Leo Records (Leo Feigin) has released a substantial catalogue of LPs and CDs documenting the pre-and post Soviet Union modern jazz/improvisational era. The latest culmination of this series features Soviet jazz pioneer, multi-instrumentalist Vyacheslav Ganelin's trio and others. Throughout these four CDs the trio members largely splinter off into various units, with disc four being the exception.
Within the liners, it is noted how Willis Conover’s "Voice of America" opened the jazz floodgates to the Eastern European populous, where repressive government’s disdained Western culture and/or artistic modernism. Yet, these sides offer proof, that the will of the people, cannot be shattered. Simply put, this program - recorded during the ‘80s - portrays a variegated and complex musical environment.
Many of these pieces consist of soothing melodies amid swing vamps, polyrhythmic escapades, military march style progressions, and exultant horns-based proclamations. On disc one, Ganelin’s lengthy solo piano opuses boast classically derived overtones in tandem with oscillating modern jazz initiated improvisations. The performers’ ability to toggle between an assortment of instruments, translates into incongruently shaped motifs, generally within the context of rapidly paced passages. For example, on disc three, Vladimir Chekasin uses synths-saxes-percussion, while his fellow soloists incorporate synths, trumpet, piano and other percussion instruments. Here - anchored by drummer Joffe Arvidas - the ensemble's lyricism, seems loosely founded upon militaristic march band arrangements and odd-metered backbeats. Yet, the artists’ fusing of layered electronics with climactically geared progressions, equates to a contemporary sound and mode of execution. Even by today’s avant-garde standards or tendencies! Nonetheless, Volume IV
of this series, suggests a level of sparkling ingenuity, influenced by the presence of an authoritarian society at large. (For more information, regarding this and previous releases by these superb Russian artists, you should check the record label’s website, cited below.)