Vadim Neselovskyi

Odesa: A Musical Walk Through A Legendary City

This is almost critic-proof. Anyone who has an ounce of empathy for Ukrainians who were displaced, killed or who are still fighting for their country after Russia ignited an unprovoked war will undoubtedly project enormous sentiments onto Odesa, pianist Vadim Neselovskyi’s poignant musical portrait of his Ukrainian hometown. There’s the added emotional weight of the revenue generated from album’s sales and related concerts benefiting Ukrainian humanitarian efforts. How can you not root for this album?

That question hinges on whether one would shower praise on Odesa had Russia not invaded Ukraine. It’s important to note that album was recorded before Russia’s February 2022 invasion. Fortunately, Neselovskyi’s orchestral improvisations and evocative compositions lull on their own terms. His music leans more toward European classical music and Eastern European folkloric music than Black American-rooted jazz. Swing and swagger are of limited quantity. And if a blues sensibility is a necessity for a listener to consider it jazz, then the person will have to reexamine their definition of the idiom to determine whether Odesa is actually jazz.

Although I’ve yet to visit Ukraine, I get a sense of Neselovskyi’s keenness of evoking the soul of his people on the jittery “Jewish Dance,” which incorporates a lullaby that was sung by his maternal grandfather, and the haunting “Odesa 1941,” which captures the horror of Romanian troops, under Hitler’s command, persecuting Ukrainian Jews.

On Sale Now
May 2024
Stefon Harris
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