Category Archives: Articles by EJM members

How to Make an Improv Orchestra in Shanghai: an Experience Overview

by Roman Stolyar
for Jazz.Ru Magazine
(see original Russian text)

There was an early March morning of the year 2015 when I got a message from Swiss company Swatch – and this message started the story. By the message, my staying at Swatch art residency was confirmed; it was said that they were looking forward to my appearance in Shanghai in April 2016. The period of staying was three months; the place of staying was luxurious Swatch Art Peace Hotel resided in The Bund, the fanciest area of Shanghai. The purpose of my staying was, as I applied for, to create an improvising orchestra uniting musicians from various music spheres. Series of workshops were planned for developing common music language and establishing deep liaison between orchestra participants allowing them to create music in real time without any pre-agreement, score or conducting.

Having one year prior to the visit seemed quite enough; nevertheless, I decided to act immediately. Firstly, I tried to use official channels to establish contacts with Shanghai music institutions, but it didn’t work – neither Shanghai Conservatory of Music, nor local jazz school responded to my requests. Luckily, while searching for contacts in Internet, I suddenly found an essay on music scene in China written by American pianist and musicologist Tobin Chodos. It was clear that he knew the subject much better than me, so I decided to ask his help – and he replied to my email in two hours with a list of important contacts in Shanghai, though we never met. Since that moment the real preparation of my trip got started. Through exchanging emails with Shanghainese musicians, I found two important things. First was that my project caused their interest, so there was obviously a chance to gather people for that. Second was that my project fitted the interests of JZ School, the most active jazz school in Shanghai; they were going to open a new campus and considered my project as a promotional tool and an addition to the JZ School regular educational program. That’s why they agreed to allow our orchestra gatherings in nice and cozy concert hall resided in the new JZ School building.

Finally, a year after, I arrived in Shanghai. It was the 2nd of April, and Waitan riverbank was crowded as always despite of goring outside. Shanghai is a weird mixture of East and West: the pedestrian area of East Nanjing Road seems quite similar to Times Square, but make few dozens steps aside – and you are in calm Chinese province with its small shops and the omnipresent smell of street food. Almost any kind of music can be found here: you can find hard rock and ethnic music in Mao Live House, rhythm’n’blues and reggae in Cotton Club, dance parties in 1920s style in Le Petite Fontaine, hip hop and electronic music in Shelter… And, of course, there are many venues for jazz music here: Heyday, The Pearl, Wooden Box, and – the most known – JZ Club which is now in the process of moving .

However, there is no single venue for free improv in Shanghai, and examples of freely improvised music are very few. Some musicians, though, tried to play this kind of music, but it didn’t go well: it seems there is no place for experiments in the commercially oriented atmosphere of this city. Besides, all musicians are busy as hell here – they are not as many as needed for clubs, bars and outdoor shows in the city populated by 24 million people. Musicians from all over the world work here: I met Spanish, Germans, Israeli, Australians, Russians, Ukrainians playing jazz here (and jazz is not the only kind of music they can play, otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to survive). And Americans, too. Alec Haavik, one of the most well-known jazz musicians in Shanghai (and not only because of his height and exotic look – he likes wearing bright and extravagant costumes), is one of them. Moved in Shanghai eleven years ago, he became a true engine of local jazz scene. His activity is beyond any borders: he plays in most of local jazz groups, teaches jazz saxophone and leads his own big band performing, among others, original pieces composed and arranged by him.

Alec Haavik

Alec Haavik

READ MORE: the complete story of the JZ Improvising Orchestra in Shanghai! 

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Forthcoming Summer Jazz Festivals in… UK +

The new Europe Jazz Media initiative: once every season, our writers recommend forthcoming jazz festivals in their country or region and share their recommendations with the readers of all member media!


