|Russian visa, which is mostly written in Russian|
So I sat down on a nearby bench and watched a movie on my ipad and ate almonds for a while. I had to call Ryaboy, who had said he would pick me up at the airport, to tell him the situation. (I'm guessing that a 2 minute phone call in Russia with AT&T roaming was probably 30 dollars!) It was weird not having a passport and sitting in this holding area; I felt like the guy from that movie "The Terminal." Finally, they came back with my passport and everything was fine. This is one of the potential pitfalls of being a jazz musician; we have to travel internationally to work, and things like visas and work permits have to be dealt with correctly. otherwise, you might find yourself in hot water.(I've heard horror stories of folks being sent back to the U.S. at their own expense, being questioned by local Police for 6 hours, and I've heard of folks being banned from entering various countries for a year or more-some have even been banned FOR LIFE! The moral of the story is to take the visa or work permit stuff seriously, and obey local laws and customs!)
The bulk of the musicians performing on the Hermitage Festival are local Russians; however, there were a few outsiders besides myself; Hendrik Muerkens was performing, as well as a band from Austria which featured pianist Renato Chicco playing Hammond B3 Organ. There was also a band called Opus 5, which was almost like the Mingus Dynasty without any Mingus tunes; this group featured saxophonist Seamus Blake, trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, pianist Dave Kikoski, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Donald Edwards. It's a nice mix of local and international talent. I think they've been having this festival for about 10 years.
Our performance went well, although we had some sound issues in the beginning. Here's a clip:
|Eugene, Natasha, and Shura|
|Oleg and Natalia Butman, eating Japanese food|
|Kikoski, Blake, Sipiagin, Edwards|
The jam session was led by a pianist named Yakov Okun; he's one of the best pianists in Russia. He's got a great feel for jazz, and he's not a bad drummer, which is probably why his time feel is so good. Here's a youtube video of Okun: