Several new jazz and instrumental releases find good reason to celebrate complexity or surprise. They all share a desire to avoid the predictable crudity of commerce, mass media, and modern politics.
Ultra Vague is a Ukrainian netlabel that recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. Not surprisingly, overlapping themes of hard work and fidelity run through a number of releases.
Moscow's Fancy Music is announcing a range of new jazz recordings. Originating both in the capital and Novosibirsk, they give voice to a passionate defense of deviation, difference, and inclusion.
The Sketis organization continues to champion а crisscrossing of folk traditions. Not only is canonical practice forced to incorporate novelty; peripheral locations are also paid major attention.
Some new recordings and live performances raise a couple of related issues. To whom does "Russian folk" belong and - once that dilemma is clarified - how we talk of similar couplings, such as "Russian soul"?
A sense of time's passage hangs over four releases from Russia and Lithuania this week. Lessons learned in the past make chutzpah and cockiness very unlikely. A certain wisdom takes their place.
Moscow's "Fantasticka" collaborative actually represents a wide range of Russian locations and styles. Several members have now made an album together, singing the praises of common effort.
Four very different recordings from Russia and Latvia ponder the meaning of a "provincial" location. Some of them fall to black humor or despair; others, however, discover rare comfort in romance.
These recordings all include observations on the importance of tradition. Some of the artists look to distant centuries for a better, more dignified code. Others look further still - towards myth and/or faith.
Fancy Music is a discerning Moscow label, publishing both jazz and contemporary classical recordings. Some of those jazz projects form a collective worldview of willing risk and anticipation