Meet Maxim Micheliov

Meet Maxim Micheliov
AAJ Staff By

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I currently live in:

Vilnius, Lithuania

I joined All About Jazz in:


What made you decide to contribute to All About Jazz?

My professional background is in web marketing, and I connected with Michael Ricci through Chris Rich, who encouraged me to submit my first article "Howard Riley: Five Decades in Music." High visibility for my article was a h4 consideration, so I felt AAJ was a good fit. Currently the article has nearly 15,000 page views and shows up #2 in Google search for "Howard Riley." The next interview " Dominic Duval: Follow Your Melody" has been even more successful topping 23,000 views and second position in Google for "Dominic Duval" after his personal website.

The popularity of each article was extremely encouraging and motivated me to continue more.

How do you contribute to All About Jazz?

It started with submitting three interviews with musicians who I met in Vilnius around concerts and recording sessions carried out by my friends at NoBusiness Records. These were large pieces with the great Howard Riley, Dominic Duval and Barry Guy. However, it soon became clear my contribution could expand beyond writing to technical development of the platform itself. Michael Ricci was making changes at AAJ and was looking for a developer to work with him on a variety of coding and programming projects. I seized the opportunity and have been working in jazz development ever since.

I have performed in various capacities—as a programmer, coder, SEO consultant, manager for other programmers and designer. Together we prepared and launched Jazz Near You in November 2012. Having admin access I also take part in content maintenance like fixing profile pages for musicians and venue listings in my area.

It would be great to do an occasional writing. I am particularly interested in interviewing musicians. However design and coding projects take up all of my time at the moment.

What is your musical background?

The sounds of music have always been heard at our home. Both my parents love music. We had a quite big collection of LPs that included some jazz records along with classical music and easy listening. In my early years I was introduced to Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin as well as select recordings by musicians like Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis (though it took me years to re-discover them). My mother loves American easy listening from pre-Elvis era like Bing Crosby, Pat Boone, Doris Day and many others. Obviously we listened to a lot of European and Soviet songs. But my father's main passion is European classical music.

At some point I started my own quest. I spend most of my time listing to instrumental music which (IHO) offers certain depths usually unseen in song/vocal genres... or maybe it's just that I listened to too many songs as a youngster. However no matter how far I am from the musics of my childhood a few aspects remain intact. I refer to such things as huge respect and admiration of melody, diversity of my interests and openness to the new and unknown.

Speaking of my musical background it is worth mentioning that our local jazz scene in Lithuania is not very busy. There are some very h4 players, jazz education and several festivals, but live music events do not happen weekly or even every month. Once in a while we witness a new attempt to open a jazz club, but it never lasts long. Artists with world wide recognition do not come to play in Vilnius very often. The situation has greatly improved in the recent years (particularly through an effort carried out by my friends and some other passionate people), but we still feel that "hunger" for live jazz performances.

What was the first record you bought that you would still listen to today?

It's interesting, quite recently I found on the web several digitized LP recordings from my earliest childhood and I still find them very nice. One is particularly good. It is a compilation of songs by a Japanese vocal quartet Royal Knights.

My own first purchased recordings include a lot of Italian songwriters, Adriano Celentano, Toto Cutugno, Ricardo Folli and many others. I find this music somewhat simple yet very warm and human— qualities that make it appealing even decades later.

I can remember my first jazz CD. It was The Promise by John McLaughlin. Another great jazz recording from the very first bunch is Mad Hatter by Chick Corea. Today, I still consider it one of the favorite jazz fusion records.

Generally speaking, I am a very loyal person and like musics discovered at various periods of my life. Also, I kind of trust my own taste. It has evolved, but it has never been "bad" :) Not like I would listen to everything today but if I hear my childhood favorites they make me smile.

What type of jazz do you enjoy listening to the most?

Today my attention is focused on free jazz and improvisation as well as some modern jazz. I really adore piano solos by Howard Riley, Ran Blake, Burton Greene and anything with the name of Barry Guy on it. Mats Gustafsson and The Thing. Bill Dixon, David S. Ware and his quartet, Trio X. I love the sound of Joe McPhee. FAB Trio is another favorite of mine.

I don't perceive music through a prism of "style" and do not believe in a h4 system of definitions to categorize music. That's why it is easier for me to just list names or even particular recordings. For example there is one very special live performance by the Stan Getz quartet Live in Belgrade, 1962 that gives me an unearthly experience. I tried listening to a lot of other recordings by Getz and never had that h4 feeling. Andrew Hill is on the contrary—I just love everything by him. Jackie McLean, Walt Dickerson, Sun Ra, Grachan Moncur III, Horace Tapscott, Henry Threadgill, Archie Shepp, Kahil El'Zabar, David Murray. This is to give you a few names.

