look around” by Hinkus (feat. Maarja)(2005). Now Tanel has produced his third record, and again with a new band, composed of pianist Kristjan Randalu, bass player Taavo Remmel and singer Kadri Voorand. The record is called “Kogutud rikkus[Collected Riches]” – yes, this time the title is in Estonian and most of the songs on the record are also in Estonian! – will be released in this spring and the songs of this album make up the material, which will be presented at Jazzkaar.
While the records of Tanel and Victoria as well as the records of Hinkus may with some reservations be categorized as pop-jazz albums, “Kogutud rikkus” is with a wider range. This album reflects the artist's wider and more complete experience in life as well as in music. Here one can find unrefined and urban instrumental jazz (“So Long”, “Snake Song”), jazz-ballads characteristic of Nordic jazz traditions(“Tasa”, “Minu tango”), smooth groove (“+33”) and songs, which may very well be the most complicated compositions produced by Tanel up to this day, but which do not sound complicated at all thanks to their bossa-like flexibility – for example “Paremast kirjutan pikema rea [I will write a longer line about the nicer things]” and especially the very memorable title song “Kogutud rikkus”.
Although this record is not striving for being “popular”, and is rather stressing the values that have always been considered important in case of jazz music, it still sounds very fresh as a result of good implementation of production, loops and electronic sounds into some compositions and as a result of very buoyant music-making. It seems that in this project not oppressed by style constraints, Ruben is showing his most many-sided face as a musician.
The singer, Kadri Voorand, who is in fact the author of the light-hearted song lyrics of “Kogutud rikkus”, is not very well-known yet, but will surely be memorized instantly for her enjoyably warm voice timbre and by her, at times even Latin American like, sense of rhythm. The melodious phrases of Virgo Sillamaa, the guitar player, are also memorable.
The masters like Taavo Remmel and Raivo Tafenau need no introduction for an Estonian jazz lover, let's just say that they are at their usual high level. Although the pianist Kristjan Randalu is becoming better-known in Germany, he has also made records in Estonia (with Siiri Sisask, for instance). In this project he is at places proving himself as a constructor of almost architectonic solos. No wonder that Herbie Hancock has said good words about him, and Till Brönner has said that Randalu is not a jazz-musician ... but something much more!
“Collected riches” offers music that is youthful enough but also hints at the experience gained. Emotional but carefully considered music, not too simple and not too exhaustingly pretentious. A harmonious whole.
Taavo Remmel-double bass(1;2;4;6;7;8;9)
Raivo Tafenau- saxophone(1;2;6;8)
Antonio Miguel – double bass(3;5)