Stars Fell on Alabama
I started playing drums at the age of 15. At 16 I heard jazz and took my first drum lesson. My teacher made me a tape of Mr. Clark Terry's music. I loved every bit of it and played along with the tape. I could only play a ride cymbal in my apartment because neighbors would not like me to play drums. Lucky for them I didn't have a drum set at the time. Few years later, after finishing Mussorgsky School of Music in Leningrad (ST. Petersburg) I made it to the US and went to Clark Terry Institute of Jazz lead by Mr. Stephen Fulton who was a trumpeter himself. Now, he was the one who I consider my main influence as a musician and as a person. Stephen Fulton would bring different guest artists to the school and we,the students had a great chance to learn the trade first hand. Mr Clark Terry would come pretty often and hang with us and tell us jazz jokes and stories of the old times. He would also make sure we understood the jazz language. It was unique to be able to learn from the pioneer of jazz. A few years after the school I lived in NY and played with some fine players. After a while I started to think of making a record. I knew I would want to have Clark Terry on it. When I asked he said yes. I was honored to have him but besides that I was happy because I knew Clark's skill to organize things and his studio experience. I still had to find the rest of the band. The bass man, Ruslan Khain I saw at 'Smalls'-a great jazz club in NY. He was playing with no amp and was swinging hard. He was difficult not to like. Later I met him and it turned out he went to the same school in Russia I did only a few years later. It is a small world after all. I met Chip Crawford-the pianist at 'The Blue Note'. The club was hosting a jam session and a bunch of fine musicians were playing. That night the club didn't provide their grand piano for some reason. There was a keyboard which, as far as I remember, was a basic non weighted keys piano. Most pianists at the club were just sitting and didn't want to play. Then later I heard some great piano playing and came closer to the stage. The pianist played just awesome stuff and with a great smile on his face. That was some contagious smile. A week later I saw him play in another club. I introduced myself and took his card. I always liked tenor sax and couldn't imagine my record without one. The are many excellent saxophonists in NY, yet, when I heard Grant Stewart I liked him the most. I went to see him many times. I don't remember who introduced me to him but somehow we met and then later recorded. Here is the biggest catch-none of the aforementioned musicians knew they were about to record with Clark Terry. We rehearsed without him. I don't know why but I kept it a secret to the last minute. You should have seen their faces when Clark came in. The recording started. I felt nervous but surprisingly not because of my playing but because I had never ever had had a fine recording engineer. I kept on going to their recording booth asking some silly stuff. Then they played me a first rough cut and I bothered them no longer. From then on everything was easy. I could tell so much more about the recording but it would take days of writing. I think this record is pleasant to listen to because the musicians ,besides being great players, are very pleasant people.