January 30, 2020, is the night the Igor Butman Moscow Jazz Orchestra and Igor Butman Quintet launch their two-weeks tour across the United States. Both Russian jazz bands, led by saxophonist Igor Butman, will perform in New York City, Baltimore, Miami, Chicago, and Boston. Their band books include jazz standards and classical music pieces in original arrangements by composer and pianist Nikolai Levinovsky, as well as Igor Butman’s original compositions.
The tour opens with a four-night series at the legendary Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City, NY. On January 30 and 31, February 1 and 2 Igor Butman Moscow Jazz Orchestra is performing at the famed venue on downtown Manhattan’s W. 3rd St.
On February 5 and 6, Igor is taking his Quintet to the recently reopened legend of American jazz clubs circuit, the Keystone Korner Jazz Club in Baltimore, MD. On February 7, they hit South Miami Dade Cultural and Arts Center in Miami, FL, on February 9 move on to perform at the Promontory in Chicago, IL, and conclude their tour with a performance on February 12 at Center Makor in Boston, MA.
The Russian jazz ambassador and his native country’s most popular and esteemed jazz instrumentalist, Igor Butman studied at the Mussorgsky Music College in Leningrad (currently St. Petersburg) and then at the Berklee College of Music in late 1980s. He spend several years in NYC, establishing high-profile contacts with jazz musicians such as Grover Washington, Jr., on whose 1988 record, ‘Then and Now,’ he debuted in America, performing as guest tenor sax soloist on three tracks, including Igor’s original ‘French Connections.’ Upon Igor’s return to Russia in mid-1990s, he set on to build what the Russian media described as ‘the U.S.—Russia jazz bridge,’ touring his native country with a host of high-profile American jazz artists. In 1999 Butman established himself as the artistic director at the Russian capital city’s pioneering American-style jazz club (Le Club, lately Igor Butman Club,) and launched the Igor Butman Big Band, which, by 2012, acquired the status and the title of Moscow Jazz Orchestra, supported by Moscow City Culture Dept. The big band, hailed by the DownBeat Magazine as ‘an outfit of virtuosos,’ toured the U.S., Europe, and Asia dozens of times, sharing the Jazz at Lincoln Center stage with Wynton Marsalis J@LC Jazz Orchestra in 2003, and performing at Newport, Rochester International, Syracuse, Montreal, Ottawa and several other jazz festivals across North America. In Russia, the Orchestra performed with the likes of Dee Dee Bridgewater, Natalie Cole, the New York Voices, Kevin Mahogany, George Benson, Gino Vanelli, Wynton Marsalis, Larry Coryell, Billy Cobham, Bill Evans, Randy Brecker, Gary Burton, Toots Thielemans, Kurt Elling, Patti Austin, and many others.
In 2018, the Moscow Jazz Orchestra became the first jazz big band ever to perform at the world’s topmost jazz event, the All-Star Global Concert of UNESCO International Jazz Day, celebrated that year in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In 2018, Oleg Akkuratov who plays piano in both Moscow Jazz Orchestra and Igor Butman Quintet, won the second prize at the prestigious Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in the United States. In 2019, the Orchestra and Quintet guitarist Yevgeny Pobozhiy won the most prestigious jazz competition in the world, the Herbie Hancock International Jazz Institute Jazz Competition (see Jazz.Ru Magazine’s story and Evgeny’s interview.)
Previously, Igor Butman and the Moscow Jazz Orchestra toured the U.S. in January 2019, launching their 20th Anniversary World Tour. The Igor Butman Quintet performed in the United States in July 2019.
VIDEO: Moscow Jazz Orchestra at the 2017 Jazz Over Volga River Festival in Yaroslavl, Russia. Special guest: the festival’s artistic director, NYC-based trumpet player Alex Sipiagin.