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Take Five With Alexey Lapin

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Meet Alexey Lapin: One day I was born in not so big town of Russia, another day I saw the piano, and then I knew what I want from that life. Meanwhile my parents were absolutely sure I should be an engineer. Instead of arguing with them, I went to university, took an external degree and acquired two professions, while music was my first friend, life-work and everything. But music was some kind of rock and around it as long as it happened to meet a pianist who played differently. Really differently! And that was the turning point of my playing. I realized then, that free improvisation is a much more inspiring thing, more involved and that improvised music does not allow our brain to fade.

Instrument(s): Piano.

Teachers and/or influences? John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Art Pepper, Ornette Coleman.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I was born or even earlier, when my father was listening his tape recorder all the days long while I was in my mother's belly.

Your sound and approach to music: Of course, nobody rejects the theory of music. But theory gives no life to the music.

Your teaching approach: We should know absolutely all about the subject. For that we should learn and practice hard. And at the same time we should keep in mind, that our music is a reflection of our spirit.

Your dream band: I think there are many interesting musicians around the world. Though not as many as people usually think. But as long as I like to play different styles of improvised music, there are different musicians I want to play with. For example, George Cables Elvin Jones.

Anecdote from the road: (A bit of history: some days I wrote very complicated scores). A saxophonist at the twilight goes to my rehearsal and sees my bassist looking for something on the ground. - What are you looking for here? - I lost the scores Alex wrote for me. - And where did you lose them? - There. - Then why are you looking for them here? - If I look for it there, I'll find it with no problem.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Maybe Old House. Why? Don't know. Though I do not look back at what I've made. I look forward to doing something more interesting the next time.

Did you know... that when I, for the first time in my life, tried to play a melody on a toy piano (we were guests with my parents at their friends, and I was three years old), I was very confused with one note. Nearest lower note sounds lower then I need as well as next to it sounds upper. About a year passed when I found another toy piano with all keys (the first one had only white real keys and black were just painted on white). It was a real satisfaction. I decided life is fair enough.

CDs you are listening to now: Art Pepper, Thursday Night At The Village Vanguard; J Schloss, A.Schoenberg, A.Berg and others - Music of the second generation of the second Viennese school; Braxton/Larnen, 11 compositions (duo) 1995.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? I think jazz music was never easily understood by people. In the 1960s it was at a peak of popularity, not understanding. Now it neither popular, nor understood. So these days it is not easy to survive playing jazz. From one side it is not bad, because a flock of out-of-mind musicians do not come to jazz to earn money. From the other side, there are many great musicians that cannot play and write regularly because of lack of time or money. Just not having the strength to resist. Nonetheless, I thing jazz will not be gone as long as mankind exists.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Concerts, recordings. I think if we discontinue to show on TV serials about nothing, and stop playing out-of- voice-tone-deaf-senseless vocalists on the radio... And then to show people that there are plenty of other cultures out there... I'm sure it will take no time to turn peoples' heads back in the right direction.

What is in the near future? Have some plans, but I'd like to keep it secret for a while.

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