Vitaly Golovnev | What Matters (Feat. Zhenya Strigalev, Nathan Peck & Pete Zimmer)

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Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Jazz: Mainstream Jazz Moods: Type: Instrumental
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What Matters (Feat. Zhenya Strigalev, Nathan Peck & Pete Zimmer)

by Vitaly Golovnev

This Russian-born, New York City-based trumpeter displays his modern angular approach to improvisation on this chord-less outing, his second for Tippin' Records.
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Three Wishes
6:01 $0.99
2. Family Plan
7:29 album only
3. Brown Waltz
9:57 $0.99
4. What Matters
4:24 album only
5. In Retrospect
7:00 $0.99
6. Cut Off
6:52 album only
7. Because Together
5:18 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"A nimble trumpeter whose tone can range from clarion to pugilistic, Golovnev has synthesized influences ranging from Clifford Brown and (Booker) Little to Dave Douglas and Tom Harrell into a broad personal style." The New York City Jazz Record, George Kanzler

"It becomes abundantly clear from the start of What Matters that this quartet knows how to handle
fire.", Steve Spoerl

“Golovnev is clearly a force to be reckoned with”

“Golovnev projects an idiosyncratic sensibility, ironic and romantic”

“His playing suggests a more progressive, angular and daring feel to this music”

The follow-up to Russian-born trumpeter Vitaly Golovnev’s impressive 2009 debut release, To Whom It May Concern (Tippin’), has arrived and it’s another well-rounded session with a slightly smaller ensemble this time around. His musical rapport with fellow countryman Zhenya Strigalev (alto sax), in particular, is accentuated given the fact that the trumpeter decided to utilize a piano-less quartet. A longtime musical friend, Strigalev moved from Russia to London around the same time Golovnev moved to New York in 2003, so their opportunities to play together have not been as frequent as when they were bandmates dating back to the mid ‘90s. They rekindled their musical relationship on one of the altoist’s recent visits to New York, and if you’re a fan of such special trumpet-alto relationships as Donald Byrd with Jackie McLean or Sonny Red; Kenny Dorham and Ernie Henry; Art Farmer and Gigi Gryce; Freddie Hubbard and James Spaulding; Ted Curson or Booker Little with Eric Dolphy – then this session is one you’ll undoubtedly quickly appreciate. Plus there’s ample space given to the strong New York-based rhythm team of Nathan Peck and his sturdy and creative bass lines along with drummer Pete Zimmer’s crisp and creative cymbal and drum work.

From the CD opener’s (“Three Wishes”) first ten seconds, the horn players’ empathetic, complementary attack and special harmonic, rhythmic sense are immediately on display. Twelve bars based on three chords (hence the tune’s title), everyone gets a chance to sink their teeth into this one, from Golovnev and Strigalev’s blistering solos to Zimmer’s brief but effective rolls and ride cymbal-driven spotlight.

“Family Plan” changes up the groove, incorporating Zimmer and Peck’s Latin drive. Starting with a four-bar progression, Golovnev sought a Dolphy-ish melody of dissonant, wide intervals, and Strigalev does an admirable job summoning the leader’s inspirational intent. Peck gets a solo this time, and Zimmer’s dynamic rhythmic contribution from loud to soft under Peck never overshadows the bassist. It’s no wonder his versatility and sensitivity is regularly summoned by tenor great George Garzone and others.

“Brown Waltz” is “subconsciously modeled after Oliver Nelson’s melodic approach,” Golovnev told me, in addition to trumpeter Lee Morgan’s more moody, bluesy playing. It’s a simple, melodic structure that allows for the horns harmonic camaraderie, even with ever-brief, intermittent lines interspersed within another Peck solo, as well as under one another’s respective solos. And dig the quartet’s riveting coda and horn players’ momentous, spontaneous give-and-take.

“What Matters” is the first and only time Golovnev is impressively featured on muted trumpet. He and Strigalev are conversational in their back and forths throughout the fast bop tune’s intensely rhythmic and melodic four-plus minutes with Zimmer’s sweeping brushes swinging things along and Peck’s brisk walking bass lines in support, relentlessly building momentum.

Some say the ballad is the proving ground that separates real musicians from the rest of the crop. No further proof of this theory is necessary than the album’s sole ballad, “In Retrospect.” Co-written by Peck with his father, pianist Skip Peck, it’s a beautiful, catchy, emotional melody. Says Golovnev for including this as one of only two compositions he didn’t write, “I loved the melody, the way it was written - it’s perfect and made so much sense in the context of the recording.” It undoubtedly offers up a nice change of pace.

The other non-Golovnev composed piece is Zimmer’s “Cut Off” (previously recorded on the drummer’s 2006 Judgment album). The trumpeter suggested they introduce a different tempo and mood from the original. It is AABA form but with seven bars (instead of eight) in the A sections. “It has an interesting sound, different with the change of form,” says the leader, “in that spirit, something like Thad Jones-Pepper Adams, or Kenny Dorham.” There is some great Dixieland-ish collective playing, in addition to solos by alto, then trumpet, then some tasty drum breaks not to mention parting shots Zimmer takes the tune out with.

“Because Together,” the album closer, is a fast Latin hard-bop number with an extroverted melody and bright intervals. Golovnev wanted to instill a little sense of humor with a “clownish attitude in the melody” along with an Elmo Hope, Mingus-y foundation. The group gladly obliges to accomplish exactly that. Though a rare fade-out at the end leaves the listener wanting more, my advice is to hit “repeat” and have another listen from the beginning!

With such a strong second outing, Vitaly Golovnev has again proven his name and music as one to be remembered, and I anxiously await for more from this promising young trumpeter, composer, and bandleader.

-Laurence Donohue-Greene, Managing Editor
The New York City Jazz Record (

Vitaly Golovnev trumpet
Zhenya Strigalev alto saxophone
Nathan Peck bass
Pete Zimmer drums

1) Three Wishes 6:01 Vitaly Golovnev BMI
2) Family Plan 7:29 Vitaly Golovnev BM
3) Brown Waltz 9:58 Vitaly Golovnev BMI
4) What Matters 4:24 Vitaly Golovnev BMI
5) In Retrospect 7:00 Nathan Peck/Skip Peck BM
6) Cut Off 6:52 Pete Zimmer BMI / Toru Dodo ASCAP
7) Because Together 5:19 Vitaly Golovnev BMI

Total Time: 47:06

Produced by Vitaly Golovnev
Co-produced by Pete Zimmer
Recorded March 23, 2011 at Tedesco Studios, Paramus, New Jersey
Engineered by Tom Tedesco
Mixed and Master by Kamilo Kratc at Soundworks Recording Studio, Astoria, NY
Cover Photos by Svetlana Muzalevskaya and Lena Asasheva
CD Design by UoU Production
Liner Notes by Laurence Donohue-Greene



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