Mike Flynnby Mike Flynn, Jazzwise,
for Europe Jazz Media

GLASGOW JAZZ FESTIVAL 22-26 JUNE

GLASGOW JAZZ FESTIVAL

The 30th edition of this top fest offers everything from trad and Dixie to free jazz, northern soul, world music, blues and hip hop crossovers. Names announced so far include George Benson, Soweto Kinch and the Darius Brubeck Quartet. Chief among the headliners will be an opening night concert from jazz guitar giant George Benson at Royal Concert Hall, while high caliber trio Fly, comprised of saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, appear at key festival venue, the Old Fruit Market. The programme balances established stars, new names and local jazz talent across the week – including Soweto Kinch (Saint Luke’s, 22 June), Pee Wee Ellis (Old Fruit Market, 23 June), Darius Brubeck Quartet (Recital Room, 23 June), the Scottish German Jazz Collective (City of Music Studio, 23 June) and the Ryan Quigley Big Band featuring Hamish Stuart (Old Fruit Market, 24 June). Another highlight of the weeklong line-up is sure to be LA sax colossus Kamasi Washington who stops off at the Queen Margaret Union on Monday 27 June as part of his UK tour. The festival also features a special ‘30 under 30’ strand as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations, which will highlight ‘a collection of young Scottish Jazz musicians making waves in the global music scene’ – many of whom will appear at the festival. Further artists so far confirmed include US vibes virtuoso Joe Locke; acclaimed pianist Kit Downes with his feisty group Enemy; leading Scottish pianists David Newton and Euan Stevenson in a duo; while American blues rock guitar star Joe Bonamassa closes the festival in emphatic style on 3 July at the Clyde Auditorium.
Full programme details and further updates

MANCHESTER JAZZ FESTIVAL 22-31 JULY

MANCHESTER JAZZ FESTIVAL

The 21st edition of the Manchester Jazz Festival runs from 22 until 31 July, with 88 gigs at key venues and jazz clubs around the city and at the central Festival Pavilion in Albert Square. Known for its innovative blend of quality international headliners, original commissions and new talent, this year’s 10-day programme includes a headline appearance by Anglo-American supergroup The Impossible Gentlemen, who launch their new album, Let’s Get Deluxe, at the RNCM Theatre on 26 July, with the band featuring the expanded five-piece line-up of guitarist Mike Walker, pianist Gwilym Simcock, bassist Steve Rodby, drummer Adam Nussbaum and newly-recruited multi-reedist Iain Dixon. The RNCM also plays host to this year’s Irwin Mitchell MJF Originals commission, this year composed by Beats & Pieces bandleader Ben Cottrell. Entitled ‘New Seeing’, the work receives its world première. Inspired by Stan Getz’s influential and classic album, Focus, the piece is orchestrated for trumpet (played by Graham South), 12-piece string ensemble and double rhythm section. British sax titan Tim Garland brings his top-notch electric band of Ant Law, Jason Rebello and Asaf Sirkis to the festival and is one many diverse names performing at the Festival Pavilion, which also includes Empirical, Graham Massey’s Toolshed, Jeremy Sassoon’s Ray Charles Project and the final night double bill of Perhaps Contraption and Abstract Orchestra.
A 10% discount on all tickets purchased via the festival website is available until 30 June.

UPTON JAZZ FESTIVAL 23-26 JUNE

UPTON JAZZ FESTIVAL

The 30th Upton-Upon-Severn Jazz Festival promises another packed programme this year with over 50 events planned and runs from the 25-28 June with a host of swing, jive and trad jazz bands on the bill. Highlights include the Alan Barnes Trio, Lamarotte, Enrico Tomasso, Keith Nichols, Enrico Tomasso, Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi, Remi Harris and the Red Stripe Band. There will also be jazz jam sessions, jazz dance lessons and a Mardi Gras-style carnival parade.
More info 

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Forthcoming Summer Jazz Festivals in… Germany, Austria, and Italian South Tyrol!

The new Europe Jazz Media initiative: once every season, our writers recommend forthcoming jazz festivals in their country or region and share their recommendations with the readers of all member media!


Martin LaurentiusBy Martin Laurentius, Jazz thing,
for Europe Jazz Media

June 23-26: JAZZ BALTICA, Timmendorfer Strand, Germany

The famed festival’s relocation was as gentle as the change of the artistic direction: when the Swedish trombonist Nils Landgren took over directing the Jazz Baltica in 2012, he also focused even more attention to the fact that Baltic Sea was a polyglot cultural area. For his 5th festival, he put on the program the likes of Iiro Rantala & Ulf Wakenius, the NDR Big Band with Polish violinist Adam Bałdych, and – a tradition – the Jazz Baltica All Stars. From the Baltic seashore, he also extends the view to other jazz regions, like southwestern Germany with the father-son duo Dauner // Dauner, or Anke Helfrich Trio with US trumpeter Tim Hagans, then to Cuba, with the NDR Big Band plus pianist Omar Sosa, and the European-American quartet Amok Amor.

