Bassist Victor Dvoskin has performed internationally for more than 25 years, releasing more than 25 jazz recordings in Russia, the U.S., France and Israel. He has performed with Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, the Great American Music Ensemble, Gary Bartz, René Marie, Joe Locke, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Nick Brignola, Jon Faddis, Joe Kennedy Jr., and Christian McBride. He has performed at such venues as Bratislava Jazz Days, Jazz Yatra, Le Mans Jazz Festival, Prague Jazz Festival, Leipziger Jazztag, Helsinki Jazz Festival, Grenoble Jazz Festival and Red Sea Jazz Festival, plus regional performances at such locales as Wolftrap, Blues Alley and One Step Down.
Dvoskin initially gained popularity in the former Soviet Union in the early 1970s. During his nine years with Allegro, a jazz combo led by pianist Nikolai Levinovski, he developed a strong audience following and Soviet jazz critics considered him the number-one bass player of the 1980s. The first performance in 1990 of his own group, “Victor Dvoskin Quartet: Live at the Grenoble Jazz Festival,” was issued on CD by the French jazz label Thelonious, earning three stars in the Penguin Guide to Jazz.
He first came to Washington, D.C., in 1991 as a part of the Russian/American jazz quartet, Jazznost, which included Sergei Gurbeloshvili (tenor sax), Louis Scherr (piano) and Tony Martucci (drums) and toured both countries extensively from 1991 to 1993. The group’s first CD, “Joint Venture,” was released on Timeless Records and received four stars from DownBeat. These musicians, joined by Gary Burton (vibes), Ryan Kisor (trumpet), Don Alias (percussion), Igor Butman (sax), Paul Bollenback (guitar) and Ken Willaman (cello), recently came together again to record as Partners in Time, resulting in the chart-climbing CD release, “Equinost” (Intersound).
The legendary Willis Conover of Voice of America wrote, “Dvoskin is not only an outstanding bassist … he is also the composer of much of the ‘Jazznost’ repertoire; and his arrangement of the Russian folk song ‘Polushko Pole’ (also known as ‘Meadowlands’) is comparable to the arrangement that Glenn Miller and his AAF Orchestra performed and recorded during WWII. … I have broadcasted Dvoskin’s music worldwide on my Voice of America programs.” Bill Minor of Jazz Times magazine wrote, “I first saw Dvoskin ‘live’ at Stanford University in 1989 when he was performing in not-so-shabby company of Joe Henderson and Bobby Hutcherson. I felt the bassist stole the show. … His notes emerging were magical, his solos models of focus and inventions, his ‘down-the-basement’ comping patterns a joy to follow in their own right.”
Charles I. Cassell, president of Charlin Jazz Society, said, “I was impressed with the group’s [Jazznost’s] performance, especially that of your bassist Victor Dvoskin.” And The Penguin Guide to Jazz described “A surprising and thoroughly enjoyable set from the 1990 Grenoble Festival. … Dvoskin has a rich, dark sound — some may argue a European sound — with a very controlled vibrato and a clean, precise technique. He writes quite impressively, too.” Eric Brace of the Washington Post states, “Dvoskin will launch into a bass solo, so often the butt of jokes. But this is different. His tone, his clarity, his melodic sense, his triplet notes rippling down the neck of his bass all conspire to grab you.”
Dvoskin’s 2000 CD release, “There’s a Small Hotel,” was recorded both live and in the studio and presents a lyrical rendition of the atmosphere of a specific hotel where jazz performances have been offered for several years. Since moving to the U.S., he has led several jazz ensemble tours through Russia, including a summer 2002 tour to Moscow and St. Petersburg with vocalist René Marie and former VCU faculty Bob Hallahan (piano), Howard Curtis (drums) and himself. He also tours with VCU’s Mary Morton Parsons Jazz Masters, a faculty ensemble that presents solo and group sessions at schools throughout Richmond and beyond to acquaint children with jazz, funded by a permanent endowment donated by patrons of jazz through a challenge grant from The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation.
Q&A with Dvoskin about his career.
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