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The Moskitos: Putting The Pop! Back Into Jazz

Jim Santella By

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Remember "Midnight in Moscow"? Back in 1961 Kenny Ball had quite a hit with that one for popular music and Dixieland. Remember "Tequila?" The Champs did something similar in 1958 by topping the pop charts with that unique instrumental number. The members of this quintet are much too young to remember those years, but they’ve obviously been exposed to the recordings. Five teenagers from Moscow (Russia), The Moskitos perform popular songs in a mainstream jazz style, mixing smooth jazz with more traditional fare. The Moskitos turned heads when they appeared at the Santa Barbara Jazz Festival in 1992. This recording was made later that same year.

On Safianov's ballad "Song Without Words," the tenor saxophonist shows maturity of tone and confidence in his approach. Performed as a duo with bass, Safianov warms the romantic fires with his melodies. Guest flutist Reuben Martinez stirs things up on "Vadim's Dream," as he pours out spontaneous streams that come naturally to the experienced artist. "Kenton Gets a Mention" swings in a big band arrangement that includes several guests. "Blues for Dostin Huffman" is loose and filled with spontaneity, while Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time" spins as a tight jam session. Safianov's alto sax treatment of "Take Five" adheres close to the melody, while "Tequila" and "Midnight in Moscow" erupt with creative improvisation. Flutist Martinez stirs up "Tequila," while trumpeter Jon Crosse and guitarist Ron Anthony light up "Midnight in Moscow." The Moskitos are young and fresh, ripe for turning loose their ideas on the jazz world. Recommended.

Personnel: Kostik Safianov- alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Vadim Antonov- piano; Andrew Shilo- electric bass; Peter Ivshin- drums; Sasha Bondarenko- percussion.

Guests:Ron Anthony- guitar; Jon Crosse- tenor saxophone, trumpet; Reuben Martinez- flute.

| Record Label: Music 88 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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