b. 24 February 1947, Sverdlovsk, Russia. During the 90s Chekasin was the most highly regarded saxophonist in the former Soviet Union, his style a blend of the late Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s high-pressure hard bop (Chekasin frequently plays two or more horns at once), 60s New York free-jazz tenor and wild Peter Brötzmann -like howls, mixed with a great deal of onstage clowning and theatricality. A composer and keyboard player as well as a saxophonist, Chekasin was originally a violinist (he took it up at the age of six), then shifted to clarinet and alto saxophone, beginning to lead jazz bands around 1967. He graduated from the M.P. Mussorgsky University in Sverdlovsk as a clarinettist and moved to Vilnius in 1971, meeting two classical musicians with extra-curricular jazz enthusiasms in the pianist Vyacheslav Ganelin and the percussionist Vladimir Tarasov, with whom he worked and recorded often in the next 15 or so years. Also in 1971 Chekasin won first prize in a jazz competition in Prague and made his first record. He later taught at the Lithuanian State Conservatory in Vilnius, forming a big band with his students there in 1982, and subsequently led a variety of small groups and big bands of his own. Some of these line-ups can be heard on the eight-CD compilation Document: New Music From Russia and the four-CD set Conspiracy: Soviet Jazz Festival, Zurich 1989. With the Ganelin Trio Chekasin toured the UK in 1984 and USA in 1986. He is as likely to quote Xenakis or Lutoslawski among his influences as Ben Webster, and remains among the most energetic and inventive of contemporary jazz artists in the Republics.
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