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Sunday, February 11, 2024

Alexey Kruglov and Karina Kozhevnikova - Sunday Interview

Karina Kozhevnikova, Alexey Kruglov and Simon Camatta at Moers 2023 (Photo André Symann)

  1. What is your greatest joy in improvised music?

    Alexey Kruglov: The ability to create works at the moment of improvisation, when all participants in the process respond to each other in the most unexpected turns, form the structure of the work with its stories and an enchanting plot.

    Karina Kozhevnikova: Freedom from canonical music principles is very joyful for me!

  2. What quality do you most admire in the musicians you perform with?

    AK: I admire when musicians are open to any artistic actions. For me there is not only musical actions as I see the process of creation as a diverse world in which we exist not only as musicians but also often using performative, theatrical, poetic principles. The ideal musician for me is a person capable of instant and flexible transformation from one artistic field to another, or dealing with several layers at once. For example, at the Moers festival, Karina Kozhevnikova and I played with the amazing drummer Simon Cammatta. He was the ideal performative-improvisational musician. Right from the first notes of the rehearsal, we realized that we were breathing the same air. He actively participated in the performance, just like an actor.

    KK: I admire the ability to listen and hear each other, lack of egocentrism in the ensemble game.

  3. Which historical musicians/composers do you admire the most?

    AK: Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Russian classics – Tchaikovsky, composers of the Mighty Handful (or “The Mighty Five” as we named our CD), Stravinsky, Rachmaninov, Webern, Berg, Schoenberg, Penderecki, Schnittke... If we talk about jazz, my favorite musicians are Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. Among the musicians I played with, Jimmy Heath and Joachim Kühn. Communicating and collaborating with such people, you feel involved in the global history of music.

    KK: I admire different genres and directions. Firstly, the music of Paul Hindemith and Sergei Prokofiev – these currents related to the search for a new language in music of the 20th century. I have great reverence for the classics – Bach, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Rimski-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky. In the field of jazz and improvisational music: composers George Gershwin, Ira Berlin, Cole Porter; Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and the pillars of new music – Alexander von Schlippenbach, Cecil Taylor, Sergey Kuryokhin, Vyacheslav Ganelin. Their artistic diversity has shaped my musical view and approach.

  4. If you could resurrect a musician to perform with, who would it be?

    AK: Sergei Kuryokhin and Vladimir Rezitsky, who stood at the origins of performance art in the USSR. I would like to play on Coltrane’s Ascension, and improvise with Ornette Coleman.

    KK: It would be very interesting to play with Bach. He is said to have been a remarkable improviser.

  5. What would you still like to achieve musically in your life?

    AK: The musical path, like the entire artistic path, is very demanding. Our profession requires constant excellence and painstaking work. At the moment I am developing my own method called Dromuse and would like to bring it to its ideal embodiment on stage so that it follows my polymathic aspirations.

    KK: There is no limit to perfection. I would like to continue further in the field of the development of jazz polyphony, research on the academic principles of building harmony in free jazz.

    Karina Kozhevnikova

  6. Are you interested in popular music and - if yes - what music/artist do you particularly like?

    AK: Probably the group closest to me in this genre is Depeche Mode, but it is difficult to call it a pop group, since their aesthetics include a large layer of electronic music.

    KK: I gladly listen to pop music artists after a difficult working day, it feels like a vacation. For example, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.

  7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

    AK: Missed opportunities... once, in 2004, during an internship at the Dave Brubeck Institute, we played with Christian McBride at the Monterey Jazz Festival. After the show, Clint Eastwood came to us backstage and thanked us. I could have asked him to tell me a little story about Mikhail Chekhov, a brilliant actor (and nephew of Anton Chekhov), with whom young Clint studied. But... I forgot. It would have been interesting to learn about Mikhail Chekhov and his system first-hand from his student!

    AK: Perhaps, at the end of the institute years where I studied as a pianist, devote more time to academic music. Although, who knows, maybe then there would be no jazz in my life, and I would have become only an academic pianist. So, not an easy answer.

  8. Which of your albums are you most proud of?

    AK: All of my 92 albums are dear to me, but there are a few ones that stand out. Firstly, a double album with Slava Ganelin and Oleg Yudanov – a concert at the Oct Loft Fest in Shenzhen, China. Also one of my first albums on Leo Records, “Russian Metaphor”, which received extraordinary reviews - from “not recommended for listening” to “the future of jazz” ! “Polyphonic Circle” is a new turn, a look into the polyphonic organization of musical space.

    KK: Polyphonic Circle recorded with Alexey Kruglov's Krugly Band. A new path for me in finding a new style and language.

  9. Once an album of yours is released, do you still listen to it? And how often?

    AK: Sometimes, but not often.

    KK: Almost never.

  10. Which album (from any musician) have you listened to the most in your life?

    AK: The Second Siberian Concert by Vladimir Chekasin. This album was the first in a series of records of new music. This is probably one of the best examples of Russian new music. Back in 1995, it shook me to the core. Every time I return to it, I find new amazing things in it.

    KK: Tchaikovsky by Alexey Kruglov–Jaak Sooäär Quartet.

  11. What are you listening to at the moment?

    AK: Bach, Mozart [Kruglov is preparing for the role of Mozart in a play] .

    KK: The Ganelin Trio - Live in East Germany. It is music I always want to return to, finding new plots and ideas in it.

  12. What artists outside music inspires you?

    AK: Boris Yukhananov, artistic director of the Electrotheatre Stanislavsky, the chief director of the Granovsky Theater Igor Pekhovich, where I have been working for several years. Artist and poet Mikhail Pogarsky who’s a dear friend. And historical figures such as Andrei Tarkovsky, Mikhail Chekhov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ilya Zdanevich, Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lomonosov, Leonardo Da Vinci, Socrates…

    KK: Modern artists, poets, film and theater actors. It is difficult to distinguish one of these varieties. But I’ll pick wonderful artist Mikhail Vrubel, actress Meryl Streep, poet and writer Alexander Pushkin. 

Recordings reviewed on the Free Jazz Blog:



Nikolai Shienok said...

Alexey Kruglov is one of the most interesting and promising musicians in Russia. His duets with Vladimir Tarasov and Joachim Kühn are really amazing.

Anonymous said...

Карина Кожевникова очаровательная великолепная певица с неповторимым чарующим голосом!