Arkady and Vadim – Horn & Piano, Alphorn & Piano
15 Tuesday Jan 2013
I love to get a chance to (re)tell my Arkady stories… In the late ’80s I was writing a series of articles the Brass Bulletin on jazz horn players. One day I received a package in the mail. It contained a device used by ancient peoples to record sounds. A cassette (ask your parents what those were). It only said “Arkady Shilkloper” on the label, nothing else. “Cool!” I thought. “I wonder what an Arkady Shilkloper is…”. I listened to the cassette, and, basically, my head exploded. I had never heard anything like it. It was Arkady and a bass player. I scurried to my typewriter (ask your parents) and knocked out some lines for a short report for The Horn Call. Here’s an excerpt:
Shilkloper and his bass player swing like nobody’s business. He rips and riffs and goes places that horn players aren’t supposed to go without a net, map, seat belt, crash helmet, overhead air support, and a note from their mothers. And he does so with extraordinary ease and musicality. …
I got to hear Arkady in person when he came to Lucerne (Switz., where I lived for a good long while) with the Moscow Art Trio. The concert they gave was stupendous. Not like anything I had ever seen before. Not classical. Not jazz. Not folk. Everything and something else. I staggered out of the little hall after the concert with permanently altered DNA and a new view on what’s possible in music and performance. I have seen Arkady now and then over the years – he never fails to inspire and amaze. In the past decade, he has taken up something new – Alphorn, but not like any Swiss ever imagined it. You can hear some of this in the second video below.
He is unique, a force of nature. I hope to see him in a couple of months in his upcoming midwest tour. I always learn from him, always get new ideas, inspiration. One thing that I still carry from that first meeting after the Moscow Art Trio concert. I asked him what he does to warm up and practice. Roughly paraphrased, he said something like this: “Oh, I play some overtones, and then I just play music.”
You what???!!! Play music??? [head imploding/exploding] Not possible! No one plays music when they warm up or work on technique!!!
“Yes, I just start with a little bit of melody or rhythm and follow it and see where it goes.”
Play music. What a concept….
I later encapsulated the idea in what I call the Daily Arkady (there is a Horn Call article on it, and no doubt a blog entry here if you dig back a ways). You take part of your daily practice time and just play, create music. You can work some warm up, some technique, but no longer is your technique work a sterile, routine proposition. It is all part of something musical that unfolds before your very ears and mouthpiece. And it’s wonderful and fun and full of musical vitamins. Thanks, Arkady!