Chelyabinsk State Philharmonic Society Regional State Budgetary Institution of Culture



Educational project of Russian and American jazz musicians organized by the Chelyabinsk State Philharmonic.

Discussion was devoted to the issues of popularization of jazz and international communications of the Chelyabinsk State Philharmonic in the framework of the What a Wonderful World International Jazz Festival.
Discussion contributed to the popularization of jazz among a wide audience of the present-day media environment. For the first time in the region, joint music-making by musicians of Russia and the USA by means of IT technologies became possible.
Project also contributed to the further use of Internet resources for the development of international musical cooperation and practically proved the possibility of holding such events where musicians and artists from other countries can participate.


How to come up with an outstanding online cultural project?

Online discussion What is Jazz Improvisation? Myths and Reality is educational in nature and is dedicated to the popularization of jazz, which is essential for the modern jazz community. Over the years, jazz has transformed from easy music for leisure and dance into a sophisticated musical art hosted by philharmonic venues around the world. But in order to understand the special metrics, rhythm and harmony of jazz nature, it is necessary to have at least a general idea about its history and come to understand its unique "vocabulary". This knowledge helps musicians from different countries and generations almost immediately find a "common language" on the stage. Natalia Rikker, the Project author and the Art Director of the What a Wonderful World International Jazz Festival, initially planned an international jazz music program and a live meeting of jazz musicians from Russia and the USA - Valery Sundarev, the Artistic Director of the Ural Dixieland Band, and Michael Tracy, the Director of the Music School of the University of Louisville where Jamey Aebersold studied. However, offline meeting could not be organized in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was decided to arrange the musician's "dialogue" at the Chelyabinsk Philharmonic's online platform and make it not only musical, but verbal as well. This dialogue's main subjects were "What is jazz improvisation?" and "How to learn to understand jazz?". Videos showing the jazz trio by Valery Sundarev and the saxophone duo by Michael Tracy and \Samir Kambarov were prepared in advance.

What hidden pitfalls should be kept in mind?

The most difficult thing in the implementation of the online discussion was a technical question: is it possible to hold a simultaneous jam session when musicians are separated by the Atlantic Ocean? The latest videoconferencing system provided by the Ministry of Information Technologies of the Chelyabinsk Region helped to implement this bold idea. Though being separated by 9164 km, the jazzmen were able to play as a single band. Minimum sound delay of tenths of a second, allowed Sundarev and Tracy to hear each other almost without any losses, accompany each other's solos and perform tutti episodes in unison. The experiment of simultaneous online session was carried out for the first time in the history of jazz in the Southern Urals.

Why do we need projects like yours? What is their value to people?

Any project must meet the global professional and personal goals of its author. In other words, the project should work for your growth and draw attention to your activity. That's exactly what happened with our online discussion. This project helped to maintain and strengthen the links between Russian and American playmates in the period of self-isolation of 2020, as well as to put forward their tutoring and creative activity for a new audience who may not have known about these jazzmen before. That is why we chose the most obvious and pressing topic for discussion and tried to explicate the nature of jazz in simple words accompanied with musical examples. It is important that musicians from different countries spoke about this kind of art. We think this was another proof of the versatility of the jazz language. The video was left in permanent access for a wide audience on the website of the Chelyabinsk State Philharmonic and on its social media accounts so that this discussion became a "working material" for those who get acquainted with jazz.