Saturday, April 14, 2012

Russia celebrates the International Jazz Day

This post is part of the JJA 2012 Jazz Day Blogathon

The inaugural International Jazz Day, proclaimed by UNESCO, is April 30. This year it's Monday, which is not exactly convenient for major concert activities, so Russian jazz producers chose the preceding weekend as the time slot for the IJD celebration.
On April 29, there is an event at the Gnessins Russian Academy of Music presented by Anatly Kroll. Himself a venerated bandleader, composer, and jazz activist, Kroll leads the Academy of Music's big band (the Academic Big Band) for the last eight years, and it often sounds more modern and tight that his previous professtinal stage bands, the 1960s Tula Big Band (in a sense, the first modern big band in post-WWII Russia,) the 1970-80s Contemporary Orchestra (Orkestr Sovremennik), and the 1990s MCS Big Band (which name derived from its corporate sponsor, who wisely got rid of that active shortly before the nation's economy defaulted in 1998.)

Anatoly Kroll's April 29 event is titled All Tints of Moscow Jazz and scheduled at the Academy of Music's recital hall (recently renovated, it makes a good place for jazz with its 700 seats and nice sound.) The roster includes no less than FIVE big bands: Anatoly Kroll Academic Big Band, the historic (arguably, the oldest in the world!) Oleg Lundstrem Memorial Big Band (led by pianist Boris Frumkin,) the youth-driven but 1950s-styled Big Jazz Orchestra led by young trumpet player Pyotr Vostokov, the Orpheus Big Band led by bassist Igor Kantyukov (the band being a subsidiary of the governmemt-owned classical music station, Radio Orpheus,) and the country's most popular big band, the Igor Butman Orchestra. Besides, many soloists and small groups are going to be featured, athough I still cannot imagine how Mr. Kroll plans to squeeze all this into a mere five hours on April 29.
VIDEO: Anatoly Kroll Academic Big Band performs "Fig (Neither Fugue Nor Jig)" written by featured soloist, french horn player Arkady Shilkloper, at the Academy of Music, May, 2011

The other event on the same dates is going to be the Noumen Art 2012 Modern Art Festival which, from April 24 through April 29, will present at the Ars Theatre in downtown Moscow (a.k.a. Khudozhestvenny Kino) the new improvisation, free improv, free jazz, new jazz, and generally the New Thing from the roster of the U.K.-based Leo Records, under the eye of Leo Feigin himself, the Leningrad-born British producer whose radical and no-baksheesh-taking label is a significant part of the New Thing landscape during the latest quarter of a century. The fetival will feature screenings of Leo's 10-part documentary series, New Musis From Russia, made for BBC in 1991, and live performances by those who were in the series 21 years ago, or is now following similar paths. What makes this festival specially interesting is that many Soviet Avant-Garde heroes, now scattered around the face of Earth (like throat singer Sainkho Namchylak who currently resides in Austria, pianist Aziza Mustafa-Zadeh who lives in Germany, or french hornist Arkady Shilkloper who shares his time between Germany and Russia,) are going to perform along with the new generation of post-Soviet musicians who, in different countries of the former Union, try new paths in improvisation - Moscow-based Second Approach Trio, St.Petersburg piano innovator Alexey Lapin, Siberian improv whiz Roman Stolyar, Estonian guitarist Jaak Sooäar, or the festival's music diurector, Moscow-based saxophonist Alexey Kruglov.
VIDEO: Alexey Kruglov performs an improv session with pianist Alexey Lapin and Oleg Yudanov on drums at the JFC Jazz club, St.Petersburg, Russia, on September 2, 2011

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