The Dzhaz-kolo (Jazz-circle) project was successfully launched on Feb. 6 at the cultural-artistic center of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Its initiators are Ihor Zakus, the well-known Kyiv jazzman, bass guitarist, and leader of Z-Band,” and the tireless Yulia Oliinyk, director of Tempora Publishers. This publishing house specializes in historical and historical-scientific literature, but has also started releasing compact disks, including some recorded by Vii (Khata Krai Sela/House on the Edge of the Village), a classical program by the children’s choir Vesnivka, and a three-CD album by the Kyiv Saxophone Quartet, called Bravo, Sax!
Dzhaz-kolo’s jazz concerts are aimed at establishing an interesting dialogue between Ukrainian performers and Ukrainian jazz lovers. The well-known radio journalist and emcee of the project, Oleksii Kohan, says that the organizers want to renew an old Kyiv tradition that harks back to a time when concerts by Ukrainian musicians were more popular than those by foreign performers.
“There’s no concert venue where jazz concerts can be staged on a regular basis,” Zakus says. “Of course, bars and restaurants showcase jazz from time to time. But this musical genre is not in favor at the moment. Some clubs have closed, while others have switched their format. We try to offer the best things taking place in our improvisational music,” Kohan adds. “We introduce performers working in synthetic modern musical genres — ethnic, folk, and classical music.”
According to the organizers, the first concert was a repetition of the launch of Zakus’s second CD, Zakus Was Here, released by Tempora last year. Z-Band performed a beautiful play by the band’s piano player Rodion Ivanov, “Yak Udoma” (Like at Home), a lyrical lullaby by Ihor Zakus, and his “Pisnia dlia kokhanoi (Song for My One), which has been heard on Belgian, Polish, and American radio stations. The musicians also introduced their original adaptation of the Ukrainian folk song “Oi, u poli krynychenka” (Oh, There is a Well in the Field.)
The audience, made up of many staffers from the diplomatic corps, musicians, and music critics, was thrilled by Dzhaz-kolo’s concert program. “I liked the concert,” said Karitai Zhanbatyrov, an employee of the Kazakh Embassy. “My son liked it a lot. Whenever we get the chance, we go to these types of shows.” Zhanbatyrov’s son Zhan Aidar adds, “It’s wonderful that these kinds of shows are happening in Ukraine. It was also interesting for me to listen to Z-Band because I’m learning how to play the bass guitar.”
“I was glad to tear myself away from books this evening,” said Kostiantyn Rodyk, the editor of the magazine Knyzhnyk-review. “It was a rather unexpected evening. Tempora is doing things that probably nobody was expecting. It’s very stylish, and the style is associated with surprise — and to surprise means to win.”
Yulia Oliinyk says that the company plans to release DVDs of the concert recordings. But the main work right now is to make monthly bookings for musicians, including Mlada, Natalia Lebedeva, Dakha-Brakha, Volodymyr Shabaltas, and many others. The program is already filled for the next six months.