I imagine that every musician has a favourite instrument, and also a least favourite one, an instrument that they do battle with and try in vain to master. Fortunately for us, the double bass on Titanic for a Bike by Yuri Goloubev falls into the former camp. It is a Hungarian Janos Bogdany bass and has the sweetest sound in the hands of this Russian bass player who now lives in Italy. Yuri came to jazz from a very successful classical career in Russia. He calls jazz his “true call” and since 2001 he has played all over the world with many famous artists.
Having seen Yuri with John Law last November at the QEH during the London Jazz Festival and more recently with Alex Hutton in a tiny venue in Stratford, I am struck by his modest, unassuming stance in performance despite his staggering pedigree as prize winner and Professor. He is mesmeric on stage, his gaze focussed, he frowns in concentration yet his fingers tell you that his technique is natural and effortless. You are swept away by his lyricism and the gorgeous sound whether his is barely skimming the strings or playing very fast indeed. He takes a delight in beautiful instruments. Talking about venues with pianos, I told him that the Parabola in Cheltenham has a Fazioli, and his eyes lit up with joy!
This lovely album consists of ten tracks – eight by Yuri, one by long-standing collaborator, Asaf Sirkis, and one arrangement. Yuri and Asaf are joined by Julian Argüelles on sax and Claudio Filippini on piano. It is a wonderful combination, no-one dominates, there is a chamber feel. The sound is clear, like mountain air. Claudio Filippini is a revelation (to me) on piano, a lyrical pianist who I will enjoy discovering on his recent album with Olavi Louhivuori and Palle Danielsson, Facing North. Julian’s delicate reedy soprano is showed to advantage in the intricate soaring melodies in four tracks.
The opening track Sailing (by Asaf) sets a romantic tone with a serene opening between gently rocking piano and a bass melody that floats and soars. The title track refers to a real life situation of a cyclist wearing headphones singing along to the Titanic movie theme at the top of his voice, an odd image! It is a great track with a sawing bass creating tension – will this bike crash? Another track is called Bill Gates Amongst Us, a reference to a former Windows start-up sound played by Julian Argüelles. There is a quirky, eccentric feel to the titles and a personal touch to the liner notes. Other tracks are unashamedly romantic and Russian in feel – love stories, waltzes, remembrances of Schloss Elmau. This album has very quickly become a favourite of mine for its heavenly melodies, gentleness and tranquility.
Yuri often plays with John Law or Alex Hutton, both of whom are touring this year. If you can, see Yuri live, he is intense and unforgettable.
Julian Argüelles, soprano sax
Claudio Filippini, piano
Yuri Goloubev, acoustic bass
Asaf Sirkis, drums
Titanic for a Bike is available from jazzcds