Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Russian New Jazz From the New Generation Quartet

Siberian drummer Sergei Belichenko belongs to the original generation of dedicated Russian improvisational artists, along with his compatriot bassist Dimitri Averchenkov. They join with younger but no less dedicated musicians Vladimir Timofeev on tenor and pianist Roman Stolyer to form the New Generation Quartet. Their download-only album Dances (Ayler) captures them in a Novosibirsk State Broadcast made in 2000. It may be ten years ago that they set down their improvisations for posterity, but the results do not show any aging.

Like the best improvisational adventures do, the sound produced reflects in some way who the players are, their culture, what they grew up listening to around them, the aural soundscape we all experience from childhood on up. How that translates to the music at hand of course involves creative facilities of the complicatedly advanced sort.

So this set does not sound like what a New York based improvisational group of today would be playing, say, at the Stone. At least not necessarily. Like the Ganelin Trio before them, the New Generation Quartet has a panoramic approach to their art. There's a rather wide sweep, broad brush strokes of references and transformations that come into play. "Two-Step Blues," for example, in part invokes the blues tonality (especially in the tenor) but it also hints at the dance rhythms in the air of our planet in earlier days or today in more remote regions, as well as phrasings and group interactions influenced by modern concert chamber music, along with a sort of madcap post-freebop drive off the edge of a cliff. (And a descent into the ensuing maelstrom that seems the right way to fall, or at last one of them!)

But the New Generation Quartet cannot be pinned down, so one gets all kinds of things going on, stylistic sidebars of folkish melody, rhapsodic piano-horn statements that suddenly go to a rockish feel in the manner of the classic old Charles Lloyd Quartet, and more besides.

This group obviously enjoys what they are doing. It's infectious. Here's modern improvisation that communicates a benevolent vibe. They sound good. Maybe Siberia isn't so bad a place to come from? Why not? This music affirms the creative musical act and also affirms a position in time and space while transcending it by converting all to centrifugal sound. A good showing!

You can only get this recording as a digital download from Ayler Records. The price is quite modest and the sound is good. Go to their site at http://www.ayler.com for more information.

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