IHS55 Featured Artist
Arkady Shilkloper was born in Moscow in 1956. Considered by many as the greatest natural improviser the horn has ever known, he began his musical studies at the age of six, playing Alto horn before switching to French horn in 1967. That same year, he entered the Moscow Military Music School and later continued his studies at the Gnessins Russian Academy of Music and at the Moscow College of Improvised Music where he took jazz improvisation classes.
From 1978 to 1985 he was a member of the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra and after that joined the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra from 1985 to 1989. With these two world-famous orchestras, Shilkloper undertook numerous worldwide concert tours which helped his continued exposure to musical influences from other parts of the world. Since 1990, Shilkloper has embarked on a career as a soloist and member of several well known chamber groups that rely heavily on improvisation. Most notably, he was a member of Three O, worked with Misha Alperin, forming a musical partnership with Alperin that would last for decades. Their first album together as a duo, “Wave of Sorrow”, was the first of several recordings made for the prestigious ECM label.
Also around this time, clarinetist and folk music expert, Sergey Starostin was asked to join the duo and the Moscow Art Trio was formed. This group would become a major musical force for many years and one of the best known ethnic jazz groups from Russia.
As a soloist and leader, Shilkloper has produced many recordings since 1992 in a musical journey that is continually evolving.
Which each new recording, comes a slight shift in musical direction: horn and bass, music with electronics, alphorn music, Latin jazz inspired music, small group jazz, the symphonic rock music of Yes, and more. His 2000 solo recording “Pilatus” instantly established him as one of the very few who have ever improvised jazz on alphorn. Also in 2000, Arkady put together the Mauve Trio with Brazilian guitar player Alegre Correa and Austrian bassist Georg Breinschmid. Their debut album ‘Mauve’ (Quinton, 2002) was awarded the prestigious Hans Koller Prize of Austria as the ‘CD Of The Year’.
As a sideman, Shilkloper has played with Lionel Hampton, Elvin Jones, Lew Soloff and Herb Ellis. He also has worked with Pierre Favre, Louis Sclavis, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Jon Christensen, Bob Stewart, Jon Sass... He has also been a member of of Europe’s leading big band, The Vienna Art Orchestra and the versatile, Switzerland based quartet Pago Libre.
Arkady Shilkloper currently lives in Berlin and maintains a very busy schedule with approximately 100 concerts and master-classes a year, all around the world. He currently performs on a regular basis with Ukrainian pianist Vadim Neselovskyi, with whom he has made several recent recordings.
His talent and style have been praised by many. According to Leonard Feather from the Los Angeles Times, "the Soviet horn virtuoso was one of four Jazzmen from the Soviet Union who arrived here last week to take part in the 23rd annual University of Idaho Jazz Festival at his home town's namesake city. Shilkloper, 33, on his first visit to the United States was the artistic sensation of the four-day event." Jazz Times Magazine wrote: “[...] His control of the instrument, and his blowing creativity have set a new standard, even Julius Watkins, his idol never produced such results.” The critic Jeffrey Agrell referred to Shilkloper’s style as: “Shilkloper and his bass player swing like nobody’s business. (......) And he does so with extraordinary ease and musicality. I think maybe nobody ever told him ‘Jazz playing on horn is very difficult, and probably not natural or perhaps the phrase does not translate into Russian.’