Jazz Baltica

June 24 – July 03: SÜDTIROL JAZZFESTIVAL ALTO ADIGE, Südtirol, Italy

Okay, viewed from Berlin, South Tyrol (Südtirol in German, Alto Adige in Italian) is far away. But this ancient area along the Austrian/Italian border that was so often conquered and fought for in its history, is bound to be a place for a multi-stylistic festival. For many years, the organization team follows a concept that in times like today, with borders promptly closing, a few things is more important than ever: to build bridges, to ignore boundaries, and to involve other jazz cultures in Europe into conversation – Switzerland, Austria, and many other countries. The festival is not only using the regular concert halls, but setting unusual festival performance sites among the the rugged peaks of the South Tyrolean Alps. The Südtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige makes the entire region a stunning backdrop for jazz and improvised music from entire Europe.

SÜDTIROL JAZZFESTIVAL ALTO ADIGE

July 08-17: JAZZOPEN, Stuttgart, Germany

For ten days, Baden-Wuerttemberg’s state capital Stuttgart is dominated by jazz music that overcomes the stylistic boundaries. Big stages, indoors and outdoors, are reserved for the international stars of jazz and pop – in 2016, among others, Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, Branford Marsalis, Van Morrison and – once again in Stuttgart – Jamie Cullum. But the charm of JazzOpen is to be found elsewhere, and it’s Jazz Club Bix (on the picture). The intimate atmosphere of this club guarantees the audience a unique concert experience – this year, for example, with Nils Petter Molvær, Steps Ahead, or Christian Scott.

Jazzopen

August 11-13: BEZAU BEATZ, Bezau, Austria

Did you know Bezau as a jazz fan should? If not, then you should anchor this place in Austria’s westernmost province of Vorarlberg in your festival calendar. This is where the drummer Alfred Vogel lives. He has a few successful multicolored and multi-stylistic jazz projects under his belt, but also organizes the Bezau Beatz festival, which found its home in the historic depot of the former Wälderbähnle railroad three years ago. There, the festival presents a program of free improvised music and avant-garde: a challenge for the audience, but worth every second of it. 2016 roster includes New York bassist and guitarist Tony Scherr, Scandinavian trio The Thing, saxophonist Gebhard Ullmann / singer Almut Kühne duo from Berlin, and other open-minded artists.

BEZAU BEATZ

Forthcoming Summer Jazz Festivals in… Russia!

The new Europe Jazz Media initiative: once every season, our writers recommend forthcoming jazz festivals in their country or region and share their recommendations with the readers of all member media!


Cyril MoshkowBy Cyril Moshkow, Jazz.Ru Magazine ,
for Europe Jazz Media

June 21-25: USADBA JAZZ ROZA KHUTOR, near Sochi
Usadba Jazz launched in 2004 as a large open-air festival at a beautiful 18th century Arkhangelskoe manor near Moscow. As the festival grew, it kept adding new locations, resulting in a solid chain of several consecutive festivals at beautiful old manors around Russia – this summer, Moscow on June 4, Yekaterinburg on July 2, Voronezh on July 16, and St.Petersburg on July 30, the newest addition being Roza Khutor Ski Resort on June 21-25 in Southern Russia, near the winter Olympic Games site in Sochi. Roza Khutor Ski Resort is not, after all, an old manor, but the Usadba Jazz program at this location is the most extensive among the chain’s 2016 editions, with an eclectic roster of Russian and international jazz, world, and pop artists, a three-day music business forum, and the finals of a multi-stylistic young bands competition, which embraces jazz, fusion, world, and indie.

