Tag Archives: Jazz.Ru Magazine

How to Make an Improv Orchestra in Shanghai: an Experience Overview

by Roman Stolyar
for Jazz.Ru Magazine
(see original Russian text)

There was an early March morning of the year 2015 when I got a message from Swiss company Swatch – and this message started the story. By the message, my staying at Swatch art residency was confirmed; it was said that they were looking forward to my appearance in Shanghai in April 2016. The period of staying was three months; the place of staying was luxurious Swatch Art Peace Hotel resided in The Bund, the fanciest area of Shanghai. The purpose of my staying was, as I applied for, to create an improvising orchestra uniting musicians from various music spheres. Series of workshops were planned for developing common music language and establishing deep liaison between orchestra participants allowing them to create music in real time without any pre-agreement, score or conducting.

Having one year prior to the visit seemed quite enough; nevertheless, I decided to act immediately. Firstly, I tried to use official channels to establish contacts with Shanghai music institutions, but it didn’t work – neither Shanghai Conservatory of Music, nor local jazz school responded to my requests. Luckily, while searching for contacts in Internet, I suddenly found an essay on music scene in China written by American pianist and musicologist Tobin Chodos. It was clear that he knew the subject much better than me, so I decided to ask his help – and he replied to my email in two hours with a list of important contacts in Shanghai, though we never met. Since that moment the real preparation of my trip got started. Through exchanging emails with Shanghainese musicians, I found two important things. First was that my project caused their interest, so there was obviously a chance to gather people for that. Second was that my project fitted the interests of JZ School, the most active jazz school in Shanghai; they were going to open a new campus and considered my project as a promotional tool and an addition to the JZ School regular educational program. That’s why they agreed to allow our orchestra gatherings in nice and cozy concert hall resided in the new JZ School building.

Finally, a year after, I arrived in Shanghai. It was the 2nd of April, and Waitan riverbank was crowded as always despite of goring outside. Shanghai is a weird mixture of East and West: the pedestrian area of East Nanjing Road seems quite similar to Times Square, but make few dozens steps aside – and you are in calm Chinese province with its small shops and the omnipresent smell of street food. Almost any kind of music can be found here: you can find hard rock and ethnic music in Mao Live House, rhythm’n’blues and reggae in Cotton Club, dance parties in 1920s style in Le Petite Fontaine, hip hop and electronic music in Shelter… And, of course, there are many venues for jazz music here: Heyday, The Pearl, Wooden Box, and – the most known – JZ Club which is now in the process of moving .

However, there is no single venue for free improv in Shanghai, and examples of freely improvised music are very few. Some musicians, though, tried to play this kind of music, but it didn’t go well: it seems there is no place for experiments in the commercially oriented atmosphere of this city. Besides, all musicians are busy as hell here – they are not as many as needed for clubs, bars and outdoor shows in the city populated by 24 million people. Musicians from all over the world work here: I met Spanish, Germans, Israeli, Australians, Russians, Ukrainians playing jazz here (and jazz is not the only kind of music they can play, otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to survive). And Americans, too. Alec Haavik, one of the most well-known jazz musicians in Shanghai (and not only because of his height and exotic look – he likes wearing bright and extravagant costumes), is one of them. Moved in Shanghai eleven years ago, he became a true engine of local jazz scene. His activity is beyond any borders: he plays in most of local jazz groups, teaches jazz saxophone and leads his own big band performing, among others, original pieces composed and arranged by him.

Alec Haavik

Alec Haavik

READ MORE: the complete story of the JZ Improvising Orchestra in Shanghai! 

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Forthcoming Summer Jazz Festivals in… Russia!

The new Europe Jazz Media initiative: once every season, our writers recommend forthcoming jazz festivals in their country or region and share their recommendations with the readers of all member media!


Cyril MoshkowBy Cyril Moshkow, Jazz.Ru Magazine ,
for Europe Jazz Media

June 21-25: USADBA JAZZ ROZA KHUTOR, near Sochi
Usadba Jazz launched in 2004 as a large open-air festival at a beautiful 18th century Arkhangelskoe manor near Moscow. As the festival grew, it kept adding new locations, resulting in a solid chain of several consecutive festivals at beautiful old manors around Russia – this summer, Moscow on June 4, Yekaterinburg on July 2, Voronezh on July 16, and St.Petersburg on July 30, the newest addition being Roza Khutor Ski Resort on June 21-25 in Southern Russia, near the winter Olympic Games site in Sochi. Roza Khutor Ski Resort is not, after all, an old manor, but the Usadba Jazz program at this location is the most extensive among the chain’s 2016 editions, with an eclectic roster of Russian and international jazz, world, and pop artists, a three-day music business forum, and the finals of a multi-stylistic young bands competition, which embraces jazz, fusion, world, and indie.

