The Moscow school of jazz music took its first steps in the Soviet era. Despite its youth, jazz in Moscow has already established its own traditions and given birth to some bright stars in the jazz industry. The famous Igor Butman and his Moscow Jazz OrchestraRussian: Moskovskiy dzhazovyi orkestr or Московский джазовый оркестр, Alexey Kozlov and his band ArsenalRussian: Арсенал, as well as Alexey Kuznetsov, David Goloshchekin, and Anatoly Kroll play to a packed house all over the world. Yet, Moscow enjoys their performances more often than any other city. Jazz festivals, concerts and clubs are extremely popular in the capital.
Jazz was born at the turn of the 20th century as a synthesis of African and European cultures. This musical genre is based on improvisation and sophisticated rhythms, which ultimately make it one of the most complicated and exquisite of modern music styles. At first, jazz was welcomed by the Soviet Union as music of the oppressed people of Africa, but the attitude soon took a twist—jazz began to be perceived as part of the bourgeois world and became virtually banned. However, it didn’t stop the evolution of jazz, which continues today.
Usadba (Estate) JazzRussian: Усадьба Jazz is one of the most reputed major jazz festivals in Russia. Thousands of fans of good music gather in Moscow and other cities of Russia every June. Quality improvisations, the best vocalists and musicians from around the world, interesting sessions and workshops—the program is never restricted to performances but also includes various events organised by the festival hosts.
A distinctive feature of the Usadba Jazz Festival is its special, signature format. This is an open-air festival held in the most famous ancient estates of Russia. Several themed zones which bring together specific genres are set up in every estate. Experiments are not uncommon for Usadba Jazz: the genres you can hear in the festival embrace rock, funk, blues, twist, rock and roll, swing, rockabilly, Indian ragas, sufi qawwali, Latin American cumbia, and—naturally—exquisite jazz classics. Unlike most similar-scale events, Usadba Jazz always welcomes families with kids, offering free entry for those aged under 14.
The Usadba Jazz festival in Moscow has been hosted by the Arkhangelskoye PalaceRussian: usadba Arkhangelskoe or усадьба Архангельское since 2004. The best jazzmen from all over the world gather by the palace every year. The festival has hosted such world-class celebrities as Yuseef Lateef, Branford Marsalis, Robert Glasper, Omer Avital, Richard Galliano with his New Musette Quartet, etc. However, Usadba Jazz also presents new talents to the audience. Cultural discoveries are not infrequent here, and a new light may sometimes be thrown even on familiar performers. Apart from high-quality music, there are various street performances, artist presentations, trade fairs of Russian designers, games and workshops for children to please participants of all ages.
Venue: Arkhangelskoye Palace
Address: Village of Arkhangelskoye, Krasnogorsk DistrictRussian: Krasnogorskiy rayon or Красногорский район, Moscow OblastRussian: Moskovskaya oblast or Московская область
Nearest metro stations: TushinskayaRussian: Тушинская, RizhskayaRussian: Рижская, DmitrovskayaRussian: Дмитровская, VoykovskayaRussian: Войковская
Website: http://arhangelskoe.su, http://www.usadba-jazz.ru
Dates: first weekend of June (to be specified every year)
JAZZ IN THE HERMITAGE GARDEN
The annual Jazz in the Hermitage GardenRussian: Dzhaz v sadu ‘Ermitazh’ or Джаз в саду «Эрмитаж» festival has rocked the centre of Moscow for 19 years. Its history dates back to 1998, when the director of the Hermitage Garden offered jazzman Alex Rostovsky and radio presenter Mikhail Grin the opportunity to hold an open-air festival. Today, this is an internationally renowned open-air event that attracts performers from a number of countries. Yet, the festival is mostly oriented toward Russian musicians. In 2016, Jazz in the Hermitage Garden gathered Igor Butman, Vladimir Danilin, Anna Buturlina, Deborah Brown, Peter King, Lew Tabackin, Dennis Rowland, and many others.
The favorable location of the venue facilitates combining attending the festival with sightseeing. The festival lasts for a few days on the second weekend of August. It normally starts at 3 p.m. and lasts until 9 p.m. to be then continued in Esse Jazz ClubRussian: klub «Esse» or клуб «Эссе» located near the NovokuznetskayaRussian: Новокузнецкая metro station. Make sure you book a table beforehand. Dancing floors, dedicated children’s playgrounds, and recreation areas are provided in the Hermitage Garden for the duration of the festival.