USADBA JAZZ ROZA KHUTOR

July 1-3: WHITE NIGHT SWING, St. Petersburg
Now in its 23rd edition, White Night Swing is indeed organized during the height of Russia’s Northern ex-capital’s famous white nights: St.Pete is so far to the north than in late June – early July, it never gets completely dark there. The festival, held at the St. Petersburg State Jazz Philharmonic Hall, reflects the Northern city’s conservative taste in jazz: it’s 100 per cent pure straight-ahead jazz, with healthy excursions into swing, trad, and Dixieland music. The festival’s gala on the open-air stage at the beautiful 18th century-built Arts Square features jazz bands from France (Philippe Duchemin,) Israel (Robert Anchipolovsky,) U.S. (Charles Turner III,) and a variety of excellent local bands, presided by the Jazz Philharmonic Hall’s artistic director, Russian jazz vet and devoted Duke Ellington connoisseur – violinist / vibist / pianist / flugelhornist David Goloschokin.

WHITE NIGHT SWING

August 4-7: AQUA JAZZ, Sochi
Launched in 2010 as part of the forthcoming 2014 Winter Olympics cultural program, the festival is still there when the games are over. Organized by a production company run by Russia’s most famous jazz musician, saxophonist Igor Butman (who is also in charge for six other jazz festivals across the country,) Aqua Jazz presents an eclectic roster of artists from the U.S., Europe, and Russia: Richard Bona Mandekan Cubano, Somi, Conrad Herwig, Alex Sipiagin, and several Russian soloists, centered around Butman’s Moscow Jazz Orchestra. The cold country’s only subtropical resort on the Black Sea serves as a nice background which attracts thousands from across Russia, with the festival’s opening New Orleans-themed jazz street parade as the staple of Sochi’s summer season in last seven years.

AQUA JAZZ

August 13-14: JAZZ AT THE HERMITAGE GARDEN, Moscow
Historically first open-air jazz festival in Moscow, it is held in a small park in downtown Moscow every August since 1998, rain or shine, and attracts large crowds of both devoted jazz fans of all ages and curious younger audience – as the attendance is free, because of the city’s extensive support. Traditionally, the Hermitage Garden event serves as the Moscow jazz community’s communal gathering, where hundreds of jazz musicians and their fans, some with more than half a century of experience, congregate in the park – even those not scheduled to perform. This year, producer Mikhail “Don Miguel” Green presents a roster of Russians (trumpeter Peter Vostokov‘s Big Jazz Orchestra, groups led by singer Yuliana Rogachova, saxophonist Azat Bayazitov, and others,) Europeans (Austria’s Herwig Gradischnig, his fellow sax man Radovan Tariška from Slovakia) and Americans: singer Sandra Booker, and trumpet virtuoso Alex Sipiagin‘s quintet with special guest saxophonist Will Vinson.

JAZZ AT THE HERMITAGE GARDEN

Forthcoming Summer Jazz Festivals in… Italy!

The new Europe Jazz Media initiative: once every season, our writers recommend forthcoming jazz festivals in their country or region and share their recommendations with the readers of all member media!


Luca VitaliBy Luca Vitali, Giornale della Musica,
for Europe Jazz Media

May 26 – June 12: NOVARA JAZZ, XIII EDITION

With great attention to the contemporary scene – Italy, Europe and the entire world – though not forgetting roots and tradition: Novara Jazz in Piemonte region is today one of the best summer jazz festival in Italy. A heterogeneous program characterized by high quality that brings Fire! Orchestra of Mats Gustafsson to continental Italy for the first time, dedicates a creative residence to Rob Mazurek (which will see him engage with Italian artists), and will see several of the best elements of the Italian creative scene come together; among these, the “Multikulti” project by Cristiano Calcagnile dedicated to Don Cherry stands out. A festival that offers plurality and transversality on a par with unpredictability, sophistication and quality – trying to connect Italy with the rest of the world. Two weekends in which the public can enjoy Piemonte’s gastronomic delights in bars and restaurants and rejoice at the music in a setting of ancient castles and villas, old mills, enchanting places in the town centre, but also in the parks. Many collateral events will be held: book presentations, street jazz, bike excursions, DJ sets and much more.

