Alim Nastaev
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Alim Nastaev

Louisville, Kentucky, United States | SELF

Louisville, Kentucky, United States | SELF
Band Jazz Funk


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"Jazz at UofL has no boundaries"

Jazz may be America's native art form, but you would never guess that from the foreign accents that can be heard outside the third-floor offices of the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies program at the University of Louisville's School of Music.
Jazz at UofL has no boundaries

Mixolegion in Russia

There you are likely to hear students from a variety of continents - all of whom feel at home in the United States, the birthplace of jazz.

One of those students is Alim Nastaev, a native of Russia who is working on his master's degree.

"I wanted to come to the U.S. because this is where it began," Nastaev said.

He came well prepared. A graduate of the most prestigious Russian jazz program at the Rostov State Rachmaninoff Conservatory, Nastaev is noted in his homeland as a virtuoso jazz guitar player, performer, arranger and composer.

He has performed at major music festivals in Russia and achieved international acclaim at Switzerland's 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival Jazz Guitar Competition. In 2007, he received a Fender Scholarship Award, Outstanding Musicianship Diploma and a Berklee Scholarship Award to attend Boston's Berklee College of Music as a full-time student.

Instead, Nastaev chose to accept a two-year full scholarship to attend UofL as a graduate student and teaching assistant in the jazz program.

"UofL is well known and highly regarded in the Russian jazz community by hosting Open World jazz concerts," Nastaev said. "Mike Tracy (music professor) is a traveling ambassador for jazz and helped me find a way to come here."

Nastaev has joined with other master's students to form a group called Mixolegion.

"Just like a 'foreign legion,' we bring a mix of styles as well as our backgrounds to our compositions and performances," he said.

Mixolegion is formed by Anderson Pessoa, a saxophone player who has played all over Brazil, receiving honors for music composition; Saulo DeAlmeida, bass player who played violincello for the National Symphony Orchestra in Brazil; Daniel Falter, whose signature drum style was formed as a member of the West African Drum and Music Ensemble in South Carolina; and Kentuckian Craig Twedell, who has played with the Temptations and was outstanding soloist at the 2004 and 2005 UofL Jazz Fests.

The group completed a debut tour of Russia last fall - an idea of Nastaev's that Tracy helped turn into realty by drawing on both their connections with the Russian jazz community.

For 10 days, Mixolegion performed nightly at jazz festivals and other venues. Tracy joined them by day to give workshops on jazz and improvisation.

"The trip was an eye-opening experience for all," Tracy said. "The world is becoming smaller and jazz is absorbing many influences. We gave audiences opportunity to hear new compositions written by the members that have been influenced from many sources. Our students received an immediate response to their music from appreciative audiences."

Nastaev took advantage of the opportunity to introduce and explain as much of Russian culture as he could to the other members of the band.

"Now I'm pretty sure that all the guys love the Russian language, food and the subway in Moscow," he said.

Mixolegion now has a new venture - its first CD - and is giving everyone an opportunity to be part of the experience.

In true jazz and American entrepreneurial style, they are improvising an online "micropatronage" program to fund the effort. They have incentives for donors to give $10 and up.

Nastaev will graduate in December and already is reflecting on his last year at UofL.

"It is a really awesome experience for me and a great investment in my career," he said. "I came to the U.S. with another culture, traditions and mentality. Now, I feel like I have a greater appreciation and vision of the world where we live. I was born in a little city in southern Russia and now I'm fulfilling my dream to study in the United States."

The only real passport he needed was a passion for music and the desire to play it as never before.
- UofL Magazine (article by John Chamberlain)

"Student Jazz Group From Louisville Heads to Russia"

For most school bands, hitting the road usually means at best a trip to some school festival or competiion or at worst a lousy school bus ride to a neighboring school for a competition. However, select students at the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies Program at the University of Louisville are going about as far as possible to perform their music and compete against other groups. Mixolegion, the University of Louisvlle’s International Quintet under the direction of Mike Tracy are headed in a few days to Russia where they will perform at various venues and festivals over a period of about 10 days. Members of Mixolegion include Anderson Pessoa (saxophone - Brazil), Craig Tweddell (trumpet -USA), Alim Nastaev (guitar - Russia), Saulo De Almeida (bass - Brazil), and Daniel Falter (drums - USA). In addition, Professor Tracy will be conducting master classes in Dubna and Kimry as well as in Rostov at the Taganrog College of Arts (where Anton Chekhov was born) and The Rostov State Conservatoire.
Tracy explained that the trip to this unique destination came about as a result of a long-term relationship between his program and Russian jazz organizations. “The University of Louisville and our Jazz Studies Program have had an on-going relationship with Russian jazz musicians and organizations primarily through our participating in the Open World Leadership Program which is supported in part by the Library of Congress,” said Tracy. “We have hosted six jazz groups through Open World since 2004 and will host another in February 2010. Part of the experience for our students is getting the opportunity to visit Russia and play alongside musicians who have traveled to Louisville. While this is my fourth trip, it’s the second university group to visit Russia.”

For at least one of the members of the group, the trip will less exotic, but no less significant. “One of Mixolegion's members is Alim Nastaev who is from Russia and a graduate student in our program,” noted Tracy. “He is from the Rostov region and knew the organizers of their jazz festival. He contacted them about whether they would be interested in our performing. They jumped at the chance for our group to participate in their festitval and we were equally excited to attend. I was then able to connect with other presenters once the Rostov dates were secured. Before long we had a ten-day tour set, performing every night. In addition to performing, I will be giving workshops on jazz and improvisation with the assistance of the group.”

