UMA is the common project of two Estonian musicians – guitarist Robert Jürjendal and trumpet/corno da caccia player Aleksei Saks – who came together at the beginning of 2007.
The name UMA comes from the South Estonian Seto dialect and means ‘own.’
Both musicians are classically trained and mix purely produced sound with live electronics, creating a meditative float somewhere between new age, ambient, electronica and the subtle, cool tones of ECM-style jazz.
Besides the numerous studio projects UMA have been involved in, the duo gladly takes part in live concerts, and many very different occasions have crossed their musical journey: Tallinn Music Week, the Viljandi Guitar Festival, Jazzkaar, the London Jazz Festival, Matsalu Nature Film Festival, the festival „Spigel im Spiegel“ in Moscow, a concert for The King and Queen of Sweden hosted by the President of Estonia in Stockholm, plus performances in St. Petersburg, Vilnius, Brussel, Paris, Athens etc.
The duo has released four albums: Civitas Soli (2008), Hymn To Undiscovered Land (2010), Meeting Unknown (2012) and Peidus pool, with the singer Iris Oja (2013). A new album Wishing Well featuring the Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari was released in July 2021 by Myndstream.
Civitas Soli was produced by Markus Reuter (from Stick Men, Centrozoon, Tuner) and mixed and mastered by the noted American ambient artist, Robert Rich.
Hymn To Undiscovered Land was produced by Andi Pupato, percussionist with zen-funk cult band, Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin and Andreas Vollenweider. Andi’s distinctive playing is also featured on the album, along with guest vocalist Tim Bowness (from the group No-Man) who adds his languorous voice to the title track.
Meeting Unknown (2012) is an adventure into the world of computer beats, programming and gentle ambient sounds of treated guitar and pure brass. UMA continues collaborating with Andi Pupato, who performs throughout the album and is also responsible for the mix and sound.
Fourth album Peidus pool (2013) is based on settings of Estonian lyrics written by Anzori Barkalaja. The outstanding classical singer Iris Oja (a recording artist for Harmonia Mundi and Dacapo records) mixes the full range of subtle gradations of her voice with processed guitar and horn sounds. The collaboration with Iris Oja has developed into a highly original project: the performance of Russian orthodox liturgical music with ambient improvisational background.
“Effortless tranquility that brings peace to the soul in short order. ‘Wishing Well’ lifts your spirits immediately and puts you in the ‘zone.’ Gorgeous, truly gorgeous.”
Dyan Garris, NewAgeCD.com
“There is no one equal to UMA in Estonia in creating an eternal spiritual atmosphere and painting in sounds.”
Joosep Sang, Postimees
„An unconventionally beautiful combination of guitar, trumpet and the rarely-heard corno da caccia.“
London Jazz Festival
„The fact that it’s not quite jazz, post-rock, art rock, ambient or even electronica, matters not one jot when music is as effortlessly inventive or as exquisite as this.“
Sid Smith, Classic Rock Prog Magazine