Aside from jazz, what styles of music do you enjoy?

I am tempted to say something like "I am open to everything," but it won't be entirely true. I like pop music and easy listening, mostly songs from 80's, when I was at school. 99% of modern pop makes me sick and I stopped listening to it years ago.

Rock music occupied me for quite a long period too. I still like some bands. Gentle Giant and selected recordings by some other prog bands—King Crimson, Yes, ELP. Hard and weird bands like most projects by Mike Patton ranging from MTV stars Faith No More to avant-garde Mr. Bungle. Another favorite of mine is Living Color.

I also enjoy selected works of classical and contemporary composers. Sergey Prokofiev, especially his string quartets, that I re-visit regularly. However, in reality, I mostly listen to jazz. So it is All About Jazz for me.

What are you listening to right now?

Walt Dickerson Vibes in Motion. Earlier today it was a new trio Barry Altschul, Jon Irabagon and Joe Fonda.

Which five recent releases would you recommend to readers who share your musical taste?

I also highly recommend anything by No Business Records. Well, they have thrilling items like The Thing + Barry Guy single LP "Metal" or William Parker's 6CD box "Centering..."

What inspired you to write about jazz?

Write, or in my case stick around in any possible capacity. I write a little, work at All About Jazz, help friends at NoBusiness Records and run my own freelance project design4music.org—web design services for musicians.

Here is a small story. Howard Riley was in a boarding queue to his flight. The concert was over. It was a huge success musically but also gave a negative balance in terms of sold tickets vs. expenses. As predicted though. The magnificent performance was recorded for release at NoBusiness. I had our conversation with Howard on tape. Everything was discussed and agreed. Words of politeness and gratitude said, but something held us there. We just couldn't turn around and leave. Valerij Anosov (music store Thelonious, label, concerts) and I stood in the airport hall and watched Howard Riley slowly moving to a passport control desk. Sometimes he would look back at us, and wave his hand, and smile. We would do that too. Then again. He reached the desk in a bit, smiled to us for the last time and then disappeared behind the door. We went to Valerij's car feeling altogether happy, accomplished and yet sad.

What is it for? What is the driving force for this? Love,—my wise friend replied.—Love in its truest sense. No lust, no pride and selfishness. Just love.

What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies?

I have a wide range of tastes and interests, but in the last few years my personal space has shrunk. I spend long hours at the computer trying to concentrate on work as I am one of a very few people in my country, non musicians who are involved with jazz music full time.

Although there's one important hobby left—cycling. I like going on 4-5 hour rides to the Vilnius countryside. There's nothing better for me than such solitary trips.

What role does jazz music play in your life?

This is a very difficult question for me. I really don't know. Jazz is the central axis of everything I do during the last few years. My hopes and aspirations, my personal development and work—it is all about jazz. :-)

How does writing about jazz contribute to the music itself?

A lot of people including myself have a h4 interest in context. In other words, although music speaks for itself, our perception and understanding of its abstract language might greatly depend on familiarity with the background. Also a written word is still the most common media. Acquaintance with music usually starts from reading words about it.

What do you like most about All About Jazz?

As a reader I enjoy the quality, diversity and immense size of the website. It contains enormous amounts of high quality and well-sorted content. I particularly like the interviews.

As a contributor I value the exposure that my work receives at All About Jazz. Having my name firmly associated with names of my idols in Google—thank you All About Jazz!

As a developer acquainted with the website from the "inside" I really respect our architecture. Well you can experience that too. From the calendar to a single event, to a venue, then off to a musician, an article, an image, then back to the calendar—the system provides ultimately wide and deep access to jazz information. In the ocean of information chaos this is an absolutely unique resource.

What positives have come from your association with All About Jazz?

Working in web development, design and marketing for All About Jazz allows me to combine my passion for jazz with my professional occupation. Perhaps it sounds a bit naive, but I sincerely believe that each work day of my life serves the community and does some good in the (jazz) world. Not everyone can feel that way!

Another and more specific thing, this association gives me great confidence. With All About Jazz to back me up, I feel comfortable and confident to approach literally anybody in jazz.

Visit Max at All About Jazz.

Photo Credit: Valerij Anosov

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