109

The Ganelin Trio: Strictly for our Friends

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Evolutionary biologists fret constantly about the long-term consequences of isolation. The giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands and the mutant flowers of Hawaii provide two examples where species have run rampant in isolation. In this era of immediate communication and internet accessibility, one often forgets that music has also undergone similar experiences. Political forces, driven by the Communist agenda, offered crushing isolation to experimental musicians in the Cold War-era Soviet Union. In this environment, the Ganelin Trio actually managed to get recordings released by the state-run label, Melodia. (Someone up top must have been asleep at the wheel, because the Ganelin Trio was offering some of the most adventurous and convention- defying improvisation around.)

The name behind the Ganelin trio belongs to pianist Vyacheslav Ganelin, but this trio exudes democratic energy. Drummer Vladimir Tarasov and reed player Vladimir Chekasin each speak with a distinctive voice, and the real excitement behind this group comes from the unusual ways these three outspoken individuals come together. While other Ganelin Trio records offer fierce energy (and sport flashy Italian names), Strictly for our Friends documents a user-friendly side to the group. Tunes on this live recording smuggled out from Moscow in 1978 vary from old-time swinging jazz (as on "three") to delicate lyricism (as on "five") to extroverted free-bop (as on "six"). But generally, the independent spirit of these three musicians shines through in configurations that remain accessible. The imperfections in the recording (to be expected given its history) offer minimal hurdles to listening enjoyment.

Of course, with the political isolation imposed upon the Ganelin Trio by the higher powers of state-controlled art, their ensemble sound offers distinctive features not found in free world recordings. Vyacheslav Ganelin's piano explorations share some concepts with Western musicians like Misha Mengelberg or Cecil Taylor, yet they reflect a determinedly individual voice equally influenced by classical harmony and rhythm. And while multi-reedist Vladimir Chekasin visits the extreme sonorities available through his instruments, he avoids the squeak-and-squawk clichés that pervade alternative techniques from American and Western European jazz of the era. Strictly for our Friends is just that, and it's a wonder this group had any enemies.

Track Listing: Play one; Play two; Play three; Play four; Play five; Play six; Play seven; Play eight.

Personnel: Vyacheslav Ganelin: piano; Vladimir Tarasov: drums; Vladimir Chekasin: reeds.

Title: Strictly for our Friends | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Golden Years of New Jazz

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Read more articles
Strictly for our Friends

Strictly for our...

Golden Years of New Jazz
2001

buy

Related Articles

Read The Turning Album Reviews
The Turning
By Bruce Lindsay
July 20, 2019
Read Reveries and Revelations Album Reviews
Reveries and Revelations
By John Eyles
July 20, 2019
Read Live/Shapeshifter Album Reviews
Live/Shapeshifter
By Don Phipps
July 20, 2019
Read Vol 3 Album Reviews
Vol 3
By Phillip Woolever
July 20, 2019
Read First Nature Album Reviews
First Nature
By Troy Dostert
July 19, 2019
Read Sacred Kind of Love: The Columbia Recordings Album Reviews
Sacred Kind of Love: The Columbia Recordings
By Jakob Baekgaard
July 19, 2019
Read Perhaps Album Reviews
Perhaps
By Don Phipps
July 19, 2019