Album Review: Yuriy Galkin – For Its Beauty Alone

Yuriy Galkin

For Its Beauty Alone

(self-release)

Russian bassist and composer Yuriy Galkin shows us his extreme diversity as both composer and arranger. Usually working with his nine-piece ensemble Symbiosis Orchestra, who have been present on the scene for awhile now, his latest release sees him exchange his usual nonet for a more modest quartet.

As we can see from the dark, almost chaotic album cover, looking like a modern take on the chilling works of Hieronymus Bosch, one might not know what to expect at first glance. The first track of this album is actually quite fitting to the cover, as we are introduced to a slow, melancholic ballad of solo piano. Spacious, softly-executed melodies are forever present throughout this track, dropping hints of Erroll Garner and even Erik Satie. After such a soothing introduction such as this, you’d think we’d have some idea of what’s to come but as we are led in to the next piece we find this is not the case. Completely juxtaposing its predecessor with a hard-pushing bassline and strong drum accompaniment, track two sees us heading into a moody and heavy soundscape as cymbal crashes are sprayed with and against the still forward-driving bassline. Attention is then given to saxophonist David Binney as he takes over with fiery and mournful melodies while the rhythm section carries us forward.

The theme of deception and variety is ever present on this diverse album. Galkin states his influence is drawn from both classical and jazz, naming Stravinsky and Bartok as well as Kenny Wheeler, Dave Holland and Wayne Shorter among many more as his favourites and this vast mix of influences is definitely present in his music. Each track is awash with variety and surprise with every tune consisting of everything from jazz to classical and even the sounds of electronic ambient and psychedelic music are made prominent throughout its duration. If this astounding combination wasn’t enough, the strong musicianship of the individuals present on this album has to be noted. Concrete backing and virtuosic soloing of each member keeps this album hot with groove and anticipation.

It’s been a strong start to 2019 in the jazz world. It’s already seeing amazing new releases frequently appearing, and For Its Beauty Alone is definitely one of them. Yuriy Galkin has more than shown us his talent as a modern composer. Anybody from classical music lovers to contemporary enthusiasts will find something in this album.

George Richardson

Yuriy Galkin, bass; Matt Mitchell, piano; David Binney, alto saxophone; Rudy Royston, drums.