I was born in 1936 in Moscow, Russia into the family of scientists and I was supposed to become a scientist too! Following the family tradition, I graduated from Moscow University with a master’s degree in Physics and was offered a prestigious and exciting job that other aspiring physicists would kill for.
But… the insidious serpent of jazz had been seducing me since the early fifties. Stalin was still alive when I started to spend my nights trying to tune to the jazz programs, which were broadcast on Voice of America, BBC and other similar stations. Then, in my sophomore University year, I surrendered to the urge to play jazz. I started out on clarinet and then switched to the saxophone and joined the early wave of jazz rebirth in the Soviet Union. It is worth mentioning that at this time, playing jazz in the Soviet Union was considered not far from committing treason!
So, instead of working in physics, I went on the road with the Oleg Lundstrem big band, then by far the best in Russia. Then followed a 7-year engagement with Vadim Ludvikovsky Radio and Television big band. Until my departure to the USA, I worked as a studio musician recording for Studio Melodya and wrote music for films.
Starting in the late 50s and throughout the 60s and 70s, jazz music gradually became more accepted (or tolerated). In the 60s, Moscow had several jazz clubs, several yearly jazz festivals and jazz musicians were even being sent to jazz festivals in other countries.