Oleg Kireyev, born in Bashkiria (aka Bashkortostan, more on which follows), is a dynamite soprano and tenor saxophonist who smiles broadly when he asks audiences to chime in with Mongolian throat-singing and quick-tonguing techniques. In New York City, a small group of listeners at Symphony Space complied, giving Kireyev’s Feng Shui Theatre quartet, making its Stateside debut, a sweet welcome.
There’s little need of further evidence that the impulse to play music with dynamic rhythms, improvisational freedoms and individual originality is a world-wide phenomenon — but it’s fun to hear accomplished musicians from afar in New York (or anywhere). Kireyev is a young-looking 45 year old whose combination of Moldavian and Asian leitmotifs with electric guitar, electric bass, rockin’ drums and percussion by Senegalese Ndiaga Sambe is popular in Moscow (where he runs his own jazz club), Poland and the UK, among other places his Feng Shui Jazz Theatre has toured. He is credited as being the first musician in Russia to popularize a trans-ethnic “World Music” style, as he did in 1985 with the ensemble Orlan. Ten years later he won a scholarship to study with American alto saxophonist Bud Shank, developing such confidence and facility that he looks ahead, not back.