Pianist Mikhail Okun: “jazz is honest music”

Anna kocharov, columnist MIA “Russia today”

Well-known local jazz pianist Mikhail Okun will give a concert in Moscow International House of Music on October 14. Concert dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the musician, although he says he has no notes, and just come out to play.

Michael Perch in the different years, not only performed solo and with small trains, but also played with well-known Soviet jazz orchestras (Utesov and Lundstrem), worked with film Orchestra and accompanied singers, such as Lyudmila Gurchenko.

On 14 October he will perform with his trio, which included bassist Vitaly Solomonov and the son of Mikhail Moiseyevich — Yakov Okun, a famous jazz pianist who owns the excellent percussion. The second part will play the legends of Soviet jazz German Lukyanov, Viktor Guseynov, as well as younger players.

About jazz, about Komsomol, who loved “music thick” and about whether it is possible to teach a sense of swing Michael Okun told Anna Kocharova.

To listen Trio Mikhail Okun — click on the icon “play” within the text.

Mikhail Moiseevich you many years playing in clubs and at concerts — what a turnout today goes to jazz concerts?

— A lot of old listeners that go a long time. And a lot of young. You’ll be the very atmosphere in the club and at the concert. In the clubs I like to play more than in concert halls. It is democratic, because jazz is the democratic art. Although jazz concerts are held in the Philharmonic, the jazz had not yet become an academic art. I think it is not in danger of academicism.

Once, discovering jazz, I tried to understand, such a swing? One musician told me that this is something inexplicable. Is that so?

Is the quality of the performer, and as impossible to explain or define. Many are trying to determine what it is, but to no avail. The food is delicious? Can you tell us why?

With this quality of course you need to be born. And the environment in which a person grows can help faster to understand your affection, too early to discover what you like. When I started to play jazz, it does not have any environment. There were a few musicians young and not so that enjoyed it. Jazz could not hear on the radio. And to listen to, it was necessary to make efforts.

Jazz pianist Mikhail Okun

And here you, by chance, something somewhere heard, then interested. Then he began to ask, somewhere to go to concerts with suspicious names with the word “jazz”. Then have already held jazz concerts, played with great musicians, among whom there were very few people with professional musical education. There were a lot of engineers, or talented individuals who have a keen interest in jazz regardless of profession.

How did you get into jazz, after the education You — just as an engineer?

I have taken first rock-and-roll. It all began with an ordinary school “dances” where it all twisted. It was the famous album, “ribs”, which were sold at the Lubyanka in the doorways, near the KGB building. And there happened to be jazz.

The first record that I was shocked — it was a recording of the orchestra of count Basie with Ella Fitzgerald.

Records were many in private collections. They were brought by the diplomats and the military abroad. By the way, all records were selected. These people had taste and knowledge. When the borders opened, it became clear that there is a huge amount of unimportant records, but this is natural.

— You keep old jazz records?

— Some given to listen to, and I don’t take them back, something cracked. Something left of course. But vinyl has a good sound, which is not shown on the figure. Analog recordings are different because there are no voices decomposition into components. It won’t be high quality and sterile. But there is the rich tone.

Is it possible to say that during the time when you began to play jazz he was part of a larger cultural “hangouts”?

– No, the number of concerts and fans of jazz can never be compared with the Philharmonic audience. This was carried out very rarely, in the best case any one festival a year in Moscow, though he collected a full house.

Maybe even played the role of what it was like to be politically taboo. Although in reality nothing political taboo was not in it. I missed the days when being punished for this. I, by the way, many do not believe, especially abroad. This was no feat that did that and played. Another thing is that no one ever helped. We lived by themselves. Where was played there where not there and was not torn, did not arrange any demonstrations.

For example, there is a cafe “Youth” and played jazz on Fridays. This cafe was in charge of the people’s Commissar of the Komsomol. Life does not stop — among Komsomol members were jazz fans, well, thank God! There were rumors that a huge collection of jazz records was Kosygin, Andropov — but I don’t know. Said that there is such party “bosses” who are addicted to jazz.

Came here on cultural exchange Duke Ellington, benny Goodman, chick Corea. It was either formal concerts for which tickets were sold, or informal, conducted at the Ambassador. I always got there.

When on stage, gather a few people and improvise — what’s going on between you at this point?

– Nothing much, just playing and all, listening to each other and are trying to save the ensemble. Usually getting people of similar tastes. After all, in jazz a lot of stylistic areas, and are usually played with musicians who love something like. On stage, follow the rules of collective music-making. These rules are not too difficult, easy to master.

What people see from the audience?.. Well, let’s say, four men who are happy to make any sounds. I had one friend that I was invited once to a concert. And then she said, “you’re beautiful on stage, and in life — miserable!”

Maybe it’s the influence of the scene, when a man is elevated half a meter above the hall and it seems the “God”?..

Jazz is a living art, because you don’t know what will play next, if it is an honest improvisation.

People speak the same musical language, guided by one and the same rules. They know what is happening now, what will happen in 10 or 35 cycles — so they don’t diverge. But depending on the level and talent of the musicians — it can be fun or not.

Jazz pianist Mikhail Okun

You have worked with famous jazz bands, such as Utyosov and Lundstrem, playing solo, trio — what You like?

– I like everything, any job that puts specific tasks that need to be addressed. I like any kind of activity of the musician. I enjoyed working in restaurants, and in the orchestra of cinematography on some records with pop singers, with the classics.

How do you do? I heard that for example the greatest jazz pianist Oscar Peterson played daily Well-tempered clavier Bach…

— And how not to play College? To become a good jazz musician, you need first of all to become a good pianist.

I later began to take seriously the music at first was an engineer. And in the children’s music school generally dreamed about is to quickly finish the class and go to play football.

Now jazz is taught in professional institutions. This art can be taught?

— When Mozart was a small Conservatory, yet was not. What is more important? The education system? After all, her main role is that it creates an environment where young musicians can chat, argue. And what a Professor learned — it doesn’t matter. Playing jazz requires the same, and that academic music. A person can become a musician when he begins to engage in with pleasure.