The Ganelin Trio: Ancora Da Capo

Alexander Kan’s liners do a good job of setting the stage occupied by these pre-perestroika musicians; he recounts scenes that read like LeCarre. And indeed the strongest impression of this music is its urgency. Cliched reflections about the tormented Russian anima are almost unavoidable, but the fact is that music has great immediacy for people in times of crisis; I have seen it in such unromantic settings as an RAF base on the eve of the Falklands gambit.

This urgency is what compels Vyacheslav Ganelin (piano, various instruments), Vladimir Tarasov (percussion) and Vladimir Chekasin (saxes, various) to free improvisations of sustained focus and intensity at live sets recorded in Leningrad and West Berlin. The latter appearance greatly impressed the Western critics, and the music stands up well. These men are playing for their lives, and have no time to worry about whether this or that transition might be difficult. As a result potential pitfalls vanish into thin air as they achieve a kind of mobility rare outside of Sun Ra and a freedom that must have been sweet indeed.