Leo Volskiy: Good News Blues (2012)
Saint Petersburg is Russia's jazz capital, home to Igor Butman-Bill Clinton's favorite living saxophonist, and chosen for his musical debut by none other than Vladimir "Fats" Putin. Pianist Leo Volskiy also hails from the city, but no longer lives there. After studying at the Mussorgsky College of Music and listening to local musicians at such clubs as the Jazz Philharmonic Hall and the Red Fox Jazz Cafe, Volskiy left in 2004 to live and work in Hamburg. From here he journeyed to New York to cut his debut album.
It's a solid, well-grounded, no-nonsense affair in which the young Russian pays tribute to the greats of the bop and post-bop eras-men like Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Elmo Hope, Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones and Barry Harris-backed by one of best rhythm sections in the Big Apple-John Webber on bass and drummer Joe Farnsworth.
There are two Bud Powell compositions, interestingly neither among his best known works. "Webb City" is a tribute to pre-bop trumpeter Freddie Webster, who Dizzy Gillespie said had "the best sound on trumpet since the trumpet was invented" but who, alas, died from a heroin overdose in 1947. Then there's "In The Mood For A Classic," written by Powell "for France in general," in the Boullemont Sanitorium near Paris, while he was recuperating from tuberculosis in 1963.
Volskiy has performed a great service in resurrecting these largely forgotten masterpieces by the father of modern jazz piano.
He also includes two of his own compositions. "Good News Blues" is actually bop and very much in the Powell tradition, busy and percussive. There's a nice solo from Webber that evokes the work of the great Oscar Pettiford. "Park Campus" has more air through it and some nice melodies that hark back on occasion to the swing era.
Volskiy saves his party piece for last: a lovely, lilting solo piano treatment of "Moonlight In Vermont" in which he rarely strays too far from the melody, yet still manages to put his own stamp on the old ballad.
Track Listing: My Heart Stood Still; In The Mood For A Classic; Good News Blues; Heart And Soul; Alone Together; Conception; Park Campus; Webb City; Moonlight In Vermont.
Personnel: Leo Volskiy: piano; John Webber: bass; Joe Farnsworth: drums.
Record Label: Jazzing Music