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Monday Night Jazz with Dmitri Kolesnik and Misha Tziganov at Russian Vodka Room

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Dmitri Kolesnik and Misha Tziganov
Monday Jazz Nights
Russian Vodka Room

265 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

Dmitri Kolesnik on Bass
(Kolesnik Web Page)

Misha Tziganov on Piano
(Tziganov Website)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 2, 2012

I caught up with Dmitri Kolesnik, rising star in the jazz community, a bass player from St. Petersburg, Russia, at Russian Vodka Room in midtown Manhattan. Some time ago, I had reviewed Dmitri’s CD, “Blues for Dad”, and I was glad to finally experience his Monday night gig on West 52nd Street. Russian Vodka Room is adorable and cozy, with an expansive wood bar, comfortable booths, and a side room with private tables and nooks. They serve dinner, appetizers, and a wide variety of vodka. I ordered a Remy VSOP, and it lasted the set and more. The Vodka Room was filled with Christmas holiday cheer, as giant red bulbs, colored lights, and holiday decor shone everywhere.

Before the second set (I arrived toward the end of the first), Dmitri described his early musical roots in his homeland, then the Soviet Union. His father was a jazz pianist for pleasure, a scientist by trade. Dmitri also has an MA in engineering, but his passion for music brought him into the New York jazz community. As a teen, he listened to Voice of America on radio and later on transcribed music for his bass, inspired by Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown. Two other American jazz heroes for Dmitri are Erroll Gardner and Bill Evans. Dmitri is based in New York, but has performed throughout Europe, in major cities, such as Rotterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Paris. He’s made many recordings, in addition to “Blues for Dad”, such as “The Corners Five”, recorded at the Hermitage Theater in St. Petersburg. He appears in jazz festivals and can also be seen appearing with groups in New York clubs. On another visit, I’ll learn more about Misha Tziganov, the pianist of this duo.

Dmitri and Misha are dynamic performers. Tonight’s second set included “Manteca” (D. Gillespie), “Long Nights Without You” (D. Kolesnik), “Russianality” (D. Kolesnik), “Scrambling” (D. Kolesnik), “In Monk's Mind” (D. Kolesnik), “Lover” (Rodgers and Hart). “Manteca” was lively and melodic, with upbeat swing and repetitive refrains. Dmitri added slow, deep chords to Misha’s piano theme. This duo was compelling and filled with personality. Dmitri took a riff, with Misha on faint piano chords, in a folkloric mood. The theme repeated with a breezy tempo. “Long Nights Without You” followed, with impressionistic romanticism, as Misha’s Yamaha rippled with enchanting, yearning tones. He raised the notes to treble, with hints of ballads within. Dmitri’s bass strings played soulfully, no bow tonight. His composition had symmetry, with overlapping themes and ornamentations. “Russianality” was more straight jazz with heavier piano chords and racing tempos. Misha paused for Dmitri’s solo, an excerpted portion of the theme. The Yamaha echoed in refrains that tumbled down the keys.

“Scrambling” was up tempo, lyrical, and smooth. The bass added captivating textures and earthy blues. I noticed that Misha and Dmitri worked well as a duo, anticipating each other’s cues. The rhythms built into brisk, buoyant sound, with Dmitri taking a solo, while Misha barely touched the keys, with bits and pieces of the theme. The composition took numerous musical curtain calls before its finale flourish. “In Monk’s Mind” was introduced with film-score style, as Misha took the theme. The piece was classy and sophisticated. At this moment, I took time to gaze on the small Christmas tree atop the piano, with ever-shifting colored lights, making the event warm and inviting. The sound was atmospheric, ending in quiet drama. The closing piece of the set was Rodgers and Hart’s “Lover”, which the musicians jumped right into with fervor. They played this renowned ballad in double time, with high energy, as Misha tore through the keyboard with power. Dmitri’s bass kept up with rapid fingering, followed by a mellow riff, slightly off-key for effect. In the timing of a skipping two-step, the duo finished the song in danceable momentum.

Dmitri Kolesnik and Misha Tziganov
at Russian Vodka Room
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Dmitri Kolesnik at the Bar
at Russian Vodka Room
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Russian Vodka Room Bar
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

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