Jazz Flourishes In Ukraine (excerpt)
by Olga Kizlova
The Ukrainian jazz festival movement is spinning on. A sampling from 2005 includes DoJazz in Donetsk on May 11-12, Jazz on Dnipro in Dnipropetrivsk, Jazz Carnival in Odessa in September, and also a December festival in Vinnitsa. In July, the festival in Bukovel, in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, will open, and in August the third "Koktebel" will take place in Crimea. In Kiev alone there are three festival projects: Dniprogastrol, a July festival in memory of Vladimir Symonenko on the summer stage of Mariinskiy Park and Unity in March.
The latter is typical for Ukraine. In 2002, when Ukrainian culture (unfortunately it did not change) met tough times, this far-from-commercially-aimed project was inspired by Sergiy Grabar who named himself as a "professional listener". Time goes on and the festival still lacks major funding, but it survives with the help of its founder and some friends. On March 18-19, at the Operetta Theatre, the fourth edition of Unity took place, gathering under its flags a large number of producers and consumers of Ukrainian jazz. Paradoxically, even with absence of well-known foreign artists, it stimulates art and professional growth of national jazzmen, and the prestige of participation is growing up. Even so, one of the main functions — a place for meeting and exchanging ideas with more experienced comrades has not yet been realized in full. You must agree that it does not increase the competition goal of the festival: the external fresh breathe is always helpful.
The first day ended with a performance by Moscow keyboardist Vyacheslav Gorskiy's trio. On drums was his constant partner Ruslan Kapitonov, and the young, talented Alex Zavolokin was on bass guitar. Gorskiy, who played for 10 years with Alexey Kozlov in the jazz-rock group Arsenal, is still one of the most attractive performers of poly-stylistic improvisational music.
Kizlova: What's the future for Russian jazz-rock?
Gorskiy: I think that jazz-rock exists in series of bands: Chicago, Blood, Sweat and Tears, those who made up the genre. Now we play as the combination of different styles, directions, epochs. Classic, ethnics, eastern elements and improvisations combine here. This is poly-stylistics, that is very actual now but is little eclectic. Pure jazz-rock now is something orthodox, but it almost disappeared. Now it isn't interesting to me; we want to move together with music development.
Kizlova: What is the concept of your new album Exotic Life?
Gorskiy: Stylistically it is what is interesting to me. We have a thing with a Scottish bagpipe (played by Vladymir Lazerson), with members of the Ukrainian vocal group ManSound. We have a ballad in the style of Count Basic, funk reggae. We wanted the album to be merry and colorful.
Kizlova: Nowadays, listening to you I thought that music makes the person young, the same age as the music played by artist.
Gorskiy: I agree. We get old only from outside, and in soul we all stay as young people.
Olga Kizlova, www.jazzhouse.org