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Piter Jazz: The Outtakes

May 29, 2013
the things that didn’t make it into a blog post

IMG_6989 DSC02420Hearing “Joplin, Missouri” sung by Russians during two different renditions of “Route 66” one at Griboedov 7 and the second at the Jazz Philharmonic Hall.  As many of you know, Joplin is my hometown and each time this was sung, it made me feel a little closer to home, even though I was very far away.

  • Having “JAZZ IS NOT DEAD!” screamed at me from a moving car while walking to the summer garden.  Boris, who was responsible for my finest car ride through the city (we listened to Frank Zappa and Iggy Pop, admittedly not jazz, but truly music that bridged our language barrier), spotted Makbal and I walking on the sidewalk and with his car filled with ladies in their finery, rolls down the window to proclaim that jazz is indeed alive.  It made my heart jump.


When Lera Gehner told us after her concert, “Thank you for giving me your eyes.  Your energy [during the show].”  Our role as audience members is not to be underestimated.


Meeting with Andrei Ryabov on the jazz boat.  Andrei is an incredible guitarist who lived in the U.S. for many years and he’s been back in SpB practicing guitar 5 – 6 hours a day in preparation for his return to the U.S..  Makbal called him and woke him up to get him to meet us and I found myself talking to him for an hour:  about jazz, about Salinger, about his sons who are still in the U.S..  I hope I meet Andrei again, more precisely, I hope I get to hear him play.


Finding the photo of Gennady Golstein playing with Zoot Sims in the Jazz Museum at the Jazz Philharmonic.

              • Coffee with Valeri on my next to the last day (we had talked about it since my first night) when he told me:  “In Russia we are always working toward freedom, in America freedom is where you start.”


Wearing booties to tour the palaces at Peterhof, halls that had been walked by the likes of Catherine the Great, countless Tsars, Romanovs, and dignitaries.  Not only were the booties attractive, they allowed you to “skate” across the floors.


Getting a photo-op with one of the cats that lives in the Peter-Paul Cathedral, “We don’t have mice,” proclaimed our tour guide.  There are cats living in many of the museums (they try to keep the number under 60 at the Hermitage).

IMG_6882Learning about “Jazz On Bones”: the practice of cutting records on old X-ray slides during Soviet times.  I found examples of …On Bones at the Museum of Political History (left) and the Jazz Philharmonic Hall (right).  It was a great way to cut  bootleg recording, as David Goloshchokin said miming the bootlegger with a record in his coat, “Hey buddy, you want some Glenn Miller?”


Seeing JAZZ outside the Jazz Philharmonic for the first time.

The lost cave drawings of Petersburg on the tunnel into the
Theatre Academy where I met with the playwriting grad students.


The graffiti at the Hat Bar.




The night I stayed up writing at the Hat Bar with my new fountain pen only to get back to my hotel, look in the mirror, and find myself covered in splotches of ink.


So many walks through SpB at night with friends.  This is a city that becomes ethereal when darkness overtakes and the buildings are lit.  Of course you have to wait until after midnight for the twilight to disappear.

The visit to the Museum of Political History: a bifurcated museum telling a complicated story…

The museum was filled with compelling displays articulating some of the most difficult times in Russia’s history and unique self-guided ways of exploring the political history of Russia.  Several of the displays in the renovated museum gave a vivid illustration of life under Stalin.  One could also tour the old displays in the museum, prior to the renovation, which presented a museum in a unique dialogue with itself.  There were also a few displays that caught me by surprise, and some that needed to be documents, or otherwise you just wouldn’t believe me.


A fake ham used to conceal a firearm

IMG_1467A cap from Che Guevara

The revolutionary writer’s retreat:


The motto:


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