Аркадий Шилклопер

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!


Spring Song


Alpine Sketch

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