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Ineluctably Absorbing

Ganelin Trio Priority
live in Vilnius -
enjoyed by

'Jazz in Lithuania has never looked back.'

Ganelin Trio Priority - live at the Lithuanian National Philharmony Vilnius 2005. Vyacheslav Ganelin, Petras Vysniauskas, Klaus Kugel. © 2006 Nemu Records

Ganelin's Lithuanian gig, Spring 2005 (DVD), was a whole new 'ball game' for me; previously I had neither seen, heard, nor heard of the trio.

First impressions -- all at once I was curious, intrigued, dazzled and excited at this unprecedented experience. Whenever I felt comfortable at the direction the ensemble was taking, one or other of the trio 'pulled the rug from under my feet' and took an unexpected turn. In itself that capacity for surprise proved invigorating.

An earlier Ganelin line-up burst upon the scene (1971), back in the days of the USSR; and its un-Soviet musical character took Eastern bloc jazz afficianados by storm.

From clear across the Atlantic the 'iron-curtain' players felt the influence of two pioneer jazzmen -- 'Sunny' Murray (born Oklahoma, 1936); proponent of free jazz style drumming and tenor saxophonist, Albert Ayler (1936-1970), most primal free jazz musician of the 1960s. John Litweiler (Director -- The Jazz Institute of Chicago, and 'Down Beat' staff reviewer) observed of Ayler, 'never before or since has there been such naked aggression in jazz.'

At that time the 'Trio' personnel were Vyacheslav Ganelin (piano), saxophonist Vladimir Chekassin and drummer Vladimir Tarasov -- a threesome who disbanded in 1987 when Ganelin emigrated to Israel.

Vyacheslav Ganelin. Screenshot © 2006 Nemu Records
Vyacheslav Ganelin. Screenshot © 2006 Nemu Records

Present day commentator Tony Augarde, speaking of the present line-up, says; 'Their music is still free-form but it lacks the humour which made the previous group so endearing. On the evidence of the 2005 Vilnius concert they simply play avant-garde jazz which covers the usual bases of wild disorder and gentle lyricism.'

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Copyright © 31 December 2007 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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