Russia and Jazz is an unusual association and expressing the pulse of the Russian capital through Jazz, even more so. That is how the band, Impact Fuze started off and they made quite an impact with their fusion of jazz and rock. They are a power trio comprising of Russians Anton Davidyants (the bassist) and Feodor Dosumov (the guitarist) who is originally from Uzbekistan, and French Damien Schmitt (the drummer.)
Recently a popular radio jockey of Delhi, Sarthak Kaushik discovered their music for his jazz special show on ‘Hit 95 FM,’ an English music channel. Sarthak, who is a veteran of the national channel, All India Radio’s western music broadcast, was impressed by the trio’s dexterity - “They are a fantastic band, with an amazing understanding of music. Their play is highly nuanced. Feodor’s guitar play is particularly fascinating. Together they create very powerful music.” His response is just as the band envisions – ‘incorporating the energy, power and brutality of rock into the intelligence of jazz.’
The album ‘Moscow’ showcases their capacity for variety. “There are up-tempo tracks like Moscow and Punisher as well as mellower ones like Song for Elena and Lost in Found,” Sarthak observes, “they’ve straddled an entire progression.” For the title track they have created a montage of time lapse videos of Moscow. Its skyscrapers and traffic create the feeling of a city constantly on the go. This vision developed when Feodor and Anton saw their own town from Damien’s viewpoint, as he was in Russia for the first time. “Through Damien we began to understand Moscow all over again. What does the city look like from another angle? What is covered up, what is revealed? Where does it take you by spinning in its circles and roundabouts?” The band quotes 20th century Russian poet Sergei Yesenin – “Great things are better seen from a distance.”
All it took was a message through Facebook to connect these musicians. Feodor and Anton’s earlier band Alkatrio disbanded in 2009 and they were looking for a new drummer. Anton’s interest in French jazz introduced him to Damien. “In the beginning it was just an experiment,” Feodor recalls, “we invited Damien to tour with us because he is an exceptional drummer. We enjoyed ourselves so much on that tour that we decided to stick together. I think that there are no random encounters. It was all planned by someone very big!” Damien also regards Feodor and Anton highly, “they are one of the best of the new generation. I’ve played with guitarists such as Franck Gambale and Bireli Lagrene and bassists such as Alain Caron and Richard Bona. Feodor and Anton are in the same league.”
The band debuted with a fusion album well knowing that their preferred music style is far from mainstream and rarely gets radio play in Russia, “we just wanted to share our music and our feelings with everyone and who knows someday some radio station will notice us and like our energy” says Damien. Their self belief resulted in a rewarding experience – “while performing in Russia I was surprised to see that the audience was very receptive and they could truly appreciate the music. We even found a producer for a second album which is not an easy thing for fusion music. In today’s world people understand Lady Gaga more than Frank Zappa.”
With their next album they plan to reach a wider audience, “public needs simple and effective melodies with interesting arrangements so that it never becomes tiresome.” For now Damien is busy with his own album of dubstep-pop songs. Feodor is collaborating on this project. A visit to India is also on the cards. Impact Fuze will be performing in a jazz festival, “The Fusion Carnival” which will be held in Bangalore next year. They are excited about touring with their music, which they describe as a puzzle of different music styles. Damien acknowledges the niche following of jazz in India, “It is fantastic that Indian radio stations play such variety of music. In Europe or USA our kind of music is not played much. It would be my first time in India and I am looking forward to a firsthand experience of Indian culture. Hopefully we’ll gain and keep returning.”
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