Correspondence: On the BBQ In Moscow

Rifftides reader Svetlana Ilicheva (pictured) responded from Moscow to yesterday’s post with an account of a later Brubeck Brothers Quartet concert during the band’s visit to Russia.

In addition to what Chris Brubeck wrote about his first concert at the Igor Butman club in Moscow and his panegyric to the US ambassador in Russia, I would like to add a few words about their concert in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall on September 17.

I was invited to this concert at the last moment so was a little late and didn’t hear what the lady from the US Embassy said but was in time for the BBQ first number together with one of our best symphony orchestras, Russian National Orchestra (The chief conductor is one of our best musicians, Mikhail Pletnyev), conducted this time by Joel Revzen (US). It was “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” arranged by Darius Brubeck. The cheerful piece got the public worked up and was met by hearty clapping. The orchestra left the stage and the BBQ, joined by RNO member Maxim Roubtsov (flute), with a lot of pep played a piece by their pianist Chuck Lamb. Then the RNO brass quintet appeared on the stage and together they played “Dunes at Dawn” by Chris Brubeck. The combination was highly successful and Chris’s bass sounded quite interesting against the background of very good performance by the quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, basoon and French horn). It was so thrilling to watch how the classical musicians were playing the field playing jazz (Excuse my playing on the words. I am afraid it is just the lack of vocabulary). It looked as if they all were really having a good time. Chris called them “crazy” musicians. By the way, he began almost all the numbers with a few words, sometimes joking, fluently translated by a young girl interpreter.

The first part of the concert ended with Chris’s Concerto for trumpet, trombone and orchestra, “The Blues and Beyond” (Russian premiere), with quite an impressive solo by trombone (Chris Brubeck) and trumpet (Vladislav Lavrik, RNO). The orchestra was superb, as usual.

The second part was dedicated to Dave Brubeck, selected compositions arranged for the orchestra, jazz quartet and soloists, with Igor Butman as a special guest, and ended with famous “Take Five” with an extremely long solo by Dan Brubeck. It seems everybody here knows “Take Five”. It was met with loud clapping and whistles! I wish Paul Desmond had heard it.

I like Mike DeMicco (guitar) very much and the pianist, Chuck Lamb, was also quite good. The concert created a very positive and cheerful mood.

The only question left is why the BBQ planned to give a concert at the old Russian town of Efremov (aka Yefremov). Why exactly this town, I wonder.

After she submitted her report, Ms. Ilicheva sent a message asking, “Are you quite sure my account is worth posting now? It may not coincide with Mr. Brubeck’s impressions…”

Yes, I’m sure. For his insider’s perspective, see Chris’s latest blog entry.

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  1. dick vartanian says

    I get the feeling that they liked BBQ a lot. So do I – and I, too, wish that PD could have heard it. I’m sorry I missed it!!

  2. says

    To answer Svetlana’s question, we went to Efremov, a very small and poor town, because one of the sponsors for our tour in Russia said they would help bring the band over if we would come to their little town and do educational outreach and perform for the music school they have here. It was a great day in the school, with students ranging from the age of 2nd grade through 12th, some of whom performed for us. Their performance started with a boys choir wearing bow ties singing a well-known tune, “Breakdown in Carolina.” We had found that song on YouTube and wrote out the chord changes so we could play it with them and jazz it up along the way to demonstrate how jazz works. That got things off to a roaring start. Over the next couple of days, I will write another blog about yesterday in Efremov. The over-arching theme was that these people were absolutely thrilled that an American jazz group would come to their small town and invest so much time in their talented young music students. By the way, you ain’t heard nothing until you’ve heard “In the Mood” by a bunch of sturdy Russian women playing balalaikas!

  3. Светлана says

    Dear Chris,

    It was so thoughtful of you to give such a prompt and comprehensive answer to the question that intrigued not only me but also my friends who were at your concert at TCH with me and who also derived great pleasure from it.

    To my mind it was a great idea of the sponsors. It’s far not every day, to say the least, that a renowned jazz group from America (and not only) comes to a small provincial town to perform for them. I am sure it was a real thrill to be discussed over and over again for quite a long time. And I am proud that they made a creditable showing too :-).

    Thank you и всего хорошего.