Ganelin Trio | Priority | Nemu Records

nemu 005

Live at the Lithuanian National Philharmony | Vilnius 2005

Vyacheslav Ganelin – piano, synthesizer, percussion | Petras Vysniauskas – soprano saxophone | Klaus Kugel – drums, percussion

All compositions by Vyacheslav Ganelin, Petras Vysniauskas and Klaus Kugel.

NTSC | Color | 4:3 | Region Code: O | Total time: 1:27:19 | Recorded live at the Lithuanian National Philharmony Vilnius, Lithuania by Jonas Kavaliauskas (Pramogu Fortas) on May 27th. 2005 | Graphic Design by Christiane Resch | Produced by Klaus Kugel. (c) 2006 Menue Communication | (c) 2006 Nemu Records.

Tracklist: 1. Conversation I [33:46] 2. Conversation II [39:54] 3. Homage to Friends [11:17]

Music, no matter what genre

becomes most vivid when it tells a story about ourselves. But the narrative freedom to produce fields of association that go beyond existing images must be fought for over and over again. In the 70´s, the pianist Vyacheslav Ganelin was considered exceptional. In soviet Lithuania he took part in a form of music that was called – without any questioning – free jazz.

In European jazz, the boldness of the Ganelin Trio´s inventiveness was without comparison. The trio possessed an inexhaustible richness of sounds, ornaments, spontaneous moving forces, open structures, dramaturgies, and switching functions within the band.

Every performance became genesis. Being able to play without set pieces Ganelin and his companions, saxophonist Vladimir Chekassin and drummer Vladimir Tarasov, found a new definition for improvisation. The friction between inner freedom and outer constraint triggered eruptions whose forms ranged from romantic elegy to raging fury – these eruptions were kept under control by their creators at all times.

Since the postulate of unlimited free expression without a defined goal could have caused revolutions, the Ganelin Trio was heard mainly in the western world.

Overnight it became quiet around Vyacheslav Ganelin. Just before politics in Europe changed irreversably the trio dissolved and the pianst disappeared in Israel. Times became fast-moving and the laws of the ubiquitous free enterprise left little space for dreams. After the era of great visions no one needed the sweeping formats of a Vyatcheslav Ganelin any more.

In life, just like in any of his improvisations, the pianist was sensitive enough to know exactly when to end an artistic statement.

With saxophonist Petras Vysniauskas, the second central figure in Lithuanian jazz, and German drummer Klaus Kugel there now exists a new Ganelin Trio. Is nostalgia part of the game here? Why not? It would be a criminal misjudgement of the Baltic soul not to be willing to perceive the sediments of nostalgia in all of its statements. But now, as then, the timeless nature of Ganelin´s music is characterized by being able to transform an insatiable longing into productive power. Ganelin, Vysniauskas and Kugel are more than just plain avant-gardists that break up all connections behind them just to pay tribute to some future aesthetic. They make use of the method of American jazz in order to listen deeply into the European musical tradition. That way, they shed light on great gestures of baroque music, they internalize the painful individualism of Romanticism and recapitulate the careless lightness of traditional folk music. It is no less than trans-European, inter-traditional and multi-sensual improvised music.

What was said above about their rich musical supply is also true without exception for the pianists new formation. With Vysniauskas and Kugel, Ganelin may be less missionary and pugnacious as in the 70´s. But in an age of euphemisms where all fronts have been veiled or dissolved, precisely translatable statements make sense only for the most ardent of idealists. Today´s Ganelin Trio draws from the variety of life an even greater amount of options and perspectives. By not submitting to the worn out primacy of the moment but instead implicating the freedom of the whole process in every moment of their play the new Ganelin Trio is without comparison in European music. — Liner Notes by Wolf Kampmann, Berlin, 2006

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2 thoughts on “Ganelin Trio | Priority | Nemu Records

  1. Pianist Vyacheslav Ganelin is arguably Soviet Russia’s most significant improvising export. Of course, the unreceptive atmosphere during the early part of his career made renown in his native Lithuania untenable, but fans of international free jazz are very much familiar with his long- standing trio.

