The State Jazz Music Chamber Orchestra of Oleg Lundstrem has a unique history. It is the most "Long Playing" Big Band in the world. This fact is recorded in the Russian Ginnes Book of Re-cords. The orchestra of Count Basie, for example, was founded a year later. But what was the beginning of the creative activity of the famous Russian group like?
The great interest in Jazz came to the young Oleg Lund-strem in 1932, when a platter with the record of the Duke Elling-ton's orchestra "Dear Old Southland" occasionally got into his hands. This became the milestone in the choice of the further path. Oleg Lundstrem began to study Jazz, listenning to the orchestra.
In 1934 the friends, the grown together young musicians decided to assemble their own jazz orchestra. The leader of the orchestra Oleg Lundstrem was elected by voting. The orchestra consisted of nine musicians : two alto saxophones, one tenor saxo-phone (Igor Lundstrem), two trumpets (the second one was Alexei Kotyakov), one trombone, pianoforte (Oleg Lundstrem), banjo and double bass - all in one (Alexander Gravis) and the drums. That was the first arrangement of the Oleg Lundstrem Orchestra.
1935 was the year of winning popularity in Haierbin. Everything began from their innocent amateur concerts and pro-viding music for dancing at the dancing-parties and balls and then came the broadcasting over the local radio, where the orchestra was introduced under the title "Green Crocodile"
But quite soon the political situation in China changed and many Russian families had to leave Haierbin. During his very short voyage to Shanghai Oleg Lundstrem made an agreement about their first job in the hotel "Yangtzi". So the entire orchestra moved to one of the biggest cities of China. Pretty soon the or-chestra became popular in the city. Their next place of work was the famous ball-room "Majestic", and later the elite ball-room "Paramount". And that was the peak of popularity.
It should be stressed that in Shanghai there were no less than 40 Big Bands including amateur ones at that time. The com-petition was enormous and keen and the life was full of intrigues, the story of which is worth being mentioned in a different novel.
The American musicians, namely the orchestra under Teddy Vederford, where Buck Clayton played at that time, often toured in Shanghai.
In 1937 and 1940 our orchestra moved to the resort-city Tsingtao for the summer recreation season. The stuff of the or-chestra already numbered 11 musicians. At that time Oleg got the idea that it could be possible to perform our Russian song in the Jazz style. He made several arrangements of the songs "There Lived Once a Captain Brave…" by I. Dunayevsky, "Alien Cities" by A. Vertinsky, "Katyusha" M. Blanter and many others. All of them become very popular with the listeners. The orchestra at that time numbered 14 members. Such improvisers as Alexei Ko-tyakov, who often took the place of the soloist, Igor Lundstrem, Alexander Gravis make up a handful of the best musicians of the city. The performances of the orchestra were accompanied by the dance review with sisters Anderson and the vocal soloist was the beauty Nina Kellan. The orchestra becomes one the best in Shanghai. The newspapers call Oleg Lundstrem "the King of Jazz of the Far East".
It should be added that the musicians of the orchestra were united not only by the professional relations but also there was very close friendship, understanding and mutual support be-tween them. Big Band was a brainchild of the entire orchestra.
The post war years were again characterized by the crea-tive rise. The orchestra performed in the city's theatres "Liceum", "Carlton" and the Soviet Club. The orchestra had already 19 mu-sicians by the moment - a full stuff Big Band. Specially by the concert in the theatre "Liceum", dedicated to the End of the Second World War Oleg had written his first own composi-tion "Interlude", using the intonations of Rakhmaninov and later - a piece "Mirage" on the Oriental themes.
The political situation sharpened. The opportunities for the creative growth in Shanghai were exhausted. The foreigners felt more and more difficulties in their life in China, as the coun-try was fighting for its selfdetermination and everything con-nected with the foreign culture was pronounced alien. The ques-tion of moving to some other place aroused and became inevitable. Several places were under discussion, but the musician carried by the wave of patriotism decided to return back to the USSR - since all of them were the Soviet citizens.
The kindhearted clerks of the consulate in Shanghai deli-cately implied that the jazzmen could have many problems in the country of the winning Socialism. But the young romanticists did not believe in the gloomy forecasts and went to restore their post-war Motherland.
In 1947 the full stuff of the orchestra with their families arrived to the USSR. The Fate was merciful to the musicians, they arrived to Russia and remained alive because at that very moment the mass terror concerning the ones who had returned from abroad ceased. Many of those who had returned earlier per-ished.
