Friday, June 28, 2013

Painting Red Square

Danny; Moscow to Kaluga to Moscow, 6/28-29/13

We are on the train from Yaroslavl to Moscow this morning, a four hour trip heading back to perform an outdoor concert with the Moscow Symphony. We are returning from an overnight stay in Yaroslavl where we played on a Jazz cruise that took us down the Volga river towards the Caspian Sea. I'll be writing about that a little later, in the mean time let's get back to Red Square.

We walked from the Bolshoi towards the Kremlin and Red Square. You can see the old KGB building at the end of the street in the previous picture.

The Parliament building

the walls of the Kremlin and the portal into Red Square

One of the many beautiful churches the we have seen, this one by the Red Square.

One of the great Marshals that is a hero and instrumental in defeating Napoleon in the war if 1812

The guys walking along the lined parade route towards one of the recognizable buildings in the world.
It was built during the reign of Ivan the Terrible and when it was completed, he thought it the most beautiful of all buildings. He had the eyes of the architect gouged out so that it could never be duplicated anywhere else.

We also saw Lennin's tomb and the eternal flame.

I really felt like a tourist here in the same way I feel when I visit Washington D.C. There are many similarities between the Mall and Red square, but even more between the people who visit both places.

a grotto built using parts from earlier walls and antiquities of the area.

The beautiful gardens near the Kremlin. Russians love flowers.

Moscow at night is stunning and beautiful, we walked on into the night and reveled in all it's magnificence and wonder.

White Knights

Danny; Moscow, 6/27/13 Evening:
After our rehearsal my percussion student and friend from Mannes College the New School for Music, met us at our hotel and drove us into the center of Moscow. Andrey gave us a tour of some great and famous cultural locations.

This is Moscow Conservatory that produced some of the greatest composers and musicians in the world. Tchaikovsky is immortalized in this statue outside the school.

Andrey has been studying percussion here as well as attending Mannes. He is going to San Francisco conservatory this Fall.

We ran into a trio of his conservatory friends playing some great folk tunes outside a cafe on the promenade near the Bolshoi Theater.

Bolshoi means big in Russian and that's an understatement for the size of the famous theater that is the home to probably the finest ballet company in the world, the Bolshoi Ballet. This whole area has so many theaters and cultural institutions that are legends here and internationally. In my first blog I this trip I mentioned that one I the reasons the US sent out Dizzy's 18 piece band on the first Jazz Cultural Diplomacy tour was because we could not compete with classical groups like the Bolshoi.

Some skaters showing off their skills outside the theater.

A fluid shot of Cotton Eye Joe Ravo.
the whole area reminds me of Lincoln Center an the Fountain except on a much grander scale.

The "small theater" next to the Bolshoi.

The fountain an one of the great Moscow hotels in the background.

One of the smaller theaters that housed the Russian Orchestra Festival this year.

Andrey and my fellow comrades headed of the see Red Square and the Kremlin.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

War and Peace

Danny; Moscow, 6/27/13

Yesterday was such and amazing day, packed with great music, friends and sights. We are eight hrs ahead of EST, so we are in the future, can't wait to tell you what happens, for now I'll just tell you what's been happening;)
We started our second day here in Russia at a rehearsal with the Moscow Symphony at what has been dubbed "Russian Hollywood". Built in 1927, this complex now houses ten independent studios, 13 sound stages and a new state of the art recording studio. This 13,000 square meter wonder has produced over 3,000 films and soundtracks including movies such as War and Peace.

My set up and the orchestra in one of Mosfilm's many sound stages.

Johnny and Maestro Andre checking a part.

The orchestra rehearsing a piece by
Aram Khachaturian a great Russian classical composer who also wrote for great films such a s Spartacus.

What a pleasure to be working with this great conductor and these fantastic musicians. It was the first time we got to hear any of the orchestral arrangements for our original songs. Getting to play and hear a song I co wrote with Johnny called Bound Together, with full orchestra was beyond cool;) Richard Maslove arranger. Denise Mei Yan Hoffman, a friend and composition student at Mannes, penned a great string arrangement for the song Georgia that we are performing.
Another great thrill was to play the original orchestral arrangement of Singing in the Rain.

The Moscow Radio Symphony had a rehearsal after us. Moscow has so many great orchestras and symphonies. The players were so welcoming and seemed to really enjoy playing the Jazz an Rock stuff with us. They were moving and dancing around when we played You Can Leave Your Hat on;)
Music, Art, Film and Dance have no borders. Their language is universal.
Here are some more images from Mosfilm;

Hotel Navigation = No Problem!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Moscow on the Hudson

I'm writing this as we fly 30,000 ft above Greenland, about six and a half hours from Moscow. We've been on the plane since 4:00 EST and will probably arrive in Russia around 3:00 AM, 11:00 AM Moscow Time. After some ground delays we were able to get wheels up and the nine hr flight seems like a walk in the park after our last 16 hr trip back from Hong Kong.
We are traveling with our usual assortment of of instruments; Brian's removable neck upright bass, my cymbals, Joe's guitar and lunchbox amp, but not Johnny's keyboard this trip. Even still, we have to give away a few CDs to make sure our stuff gets on the plane without breaking the bank;)
It gets easier with each trip to remember what to pack for our performances and which cables to bring so that we can stay in touch with you all while we are overseas.
Besides being the baddest guitarist in the land, Joe is our resident tech guru. He's schooled us on everything from wireless networks, phone unlocks and whatever it takes to keep the blog and FB posts rolling.
The guys are enjoying some downtime on the plane and resting before we hit the ground running. Although today is technically a day off, we have to have a band meeting, go over some new charts and get some supplies. The itinerary over the next 14 days includes; rehearsals and a performance with the Moscow symphony, a Jazz cruise, a jam session an dinner with local musicians, a performance at a rehabilitation center, a music festival and playing the Fourth of July celebration for the US Embassy. We'll go to places like Kaluga, Sochi on the Black Sea and Tomsk in Siberia
We'll travel by planes, trains, automobiles, boats and knowing us, probably horses;)

We finally landed in Moscow and were reunited with our gear.

We were met by our US Embassy host Masha and our driver.

The traffic from the airport to downtown Moscow rivals that of LA,
but we were already having such a good time with our new friends that we didn't even notice the time.

Our hotel is beautiful and we are not too far from Red Square, hopefully we will go after our rehearsal tomorrow.

We were already eyeing some cool gifts to bring back home;)

After our meeting we took a walk to get SIM cards etc. We went to the train station that will take us to the Kremlin tomorrow.

Even though we've been up for more than 24 hrs, we went out for our first proper meal in Moscow. We went to this great seafood restaurant called Sirena, it was very pricy, but we had such a great time. The Chef kept bringing us new things to try on the house because it was their 21st anniversary.
There was also a great Jazz pianist who was playing in the back ground and we took the opportunity to say hello and express our excitement.
What a pleasure to hear such a great player with such a fine touch. We exchanged info and hope to get a chance to play with him while we are in town.

The maitre de gave us 20% off gift cards for our next visit;)

We are a long way from home, but it's amazing how we can Skype, FaceTime and text across these great distances. From the Black Sea to the Hudson River, we are able to feel much closer now than ever before. The world has become a smaller place and its easier for us to all find a common ground and communicate even more. The transmission of art and music has become so much faster and easier. Moscow reminds me a lot of New York, not just because of the great expansive metropolis or its fast pace, but there's a vibe here almost like it's a sister city. It's another reminder of how we are all a lot more alike than people like to believe. One human race, one planet floating through space, all bound together;)