The Ganelin Trio – Poco-a-Poco

"Poco a Poco, the first Ganelin CD released by Leo back in 1988, was reissued late last year in a limited edition of 500 copies. If you missed it the first time around, don’t make the same mistake twice; this is not only one of the group’s finest documents, but one of the most distinctive visions of post-’60s avant-garde jazz available. The disc presents a concert recorded in Novosibirsk in February 1978. The recording quality, as might be expected, is brittle and thin; these are, after all, “officially” unauthorized recordings. Still, it takes little effort to get used to the sound, and the quality of the performance far outweighs such a caveat.

Ganelin’s music does not prove so very foreign to those with an affinity for the A.A.C.M., especially in its members’ multi-instrumentalism and theatricality, and the Dutch avant-garde, with which the Trio shares a particularly European brand of whimsy and an informed thumbing of the nose at tradition. Tarasov’s barreling drum assaults are reminiscent of Han Bennink’s similar outbursts, but, like Bennink, Tarasov is capable of delicacy and can also swing mightily. Ganelin conflates stride, boogie, modern classical pianism and post-Taylor tumult into an impressive arsenal perfectly suited to the band’s compression of decades of jazz history-and on occasion, native folk music-into the span of a show or even a single piece. And Chekasin, inscrutable and often seemingly detached, mines a vein not far removed from Roland Kirk or the Art Ensemble’s reedmen Poco a Poco captures a vivid suite (the pieces are titled “Poco 1” through “Poco 11”) that displays the band at its best, and if the element of visual theatricality is absent, it is scarcely missed. - Steve Smith"

"The Ganelin Trio in live performance must have been an impossibly seductive occasion. Most jazz life in the former Soviet Union centred around festivals which no doubt provided the usual opportunities for predictable caravans of musicians to practise their scales. The most important was the Autumn Rhythms Festival in Leningrad (present day St. Petersburg) where no band was invited to play two years in a row. The exception to the rule was always the Ganelin Trio. They played every year." - Steve Kulak

"Maybe not since the first Ornette Coleman records appeared has Western European jazz experienced quite such a shock of the totally unexpected as the Ganelin Trio produced." - The Wire


Vladimir Tarasov / drums, percussion
Vyacheslav Ganelin / piano, keyboards, dulcimer, guitar
Vladimir Chekasin / reeds, flute, ocarina, voice


Recorded live in Novosibirsk, February 1978. Remastered by Alan Mosley

Available as 320k MP3 or 16bit FLAC


1. Poco 1 - 2:39
2. Poco 2 - 6:40
3. Poco 3 - 2:59
4. Poco 4 - 10:49
5. Poco 5 - 3:07
6. Poco 6 - 9:28
7. Poco 7 - 2:19
8. Poco 8 - 5:54
9. Poco 9 - 4:16
10. Poco 10 - 8:17
11. Poco 11 - 4:05


The Ganelin Trio

The late Soviet Union was not renowned for its contributions to jazz, but it did produce at least one notable group, for in the '70s and '80s the Ganelin Trio was arguably the world's greatest free jazz ensemble. Comprised of pianist Vyacheslav Ganelin, saxophonist Vladimir Chekasin, and drummer Vladimir Tarasov, the trio's mostly improvised music was as emotionally intense as anything being created in the U.S. -- or anywhere else -- at the time. The three members were extraordinarily skilled, possessed abundant chops and imagination. In style and instrumentation, the band was similar to Cecil Taylor's trio with Sunny Murray and Jimmy Lyons. It differed, however, in several ways. First, the Ganelin Trio utilized different materials; the musicians' backgrounds dictated as much. Secondly, the instrumentation wasn't exactly the same; Ganelin frequently played piano, keyboard bass, and percussion -- sometimes simultaneously -- and Chekasin was adept at playing two saxophones at once. Finally, the Ganelin Trio was truly a band of equals. Where Taylor ultimately dominated his band, Ganelin, Chekasin, and Tarasov were consummate team players, each complementing, inspiring, and cooperating with the other. Born in Moscow, Ganelin played in jazz and dance bands as a teenager. He attended the Lithuanian State Conservatory in Vilnius, graduating in 1968. The next year, he formed a duo with Tarasov and two years later, they were joined by Chekasin and the Ganelin Trio was born. The group performed at the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree in 1976; that year they also released their first album -- Con Anima -- on Melodiya, the Soviet state record label. Leo Feigin, a Russian émigré living in London, began issuing records of the band's work on his Leo Records label, helping establish their reputation worldwide. The group eventually played jazz festivals all over Europe and the U.S. before disbanding in 1987. In addition to his jazz activities, Ganelin also taught composition at the Vilnius State Conservatory and served as music director of the Vilnius Russian Drama Theatre. Ganelin now lives in Israel; he leads another Ganelin Trio, with Petras Vysniauskas on reeds and Klaus Kugel on drums.