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Klaus Kugel/Mark Tokar: Free Jazz, Ukraine Style

By Published: January 14, 2009
AAJ: You lived in Poland for some time. Is the situation there fundamentally different from the Ukraine?

MT: Not fundamentally but there are some differences. There are several places where musicians can play.

AAJ: Is there some help from the government?

MT: Not really. There is a developed club industry in Poland. You can play several concerts in clubs. And there's nothing like direct help from the state. The festival city can give some funds to support the cultural life of the community.

AAJ: Like Jazz Bezz?

MT: Yeah. I guess there is some support from city government. But I don't think it is something substantial. Markian [Ivashchishin—Jazz Bezz organizator] says to thank them even if all they do is not interfere [laughs].

AAJ: By the way are you the musical producer this year?

MT: No-no-no, I was one time two years ago. And I don't want to do that disgraceful thing again [laughs]. You see, I absolutely don't want to do "responsible" things. I don't mean artistic decisions, but things having to do with organization. This kind of stuff can be done without me. I can just propose some ideas and projects just for the sake of the fest.

AAJ: How many free jazz performances are there this year? Yours with Klaus, Yuriy was playing and Sonore will play also?

MT: Yes. And after Yura's concert a young musician from Poland was playing called Karmapa. That's also free music. And also a Lithuanian project called Saga.

AAJ: Klaus, do have any plans for playing with some new Ukrainian or Russian musicians?

KK: Yes. I recently was in Israel at the Jazz Globus Festival. The artistic director is Vyacheslav Ganelin, by the way. And I played for the first time with Sergei Pron, an excellent trumpet player from Ekaterinburgh. And we were talking with Mark Tokar about doing something with Sergei Pron and Petras and maybe Tiberian. Yeah he's a new musician, and he's excellent. That's one of the new plans.

AAJ: And maybe something new with European or American musicians?

KK: Well I have a new site ( with more information. I will be on tour at the end of April with the Genelin Trio Priority in Canada and the USA. And probably Petras and I will stay for a few days in New York and make some recordings. We already did a session a year and a half ago; a quintet with Karl Berger on vibes, Bruce Eisenbeil on guitar and John Lindberg on bass. The label is still TBD.

The concert here was my last one this year. On December 17 I have a recording date and for this year that's it. I'm working on finishing the mastering of certain recordings together with a sound engineer. There are many unreleased recordings and some other plans.

And there is one new project. It's a vocalist and composer from Lithuania named Andre Pabarciute. And we will record with her together with Mark Tokar and Bobby Few on piano in March in Lithuania.

Klaus Kugel

AAJ: So you're working with Bobby Few also?

KK: Yes, Bobby Few is fantastic and since Steve Lacy passed away he has not done many concerts. And he's very open to every new project now. I played three concerts with him and they went very well. He has lived in Paris for many years now.

AAJ: I know you've played a concert in Japan. How was it?

KK: Ten years ago I was on tour in Japan. That tour was organized by Itaru Oki. He's a Japanese trumpet player from the Michel Pilz Quartet. We played two concerts with a quintet with Sachi Hayasaka; she's an alto and soprano player in Tokyo. We played at a festival and listened to the others. And Japanese traditional musicians are fantastic players. That's for sure.

One of my deepest live concert impressions from when I was young was the Yosuke Yamashita Trio. Now he plays a more traditional style but 30 years ago he was one of the first-rate free jazz piano players. He has just an incredible energy and was really amazing.

Selected Discography

Mark Tokar/ Dave Rempis, Four Walls, (Multikulti Project, 2008)
Mark Tokar with Ken Vandermark, Resonance (Not Two, 2008)
Klaus Kugel with Steve Swell's Slammin' the Infinite, Live @ the Vision Festival (Not Two, 2007)
Klaus Kugel with Ganelin Trio Priority, Live at the Lithuanian National Philharmony Vilnius (Nemu, 2007)
Klaus Kugel with Theo Jorgensmann, Fellowship (HATology, 2005)

Photo Credits
Mark Tokar: Konstantin Smolianinov
Klaus Kogel: Courtesy of Klaus Kugel

Visit Klaus Kugel and Mark Tokar on the web.

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