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“Jazz can be compared only with jazz”

From March 13 to March 17, the Triumph of Jazz International Festival was held in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tula. Its creator, the head of the Moscow Jazz Orchestra, saxophonist Igor Butman told the Kultura.RF portal about what kind of music he listens to, what is “Russian jazz” and what foreign musicians can learn from us.
– Igor Mikhailovich, what do you expect from the review this year? What will please the audience?

– We look forward to meeting jazz fans in the concert halls of all three cities. We really want them to see interesting modern musicians who will perform at our festival. This year we will receive guests from the USA, Germany, Cameroon. American bass player Richard Bona has long been loved by the Russian public. Robert Glasper is a wonderful pianist, an electronics virtuoso, a brilliant jazz performer. He acted as a guest at a big gala concert of the International Jazz Day in St. Petersburg last year, and we are very pleased that Robert will come to us again. We will also host the winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition in New Jersey, Lorin Talese. She will play a special program with our orchestra. And our compatriot Oleg Akkuratov, who took the second place, will show the performance with which he came forward in that competition. This young man was ahead of many North American performers, entered the top five finalists – I think this is a reason for pride.

We are also waiting for the performance of our wonderful musicians – the Sasha Mashin Outsidethebox project. In general, Sasha Machine, which “went beyond the box” – in my free translation. Although, of course, his debut album “Outsidethebox”, recorded with Alex Sipyagin and Zhenya Strigalev, is more about “new, unexpected ideas” and “independent thinking”. Niels Wulker will arrive from Germany – one of the most successful jazz trumpeters and composers of Europe of the last decade. And the group of Eugene the Pious will perform the author’s music and arrangements of popular melodies. An interesting program combining ethno-jazz, fusion-jazz and jazz-rock with symphonic sound was prepared by the Ivanov Vibe Band – the orchestra of a young composer Innokenty Ivanov. So the program is very rich, dynamic, diverse, and the musicians are modern and talented – we are waiting for a big breakthrough from the festival.

– Next year, “Triumph of Jazz” will be held on the anniversary, the 20th time. Tell us how it started? Who supported you with such an idea? Why is it important for you to do exactly the jazz festival in Russia?

– In 1996 and 1997, by combining the efforts of Russian and foreign guests, we decided to create an “Independent Jazz Festival”. Why “independent”? Because then such a holiday was celebrated as the Independence Day of Russia – the one that later became known as the Day of Russia. And on this day we held two “independent festivals”, two years in a row, first in the Central House of Artists, then in the Concert Hall named after PI. Tchaikovsky. We had famous American and Russian musicians – guitarist John Abercrombi, bassists Eddie Gomez and Essiet Essiet, vocalists Napua Devoy and Tim Strong, saxophonist Gennady Goldstein, horn player Arkady Shilkloper, pianists Andrei Kondakov, brothers Ivanov and others.

Then there was a short break. Then, in one hockey match, I ran into the president of the Triumph Foundation Igor Shabdurasulov. He reminded me of our jazz festival and said that the foundation was ready to support him. Then on January 27, 2001, a new festival was held in the hall of the Moscow Cinema House. The first channel took it off and showed us and our guests on TV. Among them were the group Deep Bop Sound, guitarist Paul Bollenbek, drummer Billy Cobham, pianist Andrei Kondakov, bassist Alex Rostotsky, vocalist Maria Tarasevich. And then it was a triumph, “The Triumph of Jazz”. Since he arranged for his foundation, we began to call it that. For several years, the Triumph Foundation supported us until it ceased to exist. But we left the name and continued to do festivals. We have new sponsors and partners. At times, our financial capacity was modest, but the festival did not stop for one year. And it has always been international – we invited our guests and friends from both Russia and from all over the world. And now we are organizing the nineteenth “Triumph of Jazz”.

– It is known that each musician treats jazz differently as a direction in music. How would you personally describe jazz? Can you compare it with some direction in poetry or painting?

– Jazz as music was born in the XX century at the junction of many movements. The quintessence of jazz is improvisation, which is put at the head of all musical action. She always causes delight and a whole range of emotions, because it is almost impossible to repeat the same improvisation two, five, ten times. Musicians try to never repeat themselves, because this is the meaning of music – to look for something new. Search for new rhythms, timbres, combinations of harmonies and intervals. All this varies, and therefore we always find new and new emotions.

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