Oleg Kireyev
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Oleg Kireyev

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The best kept secret in music


"Jazz in the Ural tradition"

Oleg Kireyev, born in Bashkiria (aka Bashkortostan, more on which follows), is a dynamite soprano and tenor saxophonist who smiles broadly when he asks audiences to chime in with Mongolian throat-singing and quick-tonguing techniques. In New York City, a small group of listeners at Symphony Space complied, giving Kireyev's Feng Shui Theatre quartet, making its Stateside debut, a sweet welcome.
There's little need of further evidence that the impulse to play music with dynamic rhythms, improvisational freedoms and individual originality is a world-wide phenomenon -- but it's fun to hear accomplished musicians from afar in New York (or anywhere). Kireyev is a young-looking 45 year old whose combination of Moldavian and Asian leitmotifs with electric guitar, electric bass, rockin' drums and percussion by Senegalese Ndiaga Sambe is popular in Moscow (where he runs his own jazz club), Poland and the UK, among other places his Feng Shui Jazz Theatre has toured. He is credited as being the first musician in Russia to popularize a trans-ethnic "World Music" style, as he did in 1985 with the ensemble Orlan. Ten years later he won a scholarship to study with American alto saxophonist Bud Shank, developing such confidence and facility that he looks ahead, not back.

Kireyev's sound does not seem completely unprecedented -- Mandala, his 2008 release on the NYC-based Jazzheads label, has a New Agey-fusion feel that harkens back to the '70s, with modal melodies and liberal use of digital delay. Bassist Victor Matoukhin (from Ukraine) is in thrall to Jaco Pastorius, while guitarist Valery Panfilov (from Moldova) employs sound processing devices for huge chords a la Jaco's one-time roommate Pat Metheny, though he comps like he came up in grungier garage bands and has some stunning surprises in hand, solo-wise. Drummer Ildar Nafigov (from Tatarstan) pushed the backbeat. What's cool (to me, at least) about the result is how unabashed the band is in swinging genuinely hard on chestnut exotica like Puerto Rican-born Ellington trombonist Juan Tizol's "Caravan," which Kireyev turned to as an encore, and seems born to blow, dervish-like.
Having trouble locating Bashkiria? It's in the Ural mountains, a southwestern region of what used to be the Soviet Union on the border of Europe and Asia, heavily forested, oil and mineral-rich, populated mostly by Turkic Bashkirs, Tatars and Muslims. Kireyev speaks fluent English, and intends to bring his band back to the U.S. in about six months. Why? As he said in an Upper West Side Cuban-Chinese restaurant after the set, he doesn't care for President Bush or our other governmental representatives, but "people are nice everywhere," so why not?
http://www.artsjournal.com/jazzbeyondjazz/2008/04/jazz_globalization_feng_shui_f.html - Howard Mandel

"Song For Sonny"

Review: Wow! I said, and settled in to listen to a new soprano saxophone performer from Russia! Incredibly good and smooth, full of verve, and style, and class, and that is what Russian soprano saxophonist Oleg Kirejev is all about in this CD release titled SONG FOR SONNY.

I was reminded of the great saxophonists of the 1920s - 1930s, and Bud Shank and Coltrane, and several more! Oleg Kirejev has a great, unique and unusual sound, and this CD showcases his gifts as a saxophonist.

This CD will delight any jazz listener, and another gem on this collection is jazz pianist Joachim Mencel whose stylings are original and flawless. One of the finest contemporary jazz pianists!

The selections total 8, and each one is lively and full of excellent musicianship. The selections are Hermann Hupfeld's "As Time Goes By," Jimmy Van Heusen's "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," Fain & Webster's "Secret Love," Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Wave," Sonny Rollins' "Tenor Madness," Mercer/Van Heusen's "I Thought About You," Ray & de Paul's "You Don't Know What Love Is," and the highly original Oleg Kirejev composition titled "Song For Sonny."

