b. March 18, 1951 Tallinn
Member of the Estonian Composers' Union since 1984
Jazz pianist and composer Tõnu Naissoo graduated from Tallinn Music School in music theory in 1970 and Tallinn State Conservatory in composition under Eino Tamberg in 1982. From 1989–1990, he improved his skills in Berklee College of Music, Boston.
He has worked as a music pedagogue in Finland (1991–1992), Georg Ots Tallinn Music School (from 1999) and since 2001 also in Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
As a pianist he achieved success with his trio (Aleksander Samohvalov (double bass), Toomas Tiits (percussion)) at the Tallinn International Jazz Festival in 1967. He has played jazz in different styles both as a solo artist and with different partners and ensembles. Naissoo has had several ensembles of his own name including Tõnu Naissoo Trio, which members have been reputable musicians from Estonia and abroad. He has played keyboards in ensembles Optimistid (1967–1968), Collage (1967–1972), Sinilind (1971–1972), Laine (1972–1976), Synthesis (1977–1980), Kaseke (1980–1981) a.o. and worked nearly 30 years as a pianist in the hotel Viru.
He has performed at the biggest jazz festivals in former Soviet Union: Tbilisi (1978), Donetsk, Minsk, Riga and Yaroslavl (1979), Moscow and Leningrad (1980). He has also taken part of the festivals abroad: Debrecen (1981), Pori (1985), Le Mans Europa Jazz Festival in France (1989), Turku (1992), Schleswig-Holstein Festival (1992), Münster (1994), Prague (2002). He has played in jazz clubs in Europe, USA and Japan. In 1988, Naissoo was a soloist at the American premiere of Alfred Schnittke’s Symphony No. 1 in Boston (with Boston Symphony Orchestra and conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvenski).
He has collaborated with jazz musicians like Jens Winther, Bob Moses, Dennis Rowland, Ted Curson, Igor Bril, Roland Stolk, ensemble New York Voices, UMO Big Band, EBU Big Band and many others.
Tõnu Naissoo has written mainly music for film and theatre, but also amply of music for jazz ensembles and orchestras, choral songs and chamber works.
Several compilations with Naissoo’s music have been released: "Turning Point" (Melodija, 1981), "Tõnu Naissoo Trio, Els Himma and Avo Joala" (Melodija, 1970), "Estonian Wind" (Atelier Sawano, 2007), "You Stepped Out of a Dream" (Haakrik, 2005; Atelier Sawano, 2006). Additionally he has recorded amply of jazz music: "Dedication. The Music of Uno Naissoo" (Forte, 1995), "Relaxin’ at the Viru" (1998; Gets Production, 2005), "With a Song in My Heart" (2003; Atelier Sawano, 2005), "Alone. Tõnu Naissoo Piano Solo" (Atelier Sawano, 2009).
Naissoo has been ascribed the title of Estonian Radio’s Musician of the Year (1991) and awarded the Music Prize of the Estonian Music Council (2011) and Award of the Endowment for Music of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (2017). In 2020, Tõnu Naissoo was given the Order of the White Star 5th Class.
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