Natalia Skvortsova, “Living People”: “The most interesting thing in jazz is happening now!”
Famous among lovers of contemporary author jazz, the group “Living People” (or Live People) is already releasing its fourth studio album of copyright material. Team leader, pianist and composer Natalya Skvortsova told stereo.ru about how her wonderful team has developed and how they manage to emerge playing original music – fresh and innovative. Which, although quite complicated rhythmically and harmoniously, is charged with drive and bright emotions.
Although the author of these lines has long been interested in modern domestic jazz, he learned about “Living People” quite by accident – through a mechanical channel, so to speak. I just received the next newsletter from the Moscow independent label Fancy Music. He reacted with skepticism: what kind of “People” – is there more to record and release or something? It turned out that there really is no one to compare with this collective. People are a rare jazz supergroup for our country: the composition has changed, but it has always been the best, most creative Moscow jazz musicians. The group plays almost exclusively copyrighted material, which Skvortsova writes in her own peculiar manner. And as a pianist, she is also extremely attractive: here all the “smart” references – from Cecil Taylor to Brad Meldau – and also her own sound, phrasing, drive … “Living People” is smart jazz that “pumps”. All three of their albums – and I’m sure the upcoming fourth – can be put on the shelf with the best examples of modern jazz / improvisational music. They are the place there. They are non-national.
How did you manage to create such a team that gained almost cult status in Moscow, and what to expect from the new album? The leader of the group Natalia Skvortsova told Stereo.ru about this.
– Natasha, where did you come from, so unique? What is your creative path? – It began with an ordinary Moscow music school. Then in Gnesinka I studied the theory of music. Then she entered the College of Improvisational Music – and only there in my life appeared jazz. In between all these educational institutions, I played both jazz rock and art rock. Finally, I went to study at the Institute of Culture, “Kulek,” which I graduated as a jazz pianist and arranger / leader of the ensemble. This is if the documents. In fact, people taught me. I listened to records, listened to those with whom I studied. Jazz for me began with the album “Love Supreme”, oddly enough. Before that I did not consider jazz good and serious music – I thought that it was just loud, without nuances, jazzmen supposedly did not work with sound production, their texts were not interesting … But thanks to fellow students I listened to “Love Supreme”. By the way, I don’t like the mainstream, I don’t listen at home. Only selectively: something from the Ellington Orchestra, Miles Davis. But I mainly listen to what has been created over the past 20-30 years. This is the space in which I live. The most interesting thing in jazz is what is happening now, because new directions have absorbed everything: jazz, and the strongest academic school, and national cultures, plus rock, electronica, hip-hop … These musicians know everything!
– Who exactly do you love – just like a fan?
– Yes, a lot of people! Of course, Brad Meldau, the late Esbjörn Svensson – these are generally the most beloved. But I can’t listen to Avishai Cohen, because I have long memorized all the records of all his works! Some projects by Joshua Redman are very good. Chris Potter and his ECM album Imaginary Cities is simply Bach’s composing level. And his album “The Sirens” is something completely different, small composition, transparent sound. Interestingly, the first time I heard Potter was about 15 years ago, and then I did not like it, it seemed flat. And five years later, it really opened up! Another of the outstanding ones is our former compatriots: trumpeter Alex Sipyagin and double bass player Boris Kozlov. And their Opus 5 project with American pianist Dave Kikoski. A completely new love is the Norwegian pianist Turd Gustavsen, he came this summer to the Manor.Jazz festival.
– How do you compose? What is the relationship between the written notes and improvisation? – Firstly, to compose, you need to drive everyone out of your room and leave yourself half a day of free time. Drink coffee, sit at a well-tuned instrument … In short, you just need free time and a free head.