Review, Music Connection,
January 26, 2007
They Come Back -
ITOGI, December 4, 2006
- Beat Goes On for Russian Saxman -
LA Times, December 12, 1991
Zilberstein Mix Classic, Modern -
LA Times, January 21, 1991
Patriarch of the Soviet
Jazz Alexei Zoubov gave a concert in Moscow
They Come Back
December 4, 2006
||Original in Russian, translated
after 22-year absence.
Today no one is surprised by
the legends visiting Moscow. However, exceptions
do occur. What happened in the Galina Visnevskaya
Opera Center was just that. Even Bill Evans himself,
coming directly from New York, woouldn’t have
arised such a tremendous interest. Alexei Zoubov
- is one of the symbols of the Soviet jazz era.
Many still remember those times: listening to the
latest jazz tunes through relentless radio jamming,
ignoring official pressure, striving to learn to
play as they do “over there”, - many
famous names and great reputations were created
then. Zoubov, a talented physicist, was swamped
by the jazz tsunami. This “tsunami”
was newly discovered be-bop…New musical language.
Even Americans sometimes had a hard time to imitate
its creators Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie,
but some of our musicians managed to do this, breaking
through the Iron Curtain, by just taking it from
the air. Alexei Zoubov was one of these musicians.
However, very soon, he discovered his own style,
mixing swing and jazz rhythms with Oriental mugams
and Russian folklore. These compositions were played
in the 60-ies creating a lot of turmoil.
Now they were performed here at the Ostozhenka concert
hall, such as for example, famous “Byliny-stariny”.
They start as a folk tale, than the music explodes
from within…as a “managed chaos”.
The style of the other musician, Milcho Leviev,
was very much attuned to this: a piano virtuoso,
who also emigrated to the United States and surprised
American audience with the complex Bulgarian musical
structures. Zoubov/Leviev duo has a long history
…Zoubov has a unique style of playing: it
is both soft and unpredictable, it is cat-like.
Zoubov plays with the audience like cat playing
with the mouse. He can quiet you down with the confession
and suddenly break into a culmination, and than,
immediately “hide its claws” switching
into piano. In the “Gentle Lady” composition,
one finds yet another different, Chopin-like stylistics.
Zoubov sounds almost sentimental here. Leviev plays
transparent, watercolor chords and, during the pauses,
begins to play something that reminds Chopin’s
It goes without saying that the concert hall was
jam packed. Everyone appreciate the significance
of the event. One of the famous producers, Vartan
Tonoyan, expressed his admiration in this short
phrase: “30 years ago, I felt honored just
to be able to carry this gentleman saxophone to
the taxi.” Now I am honored that I could bring
him back to his motherland”.
Connection , January 27, 2007
La Ve Lee Jazz Club, Studio City
Lisa Elaine Scott
Alexei Zoubov, soprano and tenor saxophone; Brian
Friedland, keyboards; Hamilton Price, Bass; Jens
group is headed by veteran saxophonist and composer
Zoubov, who began his career in Stalinist Russia.
Zoubov is a consummate risk-taker. While he doesn’t
shy away from straight ahead jazz, he willingly
incorporates elements of world music, Russian folk
music, Middle Eastern music and contemporary chamber
music into his compositions. This makes for an impressive
amount of stylistic diversity.
All high-caliber musicians with extensive formal
training, these players provide some inspired solo
work. Keyboardist Friedland’s rapid runs are
exhilarating. Kuross’ intriguing array of
rhythm patterns and Price’s unyielding bass
lines provide rich textures and colorful contours
that seem nearly tangible. On saxophone, Zoubov
masterfully moves from huge mournful swells to gently
rippling arpeggios that change direction without
In between each piece, the charismatic Zoubov related
delightful anecdotes, which helped the audience
understand the historical and social context in
which these compositions were written. With fifty
years of experience between the saxophonist and
his 20-something bandmates, Zoubov could have easily
pulled seniority and kept the spotlight to himself.
Instead, he led gracefully, which allowed the other
players a good deal of room for self-expression,
and the resulting musical conversation was nothing
short of soul stirring.
goal was to bring together some first-rate, up-and-coming
young jazz musicians to reinterpret and reinvigorate
his expansive body of work. The result - the Rejuvenation
Project - provides a phenomenal performance that
will thrill everyone from the most ardent jazz fan
to the uninitiated newcomer.