There are several reasons for naming this CD “Rejuvenation Project”. One of them is that I tried to bring new vigor and freshness into my old compositions. The other is that I firmly believe in rejuvenating power of good music (and I really try to produce such).
And finally, amazing and outstanding musicians that made this project possible are very young (but very mature musically), and during several gigs I played with them and the work on this CD, I really felt getting younger and younger every day.
My partners in this project have a very solid music education: Brian Friedland at University of Southern California, Hamilton Price at University of Texas at Austin and the youngest, Jens Kuross is fresh from the prestigious Berklee College Of Music. They truly deserve “further recognition” and exposure!
This disc contains my compositions spanning 40 years from 1965 to the present, the last three written right before the recording sessions.
A little more about the pieces (not in the order of appearance on the CD).
“Dead End” (1965), “Russian Suite” (1968) анд “White Sands” (1972-2005 reflect my deep interest in (or better to say, infatuation with) folk music of the world.
“Dead End” is loosely based on Azerbaijani “mugams” and was first played by Crescendo jazz quintet at 1966 Moscow Jazz Festival. It is dedicated to one of my heroes, Joe Henderson, and although I never could or even tried to imitate him, I guess you’ll hear the influence.
A three part “Russian Suite” (“Byliny-Stariny”) was first recorded live by Crescendo quartet at 1968 Moscow Jazz Festival. For this recording I changed it quite a bit. There are several quotes from real Russian folk melodies there. Please note an amazing bowed bass solo by Hamilton Price in conversation with tenor sax in the first part, out of this world work on drums by Jens Kuross all through the suite and especially in his solo in the second part and very delicate but also strikingly powerful solos and comping throughout by Brian Friedland.
“White Sands” is a moody piece influenced by many hauntingly beautiful Middle-Eastern melodies and dedicated to my wife Marina, who saw this image in her dream. ECM influence also should be noticeable.
Three compositions: “Radical Tango” (1984), “Polka Beams” (& Moon Dots) and “Pink March” (both 2006) are from still incomplete “Anti-Social Studies” suite influenced by Carla Bley’s “Social Studies” CD. I humbly dedicate this suite of mine to this outstanding pianist and composer.
I played and recorded “Radical Tango” before with great pianist Milcho Leviev and this composition is dedicated to him and Dr. Leslie Eber, who practically saved my life and so made this CD possible.
“Polka Beams” (aka “Cherny Is Dead”) and “Pink March” (aka “When Neocons Go Marching In”) are dedicated both to Prokofiev and Shostakovich (but not to neocons). I attempted to combine themes in the style of contemporary chamber music with absolutely free improvised sections. I hope these pieces go deeper than just being funny.
And, lastly, I wrote “Sweet Polish Lady” for a feature film back in 1983. The idea was to make it sound Polish by using the harmonic structure in the style of Chopin. It was never intended to be played as a jazz tune, but I think it adds Slavic nostalgia and diversity to the project. Note the elegant and touching solo by Brian Friedland (piano).
It is customary now to print a long gratitude list on every CD. I am deeply grateful to everybody and each one of you and I just don’t have the space to print such a list!
I am grateful to those who listen to this CD whether they like it or not, to all my friends (and enemies – if there are any), to those who complimented me on my music and those who harshly criticized it, to those that helped me and those who put obstacles in my way because I learned from both, to those who taught me how to live my life and make my music and to those who taught me how not to… I am grateful to everybody and everything for influencing me and making me who I am and being able to humbly offer this work of mine and my Rejuvenation Team. I hope to add some joy to your life and may be even rejuvenate you a little.
Who Am I?
I was born in 1936 in Moscow, Russia into the family of scientists and was supposed to become a scientist too. Following the family tradition I graduated from Moscow University with master’s degree in Physics and was offered a prestigious and exciting job other aspiring physicists would kill for.
But… insidious serpent of jazz had been seducing me since the early 50-ties. Stalin was still alive when I started to spend nights trying to tune to jazz programs of the Voice of America, BBC and other similar stations. In my sophomore year at the University I surrendered to the urge to play jazz and started first on clarinet and then saxophone and joined the early wave of jazz rebirth in the Soviet Union. It is worth mentioning that at this time playing jazz in the Soviet Union was considered not far from committing treason!
So, instead of working in physics, I went on the road with the Oleg Lundstrem big band, then by far the best in Russia. Then followed a 7 year engagement with Vadim Ludvikovsky Radio and Television big band and then until my departure to USA I worked as a studio musician recording and composing music for Studio Melodia and films.
In the late 50’s, 60’s and 70’s jazz music became accepted (or tolerated). In the 60’s Moscow had several jazz clubs, yearly jazz festivals and even started to send jazz musicians to jazz festivals in other countries.
I led and participated in many jazz groups, most famous being my Crescendo quartet, duo with keyboardist Igor Saulski, Barometer quintet, etc.
In 1984 I finally settled in Los Angeles where I live and continue composing and playing. During my 50+ years in music I had the honor and pleasure to share the stage and record with many jazz greats like Gary Burton, Chic Corea, Pete Cristlieb, Paul Gonsalves, Charlie Haden, “Tootie” Heath, Dick Hyman, Keith Jarrett, Milcho Leviev and no less important Russian musicians like Konstantin Bakholdin, Gennady Golshtein, German Lukyanov, Konstantin Nosov, Boris Rychkov and many, many others I can’t list for the lack of space.
From all our Rejuvenation Team: Happy rejuvenation!