Venue: Hermitage Garden
Address: 3 Karetny RyadRussian: Каретный ряд St, Moscow
Nearest metro stations: PushkinskayaRussian: Пушкинская, TverskayaRussian: Тверская, ChekhovskayaRussian: Чеховская, TrubnayaRussian: Трубная
Dates: second weekend of August (to be specified every year)
THE FUTURE OF JAZZ
The Future of JazzRussian: Budushchee dzhaza or Будущее джаза festival is organised and presented by Igor Butman, Russia’s leading saxophonist and founder of the Moscow Jazz Orchestra (formerly known as Igor Butman’s OrchestraRussian: Orkestr Igorya Butmana or Оркестр Игоря Бутмана). Butman set up this annual festival four years ago to search for young talents that would represent the Russian jazz school at the international level. However, the festival is already much more than it was intended to be – not only has it gathered a real national team of young Russian jazzmen but it has also introduced some ingenious musicians from China and the US to the public at large. Whizz kids perform side by side with recognised masters of improvisation. They can also present their original songs at this festival.
Venue: Tchaikovsky Concert HallRussian: Kontsertnyi zal imeni P.I. Chaykovskogo or Концертный зал имени П.И. Чайковского
Address: 4/31 Triumfalnaya SqRussian: Triumfalnaya ploshchad or Триумфальная площадь, Moscow
Nearest metro stations: MayakovskayaRussian: Маяковская, Pushkinskaya, Tverskaya
Website (of the venue): http://meloman.ru
Every autumn, Moscow hosts the Long ArmsRussian: Dlinnye ruki or Длинные руки avant-garde music festival. The mastermind behind this project was Nick Dmitriev, TV and radio presenter, producer, journalist, expert in avant-garde music, and the founder of the Dom Cultural CentreRussian: Kul’turny tsentr ‘Dom’ or Культурный центр «Дом». He played a tremendous role in promoting progressive music genres. Artists, writers, and musicians are united today under the roof of Dom. Apart from the concert program, the festival also offers a wide range of educational talks and workshops.
Venue: Dom Cultural Centre
Address: Bld. 4, 24 Bolshoy Ovchinnikovsky LaneRussian: Bolshoy Ovchinnikovskiy pereulok or Большой Овчинниковский переулок, Moscow
Nearest metro stations: Novokuznetskaya, TretyakovskayaRussian: Третьяковская
JAZZ SUMMER(Russian: Dzhazovoe leto or Джазовое лето)
This is a series of summer concerts in KolomenskoyeRussian: Коломенское. Moscow musicians treat festival guests with world-famous jazz compositions, intricate improvisations, and self-penned works during a few consecutive evenings. The festival organisers are anxious to present the diversity of existing jazz music genres. Concerts are held in a pavilion near the Palace of Tsar Alexey MikhailovichRussian: dvorets tsarya Alekseya Mikhaylovicha or дворец царя Алексея Михайловича, which is an indoor venue, well-heated and equipped with everything necessary to relax in all types of weather. Tickets can be purchased at the palace box offices and early-bird tickets are available.
Venue: Palace of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich in Kolomenskoye
Address: 27 2-ya Dyakovo Gorodishche StRussian: 2-ya ulitsa Dyakovo Gorodische or 2-я улица Дьяково Городище, Moscow
Nearest metro stations: KashirskayaRussian: Каширская, KolomenskayaRussian: Коломенская
This international jazz festival has been held in Moscow since 2013. The best of modern Russian jazzmen perform at several venues during five days in November. The nightclub format of the event is probably what makes it special. Jazz producer and music journalist Viktor Radzievsky is responsible for the organisation and development of the project.
UNION OF COMPOSERS
The Union of Composers Jazz ClubRussian: Dzhaz-klub «Soyuz kompozitorov» or Джаз-клуб «Союз композиторов» was born in 2007 and has earned a reputation as one of the most unique music venues in Moscow. This is a small, intimate yet quite spacious venue accommodating about 100–150 people. It is very centrally located, just a few minutes’ walk from the metro and the most important sights of the capital.
The club is currently diversifying its interests, going beyond purely jazz music. Musical programs are offered each evening. Of course, jazz music genres prevail, but the place is also worth a visit for fans of flamenco, Latin dance and tango. A special dancing project called Tablao Flamenсo is hosted in the club on Mondays.
