Jazz band named after Oleg Lundstrem on India tour

The jazz band celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2014.

The jazz band celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2014.

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The famous Russian band, named after legendary jazz maestro Oleg Lundstrem, will perform in Kolkata and Delhi between 23 and 26 September, as part of the Festival of Russian Culture in India.

The famed Russian Jazz Orchestra named after Oleg Lundstrem, which is performing in the Indian cities of Kolkata and Delhi, is visiting India to inaugurate the Russian Cultural Festival 2016. It will launch the Festival with a performance in the eastern city of Kolkata on September 23, followed by concerts in the Indian capital.

The State Chamber Orchestra of jazz music, named after the legendary Oleg Lundstrem, has a unique history. It celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2014, confirming its status as the "longest-playing" big band in the world, a distinction recorded in the Russian Guinness Book of Records.

It all began well before World War II in the emigrant city of Harbin (China) where, in 1934, Oleg Lundstrem, a young and unknown pianist and recent graduate of Polytech, gathered together his first jazz orchestra. He fell in love with this genre, having listened to the songs of the Grand Duke and actually decided to replicate his life and musical journey.

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Having conquered Harbin, the orchestra moved after five years to Shanghai, where it immediately gained immense popularity not only among the local population, but also among the Europeans and the Americans, who were then living in China. The orchestra has worked in the best concert halls, performing Russian and Soviet songs set in jazz arrangements.

Musicians with the orchestra, then numbering 18 people, applied to the Embassy of the USSR in 1947 with a request to return to their homeland.

Kazan was chosen as the site of the orchestra’s permanent place of residence and work. Many of the musicians came to study at the Kazan Conservatory. Despite the fact that the attitude to jazz in the USSR at the time was largely negative, the orchestra performed concerts regularly and also made recordings for the radio.

The team moved to Moscow in 1956. From that moment on, their lives changed and their big tour and concert life began, even continuing through the most difficult years of perestroika and post-perestroika.

Since the 1960s, when the band gained nationwide popularity and acclaim, the country’s best voices considered it an honour to perform with the band. Among them were Maya Kristalinskaya, Sergey Sorokin, Guli Chokheli and, later, in the 70s, Irina Ponarovskaya Irina Otieva Svetlana Rubinina and Olga Kormuhina.

Between 2003 and 2006, the outstanding musician George Garanian was the principal conductor of the orchestra.

Since 2005, the orchestra added "named after" to its name because the maestro Oleg Lundstrem had died. But the style, ideas, inspiration, and even the obsession with jazz remained. The school of mainstream jazz stayed alive and so did the principles of the highest skill and uncompromising professionalism.

The band has been led since 2007 by well-known jazz pianist and bandleader Boris Frumkin. Under his leadership, the orchestra continued the tradition of its founder Oleg Lundstrem, who once said, "As far as the credo of our orchestra, it has remained the same: we are true to jazz, we strive to make jazz an important component of the spiritual life of man." 

Over the years, the Chamber Orchestra of jazz named after Lundstrem has toured more than 500 cities of the USSR and now Russia and dozens abroad, it has given more than 10,000 concerts. Hundreds of thousands of spectators have attended their concerts and millions have listened to them on the radio and watched them on television.

Today, the "stars" of the orchestra named after Lundstrem include masters of jazz like the saxophonist Ivan Volkov, drummer Vladimir Zhurkin, trumpeter Yuri Parfenov and Peter Vostokov, trombonist Maxim Peganov and many others.

"I think I gave the orchestra what is most important – motivation”, said Frumkin, the head of the team. “And the only motivation for a jazz musician, who is always by nature a soloist, but plays in a large orchestra, is the disclosure of its creative potential. I do my best to let all the orchestra’s musicians to speak out on stage as much as possible. This is the best opportunity to satisfy their creative ambitions."

Schedule of concerts in India:

September 23, Calcutta

September 25 Delhi: Performance at the opening of the Jazz Festival in Nehru Park

September 26, Gurgaon

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