USADBA JAZZ ROZA KHUTOR

July 1-3: WHITE NIGHT SWING, St. Petersburg
Now in its 23rd edition, White Night Swing is indeed organized during the height of Russia’s Northern ex-capital’s famous white nights: St.Pete is so far to the north than in late June – early July, it never gets completely dark there. The festival, held at the St. Petersburg State Jazz Philharmonic Hall, reflects the Northern city’s conservative taste in jazz: it’s 100 per cent pure straight-ahead jazz, with healthy excursions into swing, trad, and Dixieland music. The festival’s gala on the open-air stage at the beautiful 18th century-built Arts Square features jazz bands from France (Philippe Duchemin,) Israel (Robert Anchipolovsky,) U.S. (Charles Turner III,) and a variety of excellent local bands, presided by the Jazz Philharmonic Hall’s artistic director, Russian jazz vet and devoted Duke Ellington connoisseur – violinist / vibist / pianist / flugelhornist David Goloschokin.

WHITE NIGHT SWING

August 4-7: AQUA JAZZ, Sochi
Launched in 2010 as part of the forthcoming 2014 Winter Olympics cultural program, the festival is still there when the games are over. Organized by a production company run by Russia’s most famous jazz musician, saxophonist Igor Butman (who is also in charge for six other jazz festivals across the country,) Aqua Jazz presents an eclectic roster of artists from the U.S., Europe, and Russia: Richard Bona Mandekan Cubano, Somi, Conrad Herwig, Alex Sipiagin, and several Russian soloists, centered around Butman’s Moscow Jazz Orchestra. The cold country’s only subtropical resort on the Black Sea serves as a nice background which attracts thousands from across Russia, with the festival’s opening New Orleans-themed jazz street parade as the staple of Sochi’s summer season in last seven years.

AQUA JAZZ

August 13-14: JAZZ AT THE HERMITAGE GARDEN, Moscow
Historically first open-air jazz festival in Moscow, it is held in a small park in downtown Moscow every August since 1998, rain or shine, and attracts large crowds of both devoted jazz fans of all ages and curious younger audience – as the attendance is free, because of the city’s extensive support. Traditionally, the Hermitage Garden event serves as the Moscow jazz community’s communal gathering, where hundreds of jazz musicians and their fans, some with more than half a century of experience, congregate in the park – even those not scheduled to perform. This year, producer Mikhail “Don Miguel” Green presents a roster of Russians (trumpeter Peter Vostokov‘s Big Jazz Orchestra, groups led by singer Yuliana Rogachova, saxophonist Azat Bayazitov, and others,) Europeans (Austria’s Herwig Gradischnig, his fellow sax man Radovan Tariška from Slovakia) and Americans: singer Sandra Booker, and trumpet virtuoso Alex Sipiagin‘s quintet with special guest saxophonist Will Vinson.

JAZZ AT THE HERMITAGE GARDEN

Jazz.Ru Magazine, #1, 2015 (#60)

Jazz.Ru Magazine transferrend many activities to the Web version; however, we plan to publish at least three paper issues this year, as we feel that the paper magazine format, with large pictures and large texts for continuous reading, is very much in demand among our readership. The 2015 subscribers – your subscription therefore extends into the first half of 2016, at no charge!

Jazz.Ru 60th cover

Jazz.Ru 60th cover

In this issue:
ON THE COVER – The Professor! Alexander Oseichuk, Russia’s chief jazz educator, the Jazz Ensemble teacher at the Russian Gnessins Academy of Music in Moscow, tells it like it is – what does that mean to be a real jazz teacher, and why on the day his own band turned 25, he quit performing in favor of being an educator exclusively.
Unbending. 15th Triumph of Jazz Festival in Moscow and St.Petersburg in the days of economy crisis. Triumph participant, saxophonist Bob Mintzer, interviewed.
The Discreet Charm of Vynil. The history of jazz vinyl covers. Story nine: Impulse! Records.
Russian Jazz Chronicles. Rostov Jazz Festival: fit to survive
The Capital of Jazz. New York Is Now, by Andrey Henkin
Pianist Alexey Podymkin interviewed: musician on the verge of a new step
Sergei Manukian, Russia’s most popular jazz vocalist, interviewed on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
Jazz and Grammies, 2015: Dancing Chick to Chick
Producer / composer/ bassist Alex Rostotsky turns 60: “I Haven’t Changed”
In Memoriam: trumpeter Lew Soloff, producer Orrin Keepnews, trumpeter Clark Terry, record label executive Bruce Lundvall
Jazz Research Center continues Russian jazz history studies: Three Faces in Black and White – the history behind a b/w photo of Joseph Weinstein Big Band from Leningrad arriving in the city of Voronezh in the middle of harsh Russian winter of 1970.
Jazz Province Festival: the festivities coninue, on the 19th year of the trans-Russian moving jazz festival
Estonian guitarist Oleg Pissarenko tells the story of the final volume of his 2009-2015 audio trilogy
All We Have: 15th Jazz Over Volga River festival in Yaroslavl shows strong line-up and commitment to keep the 35-years-old tradition alive
Russian Real Book: a theme by NYC-based Russian bassist, Dmitry Kolesnik

Jazz.Ru Magazine, #2/3, 2014 (55/56)

