Dedicated to musical activist and promoter Nick Dmitriev, who passed away in April of 2004, the music on offer here is also meant to preserve the spirit of perestroika and the general mood and atmosphere of those years. Beginning with a recitation by Sainkho, the musicians gradually add little bits of sound, until the first full orchestra piece emerges. "One Lilac Evening" has the air of folk music about it, sounding quaint and far away. When Sainkho starts singing, the piece turns melancholy. A wonderful solo from drummer Vladimir Tarasov then prepares us for the all-out improv uproar of "Rifmachisty-Machisty", as Sainkho proclaims and then wordlessly growls, groans and rasps alongside.
If I understand the recording notes, the vocals were recorded after the music, but they don't really sound grafted on, and if I hadn't read that bit of information I never would have guessed. Not understanding Russian, the words are all lost on me (there are only translations of a few in the booklet), but the music does have the feeling of pushing against boundaries at times, like a previously hobbled man feeling for the first time his full stride.
Some pieces sound like conventional western Jazz, even a tad schmaltzy, while other bits are more abstract. Timeworn cliché Russian gypsy music even rears it's head from time to time, and "Samovar" sounds like a Tom Waits arrangement. "A Man Left His House" is a longish (13:01) tone poem with gypsy violin, and the closer "Aufzahlung Zum Abzahlen" begins free jazz and then turns into a sort of Klezmer concerto. In all the concert presents a program of great variety. I close with my wife's comment: "She sounds like a theremin".
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