VLADIMIR CHEKASIN — Second Siberian Concert (review)

VLADIMIR CHEKASIN — Second Siberian Concert album cover Live album · 1994 · Eclectic Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Sax player/multi-instrumentalist Vladimir Chekasin was my very first experience listening jazz live. As undergraduate university student in 1981 or 1982 I felt some initial interest to jazz even if my strong prerogatives were Black Sabbath (going) and The Stranglers(coming). I lived in same town with famous free jazz Ganelin trio and when trio's member announced his solo concert in my university Aula I just decided to give the jazz a chance.

This evening changed my life, not less.It looked there were even no air to breath in overcrowded old building's hall with high wooden doors and white columns. Students and younger professors waited for something... unexpected. And it happened - Chekasin played quite emotive solo gig using circular breathing techniques, simultaneously playing of two saxophones and free improvisation against strange electronic device, kind of early analogue modulator/synthesizer. Fortunately for newcomers as I was, Chekasin's music was far from formal, it contained lot ot tunes snippets, emotive soloing and strange rhythms what made it surprisingly accessible.

At the end of the night I didn't realize (as many others sitting and standing near me in a hall) what it was - we just evidenced highest class musical shamanism session we had never saw in our lives. From that day I started visiting jazz concerts more often but it still took two decades to start listening jazz recordings.

"Second Siberian Concert" is recorded just a few years later in Novosibirsk - largest Siberian academic city, and till now it stays a last recording evidence of Chekasin musicianship as leader. He still plays time to time but concentrates mostly on jazz education in Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater and leading excellent student's Big Band.

The quartet recorded contains of Chekasin, playing plenty of reeds (obviously using simultaneously playing techniques since there are no other reeds player on board and one can hear different reeds played at the same time),analogue synth and occasionally piano; Romania-born Vilnius-based keyboardist Oleg Molokoedov (piano,analogue keys,synth) and local rhythm section - bassist Sergey Panasenko and drummer Sergey Belichenko.

The year is 1985 and synthesizers (especially in jazz, and more precise - in Soviet jazz!) still look like extreme modernism so no strange whole music is heavily overloaded with their sounds. Synths are still analogue so their sound doesn't attack listener's nerves as later time plastic electronics but still great Chekasin's sax soloing and two-reeds interplay too often disappears without significant traces in that wall of synth sounds.

Three compositions (two long and one - two-minute short) are mostly improvised but contain plenty of composed sources incl. popular swing tunes,themes from ballet,Slavic folklore elements and circus marches. Sound quality is only average though.

Released in 1994 only, after Soviet Union finished existing, this album has been never well known or widely distributed. Now available on bandcamp as digital download, it represents nice opportunity to hear one of the most interesting innovative artist of the region. Not a best artist's work for sure, it still is a valuable evidence in Chekasin's far not so umerous discography.
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