Groove of ESSR: Funk, Disco, Jazz from Soviet Estonia

A 11 track funk album (41m 23s) — released July 5th 2019 on Funk Embassy Records

Before you kind listener is a compilation of funk, soul, disco and jazz from the 1970-80s Soviet Estonia era. Unearthed from the Estonian Radio archive, the 11-track LP serves as an example of the groovier side of the Iron Curtain. Funk-soul influences from West made it to Soviet Variety musicians on one hand; to rock, jazz, folk and fusion artists on the other.

The selection ranges from folk-funk, psychedelic soul, dancefloor certified disco, Isaac Hayes reminiscent blues-funk, contemplative jazz-funk, Piero Umiliani-esque library music, funk-rock, in-your-face b-boy break to a flute-led master piece by Uno Naissoo – one of the founders of the Estonian jazz scene who organized the notorious Tallinn Jazz Festivals (1949-1967).

Some of the tracks were unreleased - instrumental versions by the Estonian TV and Radio Variety Orchestra "Kesköösamba" (1977); and "Mälestuste Teel" (1974, trnl. "On The Road of Memories") carried by a sentiment that predicts composer Raivo Tammik's escape to Germany a year later; a cover of Carita Holmström, "Näed vaid oma silmi" with the former Soviet child star Tiiu Varik belting her unique-timbred guts out. Other tracks are local classics, and some have seen the light of day before, be it cassettes, compilation CDs or repressed vinyls.

Inspired by the resurgence of the spirit of Funk around the globe, the compilers have taken the intention to give a taste of Estonian music in the bygone Soviet era during which the government attempted to control the artists and music being made. Nevertheless, a lot of Western influences made it through, as Estonia was the westernmost country in the USSR. By all means, the selection isn't all-encompassing. It's just resonating with represses coming from all over the world that exhibit music with an exotically local touch.

The compilation released on vinyl, CD and digitally is the first of its kind for the Estonian bred imprint Funk Embassy Records which focuses on releasing both archival findings as well as contemporary funk, soul, disco music. Conceived in 2016, Estonian Funk Embassy is also active as a radio show, concert promoter, DJ-party, booking and management agency.

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