For mainstream contemporary jazz, SONG FOR SONNY is a must have for jazz listeners who enjoy good soprano saxophone music! Oleg Kirejev's SONG FOR SONNY is a pleaser in all aspects and has excellent production values. Great musicianship from start to finish! "Wave" deserves much airtime play as do all of these finely crafted and brilliant performances. SONG FOR SONNY deserves its five stars and good solid listener support for its freshness and melodic perspective. SONG FOR SONNY is a winner in any language, anywhere, anytime! Excellent! - JazzReview.com®, Lee Prosser

"Return of a Russian with love for Birmingham"

Russian saxophonist Oleg Kireyev has become a regular visitor to Birmingham's jazz scene. Martin Longley previews his appearance at Andy Hamilton's new venue in Bearwood tonight Despite hailing from the obscure city of Ufa, in the central Russian Urals, tenor saxophonist Oleg Kii'eyev has a habit of turning up here in Birmingham when he's least expected. Since his first visit in 1997, Oleg has established a successful relationship with Sutton Cold field-based manager Jim Garrity. He played several gigs at that year's Birmingham Jazz Festival, guesting with American vibes player Ray Alexander and our own Andy Hamilton. Tonight, Kireyev's quartet will be playing at the Bearwood Corks Club. This is Andy Hamilton's new home, making a switch from his old Monday night at The Bear to a new Thursday night residency which looks set to become equally established.
Kireyev flies over to the UK once or twice a year, for a series of his own dates, but through Jim's connections he'll often be found sitting in with the likes of Andy Hamilton and Chris Bowden.
Only a few weeks ago, Oleg joined alto saxophonist, Peter King at one of the most crowded (and storming) sessions at the now-defunct Bonedangles.
Kireyev is a fiery player, with a vigorously aggressive delivery.
"I started to play in Ufa, my native city," he says. "I finished school as a piano player, and then I went to college, playing jazz saxophone with my own band."
He'd started to absorb sounds by Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, then delved further back in time to Lester Young, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins. Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny also made their impressions, although this isn't clearly evident from Oleg's own performances.
His first live experience was with a military band, but by 1984 he'd assembled the ambitious Orlan group, playing a mixture of fusion, jazz rock and national folk music. Orlan existed between 1986 and 1991, releasing their Bashkir Legends album on Melodiya, the Russian state label, in 1989.
"I started to have more interest in playing mainstream jazz," says Kireyev. "I lived in Poland for three years, in Krakow. Poland was good for jazz. It had big support from the government. Now, as capitalism comes to Poland, jazz has support, but not usually from the government. It was a good time for Polish musicians."
Most of the Russian jazz that's been heard in the UK comes from the more extreme side of the music. In the early 1980s, Leo Feigin's Leo Records was instrumental in exposing the works of Sergey Kuryokhin and the Ganelin Trio.
Kireyev admires and respects their efforts, but points out that there is a big Russian scene that's more concerned with the mainline jazz tradition.
Kireyev recorded Song For Sonny while he was in Poland, leading a trio of local players which included pianist Joachim Mencel. A few years later, he made A British Concert with the Keith Bill Trio. Then, Oleg visited the States where he studied with alto saxophonist Bud Shank, At this time, he also joined up with drummer Adam Nussbaum and pianist Hal Galper.
As well as interpreting standards, Oleg is an active composer.
"In Russia, I have my new Feng Shui Jazz Project," he says. "It's a very clean energy to the music, as you might expect."
This outfit has only been together for a year, and there are imminent plans to record an album.
A few days ago, Kireyev played at the Ponty-pool Jazz Festival, then continued with a trio of London dates, including the Bull's Head. He's also been gigging with trumpeter DickPearce, a long-serving Ronnie Scott sideman. - The Birmingham Post, text by Martin Longley

""Garden "Hermitage", the Moscow jazz heart""

Three days jazz heart of Moscow was to the address of: Karetny Ryad, 3. These anatomic features are easily explainable: from August, 19 till August, 21st there passed the eighth under the account the international festival "Jazz in the Hermitage garden". For these three days had time to act 16 collectives - accordingly, the capital has heard 16 hours of a jazz per masterly execution of Russian, Georgian, German, turkish, French, Dutch and, certainly, the American musicians...