Novara Jazz

June 9 – 12: SILE JAZZ 2016, V EDITION

This edition is entitled “Beyond the Border”, a theme of the program that will take the concerts to ten different municipalities on the Sile river in Veneto region. Other than the usual Italian artists, this year there will also be several international musicians. A festival that offers a peaceful atmosphere and is beginning to make a name for itself, thanks to the ever more interesting and quality propositions without having to resort to the usual names. Four days of churches, village squares and charming places discovering the real and unknown Veneto. There will be various original projects that will see international artists – Amir ElSaffar, Norbert Dalsass, François Houle, Samuel Blaser – interact with some of the best elements of the Italian scene: Nicola Fazzini, Enrico Terragnoli, Alessandro Fedrigo – but also Enten Eller, Max De Aloe…

Sile Jazz

July 29 – 31: CLUSONE JAZZ 2016, XXXVI EDITION

A festival that has written some of the most important pages of Italian jazz in over thirty years of of its history (see Clusone Trio – Michael Moore, Ernst Reijseger and Han Bennink). In order to face the ever more stifling economic difficulties, it is limited to only one weekend, and will be held at its original venue (Clusone, in the province of Bergamo, Lombardy), but with an as always out-of-the-ordinary program under the banner of a well-researched quality.

Clusone Jazz

August 8 – 16: TIME IN JAZZ, XXIX EDITION 

Mid-summer festival in Sardinia conceived and directed by Paolo Fresu in his native village, Berchidda. Several neighboring centers will be involved in the morning and afternoon concerts – Bortigiadas, Calangianus, Chiaramonti, Ittireddu, Loiri Porto San Paolo, Mores, Ozieri, Pattada, Posada, San Teodoro, Telti, Tempio Pausania and Tula – to make room for the sociocultural, historical and natural value of the territory. Following the editions dedicated to “Feet” and “Wings”, this year it’s the “Eyes” turn. An important festival which without daring too much keeps a bird’s-eye view attentive to the contemporary with international artists – Charles Lloyd, Michel Portal, Bugge Wesseltoft, Minu Cinelu – not forgetting the Italians:Ada Montellanico, Gianluigi Trovesi, Gianni Coscia, Daniele di Bonaventura, Stefano Battaglia, Petra Magoni and Ferruccio Spinetti, Marco Bardoscia, Rita Marcotulli.

TIME IN JAZZ

Forthcoming Summer Jazz Festivals in… Sweden!

The new Europe Jazz Media initiative: once every season, our writers recommend forthcoming jazz festivals in their country or region and share their recommendations with the readers of all member media!


Patrik Sandbergby Patrik Sandberg, OrkesterJournalen,
for Europe Jazz Media

July 1-3: Bangen Jazz & Blues Festival, Sandviken

Currently in its 26th edition, this festival features mainly Swedish acts in every genre, most of them outdoors, under a large tent in Sandviken City Park. This year’s lineup includes Kristin Amparo, Jan Allan, Carin Lundin, Jan Lundgren / Harry Allen Group, Ebbot Lundberg, Svante Thuresson, Klas Toresson, Andreas Weise, Robben Ford and many others.

fest-bangen

July 28-30: Falkenbergs Jazzdagar (Falkenberg Jazz Days)

Since 1989, this outdoor festival is being held in July in the garden at Hwitans Inn in Falkenberg, known as a seaside resort, mainly featuring Scandinavian artists. But the garden stage is not all that is happening during the Jazzdagar: every day young talent play jazz in town, there’s an exhibition of jazz photographer Rolf Olsson’s works, jam sessions, and more. The 2016 lineup includes Louise Hoffsten, Clas Yngström, Cecilia Ringqvist, Ladies Got The Blues, Randy Brecker with Ewan Svensson trio, Vivian Buczek – Hannah Svensson – Anna Pauline “All that Vocal Jazz”, Peter Asplund / Lars Jansson Quartet, Liane Caroll, Scott Hamilton, Jan Lundgren tribute to Jan Johansson, Hannah & Ewan Svensson etc.