Savvy parents of college-aged kids may be wondering how much the bill came to per student, not that we’d not pay any money to enable our kids to have an experience like that. The answer, said Tracy, is about $1,500 per student. “The vast majority of the cost was for air, trains, and Russian Visa. Festivals and host organizations are providing most living accommodations and meals. Not bad I think. It’s a great experience for about $150 a day.”

Tracy hopes the students will learn about more than performing jazz for new audiences. “There are numerous learning opportunities for our students,” said Tracy. “First, getting to see another country first hand. Two of the students are from Brazil while two are from the USA but have never been outside the country. So this trip is an eye-opening experience for all. Playing alongside their peers and hearing musicians from countries can only expand their knowledge and appreciation of jazz is another plus.”

As much as the kids will get from the trip, Tracy expects that audiences in Russia will benefit as well. “The world is becoming smaller and jazz is absorbing many influences. This tour is an excellent example of that change. Our group is also performing all original selections written by the members, thus giving audiences an opportunity to hear new compositions that have been influenced from many sources. Our students will be receiving an immediate response to their music from appreciative audiences.”

Here is the itinerary of Tracy and Mixolegion while in Russia:

November 20 - Yaroslavl at the Jazz Center.
November 21 - Dubna at the 7th international MuzEnergo Festival with Kaulakau (Spain), Interstellar Overdrive Trio (France), SymFusion Orchestra (Moscow, Russia).
November 22 - Kimry at the MuzEnergo festival with Nick Kulikov Quartet (Arkhangelsk/Moscow, Russia), Youlia Malikova’s *Magnit* (Moscow, Russia), Natalia Blinova*s *Priot* ensemble (Moscow, Russia). Visit for information the festivals in Dubna and Kimry.
November 23 - Moscow at a local club.
November 25 - Taganrog at Taganrog Culture Centre
November 26 - Shakti at Shakti Theatre
November 27 & 28 - Rostov-on-the-Don at the International Jazz Festival 2009
- JazzTimes Magazine (article by Lee Mergner)


"...Alim Nastaev's trio is awesome sample of a classical jazz-rock-fusion with prevalence of rigidly sounding masterly guitar..." - MUZENERGO press




Guitar player, arranger, composer, Alim Nastaev was born in Nalchik, a small town in the South of Russia in the Caucasus region.

Alim expressed his initial interest in music when he was a little boy. His first musical instrument was an old acoustic guitar. However, Alim became heavily engaged in sports, and he played soccer at a professional level representing the USSR junior team as well as some major league teams of Russia. However, after a serious knee trauma Alim’s sports career as a soccer player had to stop. Alim re-discovered his passion for guitar and began self-education.

Early on Alim’s music interest was in Blues-Rock style. It was not until later on that he became fascinated by Jazz and its many forms. Alim was accepted as a student to Rostov State (S.V. Rachmaninov) Conservatory, the most prestigious Jazz School in Russia. Alim’s teacher was Vic Boreal, famous virtuoso jazz guitar player, performer, arranger and composer. This relationship served as a foundation for Alim’s further accomplishments as a musician.

In 2003 Alim successfully participated in Dodj International Jazz Festival (Ukraine), Fifth All-Russian Jazz Competition which takes place once every three years and took a second prize (Russia). In 2004 Alim was a part of the First International Instrumental Guitarists Festival (Moscow, Russia). In 2005 Alim took Grand-Prix at the International Competition "Many-sided Guitar" nominating in Blues, Jazz, Rock and Classic (Moscow). In both 2005 and 2006 Alim was a participant of Rostov International Jazz Festival (Rostov-on-Don, Russia) followed by "MUZENERGO Jazz Festival 2008" (Dubna, Moscow region, Russia), "Cherkasy Jazz International 2008 " (March, Ukraine), "Sumy Jazz Festival 2008" (April, Ukraine), and International Jazz Festival "Usadba Jazz 2008" (the biggest open-air jazz festival in Russia).

In July 2006 Alim was honored to be one of eight musicians worldwide to be a part of the most prestigious world jazz festival and competition "Montreux Jazz Festival 2006 - Montreux International Jazz Guitar Competition" (Montreux, Switzerland).

In August 2007 Alim has received "Fender Scholarship Award" for his participation in Berklee Summer Guitar Session (Boston, MA, USA). He worked with such talented jazz guitarists as Jon Damian, John Baboian and Bruce Saunders. In Boston, Alim has received a Diploma "In Recognition of Outstanding Musicianship" and "Berklee Scholarship Award" to attend Berklee College of Music as a full-time student.

In 2008 Alim received a two-year full scholarship as to attend the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies Program at the University of Louisville a graduate student and teaching assistant.

Alim’s professional career as a musician made it possible for him to have worked together with some accomplished musicians around the world like "Victor Borilov Quartet" (Russia), Nikky McCoy (vocal, USA), Andrei Quint (piano, Spain), Patti Ballinas (drums, Spain), Tyrone Wheeler (bass, USA), Mike Tracy (sax, USA), Jimmy Gallagher (sax, England), Jaime Ginard Palou (drums, Spain), Worthy Davis (vocal, Germany-USA), Onita Boone (vocal, USA).

Currently, Alim resides in the USA spending a lot of time performing as well as working on his third CD release.