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25 April 2022, 13:21
Odesa’s biggest jazz club, silenced by war, continues to make music from its balcony amid explosions in the city.
Perron No.7, a famous jazz club in Odesa, Ukraine has continued giving open-air concerts to its citizens in order to keep morale high during the ongoing Russia war.
On Saturday 23 April, the club was giving the sixth iteration of its open-air concert series, ‘Jazz On A Balcony’, with plans to feature a host of jazz and folk musicians, as well as singers from the Odesa Opera.
At the same time as the concert started, Russia launched a missile strike on the southern Ukrainian port city for the first time since the beginning of April. Two missiles hit Odesa, and according to official reports at least eight people were killed, including a three-month-old baby. Dozens more were injured.
Ahead of the balcony concert, the jazz club dedicated Saturday’s event to ‘Love’. On its Facebook page, the venue the following message: “Love inspires and motivates. It is for love that we defend our country in this inhuman war.
“And it is through love that light conquers darkness, hatred movement and jealousy. It is because of love that we will win.”
The video below shows the moment musicians on the balcony first heard the sound of explosions coming from their city. Even though they continue to play, their faces cannot hide their fear and concern.
Read more: Ukraine orchestra and chorus perform ‘Va, Pensiero’ outside opera house in powerful cry for peace
Такого не зіграє навіть кращий в світі актор. За 5 секунд до прильоту... Слідкуйте за обличчями... P.S. Всі гості й музиканти цілі. Концерт провели у бомбосховищі.Posted by Джаз-клуб «Перрон #7» on Saturday, April 23, 2022
According to the Perron No.7 Facebook page, the audience and musicians were quickly taken to a bomb shelter following this video.
“We offered to go to the vault before the concert began – but people didn’t want to...”, the jazz venue shared on Facebook, “until the explosions were heard...”
The venue have said the next ‘Jazz On A Balcony’ concerts will most likely be held “immediately in a protected room” due to safety concerns.
The series of concerts was set in motion just weeks after the start of the Russian invasion, to show that “Life goes on and on” in this Ukrainian city, and “Odessa is not afraid.”
Read more: Brave musicians of Odesa Opera House sing while packing sandbags on Ukraine’s frontline
Odesa’s biggest jazz club is closed because of the war. So they performed from its balcony. pic.twitter.com/QgbRi766Qo— Jeff Semple (@JeffSempleGN) March 19, 2022
Alongside ‘Jazz On A Balcony’, the venue also ran shows titled ‘Theater On A Balcony’ in a similar vein, putting on performances from their jazz club balcony to an audience below.
The owners of the jazz club, husband and wife team Yaroslav Trofimov and Julia Bragina, were recently interviewed by NPR about why the club hadn’t completely shut down with the war.
The inside of the club has been used by volunteers since the beginning of the invasion, with the premises being temporarily titled, the ‘Odesa Center for Resistance Ideas’.
The arts side of the club has become a respite for many citizens remaining in Odesa. At their balcony concerts there is music, and laughter and singing from an audience of sometimes over 100. Trofimov says this is why “we keep meeting each other and telling stories and jokes, because [this is our defence].
“[The Russians] really want us to be scared. They want us to lay low. They want us to stop all our normal life...[but] we will not be scared.”
Musicians, including Trofimov, met inside the club for a rehearsal earlier this month just after the sinking of the Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet flagship.
During the jazz rehearsal, the band performed a NOLA-style arrangement of the jazz tune, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’, but with lyrics referencing the sinking of the Russian ship.
“When that ship, Went to the bottom
When that ship, Went to the bottom
Oh, how I wanted to see it. (Yes!)
When that ship, went to the bottom.”
Commenters on Twitter noted that the music was a strong “example of how important art and music are in people’s struggle to get through seemingly impossible times.”
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