fest-falkenberg

August 3-7: Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival

The 7th edition of YSJF, Sweden’s largest jazz festival during the summer period, is running for five days on eight different stages with a wide range of featured Scandinavian and international acts in different genres, from big band to fusion, and from modern jazz to swing. The festival’s artistic director is Swedish pianist and composer Jan Lundgren. Different environment at each of 8 stages reinforces the impression: Ystad Theater, Per Helsa’s Courtyard, Ystad Art Museum, Hos Morten Café, Ystad Saltsjöbad Spa, Scala Movie Theater, Mariakyrkan Church and Surbrunn Park. The 2016 eclectic lineup includes Joe Lovano with Bohuslän Big Band, Bob James, Hugh Masekela, Avishai Cohen Trio, Marlene VerPlanck, Dave Liebman, Michael Wollny Trio, Heinz Sauer, Joachim Kühn. Mare Nostrum (Richard Galliano, Paolo Fresu and Jan Lundgren), Bill Mays, Bob James and Bob Dorough, Bernt Rosengren, Christina von Bülow, Oddjob, Jacob Fischer, Tuesday Night Brass Band, Mads Mathias, Filip Jers, Ulf Wakenius, Karin Hammar, Hanna Paulsberg, Vivian Buczek, Hannah Svensson, Anna Pauline and many more.

fest-ystad

August 3-7: Hagenfesten, Hagen, Dala-Floda

12th edition of Hagenfesten is not a festival. It is a feast, state the organizers; “it started because of the need of a gathering – a gathering of ideas, friends, friends of friends…” On a family farm in the region of Dalarna in Sweden, there’s a barn, a pigsty, a sauna, a huge outdoor kitchen, seven outhouses, and two wells. What more do you need? Since the first festival in 2003, these ingredients, with the addition of a whole lot of fearless, stubborn and sturdy activism and construction work, have transformed the grounds. New for this year is that the names of all artists (around 40 musicians, dancers, performers, poets, visual artists) will only be revealed at the very moment of their performance. Why? “Because we are tired of using names as temptations”, say the organizers. A festival for adventurers, for sure.

fest-hagen

European jazz in Siberia: EniJazz Festival in Krasnoyarsk

by Cyril Moshkow, Jazz.Ru Magazine

On October 16 and 17, 2013, the Philharmonic society in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk presents the third edition of EniJazz, regional jazz festival produced by Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic’s jazz programmer, Boris Borodushkin.

With its population above one million, Krasnoyarsk is the biggest city in Eastern Siberia and 13th-biggest in Russia. The new Philharmonic building with its three different auditoriums hosts regional symphony orchestra, a chamber orchestra, a Russian folk instruments orchestra, and regional ballet company. Since 2011, the Philharmonic produces the annual EniJazz Festival (name derived from Siberia’s biggest river Krasnoyarsk is sitting on, Enisei.)

Yakov Okun

Yakov Okun (photo © Vladimir Korobitsyn, Jazz.Ru Magazine)

 

The 3rd EniJazz festival starts with Yakov Okun residence. Moscow-based pianist Yakov Okun, 41, is described by American jazz critic Tedd Panken as “an individualistic voice, an important player, able in his improvisations to refract an entire timeline of jazz vocabulary in a cogent, compositional manner,” who is “a major force in Russian Jazz since the mid ‘90s.” What placed Okun on the international stage was not only his work with the likes of Donny McCaslin, Johnny Griffin, Lew Tabackin, Eddie Henderson, Alex Sipiagin, Craig Handy, Deborah Brown and many others who toured Russia with Yakov Okun Trio, but also his 2011 Criss Cross debut, “New York Enconter” (with Ben E. Street on bass and Billy Drummond on drums,) the first-ever U.S./European jazz release by a Russian leader who did not move to the U.S., but kept working on his homeland soil. Together with his band that includes two Americans, renowned alto sax man Steve Slagle and drummer Joe Farnworth, Yakov will hold a residence workshop for four days just prior to the festival, coaching several young jazz musicians, students at the Krasnoyarsk Music Academy and local music colleges, as well as a few students from other Siberian cities who competed earlier this month to take part in the workshop.

The festival’s main program that features musicians from Poland, Estonia, Italy, Russia, and the U.S., opens on October 16 with a solo performance by renowned Polish pianist, Leszek Możdżer.

Leszek Możdżer (photo © Anna Filipieva, Jazz.Ru Magazine)

Leszek Możdżer (photo © Anna Filipieva, Jazz.Ru Magazine)

The same evening, Estonian band, Peedu Kass Momentum, will present to Siberian audiences the music of their leader, 27-years-old bassist Peedu Kass who teamed up with Estonia’s premier jazz pianist, Kristjan Randalu, and drummer Toomas Rull.

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