It’s a sad fact that pianist Igor Brill doesn’t play the U.S. very often. Though he’s worked with Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson and Michael Brecker, Brill has spent most of the past three decades teaching at the Russian Academy of Music in Moscow. He came to D.C. this week to perform some private concerts, as well as providing the musical climax at the inaugural launch of American University’s Initiative for Russian Culture at the Library of Congress. He was joined in performance by bassist Evgeny Onishchencko, Sept. 20, 2011.
Onishenko is a very able bassist. He bravely took the bass chair at the Russian Academy of Music which was regarded sort of a haunted position (as two prominent bass teachers before him, Sobolev and Veremyov, prematurely died in office.) Unfortunately, just like Brill, he does not tour much, because of his intense teaching practice. It’s a rare appearance even for Moscow, leave alone the U.S.
Brill was one of the first classically trained Russian pianists to enter the jazz field in early 1960s, and remains one of the most technically accomplished jazz pianists in Russia; he does not tour much since the 1990s, but as a teacher he nurtured at least two generations of very good piano players, and is now laying his hands on the third.
Brill and Onishchenko were a delight and their roots deep in the conservatories of Russia are omnipresent. I can only imagine how wonderful it must be to study with them.