The third day turned out to be the most crowded. There were no free place even on the grass near stage, and some people were watching the show on feet. Having no opportunity to see the stage, some people listened to the music on the benches in the center of the garden. The Sunday concert was the longest one – it lasted for the 6 hours, one hour more then two previous. The ensemble of Alexey Podymkin (keyboards) opened the evening program. The next was the Exotic Band (Oleg Kireev’s project, sax). The music of “Feng Shui Jazz theatre” (Oleg’s projects have many names) had much in common with jazz mainstream but nevertheless it was most likely the best performance that evening. Guitar as a percussion instrument, tom-toms, a pair of maracas, Asian and Arabic vocals and Kireev’s mantra murmuring - all that reminded a kind of ritual, worshiping the Gods of Music. Sometimes Oleg looked like a real shaman. A shaman playing a terrific solo on the tenor sax – you’d better saw that! To cap that all, in one of the compositions a guitarist Valery Panfilov started to play grunge riffs, sounding so surprising on the jazz-stylistic festival!" - Jazz in Russia, Sergey Bondarkov

""A Russian sax player with a reputation for hard swing and high excitement...""

"A Russian sax player with a reputation for hard swing and high excitement..."

- The Express Star, GBR.

"The tenor saxophonist from Ufa"

"The tenor saxophonist from Ufa in the Urals is establishing a reputation as an entertaining and skilled musician... Revolutionary Russian reedman Oleg Kireyev , a surprise hit of the recent Birmingham Jazz Festival... the Happy Seals were blowing Crusaders style funk with the extraordinary Russian tenorman Oleg Kireyev ..."

- The Evening Mail, GBR.


"Bashkir Legends" The Orlan Group Led By Oleg Kireyev - (LP) Recorded: 1989 (Russia)
"Romantic" (tape) Recorded: 1994 (Russia)
"Song For Sonny" (CD) 1995 (Poland)
"Romantics of Jazz" (CD) 1998 (Russia)
"Love Letters" (CD) Recorded: 2000 (Russia)
"A British Concert" (CD) Recorded: 2002 (UK)
"Tea Art" (CD) Recorded: 2003 (Russia)
"Mandala" (CD) Recorded: 2004 (Russia)
"Galaxy" (CD) Recorded: 2006 (Russia)
"Eurasia" (CD) Recorded: 2007 (Russia)
"Mandala" (CD) New edition Recorded: 2008 (USA)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Oleg Kireyev has always been fascinated by Bashkir folklore and was the first
musician in Russia to practice ethno-jazz incorporating Bashkirian folk
instruments and guttural singing techniques.
In 1985, as world music was gaining in popularity, Oleg formed a band called
Orlan which became a phenomenal success in Russia. In the early 1990’s he
spent three years in Poland and took part in the Jazz Jamboree in Warsaw and
played with members of the Miles Davis rhythm section. Almost every night he
performed in the best jazz clubs with Poland’s high caliber jazz musicians. At the
same time he was artistic director of a jazz club in Krakow called Ogrudek.
In 1994, Oleg won a scholarship to Bud Shank’s jazz school and came to the U.S.
where he was a soloist in the All Stars Students Band and gained additional
experience playing with professional jazz musicians.
In 1996, the Oleg Kireyev Quartet was invited to perform at the 30th anniversary
of the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland where he was awarded a diploma for
outstanding performance and received international recognition.
Oleg performed at the Birmingham Jazz Festival and the Earling Jazz Festival in
London in 1997 and has toured England annually since then. His CD Love
Letters was recorded in 2000 and had excellent sales in England.
After numerous experiments in the area of world music, Oleg created the Feng
Shui Jazz Theater that includes folk influences from all over the world. The CD
Mandala was released in Russia in 2004 and is now being released in the US on
the New York based label, Jazzheads.
The Feng Shui Jazz Theater is the result of Oleg Kireyev’s creative explorations
into music that combines traditional swing, Bashkir guttural singing, Moldavian
tunes, African rhythms, and improvisational jazz.