Happy55 are a jazz trio from the southern industrial city of Voronezh. Against that backdrop, and the weight of ailing history, these gifted performers find much value in improvisation and spontaneity.
"The band has trouble recalling specific dates. Its members instead neglect any chronology; in fact, they're barely able to count, giving all the time they've spent working with different time signatures"
Alina Os is a young exponent of acoustic hip-hop from the edge of Moscow. Her songs, just like her address, promise a little peace, quiet, and dignity on the periphery of Europe's biggest city.
Humility and understatement color a number of Russian instrumental releases. Their audible modesty is prompted by childhood memories, an eco-aesthetic, and disorienting experiences online.
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.