The musicians were offered to choose between several cit-ies to settle. The musicians desired to get the higher music educa-tion and their choice was Kazan, because there had been a Con-servatoire of Music. Originally the orchestra was decided to be made the State Jazz Group of the Tatar Autonomous Republic. But the decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party "About the Opera of Vano Muradeli "The Great Friendship" in 1948 broke all their plans. It came to be that the country relized that the folk didn't need any jazz. So the musicians were dispersed among the movie-theatres of the city and some played in the Op-era- house orchestra.
Oleg entered the theatre of Opera and Ballet orchestra as a violinist, and in autumn 1948, together with a big group of for-mer Shanghai musicians entered the Conservatoire of Music.
But kind people are always ready to help! At that time the ar-tistic director of the Tatar State Philharmonic society was A.S. Klyutcharyov. He immediately realized the abilities of the young Shanghai musicians and did everything possible not to let the or-chestra fall into pieces. He organized concerts for them in Kazan as well as in the environs. Oleg began to make the arrangements of the Tatar and most popular Soviet songs, both in vocal and in-strumental variants; he made up whole concert programmes out of these new compositions.
In 1955 the orchestra recorded a series of pieces by the Tatar composers arranged for the jazz orchestra of Oleg Lund-strem on the local radio and on the platters. With the help of the director of the Tatar State Philharmonic Society M.F. Bo-golyubov, the artistic director A.S. Klyutcharyov and the pro-ducer I.S. Petrovsky the orchestra gave a series of concerts in the hall of the Kazan Drama theatre, which were of great success and were noticed by the authorities of Moscow Concert organizations.
Soon the negotiations concerning the orchestra's constant concer-tizing in the country's capital were launched. The most active part was played in this process by the first director of the orchestra M.I. Tsyn. The role of this outstanding person should be specially marked. Many present-day producers could have taken lessons in organizing excellent concerts from him. In 1956 on the first of Oc-tober on a special decree of the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation on the basis of the orchestra which had arrived from China a Concert Variety Art Orchestra in the framework of All-Union State Concert Organization (later "Ros-Concert") under the baton of Oleg Lundstrem was formed. Hence the active tour and concert life of the orchestra began.
In 1989 on the invitation of Oleg Lundstrem Alexander Bryksin became the director of the orchestra. Thanks to his en-ergy and creative approach the orchestra managed to preserve its entirety and status, to pass through the economic and political in-stability in the society, absence of financing, loss of interest to jazz on the background of the blossoming of the so-called pop-culture. Alexander Bryksin very well understood that the difficult period would soon come to its end and the interest to the eternal values such as real mastery and live sound will soon be revitalized. The orchestra continued its work irrespective of all misfortunes and hardships. That is why the orchestra continues to occupy a signifi-cant part both in the history and the life of the Russian culture.
In 1991 Vladislav Kadersky came to the orchestra as a second conductor. He prepared a list of interesting performances, including the special programme dedicated to the anniversary of Count Basie, concert tours with jazz vocalist Debra Brown to name but a few. Vladislav Kadersky has been financing the work of the orchestra musicians from his own budget for three years without any demand for glory and prosperity which is a true ex-ample for many of the Russian businessmen.
In November 1998 Oleg Lundstrem Orchestra became the first jazz orchestra, which has ever performed in the Big Con-cert Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire of Music. A number of the most interesting projects of the creative collaboration with the best musicians not only of Jazz but also of Classic scholar were in-troduced to the public. A concert with the pianist Arkadi Petrov, opera singer Lyubov Kazarnovskaya and an outstanding jazz singer Debra Brown is worth being mentioned.
In 2001 Georgy Garanyan got an invitation from Oleg Lundstrem and became the chief conductor of the orchestra.
Georgy Garanyan is the first saxophone player. He is the People's Artist of Russia and the only jazz musician who gives a series of season concerts in the Large Hall of the Conservatoire of Music; he is the Local and Foreign Jazz Festivals Laureate, Mem-ber of the Union of the Composers an Cinematographists, leader of the ensemble "Melody", which indeed became an epoch of the Soviet Pop-music. In the course of his entire creative activity Ga-ranyan concertizes actively and all his concerts are always sold out.
It can be said that Georgy Garanyan gave a new impulse to the orchestra. During the last two years the orchestra gave not less than a hundred of concerts both in Russia and abroad.
Georgy Garanyan prepared with Big Band several pro-grammes from the compositions by Verdi, Puccini, Schubert and other classics, concerts "The Schlagers of World Jazz", "From the Repertoire of Leonid Utyosov", "Dedicated to the 60th Anniver-sary of the Victory".
