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Strictly for Our Friends

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Album Review

As producer Leo Feigin discusses in the liner notes, this CD, recorded live in Moscow in 1978, fills an important gap in the discography of the Ganelin Trio. The pieces are relatively short for the group, most lasting not much more than five or six minutes. The performances alternate between the intense and the romantic (and sometimes both simultaneously), with consistently outstanding contributions from the trio. Described by Ganelin as "lyrical avant-garde," this music evidences the spirit of freedom that ultimately triumphed over crushing Soviet totalitarianism. The recording was made crudely, amateurishly, and secretly, and then smuggled to the West. Under the circumstances, the sound quality is remarkably decent. Most importantly, though, is the quality of the music, which easily stands the test of time, sounding just as wondrously creative long after it was recorded. While Ganelin was the ostensible leader of the group, Vladimir Chekasin was an original and eccentric performer on saxes and flute, and Vladimir Tarasov portrayed a range of moods on his drum set. This is one of their best collective efforts on disc, and a good introduction to their work. A precursor to the even more compelling Catalogue: Live in East Germany, this recording is a significant addition to the output of this important trio.

Biography

Formed: 1971

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s

The late Soviet Union was not renowned for its contributions to jazz, but it did produce at least one notable group, for in the '70s and '80s the Ganelin Trio was arguably the world's greatest free jazz ensemble. Comprised of pianist Vyacheslav Ganelin, saxophonist Vladimir Chekasin, and drummer Vladimir Tarasov, the trio's mostly improvised music was as emotionally intense as anything being created in the U.S. — or anywhere else — at the time. The three members were extraordinarily skilled,...
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Strictly for Our Friends, The Ganelin Trio
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