Artur Bayramgalin CD cover

A reedy mournfulness gives way to outstretched arms seeking to capture the light in a new CD “Green Sapphire” from Canadian guitarist Artur Bayramgalin.

The title track (inspired by a dream about his father) journeys comfortably as a mood piece of pastel colors. It’s a deceptive start, because the stop-start jaggedness of “Obsession” follows, paying a visit to dissonance and choppy rhythms. “Jazz Do It 2020” sets the tone with campy defiance, then shows off its opposite side by dropping in some smooth lyricism. Based on its name, one would think “Let’s Party” would be a raucous celebration, but instead, it’s a confident strut that has a well-fitted hook and a pinch of funk.

Bayramgalin has tossed a ton of wildflowers into the air and the sun has caught each one from a drastically different angle. Inventiveness reigns.

What was your music education like in Russia?

At the beginning I learned to play the guitar on my own. Growing up, I realized that I wanted to master the tool more professionally. And then I bought a tutorial on playing the classical guitar.

It was a difficult time and after passing this stage I realized that I wanted to go to a music college. I was successful in getting in, but a year later I was drafted into the army. For family reasons, I didn’t resume school afterwards. I just didn’t have enough musical education to play the guitar perfectly, but I did learn a lot about jazz!

How was jazz regarded there when you were growing up?

Jazz records were hard to get in Russia at that time and I tried to attend all the concerts where jazz was played. I continue to do so now.

Do things usually go as planned with gigs?

There was a funny case with my former band Suraman. We played in the ethno-fusion style and were invited to the international festival “World of Siberia.” We immediately bought round-trip train tickets. After the performance, we had to go home, but were told that we took the first prize in our category and would participate in the Halla concert. We had to change tickets, and everyone went back on the train in different cars and on the upper berths, which was very inconvenient since it took three days to get home.

How did you get into jazz? 

One day I accidentally bought a Gary Burton record. It just changed my mind and I became interested in jazz artists. 

How does jazz make you feel?

Since I bought my first jazz record, jazz is an integral part of my life. I do not consider myself as a jazz guitarist or composer; I write music in different styles. But I always try to instill a love of jazz in the young and aspiring musicians who come to my studio.

What is the ideal instrumentation in your opinion? 

I love jazz in all its forms, from symphonic to electronic experimental styles. I don’t have a preference for any particular tool. Many of my compositions don’t have a guitar at all. Absolutely any musical instruments can be combined in an amazing way. And just as alchemists have spent their lives trying to create the “philosopher’s stone,” so will composers look for the perfect combination. This is the beauty of the music-writing process.

What is your intention with “Green Sapphire”?

The story of the composition is quite interesting. I had a dream about standing alone with my father on the bank of a deep stream. He wanted to give me the green crystal and said it was very important and should be protected. I accidentally dropped it in the stream, but managed to grab it and save it. When I woke up, I wrote the song “Green Sapphire.” And with this track, I finally started working on a new album.

What were the highlights of producing it? 

After ten years of experimenting with different musical genres (I am also the producer of the electronic project Breezz Studio, which has been in existence since 2016) , I wanted to return to the sound of my first album “Interro Island” from 2009, but music production is unpredictable and a lot depends on the mood and inspiration. Any emotional moments in your life, dramatic or happy, can affect the composition that’s in the process of being arranged.

I like to experiment with sound, I like fusion-jazz…sometimes I have to force myself to stop with great effort.

How would you compare “Sapphire” with your other albums? 

In my opinion, it has become more mature. In 2018, I had a serious traffic accident. After my recovery, my main desire was to start writing music again. “Sapphire” gave me this opportunity.

What are your goals for 2020?

The main goal is to continue working in the studio, writing new music.

For more information, visit www.bayramgalin.com.

Photos courtesy of and with permission of Artur Bayramgalin
© Debbie Burke 2020

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