We caught jazz phenom Holger Marjamaa recently in New York performing with trumpeter Chris Botti. He's a player to watch, so we've named him our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week!
NAME: Holger Marjamaa
HOMETOWN: Tallinn, Estonia (New York since 2015)
MUSICAL TRAINING: Tallinn Music High School (1999-2011, classical piano), Saue Music School (2000-2005, jazz piano), Estonian Academy of Music (2011-2014, jazz piano), Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland (2014-2015, jazz piano). Also Manhattan School of Music (2015-2016, jazz piano).
FIRST GIGS: Classical performances since the age of 7 in Estonia Concert Hall. My first jazz gig was at the age of 8 at a pub in Tallinn called Hell Hunt (meaning "A Gentle Wolf"). I played keyboards and percussion. My first jazz festival gig was at the age of 13 at Jazzkaar festival in Tallinn, Estonia.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: There have been so many! For piano players, I would pick out Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Wynton Kelly, Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea. I grew up listening to and learning lots of gospel music, like Kim Burrell, Doobie Powell, Karen Clark-Sheard to name a few. Classical influences have always been Shostakovich, Rachmaninov, Bach and Chopin.
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: All kinds of Black American music. Since I was a kid, I've loved gospel, jazz, R&B, funk, soul, and blues. I’ve been listening lately to Kim Burrell’s album A Different Place, Kenny Garrett’s Songbook, Wynton Kelly’s Wynton Kelly!, and Don Blackman’s self-titled album from 1982. I love great organ players too, and I listen to them everyday. Organ players who have changed my life are Dr. Wendell Lowe, and Travis Sayles whose playing I check out every week if not every day!
LATEST PROJECTS: I've been playing with Chris Botti and Lee Ritenour. I'm also currently composing new original music and would love to record it later this year.
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? I love Nord and Korg keyboards.They are easy to use and the quality of sounds are just amazing.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? I just finished a Blue Note residency in New York with Chris Botti and next we are playing at SF Jazz and then Seattle. Lots of great times are ahead and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play and see the world. Also, my new album Mostly Standards will be on all major platforms shortly!
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: The only thing you need worry about is your own craft. Practice and spend time with your instrument. My generation is stuck with social media, but don’t spend too much time on it. If you are good, you will be noticed one way or the other. Support and encourage each other. Work on your spirit, not your ego. Don’t forget why you started playing your instrument. Love what you do.
For more information visit www.holgermarjamaa.com