Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Estate Jazz, Nice News, Sad News

So, the 5th Estate.Jazz festival is over. Held at Arkhangelskoe, beautiful 18th century estate near Moscow, it is Moscow's biggest outdoor jazz festival. Or "jazz" festival: of its five stages, only one features real jazz. Three smaller stages, all hidden in cozy corners of the estate's great park, are dedicated to swing/rockabilly/jive, lounge/acid, and blues/funk, respectively; the main stage -- on a great lawn between the estate's main palace and two smaller buildings forming a nice esplanada overlooking Moscow River and the forests behind it -- is more-or-less so-so jazz: Karl Denson, Brand New Heavies, etc.
But the jazz stage, located in a pictoresque inner yard of the Prince Yusupov's 18th century palace, was fun. Charlie Hunter headlined the Friday night, most of which was dedicated to the first edition of a young jazz groups competition, sponsored by the festival (congrats, Belorussian band The Outsiders and Muscovite trio led by pianist Alexey Ivannikov, who shared the $5,000 1st prize.) Yusef Lateef performed at the jazz stage on June 13, for the first time in his 87-years-long life, with French group Belmondo Brothers. Alex Rostotsky's Jazz Bass Theatre closed the third evening, by chance with their new drummer, one Billy Cobham (see photo.)
(c)Cyril Moshkow, 2008
I was unable to listen to their whole set, though I greatly desired it. We had to pack our desk where we've been selling Jazz.Ru magazine (my own son Nikita -- yes, this name is male in Russian! -- debuted as the salesperson.) We've packed it, along with a few unsold magazines, and drove off to Moscow. We could have, of course, enjoyed the whole of Alex Rostotsky/Billy Cobham set, which was definitely worth it, but in this case, driving off would take hours -- the old estate driveway was not designed for having 10,000 people going through in just an hour or so, even is most of them were using free buses to the nearest Moscow subway station, provided by the festival. Luckily, at the expense of not hearing some enjoyable music, we went off ahead of the main wave or festival-goers -- not only those seven hundreds who were listening to Alex and Billy at the jazz stage, but mostly those thousands who've been waiting for the famous Arkhangelskoe estate fireworks after Brand New Heavies performance on the main stage.

Who could foresee that Monday would bring sad news on Esbjörn Svensson tragically passing away in a diving accident on June 14. It is so painful to know that his concert at the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow on May 30 will forever stay his final performance. And I've missed it, because I saw Esbjörn Svensson Trio, or e.s.t., performing in New York City last September and wanted my younger colleagues to go to Tchaikovsky's in my stead, so that they could see what I thought was Esbjörn Svensson's first concert in Moscow. Who knew it would also be his last?

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