Bloody Belly Comb Jelly
Release Date: September 29, 2023
Label: Rainy Days Records
Andrew Krasilnikov's album, Bloody Belly Comb Jelly stands as a testament to his time working alongside the greats as he tastefully blends emotive melody with powerful large ensemble arrangements that utilize instruments outside the typical big band idiom to accentuate his core quartet’s reflective playing. Bloody Belly Comb Jelly will be released on September 29 via Rainy Days Records.
Krasilnikov’s new album was born - as many of the most salient ideas are - organically. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2009, Krasilnikov lived and worked in New York City, performing and learning from the masters of the craft with whom he was regularly interacting. In 2011, he felt the time had come for him to return to his roots, and he moved back to Moscow, but he brought with him his rich experiences and knowledge gained during his time spent in Boston and NYC. Since returning to Moscow, Krasilnikov has consistently been leading a rotation of bands and settled on a steady crew of personnel. With this group, he has had the compositional freedom to experiment and refine his aesthetic tastes and musical personality as a bandleader. After regularly performing a portfolio of his compositions for many years with this quartet, Krasilnikov distilled down to an album’s length the pieces that stood out the most and had grown of their own accord into something more than mere charts. These seven pieces have been shaped not only by Krasilnikov’s continuing growth as a bandleader and writer, but by the personalities and performances of the personnel in his quartet.
After the pieces were chosen and the band was ready to record, Krasilnikov was struck by an idea: to channel his passion for arranging and combine it with the personalities of the musicians in his ensemble. In short, Krasilnikov sought to create new, large-form arrangements for these charts in such a way that would highlight the strengths and individuality of his musical peers. The end result was a scintillating array of orchestrations that stepped past the normative big band and into a quasi Gil Evans realm. Featuring orchestral woodwinds from piccolo down to bass clarinet, more mellow brass instruments like the flugelhorn and tuba, as well as a marimba, Krasilnikov’s arrangements present a pensive emotiveness first in a way that has seldom been seen in contemporary jazz.
The album’s title Bloody Belly Comb Jelly, besides being a memorable phonetic tongue twister, is taken directly from the title track of the album and the story behind its inception. The track “Bloody Belly Comb Jelly” was composed by Krasilnikov on a vacation with his friends in which he was free to simply enjoy the world around him. From rock climbing and swimming in the ocean to exploring off-the-map wild locations, Krasilnikov found himself feeling both liberated and inspired. This sense of inspiration was so potent that Krasilnikov ended up in a short writing frenzy, and completed the piece a mere five hours after he started, although he admits it took several weeks to find a suitable title. For a while, the piece had a working title of “Jelly Fish,” partially due to the setting in which it was composed. Later, however, after watching a thought-provoking documentary on deepsea life and their reliance upon bioluminescence, Krasilnikov found the creature after which the track is named to perfectly embody the sense of intrigue and mystique that the track embodies. As for the album title, Krasilnikov remarks matter-of-factly, “This song is my favorite from the album, and this is why I named it so.”
The trend in Krasilnikov’s work of drawing inspiration from memory and reflecting upon emotion continues throughout the album and culminates most poignantly in the final track, entitled “Svet-Besprosvet”. Contemplating the complexity of human nature, this track was inspired by Krasilnikov’s time spent living in a bedroom community or commuter town. Living in such an environment that exists almost solely due to the needs of work brings with it, as Krasilnikov describes, “that melancholy, happy sadness.” The piece leans into the duality of the human experience, summarized succinctly by Krasilnikov: “It’s ugly and beautiful, in a way.”
Such a deeply emotive and pensive album could not come to fruition without skilled architects of the human psyche to bring it to life. Bloody Belly Comb Jelly comprises a core quartet of Alexey Bekker (piano, Rhodes), Nikolay Zatolochny (upright bass), Mikhail Fotchenkov (drums), and the bandleader himself, Andrew Krasilnikov (soprano and C-melody saxophones). What is also worth noting is that while the majority of the tracks are composed and arranged by Krasilnikov, “Odnako” and “Buratino” were composed by Bekker, as these pieces were a staple part of the band’s repertoire. The large ensemble, in various iterations throughout the album, comprises Ilya Dvoretsky (flute, alto flute, piccolo), Anton Zaletaev (flute), Roman Sokolov (alto flute), Oleg Grymov and Aleksandr Yazykov (clarinet), Sergey Nankin (clarinet, bass clarinet), Sergey Ponomarev (flugelhorn, trumpet), Salman Abuev (flugelhorn), Sergey Gimazetdinov (trombone), Anton Gimazetdinov (tuba, bass trombone), and Lev Slepner (marimba).
With Bloody Belly Comb Jelly, Krasilnikov creates an album that understands the deeply meditative nature of human memory, yet keeps the pacing and tone profoundly refreshing and creative. Whether through inventive melodies, salient orchestration, and perfectly balanced ensemble interaction, Krasilnikov establishes himself as a masterful bandleader and arranger with a performance ability to match.
Bloody Belly Comb Jelly releases on Rainy Days Records on September 29, 2023. This marks one of the first releases since Rainy Days transitioned to a fully international label, having recently relocated to Israel from St. Petersburg, Russia. “We are eager to broaden our horizons and artistic plans,” says label head Eugene Petrushanskiy. Rainy Days looks forward to announcing several more releases over the next few months, as well as a festival to take place in Israel next year.
“Svet-Beprosvet” releases as a single on September 1st, 2023, and the title track “Bloody Belly Comb Jelly” releases as a single on September 15th, 2023.
For Bloody Belly Comb Jelly
"Making the album particularly interesting is the varying uses of woodwind instruments, brass and marimba. Regardless of the title, this album is all treat, no trick." Check out the full review here.
THE RHYTHM OF STUDY
"Bloody Belly Comb Jelly features a striking instrumentation of quartet-plus-larger ensemble that simultaneously shows off the deep connections among Krasilnikov’s small group and the leader’s talents as arranger and composer." Check out the full review here.