Russian Jazz Magazine #2/3-2013 (55/56):
— On the cover: David Goloshokin (cover photo by Evgeny Eliner)
the director of St.Petersburg Jazz Philharmonic Hall turns 70
The Happiest Jazzman in the World: David Goloshokin interviewed (by Anna Filipieva)
— Boris Frumkin’s Jazz Life
Russian pianist and current leader of the Oleg Lundstrem Orchestra, Russia’s oldest big band, interviewed (by Cyril Moshkow)
— Jazz Travel. North Sea Jazz 2014: A Herculean Task of Choice
Robert Bagdasarov and Elina Samoilenko review the gargantuan Rotterdam festival in words and photos
— Musician’s Tales. Alexei Shubin: The Stage From Piano Tuner’s Point of View
Moscow-based piano tuner and accredited Rhodes piano technician shares several stories from his years of experience
— The Capital of Jazz. Meanwhile in New York: spring
Jazz.Ru reinstalls the regular New York news column, now with Andrey Henkin as columnist!
— History. My Blue Bird: 50 years since the opening of the legendary Moscow jazz club, active 1964 to 2010 (by Mikhail Kull)
— Behind the Stage: Rafail Tuishev, producer of the Rostov Jazz festival in southern Russia, interviewed on the occasion of his 75th birthday
— The Discreet Charm of the Vinyl. History of Jazz LP Cover art, Chapter Five: Prestige Records (by Oleg Skvortsov)
— ArtBeat. Anton Gorbunov: New Stories For E-Bass and Ensemble
Moscow-based electric bass virtuoso  interviewed before his new dual CD/DVD live release
— Vijay Iyer: The Real I
Part of Europe Jazz Media text exchange program, this article from German magazine Jazzthetik reveals the details of the famed NYC-based Indo-American pianist’s debut on ECM
— The Life and Fate of Drummer Boris Bagdasarov
Moscow-based pianist Yakov Okun interviews Russia’s oldest working jazz drummer who just turned 87
— History. “St. Louis Blues”: A Centennial
Vladimir Feyertag, doyen on Russian jazz critique, with an extensive essay on the history of the W.C.Handy’s evergreen title
— In Memoriam. Pianist Horace Silver, bassist Charlie Haden, pioneer Russian jazz vocalist Nonna Sukhanova
— Russian Real Book: piece by pianist Eldar Djangirov

European jazz in Siberia: EniJazz Festival in Krasnoyarsk

by Cyril Moshkow, Jazz.Ru Magazine

On October 16 and 17, 2013, the Philharmonic society in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk presents the third edition of EniJazz, regional jazz festival produced by Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic’s jazz programmer, Boris Borodushkin.

With its population above one million, Krasnoyarsk is the biggest city in Eastern Siberia and 13th-biggest in Russia. The new Philharmonic building with its three different auditoriums hosts regional symphony orchestra, a chamber orchestra, a Russian folk instruments orchestra, and regional ballet company. Since 2011, the Philharmonic produces the annual EniJazz Festival (name derived from Siberia’s biggest river Krasnoyarsk is sitting on, Enisei.)

Yakov Okun

Yakov Okun (photo © Vladimir Korobitsyn, Jazz.Ru Magazine)

 

The 3rd EniJazz festival starts with Yakov Okun residence. Moscow-based pianist Yakov Okun, 41, is described by American jazz critic Tedd Panken as “an individualistic voice, an important player, able in his improvisations to refract an entire timeline of jazz vocabulary in a cogent, compositional manner,” who is “a major force in Russian Jazz since the mid ‘90s.” What placed Okun on the international stage was not only his work with the likes of Donny McCaslin, Johnny Griffin, Lew Tabackin, Eddie Henderson, Alex Sipiagin, Craig Handy, Deborah Brown and many others who toured Russia with Yakov Okun Trio, but also his 2011 Criss Cross debut, “New York Enconter” (with Ben E. Street on bass and Billy Drummond on drums,) the first-ever U.S./European jazz release by a Russian leader who did not move to the U.S., but kept working on his homeland soil. Together with his band that includes two Americans, renowned alto sax man Steve Slagle and drummer Joe Farnworth, Yakov will hold a residence workshop for four days just prior to the festival, coaching several young jazz musicians, students at the Krasnoyarsk Music Academy and local music colleges, as well as a few students from other Siberian cities who competed earlier this month to take part in the workshop.

The festival’s main program that features musicians from Poland, Estonia, Italy, Russia, and the U.S., opens on October 16 with a solo performance by renowned Polish pianist, Leszek Możdżer.

Leszek Możdżer (photo © Anna Filipieva, Jazz.Ru Magazine)

Leszek Możdżer (photo © Anna Filipieva, Jazz.Ru Magazine)

The same evening, Estonian band, Peedu Kass Momentum, will present to Siberian audiences the music of their leader, 27-years-old bassist Peedu Kass who teamed up with Estonia’s premier jazz pianist, Kristjan Randalu, and drummer Toomas Rull.

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