Ruslan Khain | For Medicinal Purposes Only!

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Jazz: Hard Bop Jazz: Mainstream Jazz Moods: Featuring Bass
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For Medicinal Purposes Only!

by Ruslan Khain

A jazz bass virtuoso makes his debut with a book of hard bop originals and one smart quintet
Genre: Jazz: Hard Bop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Fly, Mingus, Fly!
5:41 album only
2. Kira-Gas
3:33 album only
3. Zebra
4:43 album only
4. Hydrant
4:02 album only
5. Delay
4:09 album only
6. Sleep
4:45 album only
7. K.V.A.
4:46 album only
8. Q Train
4:37 album only
9. For Medicine Purposes Only!
4:42 album only
10. B-ology
4:30 album only


Album Notes
Richard Clements (piano)
Ruslan Khain (bass)
Yoshi Okazaki (trumpet)
Chris Byars (alto sax,flute)
Phil Stewart (drums)

Ruslan Khain was born in St. Petersburg, Russia on May 15th 1972. In the winters, the weather was so cold that jazz was used as a way to manufacture heat. Okay, that is only partly true. But the frigid winters are legendary, of course, where the temperature routinely goes down to minus 50C. And heat is wherever you can get it. A resourceful teen-aged Khain had a trick for keeping his windshield-washer fluid from freezing: add vodka. A thirsty witness caught him topping off his tank one day and decried the waste of the potent fluid. Noting Khain’s bass guitar, the man made a hasty offer: a stand-up bass for two bottles of vodka. And so a great jazz bassist was born. That bassist and that very bass are both heard to advantage on this volume, Khain’s debut recording.

Khain began pre-school music training at age 5, the kind of preparatory training that typically leads into a music track extending from elementary school up. But it was at age 17 that music really began to command his life. Khain did two years of mandatory service in the Russian Army, playing in the Russian Army band, and training new band members to keep pace with the frequent turnover. After being discharged in 1993, he went to the Mussorgsky College of Music for a four-year degree. Jazz and folk music were featured prominently at Mussorgsky, and he came into contact there with the celebrated Russian saxophonist and teacher, Gennady Goldstein. Jazz took hold of Khain there, and he began performing all around St Petersburg, meeting up often with his classmate, alto prodigy Dmitry Baevsky.
New York called, and Russian bureaucracy languished, but finally in 1999, Ruslan Khain received an artist’s visa to come to the USA. Here he found not just a thriving jazz scene, but also a thriving Russian jazz scene comprising jazz emigrees who had found new roots in New York. Guitarist Ilya Lushtak, saxophonist Dimitry Baevsky, pianist Roman Ivanoff, guitarist Nat Harris, and now Ruslan Khain, were all talented jazz musicians with a deep respect for the black music tradition in America. They quickly found a home playing in the late-night sessions at the original Smalls. Lushtak, who ran a late night session at the club with Baevsky and Khain, deserves enormous credit for hiring Frank Hewitt at a time when that very grace eluded so many people, making for one memorable band. Hewitt enjoyed the sound of the young Khain so much, that as Ari Roland became more in demand overseas, Khain was hired to take Roland’s place during his frequent sojourns. Khain, for his part of it, recognized the magnitude of Hewitt’s talent, and would drop everything to play with him whenever he got the call. Khain’s strong, driving bass sound was the perfect complement. Gentle as a pussycat, but with a sizeable frame and the muscular reserves of a bear, Khain made the bass look like a matchstick in his hands. [Refer to the image on the rear of this volume for my depiction.] At Smalls, Khain also played in the Josh Benko Quartet on Wednesday nights from 1am to 6am, and with the John Merrill Trio, Saturdays from 4am to 7am. [You read that correctly. In the days before it had a liquor license, Smalls had scheduled music until 7am, and very often, that was not the end of it either.] In recent years, Khain has found himself in good company, playing alongside Jimmy Cobb, Hank Jones, Barry Harris, Charles Davis, Louis Hayes, Frank Wess, Mickey Roker, Jimmy Lovelace, Ben Dixon, and Marion Cowings. He’s been a regular in Valery Ponomarev’s band for the last four years.

On this record, Khain put together an impressive group. Chris Byars and Yoshi Okazaki are both exceedingly smart and solid. Okazaki is new to American shores (and English-language web sites as well) but has already built a reputation for himself as one of the best jazz trumpet players in Japan. The pair ice the ensemble and harmony parts, and play hard throughout, putting down solos of the highest order without once lapsing into mere blowing. Byars later waxed about Khain: “like a great Russian composer.” Richard Clements, who is getting increasingly recognized around New York, really caught my interest here with a risky chromatic approach of the sort that very few pianists attempt anymore, and he harkens to the late Frank Hewitt. Phil Stewart swings hard throughout without ever throwing off a single screw, and his accompaniment is solid, as though machined out of a single block of steel.

Khain offered a few notes on some of the compositions heard here. “B-ology” is dedicated to Benny Golson. “Sleep” is in memoriam for a Russian guitarist and friend named Vladimir Kornienko. “Kira Gas” is a slang term in Russian for alcohol that refers to a kerosene stove. The “Mingus” in “Fly, Mingus, Fly!” refers not directly to the bassist, but to a pigeon that Ruslan found one day and raised until the bird was able to fly. “K.V.A.” is the name of a girl, but just who exactly that is will apparently remain a mystery.
Looking ahead into Khain’s future plans, he says he intends to write a series of works for string quartet and jazz ensemble, which will be something really to look forward to. And finally, he offers thanks for those listeners who come to hear jazz out of love for the music.
Luke Kaven
August 2008



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