Tag Archives: Yuri Goloubev

Launch and album review: Maciek Pysz Trio – Insight – released May 2013

Maciek Pysz is a Polish guitarist and composer joined on Insight by longstanding partners Asaf Sirkis on percussion and Yuri Goloubev on double bass. The album comprises eight compositions and arrangements by Maciek and one with Gianluca Corona. The sleeve notes make clear that many of the intricate compositions were born out of imagining (or experiencing) loneliness or loss, but also wonder at the world and its beauty. They are very personal, we get an insight into Maciek’s life and thoughts. And the output we hear is the result of five years playing together and it is world class.

On the sleeve of Insight, insight is defined as “the act… of understanding the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively”. So at the launch of the album last night (22 May 2013) at The Forge in London, I was interested in seeing how this idea would be conveyed. The cover shows Maciek with eyes closed, in contemplation or meditation. Yet it would be impossible to perform in a trio if you were wrapt in yourself. So in performance, Maciek’s eyes smile with pleasure, Yuri’s are focussed on his music stand with the occasional flick of eyelids to communicate approval or wry amusement, and Asaf keeps his eyes closed most of the time (like many drummers) except when waving an arm at Yuri or Maciek as if to say “Wow!”

It was an evening to gasp, not just at Maciek’s breathtaking skills, conjuring the most delicate sounds out of steel and nylon wire, nor at Yuri’s serene arco playing on his double bass with antique patina, or Asaf’s magical patter on the udu drum or beats so fast and hard they sounded like firecrackers. You gasped because it sounded fluent and effortless, and because it made you feel so happy. An album launch should always be a joyful occasion but this one felt particularly so, there were many Polish people there, at least half of whom were women (yes, rare at jazz) and Maciek’s father present to crown it all. At one stage a small group near the stage moved as if to dance, and really that would have been most appropriate, it was hard to keep in your seat.

We had a few minutes of unaccompanied guitar in Recuerdos de la Alhambra (the classical piece by Francisco Tárrega). And a new composition called Tangella ( to the tango) which is not on the album. I think we heard all the album tracks with a bonus of hearing the eponymous title as an encore (at a slower tempo) as well as earlier in the set list. The sound was beautifully balanced, you could hear fingers on strings, delicate jingles of bells around Asaf’s ankles. The album has a similarly gorgeous sound being recorded, mixed and mastered by Stephano Amerio. Highly recommended.

Maciek is performing with this trio at Kings Place on Saturday 14 September 2013.

Maciek Pysz
Maciek Pysz, acoustic and classical guitars
Asaf Sirkis, percussion
Yuri Goloubev, double bass

Insight is available from http://www.maciekpysz.com/

Yuri Goloubev – Titanic for a Bike – 2011

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.

Yuri Goloubev

Julian Argüelles, soprano sax
Claudio Filippini, piano
Yuri Goloubev, acoustic bass
Asaf Sirkis, drums


Titanic for a Bike is available from jazzcds

Review: John Law Trio, QEH,17 Nov 2012, London Jazz Festival

When I reviewed John Law’s Three Leaps of the Gazelle earlier this year I really hoped I could see him live so I could thank him for his beautiful music. So it was a no-brainer to book to see him, even in a festival where we were faced with agonising choices, where so many acts clashed in the schedule. John’s performance at the London Jazz Festival goes down as one of my highlights of the festival. He joked that he had performed at the Purcell Room, now the QEH, would it be the Royal Festival Hall next? Well, why not? He has a stellar trio with Asaf Sirkis on percussion and Yuri Goloubev on bass. Yuri was the surprise to me – his diffident seated stance disguising absolutely extraordinary command of his bass, particularly in Three Part Invention and Finger on the Pulse.

