Various Artists

Golden Years of the Soviet New Jazz, Vol. 2

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The second volume in a series of four four-CD box sets, this installment of Leo Feigin's mammoth tribute to avant-garde jazz in the former Soviet Union pushes the listener into darker, stranger corners of new music. Once again, each disc is devoted to one particular artist or group, and all but the last 37 minutes of music on disc four was previously unreleased. Disc one features Vladimir Rezitsky and his Jazz Group Arkhangelsk, to whom the whole collection is dedicated. The two 38-minute pieces included were recorded in 1992 at the group's 20th anniversary concert. The first piece consists of a loose suite of short tunes representing all facets of the quintet, from traditional jazz to African music and "La Cucaracha." The second piece, featuring over 20 musicians on-stage (including friends Sainkho Namchylak and Vladimir Tarasov), is more interesting. This unrehearsed, one-time meeting took place under festive circumstances, a feeling fully transmitted to the listener. The mood changes considerably for disc two, devoted to Orkestrion. The group from Volgograd contributes two works (over a half-hour each), suites of dark urban reality performed and recorded with limited means. Poetry, found instruments, and pre-recorded tapes are collaged into a depressive but fascinating musical vision that recalls some of the music from Czechoslovakia during the communist regime (Plastic People of the Universe, Manzelé, Národní Trída). The most surprising inclusion in this set is Mikhail Chekalin's "Probability Symphony" (disc three). A synthesizer artist the likes of Peter Frohmader and Artemiy Artemiev, Chekalin recorded this hour-long work in 1994 with Sergey Trofimov's jazz trio. Synthesizers also provide the backbone of disc four, featuring saxophonist Petras Vysniauskas. More disconcerting than volume one, this second offering stretches the boundaries of jazz without losing interest or quality.

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