The Tour throughout China should be specially marked. It was a great success! In November 2003 the musicians per-formed in the largest cities of the Heavenly. It is very interesting that the closing concert was held in the famous "Paramount", in the same hall, where the orchestra under the baton of young Oleg Lundstrem had begun his brilliant career. The best jazz composi-tions were performed there alongside with the pieces composed by Oleg Lundstrem himself. This concert can probably be called a historic one, for the orchestra has again proved to the fact that Art is always stronger than Time.
In Israel the orchestra was met with interest and excitement in March and April 2004. It was the first festival dedicated to the memory of Leonid Utyosov.
It should be noted that Big Band of Oleg Lundstrem of-ten presents Russian Culture abroad at the events of the govern-mental level. The days of Russia in Ukraine, Germany, Moldavia as well as the days of Moscow in Latvia can be recalled in this con-nection .
The orchestra of Oleg Lundstrem plans a number of con-certs dedicated to the Anniversary of the Orchestra and its chief conductor. We would like to remind that the orchestra was a real forge of jazz musicians. Such famous jazzmen as Geogiy Garan-yan, A.Zubov, Stanislav Grigoryev, Gennadiy Golstein, Konstan-tin Nosov, Victor "Arsu" Gusseinov, Alexander Fisher, Konstan-tin Bakholdin, A. Shabashov, Vyatcheslav Nazarov, Nikolai Ka-pustin, Vagif Sadykov, S. Martynov, V.Kutsynsky, Nikolai Panov, Valeriy Kiselyov, Igor Boutman to name but a few have passed through the Lund-strem-orchestra, as well as the vocalists: Maya Kristallinskaya, Alla Pugachova, Irene Ponarovskaya, Irene Otiyeva, Dmitry Ro-mashkov, Valeriy Obodzinkyand many others.
Beginning with 1991 the orchestra has a new collabora-tor. It is "Moscow Transit". Now the leading soloists are Juri Par-fyonov (trumpet), Ivan Volkov (baritone-, tenor-, soprano-saxophones, clarinet), Michael Okun (piano), Vladimir Zjurkin (percussions). Oleg Lundstrem himself is the only representative of the old first stuff dating back to the 1934, the last but one vet-eran, the conductor, sound-producer (in the first stuff of the or-chestra he was a trumpettist), Merited Artist of Russian Federa-tion Alexei Kotyakov died in Spring 1997. Many young musicians who are reasonably called by the jazz critics "the hope of the country's Jazz" work in the orchestra of the new century.
For 70 years the orchestra toured through more than 500 cities of our vast Motherland and dozens of the cities abroad. The orchestra gave more than 10 000 concerts and covered uncount-able touring miles. Hundreds of thousands of spectators have vis-ited the concerts, millions listened to the orchestra over the radio and TV. Together with the recording studio "Melody" apart from the number of platters with popular and dancing music they re-corded 10 LPs of Jazz music, both with the pieces of local compos-ers and jazz classics arranged by the orchestra. The musicians of the orchestra have recorded several compact disks, including a multimedia one, which was recorded with the collaborating Ukrainian orchestra under the baton of Fokin.
The majority of the original arrangements were made by the talented arranger and composer Vitaly Dolgov. Besides, Oleg Lundstrem himself worked in the same sphere together with Niko-lai Panov. The orchestra of Oleg Lundstrem is an invariable par-ticipant of the greatest International Jazz Festivals such as: "Tal-lin-67", "Jazz Jamboree-72" in Warsaw, "Prague-78" and "Pra-gue-86", "Sofia-86", "Jazz in Duketown-88" in Netherlands, the Festival of Arts "USSR-India" (1988), "Grenouble-90" in France, the Festival in Memory of Ellington in Washington, USA (1991), the International Jazz Festival of Big Bands in Santa-Barbara (USA, 1998). It is interesting to recall the impessions of the Ameri-can spectators, who indeed cried with rapture and delight.
The credo of the orchestra is in deep penetration into Jazz mastery, into its traditions, on the one hand, and the strive to contribute into the genre by creating and performing of the unique and original jazz compositions and arrangements on the other.
Summing up the results of the new creative period in the work of the orchestra, it is possible to say that irrespective of the gloomy forecast of the skeptics, who either "bury" Jazz, saying that it is the music of the "old people", or bury the orchestra, say-ing that the orchestra is not the one it used to be - still both the Big Band of Oleg Lundstrem and classic Jazz, performed by the orchestra are alive and bring joy to many and many spectators in Russia and beyond its boundaries. The Orchestra continues to write its history.