VLADIMIR CHEKASIN — Nomen Nescio / Некое Лицо (review)

VLADIMIR CHEKASIN — Nomen Nescio / Некое Лицо album cover Album · 1987 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Jazz is music of freedom, free jazz - even more so.You will hardly find jazz traditions in totalitarian systems as North Korea (oppositely same nation has high class musicians and fast growing jazz society in South Korea). Few years ago it happened to me to visit live gig of Chinese jazz band - very amateurish, they tried to imitate jazz techniques but obviously missed one important thing - freedom of improvisation.

Still three decades ago last totalitarian empire on territory of Europe and Central Asia was alive and kicking and term "Soviet jazz" sounded as bad joke. There still existed relatively free region on occupied lands of Baltic States,so during few decades almost all most innovative Soviet Union musicians found themselves living there. Three emigrants from Russia founded in Vilnius the formation which known US musicologist Piero Scaruffi called "the greatest ensemble of free-jazz in continental Europe" - Ganelin Trio.I was lucky enough to be born and grew up in same town and same time where and when banned Soviet free jazz found its home.Being a University student I saw live jazz gig for the first time in my life - it blew my mind away! In the world where radio on TV stations all were under full KGB control, music we heard around was mostly patriotic Soviet songs and faceless over-optimistic pop-music. For sure I already found out how to get underground copies of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but the price of each such contraband album was equal to average Soviet worker monthly wage, so everyone having few albums was in fact a rich man. Jazz wasn't under such strict political ban as rock music because of its abstract (read - difficult accessible for workers and farmers) nature but generally was tagged as "product of rotting capitalism" in official propaganda. As a result the country with population of 350 million had only one faculty where one could be trained as jazz musician - far away from Moscow and big cities, in small Lithuanian seaside town of Klaipeda.

In such atmosphere each free jazz concert was a Shamanic act - listeners felt like sect members participating on secret mess.My first live jazz concert was Ganelin Trio's member Vladimir Chekasin solo gig in small University Aula. He played two saxophones simultaneously against electronic loops and sounds modulator.At the end of the gig I was newborn jazz sectarian.

Ganelin Trio (with pianist Viacheslav Ganelin,reeds player Vladimir Chekasin and drummer Vladimir Tarasov) existed just few years, Jewish-origin Ganelin at first possibility emigrated from Soviet Union to Israel (where later re-united the band but with different line-up).Two other members stayed in Vilnius where they live now (and I regularly see them on different musical events). Vladimir Chekasin solo album "Nomen Nescio" was released same year when Ganelin left the country.Chekasin plays with one of strongest possible line-up of the time - pianist Oleg Molokojedov (Ganelin Trio members regular collaborator), Russian keyboards and electronic effects genius Sergey Kuryochin and relatively less known drummer Sergey Belichenko. Chekasin reed's sound is slightly similar to latest Roland Rahsaan Kirk's on this album. Two long free form compositions - free saxophone/flute improvisations over layers of synthesizers sound waves and electronic noises.Being of improvisational nature, music is far not chaotic, but more similar to modern classical avant-garde. Lot of melodic elements make the music sounds easy accessible and you need to return to this recordings again and again just to find out how many different layers are secretly placed under the surface.Real post free-jazz masterpiece, this album had very limited audience in past and was almost forgotten with time.True evidence of strange time in strange place - and best possible monument for true art.
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