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

More Articles

Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Bright Yellow with Bass CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Bekkenjordet" CD/LP/Track Review Bekkenjordet
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 15, 2017
Read "Threes" CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "Lyn Stanley – The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review Lyn Stanley – The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 2
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 12, 2017
Read "Dreamsville" CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Light Shines In" CD/LP/Track Review Light Shines In
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "Takunde" CD/LP/Track Review Takunde
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 8, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.