Alexey Nikolaev: From Russia with Chops
AN: My wife and I met in Seattle in 1999 and she came to stay with me in Moscow for almost eight months in 2000. I had it all figured out, but my wife couldn't get a decent job. She had no opportunities similar to mine, and we decided to move to Seattle. It was a hard decision to make because I realized how much of what I had I will have to give up. Many changes had to be made, and we did it - so far I have no regrets. I just really miss my parents and friends back in Russia.
AAJ: What is the jazz scene like in Moscow?
AN: When I left a couple of years ago, Moscow wasn't saturated with jazz, but now everything is slowly changing and more musicians from New York are coming back and it becomes more interesting. I talked to some friends back there and they say new musical information is pouring in. There are a few ' not as many as here ' good quality musicians "on the level" in Moscow, maybe about 20 guys I know who are awesome. Lots of bands play in Moscow ' not just jazz, but funk, Latin, pop, etc. I only know a few stable jazz bands in Russia, but the musicians play all over with other bands as well. I think there are about five or six clubs in Moscow that feature only live jazz music. Every year there are small and large festivals and shows that take place. But there is not really a huge difference in jazz lifestyles in Moscow or New York for example, it's just that in NY there are more jazz musicians.
AAJ: What is your impression of the quality of musicians in Seattle?
AN: I guess I didn't expect the levels of the musicians here in Seattle to be as good as they are. I was in for a good surprise!
AAJ: I heard you played jazz for a short time in New York City.
AN: I visited New York four times and have a few musician friends living there; I met all of them in Russia. Every time I tried to spend some quality time playing around with the musicians I know. New York is always a great experience for anyone, including me. You get to listen to different musicians that influence you, too.
AAJ: What jazz players have been your biggest influences?
AN: My two favorites are Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. I also enjoy Sonny Rollins, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Coleman Hawkins. As far as contemporary players, I like Joe Lovano's style, and many more.
AAJ: Who do you like to listen to in your spare time?
AN: I don't just listen to sax players, I enjoy all other musicians. In my spare time I like listening to pretty much everything and try and take the best from everyone. I listen to almost all kinds of music, except pop and rock.