Russian-born, New York City-based saxophonist/composer Makar Kashitsyn released his debut album, Jazz Animals, last week, on October 4, via Rainy Days Records – the Saint Petersburg label that aims to change the global perception of modern Russian music in the global music landscape. The album showcases the 19-year-old prodigy’s huge sound, no-limits chops and keen improvisational logic via five songs, three of which are penned by him.
Jazz Animals also features a front line of American rising stars: saxophonist Lefkowitz-Brown, who contributed one composition of his own (“Time to Forget”) to the LP, and trumpeter Josh Evans. It also includes four Russian musicians – guitarist Alexey Polubabkin, drummer and album producer Sasha Mashin, bassist Makar Novikov and veteran pianist/pianist Alexey Podymkin. Dutch vocalist Hiske Oosterwijk lends her voice to two tunes, and Russian musician Nikita Mochalin one of his own compositions (“Song for Chad”) plus four of the arrangements on this albums.
We reached out to Kashitsyn to take us through each of the tracks on Jazz Animals, to understand the inspiration behind each of the songs and some of the work that went into the making of this new album. Mochalin and Lefkowitz-Brown contributed to this piece by writing a few lines about their own compositions on the LP.
I wrote “Confession” for my combo at the Manhattan School of Music. This song is about a musician’s thoughts. We are always worried about the future but sometimes you just need to sit down and be true to yourself. Honesty with yourself is the key to happiness.
We always have a friend to call if we feel bad. “Phone Call” is about calling someone when you are in trouble, and about feeling better after the call.
“Our Song” is a simple, soulful tune I wrote to inspire people to feel better during hard times.
“Going to Ekaterinburg”
I wrote the A section of “Going to Ekaterinburg” before going to the airport. I was on my way to a saxophone competition in Ekaterinburg and was really excited to hang out with other players. After taking first place, I wrote the B section of the song. I wanted it to mirror the experience I had, which was both difficult but a lot of fun.
“Song for Chad”
[Nikita Mochalin:] I was very inspired to be part of this big project! When Makar invited me to make some arrangements and send my own music to record it with such great musicians, I was really excited and nervous at the same time. I wrote the song for Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, who is on the record.
“Time to Forget”
[Chad Lefkowitz-Brown:] “Time to Forget” is a waltz that I wrote when I was Makar’s age, so I thought it would be particularly appropriate for us to use the song as a vehicle for trading improvised phrases. When I wrote this piece, I was entering a period of my life where I felt I had to “let go” of home, and move on into adulthood, which to me felt like a nostalgic dance. As a jazz musician, it’s almost inevitable that you have to move your life to New York City at some point. Makar has just done that and I was in the process of moving to New York City when I wrote this piece.