Yuri Goloubev: Of Chocolate Cake & Other Simple Metaphors
All About Jazz: You abandoned the world of classical music for jazz; how did this transition come about?
Yuri Goloubev: This is a natural question, and I have to say it was a natural transition. I've been keenly interested in jazz since a very early age, thanks to my dad who is a jazz fan and he made me listen to various recordings. I may have been as young as seven years old when I was listening to Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Louis Armstrong and so on.
As I was growing up the music I was listening to became more sophisticated, which may not be the correct term, but I came to Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, obviously Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis; too many to name them all. Certainly I listened to all the styles as I was growing up.
I was brought up in a family where my mother was a classical pianist and for her the thought of jazz as a profession would have been very strange. So I was enrolled in a school similar to the school in Manchester, Chatham's, where they take only gifted children and they teach you to a professional level. At the same time they teach you maths and geography and all the high school disciplines but the school, which was strictly classical, basically serves to prepare you for the conservatory. This school, The Central School of Music, was affiliated to the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory and obviously that's where I later went in 1990.
Even though I was playing jazz at the time I was mostly playing it on the piano; for some reason I was afraid of even trying it on the bass. I can even remember participating in a jam session as a pianist! After listening to Ray Brownand Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen I became really curious how it could be done on the bass. So I began practicing jazz on the bass. I was doing my classical stuff and in my free time I was learning the jazz repertoire. I was particularly curious about Pedersens' right hand technique, and my teacher, Rinat Ibragimov, who has been the Principal Bass of London Symphony since mid-1990s, was a jazz fan as well and he showed me some exercises.
In the meantime I started getting classical jobs in one classical ensemble or anotherfrom historical performance group to contemporary classical music ensembles. I was in the Bolshoi Opera for one year and then I was principal bassist for almost thirteen years in the Moscow Soloists.
At some point my passion for jazz and composition took over and I switched to jazz. Although I had studied classical composition I remember the very first jazz composition I wrote and I was really surprised because I thought: "Oh man, I can write some jazz!" It was kind of Chick Corea-influenced; I did record it on my very first album, Rendering (Cantabile, 1996), on the piano.
Thus I started playing some gigs and doing some jazz recordings and it was becoming more serious. This genre of music was influencing much more than classical music, and it brought me to an awkward sensation when I was doing concerts with the Moscow Soloists that I was occupying the place of somebody who might have appreciated it much more.
Then in 2001 I met a girl in Italy who became my wife and later my ex-wife. It was too tiring to keep doing Moscow-Milan, Milan-Moscow and we decided I would go to Milan. I thought that this would be an opportunity, like taking the last train to really try to do only jazz, to immerse myself completely. I would give it a try. And that's where we are.
AAJ: Was the Moscow Soloists, as the name maybe implies, an ensemble where improvisation took place?
YG: No, it was a regular chamber orchestra; there was no improvisation at all. We played anything from Mozart, Haydn and on to contemporary authors. Solo over Mozart? No.