In June of 2014, Pianist Vadim Neselovskyi was in his native Ukraine, eager and ready to bring his singular brand of energy to a crowd at that country's premier jazz gatheringthe Alfa Jazz Fest. Minutes before his trio was set to take the stage, Neselovskyi learned that a Ukrainian military plane had been shot down by separatists. The audience he was due to perform for was in a downhearted state, reflective of the feeling(s) across the entire nation, and the setlist that Neselovskyi had put together lacked proper meaning in the context and climate of the moment. Weighing those issues, and wishing to honor the festival organizer's request to play something as a dedication to the victims of that tragedy, Neselovskyi did what any good jazz musician would do: he improvised, assembling a program in real time that was dictated by the circumstances and driven by the emotional needs of those there to hear it. That concert was a moving experience like no other for those involved, it cemented the relationship(s) in Neselovskyi's trio, and it served as a primary influence for Get Up And Go
Within this collection there are performances that conjure the melancholic tides that swept through the festival on that June day, but the overriding theme isn't one of sadness. Instead, Neselovskyi and his bandmates use balance as their central thesis, aiming to prove that a mixture of highs and lows helps to keep the scales of life in check. This trio is just as likely to dwell on tragedy here as it is to celebrate the triumph of music and man, and that's exactly how it should be. Life, after all, is a tapestry woven out of many different events and emotions, not just a single thread, and Neselovskyi's music feeds off of that idea in brilliant fashion.
The selection that ended up ushering in the aforementioned concert"Krai," a sorrowful solo piano work that's alternately tense and prayerfulappears here. But it's telling that Neselovskyi chose not to use it as an opener, saving it for later and making it the centerpiece instead. The song that does
kick things offthe circling "On A Bicycle"speaks to an optimistic outlook. As the program moves on from that point, Neselovskyi and company navigate and pave emotional switchbacks. First they change gears by visiting "Winter," an incredibly evocative piece that gives Loomis' rich and elegant arco work a moment in the cold sun. Then they're off on a frisky Mediterranean-inspired jaunt dubbed "San Felio," on to a hazy "Station Taiga" that benefits from guest vocalist Sara Serpa
's wordless vocals, and over to an excitable "Who Is It?" that stands in great contrast to the quietly cathartic "Krai" that comes after.
The second half of the album proves no less intriguing and diverse than the first. There's a flowing "Prelude For Vibes," originally written for the legendary Gary Burton
and adapted for this band; the passionate title track, moving from thought to decisive action in absorbing fashion; two brief interludes resting in different spacesthe first a folk-ish feature for Loomis, the second a spooky and nebulous call to the great beyond; and the beautifully wispy and ruminative "Almost December," a peaceful sendoff that puts Serpa's gifts to good use for a second time.
Live art made in a moment of tragedy may have helped bring this album into being, but there are only triumphs of the musical spirits to be found on these eleven tracks. Vadim Neselovskyi's Get Up And Go
is a life-affirming treasure of an album.
On A Bicycle; Winter; San Felio; Station Taiga; Who Is It?; Krai; Interlude I; Prelude For Vibes; Get Up And Go; Interlude II; Almost December.
Vadim Neselovskyi: piano, melodica; Ronen Itzik: drums, percussion; Dan Loomis: bass; Sara Serpa: voice (4, 11).