Tatuz Kurashvili Inducted into Georgia’s Walk of Fame
24 February, 2011
Tatuz Kurashvili Inducted into Georgia’s Walk of Fame

TATUZ a.k.a. Tamaz Kurashvili is all jazz. He’s been into it since he was a very young man. In front, I have his double-disc CD album with his impressive picture on the cover – totally steeped into the music he adores and serves. I received the album last Saturday night when the Star of Tamaz Kurashvili was dedicated in presence of thousands of Tbilissians (and not only) right in front of the Georgian State Philharmonic building.

Before the inauguration ceremony,

there was an outstanding concert of jazz music held with Tatuz sitting right in the middle of the stage with his elegant electrical double bass, accompanied by sax, drums and piano, and later joined by the guitar. The Event Hall of the Philharmonic was packed full with jazz-lovers and professionals. I have not heard the performance of that caliber neither here in Tbilisi nor anywhere else in a long time. Those are the professionals who could honor any stage or jazz band anywhere in the world. The enjoyment with music was tremendous and it was felt all over the place, especially when the stage was filled with the members of the Tbilisi Big Band of Givi Gachehiladze. Tatuz was amazing as always. It was not just the bass sounds he was making in the fascinating jazz rhythms and counts, but also the entire body language, so amazingly completing his musical persona. His impressively big fingers were moving all over the double bass body that you wanted to watch them as part of the show – slight, sensitive and agile, dexterously producing all that strings and human fingers can do together. I don’t think I need to start inventing any formal texts about Tamaz Kurashvili and his talent – all is said very well in the text accompanying the album, which I am going to quote here unaltered: “Tamaz ‘TATUZ’ Kurashvili is Georgian greatest living jazz musician, period. Indeed, his standing in Georgian jazz is impossible to overestimate and, what’s more, he was also a seminal member of the Soviet jazz scene. He has spent his entire career as a professional bassist and most of that at a time when Georgia, with the rest of the Soviet republics, was behind the Iron Curtain, making it difficult for outsiders to follow his career. Meanwhile, Kurashvili has pretty much done it all with a who’s who of superb musicians, both renowned and lesser known, not only in the Soviet Union and the socialist countries but abroad too. Georgian jazz buffs still remember his appearances with Art Blakey and Sun Ra at the Tbilisi International Jazz Festival in 1989. Back in those years he was more than a jazz musician to many. He was a role model equally admired by musicians and non-musicians for he was a window to explore the rest of the musical world. A polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko once remarked that during the communist era ‘Jazz was like freedom for us, the opposite of Communism.’ However cliched this statement might sound, it should be noted anyway that Tamaz Kurashvili single-handedly put jazz and the freedom associated with it back on the mental map of thousands of Georgians. In Georgia the ‘Tatuz’ legend is not a fictional thing but a fact of life. As a non-stop searching musician, Kurashvili is deeply interested in pushing his instrument’s expressive possibilities. He puts his sound down to hard work. He is both a virtuoso and a complete team player, capable of fitting into all kinds of musical situations, be they mainstream, ethnic, rock, or beyond. Today he is the musician who can seemingly pull any arrow he desires from his creative quiver, an artist at peace with himself, a player who makes complex gestures seem simple and simple gestures seem profound-playing as if he has nothing to prove, save to the mystery of music. For years Kurashvili has trained us, his listeners, not to bring expectations to his performances and it remains pretty much the same these days. Today at 63, Kurashvili enjoys the fruits of hard work and good luck, but he is also perfectly aware how much unfinished business there is still to accomplish. He claims he is looking forward to taking care of as much of it as he can. Power to you Tatuz! . . .” Kakha Tolordava, the author of these words could not have said better than this, but Tatuz has earned every bit of it. His star is going to be there forever perpetuating his talent and his personality in hearts and minds of his beloved Georgian people. Who else if not Tatuz and his divine music could have been duly appreciated? And it has happened – the star is out there to the observation of the entire world – deserved, timely, cherished and shining. Bravo!

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