The multitalented guitarist David Chevallier has formed since 2013 a telepathic unit with double bassist Sébastien Boisseau and drummer Christophe Lavergne. As improbable as it can feel in these times of pandemic and restrictions, this trio has been on a five concerts tour in Estonia in February 2021 together with local singer Anett Tamm.
Starting with rehearsals in Tallinn on February 18th, this combined tour and artistic residency continued with four concerts in Southern Estonia on February 19th – 22nd. It reached a final point in Tallinn on February 25th at Philly Joe’s Jazz Club, the day after the Estonian Independence Day. The French trio and the Estonian singer performed together extracts from the Ophelia Songbook, created in 2019 by David Chevallier and the Paris based Canadian singer Kyrie Kristmanson. In this songbook, the authors imagine the diary of Ophelia, one of the characters in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”. The fantasy and sensuality of Kyrie Kristmanson’s poetic texts have been set to music by Chevallier, bringing on a timeless exploration of women’s place in society. Sitting somewhere between folk, jazz, pop and baroque, these songs fall outside all these categories.
Anett Tamm prepared herself for this collaboration with great dedication. The 23 years old singer, still at the beginning of her career, was completely at ease with the music and had learned by heart the lyrics in English of these seven songs. She kept focused and was always eager to serve the band’s collective spirit. She also proved her involvement by integrating a poetic narration in Estonian inside the song “Medusa’s Laughter”. Thus, the trio could very quickly synch into the songs again and work right away on details with Anett. I arrived in Tallinn on February 18th, in time to attend the end of their rehearsal. When the quartet went through the program, there was no doubt that it sounded like a proper dress rehearsal (répétition générale). The radiant smiling faces of David, Sébastien and Christophe made no doubt about their joy at getting together again, the pleasure of working on this repertoire in such optimal conditions, and their eagerness to step back on stage on the following day. All this felt incredible: we were going on a real tour!
We had the opportunity to meet the local audiences of Southern Estonia in a serial of four concerts in a row, which was put together in cooperation with the agency Uus Kontsert. To open the concerts the trio performed three pieces of its « Second Life » program, which offered a proper introduction to its delightful concept of ‘imaginary folk jazz’. The Estonian government had allowed cultural events for half audience capacities, so we were able to complete quite a normal ‘covid times’ concert journey: the audience wearing masks, the listeners keeping distances between each other, but giving flesh and blood to their overwhelming enjoyment of this much too rare live music. We have had audiences of around twenty persons, except in Mõniste where the local government had restricted the authorised number of listeners to ten persons, but the concert was also widely followed locally thanks to a quality streaming facility. The tour reached its final point in Tallinn with a memorable concert at Philly Joe’s Jazz Club presented together with Jazzkaar within the frame of Talve Jazz, it’s winter season. In the morning a new lockdown had been announced from March 1st, which made it clear to all participants, artists, audience, that this exceptional French-Estonian concert was one of the last chances to experience live music for a long while. During this last date the trio held a workshop at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, invited by the Head of the Jazz Department, Jaak Sooäär. Some ten students took part in this much appreciated session.
Besides the huge happiness at being able to live these rare moments on the road, these ten days in Estonia have also had great symbolic value. Since none of the Estonian promoters had cancelled or postponed the concerts, we decided to keep to our plans for the tour in February. Throughout the tour, we applied a strict health security protocol. The musicians passed three PCR-tests: the first one two days before travelling out of France, which was compulsory in order to enter Estonia and also be accepted in the airplanes of Finnair; the second one after entering Estonia; the third one, 36 hours before leaving Estonia, so as to be allowed to get in the planes and simply enter French territory. None of us had tested positive, and still ten days after we travelled back home none of us have had any symptoms. This simply means that during this process none of us had been contagious.
The tour will continue in August with eight to nine concerts in Finland between August 9th and 20th, out of which two will be performed as a quartet with the trumpeter Tomi Nikku on the new concert program “Curiosity”. Five concerts are planned in Latvia between August 22nd and 27th. We hope to be able to arrange a concert with Anett Tamm in Tallinn on August 21st.
Together with the association Lune de trois, we warmly thank Anett Tamm for her unfailing involvement in our collaboration, as well as all the listeners alongside this Estonian journey and our Estonian partners and supporters: Uus Kontsert, Jazzkaar, Philly Joe’s, the cultural centres of Abja Paluoja, Põlva and Mõniste, the Folk Music Centre of Viljandi, and the Ancient Music Society of Viljandi, The Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, The Cultural Endowment of Estonia. We also wish to thank the French institutions and partners for their precious support, which made this tour possible: L’Institut Français d’Estonie, l’Institut Français et la Ville de Nantes, Le Centre National de la Musique – Bureau Export, La DRAC des Pays de la Loire, AJC – Association Jazzé croisé, and Kumu drums.
Helsinki, March 8th 2021
original text in French / English version, with the kind assistance of Anthony Shaw
David Chevallier trio & Anett Tamm The Ophelia Songbook
David Chevallier, acoustic 6 & 12 string guitars, banjo, laptop
Sébastien Boisseau, double bass
Christophe Lavergne, drums
Guest: Anett Tamm, vocals
Lyrics by Kyrie Kristmanson
Tour program from February 18th to 25th 2021
Thu 18/02 rehearsals in Tallinn
Fri 19/02 Viljandi, Ancient Music Centre
Sat 20/02 Mõniste Rahvamaja*
Sun 21/02 Põlva, Cultural Centre*
Mon 22/02 Abja Paluoja, Kultuurimaja*
Thu 25/02 Tallinn, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre / workshop by the trio
Thu 25/02 Tallinn, Philly Joe’s / Jazzkaar Winter Jazz/ concert also on Philly Joe’s TV
Tour production: association Lune de trois
Tour booking and tour management: Vapaat äänet
* in cooperation with Uus Kontsert with the support of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia
Tour support: French Institute of Estonia, Bureau Export/CNM , Institut Français – Ville de Nantes, Drac des Pays de la Loire, AJC – Association Jazzé Croisé
In partnership with Kumu drums.
Blog of the tour (French): https://en.lesonart.net/blog
Philly Joe’s TV (ticket price: 5 euros) Philly Joe’s TV
Photos of the concert at Philly Joe’s Jazz Club by Karoliina Kreintaal:
Review of the concert at Philly Joe’s (Estonian)
YouTube (excerpts of the concert in Mõniste) :