Jaak Sooäär has been one of the busiest jazz musicians of the Baltics during the last decades

born 1972 in Tallinn, Estonia

Photo by Kaupo Kikkas

His first concerts (all over the Soviet Union) took place as a member of the Estonian Boys’ Choir in which he started singing at the age of seven. Since 1989, he has been active on the Estonian scene ranging from jazz to rock and folk to classical.

Since the late 1990s, Sooäär has performed with many internationally known jazz musicians, including:

  • Tony Allen

  • Ray Anderson

  • Conny Bauer

  • Han Bennink

  • Raoul Björkenheim

  • Gavin Bryars

  • Will Calhoun

  • Kent Carter

  • Pierre Dørge

  • Daniel Erdmann

  • Arkady Gotesman

  • Mikko Innanen

  • Anders Jormin

  • Dave Kikoski

  • Alexey Kruglov

  • Dave Liebman

  • Joe Lovano

  • Ron McClure

  • Karlheinz Miklin

  • Liudas Mockunas

  • Andres Mustonen

  • John Schröder

  • Louis Sclavis

  • Harri Sjöström

  • Vladimir Tarasov

  • Petras Vyshniauskas

Sooäär has been active in several international bands, including:

  • Sooäär/Yaralyan/Ounaskari

  • Heavy Beauty

  • Kruglov-Sooäär Quartet

  • Han Bennink/Jaak Sooäär

  • The Dynamite Vikings

  • Erdmann/Sooäär Dessert Time

    1st prize at international Peer Gynt Improvisation Contest in Pärnu, Estonia, in 2001

  • Almost Zebra

    3rd place at the 5th European Improvisation Tournament in Poitiers, France, in 2001

  • WDR Big Band (Germany)

    In May 2006 Sooäär performed as a guest soloist

In 1999, Sooäär toured with The European Jazz Youth Orchestra and, in 2003, took part in the EBU Big Band in Istanbul, Turkey. 

One of his Estonian groups,Eesti Keeled, was given the Estonian Music Award as the best etno/folk artist both in 2003 and in 2005. In 2013 the quartet“Mustonen-Sooäär-Remmel-Ruben”recieved the Estonian Music Award as the best jazz artist for album“ATempo”(AVAMuusika). In 2007 Sooäär was the first jazz musician to get Estonian Annual Jazz Prize. He has also received annual prize of Estonian Culture Endowment(EestiKultuurkapital) both in 2007 and 2018 and received an annual national culture prize of the Estonian government in February 2021. Jaak Sooäär appears on more than 50 jazz albums. In 2004 he established the record label AVA Muusika which has released over 20 albums by now.

In 1994, he graduated from Tartu University (major in international economy), in 1996 from the Music College in Tallinn and, in 2001, from the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen. Since 2001 he has taught guitar and ensemble at the Jazz Music Department of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and was elected to a professor position in 2010. 

In 2004 he was one of the founders of Estonian Jazz Union which has promoted jazz very successfully in Estonia and Estonian jazz abroad. 

Photo by Kaupo Kikkas

Jaak Sooäär with his guitar.

Photo by Kaupo Kikkas

“His new album is a dream, a trio-dream [...] Jaak's theme for "A Shooting Star" is so beautiful one almost wants to cry, his voicings are delicacies, his improvs are statements, arguments and free of any randomness. Sooäär isn't a shooting star, he's a fixed star.”

Alexander Schmitz about album "A Shootin Star", Jazzpodium, 12/2018