The place is also renowned for its rich menu. It offers European cuisine and special types of meals (seasonal, fasting, low-fat) with a focus on healthy eating. However, the gastronomic masterpieces by the chef, the impressive wine list, and the specially designed variety of freshly-squeezed juice mixes will cost you dearly. To access the club, you should buy a ticket for a specific event. Prices vary from 500 to 3600 rubles, depending on the type of seat (at the bar counter or at an individual table).
Address: Bld. 2, 8/10 Bryusov LaneRussian: Brusov pereulok or Брюсов переулок, Moscow
Nearest metro stations: Okhotny RyadRussian: Охотный ряд, Pushkinskaya, Tverskaya, Chekhovskaya
ESSE JAZZ CAFÉRussian: Dzhaz-kafe ‘Esse’ or Джаз-кафе «Эссе»
This is one of the best jazz clubs in Moscow, which holds international festivals, too. Homey cuisine, a cozy atmosphere and live music are the best ingredients for a wonderful evening. The club is also close to the metro, and prices are pretty affordable. Admission is free on some days, while coming on other days involves buying a ticket. The latter is normally the case with famous performers. Fee-based events are announced beforehand on the website.
Address: Bld. 3a, 27 PyatnitskayaRussian: Пятницкая St, Moscow
Nearest metro stations: Tretyakovskaya, Novokuznetskaya
IGOR BUTMAN JAZZ CLUBRussian: Dzhaz-klub Igorya Butmana or Джаз-клуб Игоря Бутмана
Igor Butman is one of Russia’s leading jazzmen and an outstanding saxophonist in charge of the Moscow Jazz Orchestra. His club may be regarded as the heir and legal successor of the famous LeClub. It is referred to as the epicentre of Moscow jazz and has been ranked among the world’s best jazz clubs a number of times. Igor Butman currently owns two clubs: one in TagankaRussian: Таганка and one in PolyankaRussian: Полянка. Evening lineups are determined long in advance. Butman’s Big Band plays in Taganka on Mondays, which makes the club the only place in the capital where you can hear the best jazz orchestra performing on a chamber stage.
Both clubs are within walking distance from the metro and contain restaurants with individual tables and comfy chairs. The stages are small, but very close to the audience. The clubs offer European and Russian cuisine, with the average bill setting you back about 2000 rubles per person. However, it’s not the menu that makes these places worth a visit. Tickets for concerts are required to enter the clubs; a ticket guarantees a seat at a table.
Address: 21 Verkhnyaya RadishchevskayaRussian: Verhnyaya Radischevskaya or Верхняя Радищевская St, Moscow
Nearest metro station: TaganskayaRussian: Таганская
Address: 27 Bolshaya PolyankaRussian: Большая Полянка St, Moscow
Nearest metro stations: Polyanka
OTHER JAZZ CLUBS IN MOSCOW
Address: Bld. 4, 24 Bolshoy Ovchinnikovsky Lane, Moscow
Nearest metro station: Novokuznetskaya
Akademichesky Jazz ClubRussian: dzhaz-klub ‘Akademicheskiy’ or джаз-клуб«Академический»
Address: 1 DonskayaRussian: Донская St, Moscow
Nearest metro stations: OktyabrskayaRussian: Октябрьская, DobryninskayaRussian: Добрынинская
ALEXEY KOZLOV CLUBRussian: Klub Alekseya Kozlova or Клуб Алексея Козлова
Address: Bld. 2, 16 Olimpiysky AvenueRussian: Olimpiyskiy prospekt or Олимпийский проспект, Moscow
Nearest metro station: Prospekt MiraRussian: Проспект мира
Address: 18 Bolshaya BronnayaRussian: Bolshaya Bronnaya or Большая Бронная St, Moscow
Nearest metro stations: Pushkinskaya, Chekhovskaya,Tverskaya
RHYTHM & BLUES CAFERussian: Ritm Blyuz Kafe or Ритм Блюз Кафе
Address: Bld. 2, 19 Starovagankovsky LaneRussian: Starovagankovskiy pereulok or Староваганьковский переулок, Moscow
Nearest metro stations: Biblioteka im. LeninaRussian: Библиотека им. Ленина, Alexandrovsky SadRussian: Александровский сад
B.B. KING CLUB
Address: 4/2 Sadovaya-SamotechnayaRussian: Садовая-Самотечная St, Moscow
Nearest metro station: Tsvetnoy BulvarRussian: Цветной бульвар