It all started because Big Band Tartu has tradition from year 2010 to invite a guest conductor to work with the orchestra at least once a year. After excellent meetings with Estonian musicians Siim Aimla, Raul Sööt and Teet Raik, we also reached to foreign guests - May Peters (2013, Holland / Puerto Rico), Petri Juutilainen (2014, Finland) and Antti Rissanen (2015, Finland).
Antti Rissanen can be called the catalyst for the creation of the festival, because he liked our cooperation so much, that he wanted to take his orchestra - the Youth All Star Big Band Finland - to the final concert of our study in Tartu. And if a band of this level comes to visit, of course, an event must be organized to express the joy of both the meeting and the great big band music.
First version of the festival name came at the last minute before Antti's bus left from station. We performed in our concert reggae rhythm tune Happy People written by Antti, which conveyed the desired mood. That's why it's Happy Big Band Weekend. We haven't come up with a better name so far.
Over the years, the festival has featured a good number of excellent groups and conductors, let them be listed here:
- Jievaras Jasinskis and Kaunas Big Band (2022, Lithuania)
- Renars Lacis and Ventspils Big Band (2021, Latvia)
- Raul Sööt and New Wind Jazz Orchestra (2019, Estonia)
- Petri Juutilainen (2019, Finland)
- Davis Jurka and JVLMA & RDKS Biga Band (2019, Latvia)
- Raitis Asmanis and Jelgava Big Band (2018, Latvia) with guests Bobby Chavezi, Larry Gillespie and Konstantin Jemeljanov (Los Angeles Mambo All-Star Orchestra, USA)
- Martti Peippo and Finnair Pilots Big Band (2017, Finland)
- Jukka Linkola (2018, Finland)
- Antti Rissanen ja Youth All Star Big Band Finland (2015)
Kaunas Big Band, dirigent Jievaras Jasinskis - Leedu, foto: Evaldas Virkietis
In the past, the festival has taken place:
8th Happy Big Band Weekend
9-10.04.2022 in Tartu and Tallinn
7th Happy Big Band Weekend 24.07.2021 in Tartu, Car Free Avenue
6th Happy Big Band Weekend
29-22.03.2020 in Tartu and Tallinn CANCELLED
5th Happy Big Band Weekend
30-31.03.2019 in Tartu
4th Happy Big Band Weekend
5-6.05.2018 in Tartu
3rd Happy Big Band Weekend
20-22.04.2017 in Tartu
2nd Happy Big Band Weekend
8-10.04.2016 in Tartu and Tallinn
1st Happy Big Band Weekend
17-19.04.2015 in Tartu and Tallinn
Unfortunately, the 6th Happy Big Band Weekend, which should have taken place on 19-22 March 2021 in Tartu and Tallinn, was canceled due to Covid. The new visual and logo of the festival was ready just for this occasion.