Kyiv is hosting a cycle of Ukrainian Jazz Stars concerts. The project’s key objective is to allow talented Ukrainian musicians to show off their skill. Petro Voltayev, director of the jazz and variety school, believes that “our public has grown mature enough to perceive jazz. There is public interest, there are people eager to listen to this kind of music.”
The cycle started with Natalia Hura, a noted Ukrainian jazz and blues singer. She has been into jazz since the age of 19 and has since won a number of international and national festivals and contests, including the Moscow pop song festival, New Names, and the Kyiv Holosiyevo jazz contest.
Natalia Hura has a strong stage presence. She is gracefully professional. A graduate of the Kyiv National University of Culture as a choir conductor, she worked for the Capella Dumka Choir and sang with the Cotton Fields rock group at Kyiv’s Body Guy Club. Her rapprochement with the audience is practically instantaneous and her vocal range is vast, from low husky to high crystal-clear solo.
Her own project, Natalia Hura & Friends, is meant to attract gifted musicians to cooperate with the singer in promoting jazz in Ukraine. She started the concert at the grand audience of the Music Academy in a duet with Vyacheslav Poliansky, a reputed jazz musician and arranger. Their late nineteenth century Negro spirituals were received with great enthusiasm.
The accompaniment was provided by the Timur Poliansky Trio (piano, drums, and double bass). The program was basically made up of classic jazz pieces. And when they struck up Chopin Waltz and then Mona Lisa the audience broke into ovation.
Among Natalia’s other Friends is the Oleksandr Soratsky Trio. They accompanied her jazz improvisations on Indian themes. Natalia Hura and Oleksiy Tuzov’s vocal dialogue came as a pleasant surprise.
During the concert, the Ukrainian Jazz Lady changed a lot of images. After the intermission Natalia turned into a real Lady Blues. She performed the rest of the program with the Cotton Fields and Maksym Kotychev’s brass band. The dynamism and contrasts of blues compositions was emphasized by a variety of instruments, from guitars to saxes to trombone to piano.
In the end there was much applause and plenty of flowers.
Ukrainian Jazz Stars is a step on the road to the development and universal recognition of quality music in this country. The project envisages concerts both within Ukraine and abroad.