Member of the RMU Council Igor Butman – on copyright and love of jazz

Igor Butman, a saxophonist, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, member of the Council of Russian Musical Union, on the eve of the Triumph of Jazz music festival, told in an interview what he thinks about Russian jazz staging and how to love jazz.

According to the maestro, Russian art is valued and respected throughout the world, and jazz is an integral part of our culture.

“We have a history of the development of this genre. At one time, very famous musicians from America came to us, there were jazz theater performances, jazz bands were very popular in the Soviet Union. And then the USSR closed, and this gave a negative effect musically,” Butman explained.

He added that Russian jazz was once able to overtake America, but this did not happen due to the political situation.

Speaking about copyright, Igor Butman emphasized that a musician should pay for the use of other people’s compositions, even if he performs them in his own manner, different from the original.

“If someone else takes my composition, which has become popular in my performance, and makes it even better, sells many records and earns a lot of money, then, of course, he must pay me. He took my theme for improvisation, which is not his own. A theme that is already popular,” commented the famous jazzman.

He gave an example from his own experience, saying that he pays for the use of George Gershwin’s Summertime composition.

“We pay to use George Gershwin’s Summertime theme. And the most amazing thing is that Gershwin lived a very short life, but his compositions are very popular. By law, when 70 years have passed since the death of the author, his music actually becomes the property of all people. But it turns out that Ira Gershwin, his brother, who lived a long and happy life, worked together with George. 70 years have not yet passed since his death, and therefore Russian Authors’ Society and societies of other countries are also asking for money for the performance of Summertime,” Butman said.

According to the saxophonist, not everyone can fall in love with jazz, but this can be facilitated by acquaintance with real jazz masterpieces.

“To love this music, you need to listen to the masterpieces of jazz. You listen to the saxophone in one song and maybe you don’t like it. When you listen to it somewhere else, you may like it and get interested in it. But it doesn’t mean that you will like it tomorrow! You will fall in love with it in two or three years,” Butman concluded.