Our third ensemble is also in search of stability, surrounded perhaps by the same rogues and threats we hear in the sampled speeches from Analog Attention. The musicians in question go collectively by the name of Jazzator, headed by percussionist Sergei Balashov and the remarkable vocals of Marina Sobianina. Keen, as with our earlier artists, to embrace the widest range of styles possible, Jazzator "marry the freedom of jazz to the harmonic vocabulary of contemporary academic music - and then add the vigor of stadium rock!"
Jazzator marry the freedom of jazz to the harmonic vocabulary of contemporary academic music - and then add the vigor of stadium rock!
That dizzying melange has led to performances all across Eastern Europe and, from a Western standpoint, a stage shared with Bobby McFerrin.
These vocal acrobatics can easily clear a floor.
A recent interview with Sobianina has shed some light on this interplay between a spirit of adventure, creatively speaking, and the material difficulties that come from relying on those same adventures for a steady income.
It's here, surprisingly, in the juxtaposition between exploits and income, that Sobianina produces a nice definition of Jazzator's raison d'etre. She borrows a phrase from Robert Fripp, referring to ideal forms of group organization in today's profoundly networked world. If we take the whole of Fripp's quote, it reads: "The future unit of organization is the small, mobile, and intelligent unit - where 'intelligence' is defined as the capacity to perceive rightness, 'mobile' the capacity to act on that perception, and 'small' the necessary condition for that action in a contracting world."
Stability, grandeur, and long-term assurances all fall by the wayside.
Sobianina, applying this notion of stylistic and structural flexibility to her own band, admits that an ideal line-up - no matter how "small" - is still inhibited by financial possibility on a regular basis. "Playing as we do, things are always fresh and exciting. All the same, though, I'd really like to have somebody permanently on stage with me, an additional, third person; it's just so hard for me to handle the piano counterpoint and improvise, too. Currently we have to wiggle our way out of those situations!"
For these reasons, Jazzator and our other groups remain a long way from what Sobianina calls the public's expectations of a traditional, if not stereotypically "velvet" sound. These jazz tracks are all far from the wanton intellectualism of an academic lineage and the (assumed) elegance of a cocktail lounge: dancefloor vigor, social complaint, and improvisation all keep us at arm's length from easy listening.
Sobianina has recently complained about what she sees as the rather "depressing" state of Russian jazz today, which in her mind lacks a spirit of experimentation. She'd love to see increasing combinations of "musicality and madness," as she puts it. Judging by the promising and thought-provoking recordings on display here, the gaps between those two extremes (and any generic ghettos) are slowly being bridged.
If we're rigorous with our logic, then it's worth suggesting that the musical ventures we're outlining are, perhaps, a fortunate consequence of professional and commercial strife. Put differently, if the availability of careers and cash is stubbornly low, then one's spirit of adventure can only flourish, since there's - quite literally - nothing to lose.
One would imagine that after a highway robbery, the figures we see below would also be less inclined to stay within the "velvety" limits of decorum. Propriety be damned: three cheers for bad behavior.