The trio played compositions from Three Leaps of the Gazelle but deepened them with more obvious and daring electronics, making the most of the perfect piano and the vast space. So Insistence which starts gently with crickets (the insect) quickly became darker and sinister. It is easy to take John’s wonderful playing for granted, the tunes flow so naturally, the colours and pace are so varied, it looks effortless. Three Part Invention allowed Asaf to play full blast with a stunning solo. This was a lovely contrast to his earlier delicate brushwork sounding like a small animal running in the snow in Counting Snowflakes. By now the full house was gripped, the twiddly electronics, the piano like an irregularly dripping tap, the magical sounds of the glockenspiel and the beautiful tune had us all remembering childhood Christmases when we did indeed watch individual snowflakes. And it wasn’t only the audience who were moved – several times Asaf or John waved a hand at Yuri as if to say ” Oh my goodness, just listen to this guy tonight, he is inspired”. And yes, he was, they all were. The electronics really made it – they weren’t just another extraordinary piano trio (we had that with Brad Mehldau earlier in the week), they were being daring, and it paid off. If the audience had just come to see Egberto Gismondi then they came away with having seen an amazing set from John.

I have a feeling that Three Leaps of the Gazelle is going to be in my top 5 albums of this year and this live performance convinces me of this. This was a gig where I would have welcomed a second set.

Review: John Law’s Congregation – Three Leaps of the Gazelle

John Law decided to use this evocative title because he liked the image of a constellation called Three Leaps of the Gazelle and he used it for the cover.  It is a striking cover – a far cry, and literally eons, from the contemplative cloisters of his last album (reviewed by me here ).  The origin of the phrase three leaps of the gazelle is from astronomy, three pairs of stars marking the hoof prints of a startled gazelle as it tried to escape a lion.   More interestingly, the Arabic root of Gazelle means to display amorous behavior; to court, to woo.   A ghazal is a particular type of Persian poem which most often expresses the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The gazelle is an appropriate image with its delicacy and limpid eyes.

OK so what has this to do with this very striking album? Well more than I realised on first listening.  There is an Arabic feel to this album and it’s not just Asaf’s darbuka which gives it this flavour.  Track five, Insistence, starts with the sound of crickets, you are in the desert, it is dusk, maybe there is a fire, fireflies flit around, the piano meanders in circles like a dance, a slightly sinister one with muffled piano, the drums are Arabic sounding, and then more crickets and it is dark – maybe you will see the constellation?

What I really love about John Law’s compositions is their subtlety. Effects are used sparingly, gently introduced on an ipod for live performance – the crickets in Insistence, the sound of New York traffic and chatting in a jazz club at the start of Swazz,  the delicate fall of snowflakes (what else but a glockenspiel and some very high notes?).    No danger of electronics adding stress to a performance.

He is joined on this album by Asaf Sirkis on drums and Yuri Goloubev on bass, both extraordinary.  I love Asaf’s understated performance on this album, the exception to quiet being his solo in Three Part Invention ( I know he can  play loud!) but most of the time his playing is delicate and shimmering, like a breath of wind.   And Yuri brings Russian passion and Italian flare to the trio – his own website is in English and Italian. His bowing is exquisite and is given full rein in the title track.   It goes without saying that John’s playing is awe-inspiring – a combination of heart and mind which I find irresistible.

With John you are never too far from classical music – his choice of Schumann’s Traumerei  which creeps into Finger on the Pulse has also been used by Robert Mitchell on The Embrace. His tribute to Baroque is Three Part Invention, which he started on his album Congregation, taking it to another level here. The nimbleness of Yuri’s fingering  (or is it bowing?) is breathtaking.

My favourite composition is Triadic Ballet – it’s a gentle tango with angular movements and undercurrents of passion and leaving – that ghazal poem again.

There are glorious tunes galore on this album, it will stay in my listening pile for a very long time.  There is indeed a sense of loss when you get to the end of this album, like a ghazal poem, you have been held by its spell for 78 mins.  One day I hope to see John again, so I can thank him for his magical music which touches me so deeply.


John Law, piano, keyboard, ipod

Yuri Goloubev, double bass

Asaf Sirkis, drums, percussion, glockenspiel, darbuka

All compositions by John Law

Three Leaps of the Gazelle, John Law’s Congregation featuring Yuri Goloubev and Asaf Sirkis, 2012  (33 Records 33JAZZ228) available from http://www.33jazz.com/