    This DVD, the first such release by the new-ish Euro-jazz label run by drummer Klaus Kugel, presents Ganelin in concert from 2005 at the Lithuanian National Philharmony in Vilnius. There is some irony that Ganelin is seen playing in a massive concert hall now, an icon years after he left his native country. Joining him are Kugel and fellow Lithuanian Petras Vysniauskas on alto and soprano saxophones for three pieces, the first two over 30 minutes and the third an 11-minute coda.

    This is mature and elegant free improvisation. The first piece, “Conversation 1, is a little too dense to be called “atmospheric,” though the mood evokes the ethereal and tranquil. “Conversation 2,” though only six minutes longer at just under 40 minutes, is a lot more varied, ranging from broad incendiary drama to introspective and meticulously observed, almost insectile, moments. The final “Homage to Friends,” in a third of the time, encapsulates all of what came before.

    Visually, the sheer number of cameras enable the filming crew to make the event remarkably immediate. Every conceivable angle is covered, including a repeated overhead shot of Ganelin inside and outside the piano, on synth and even percussion. If a slight complaint is permitted, it’s that the audio is too good. It could not have sounded like this in the audience so the live aspect is diminished. More shots from the audience’ point of view and a less pristine and balanced studio-quality sound might have felt more authentic, but that said, this is a valuable and well-executed document.

  2. This video-audio document of an on-location performance presents the Ganelin Trio Priority at its best. This trio—led by Russian-born Israeli composer Vyacheslav Ganelin with Lithuanian saxophonist Petras Vysniauskas and German drummer Klaus Kugel —is the main musical vehicle of Ganelin in the last years, with a steady touring schedule (including a concert in the forthcoming Vision Festival), following upon the many years that Ganelin did not lead such a close and inspiring musical unit. In fact, this is his strongest ensemble since the heyday of the first Ganelin Trio, almost twenty-five years ago, when his trio, comprising saxophonist Vladimir Chekassin and drummer Vladimir Tarasov, amazed Europe with their daring inventiveness and the richness of their musical canvases.

    The musical strategy of this trio has not changed much since that first edition, but it sounds even richer, more mature, less urgent and raging, and the DVD format supplies enough room for all the pieces selected for the program to breathe and blossom. The royal atmosphere of the impressive hall and the many angles of cameras contribute to the replication of the unique experience of this excellent concert. The first piece, “Conversation I,” begins with an enchanting Eastern theme, exceptionally tender and sweet, played by Ganelin on the piano and synthesizer. Kugel expands upon this light texture with varied colors that he draws while bowing the cymbals and using bells. By the time that Vysniauskas joins in, the theme gains momentum and velocity. But what sounded at first as spontaneous, open-structured though highly communicative improvisation, without a pre-conceived road map, is led by Ganelin with structural consistency to the opening theme that anchors this suite of over thirty minutes.

    The second piece, the almost forty-minute “Conversation II,” begins with a much more eruptive tone, and features some arresting solos by Vysniauskas, who windmills his soprano sax as this piece soars, an almost abstract-tribal percussive duet between Ganelin and Kugel, highlighted by Ganelin’s clever use of the synthesizer to enhance the dramatic conclusion of the piece. Some of the most explicit references to the sophistication and playfulness of the Ellingtonian legacy are also prominent in this set, and again Ganelin manages to navigate these free-form dramatic and stormy outbursts toward a sensible coda that, in effect, summarizes what we have just heard. The last piece, the beautiful “Homage To Friends,” begins as a lyrical and romantic love letter, at times sounding like a tribute to Keith Jarrett’s Scandinavian Quartet with the folksy sax playing of Jan Garbarek, but with different ornamentation, transforming it into a more abstract tone-poem before returning the listener to the romantic theme.

    Highly recommended.

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