Dave Brubeck Gets an Uplifting Musical Surprise from a Young Violinist in Moscow (1997)

Decem­ber 2, 1997. Exact­ly ten years after his first vis­it to Moscow, jazz leg­end Dave Brubeck returned to per­form before the fac­ul­ty and stu­dents of the Moscow Con­ser­va­to­ry. Dur­ing his con­cert, an audi­ence mem­ber asked him to impro­vise on the old Russ­ian sea shan­ty “Ej, Uhnem.” About two min­utes into the impro­vi­sa­tion, a young vio­lin­ist rose from his seat and start­ed to play along. You just have to love Dav­e’s sur­prised look at 2:09.

This young man turned out to be a stu­dent at the con­ser­va­to­ry. His name is Denis Kolobov and he is now a vio­lin­ist of inter­na­tion­al renown. Denis must have mus­tered up all of his courage to cut into the per­for­mance of one of the great jazz pianists. But the day before, French jazz vio­lin­ist Stéphane Grap­pel­li had died in Paris and Denis decid­ed to hon­or Grap­pel­li’s mem­o­ry in this way. What a great idea!

By pro­fes­sion, Matthias Rasch­er teach­es Eng­lish and His­to­ry at a High School in north­ern Bavaria, Ger­many. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twit­ter.

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Comments (8)
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  • This is one of those beau­ti­ful hap­pen­ings that, in its sim­plic­i­ty and unworked-at human­i­ty, brings tears to the eyes.

  • C. Peel says:

    Just delight­ful! Thank you for find­ing it and post­ing it.

  • I love how they can just play right along with each oth­er like they planned it the whole time. Impro­vi­sa­tion as a sin­gle is impres­sive, this was just awe­some. Thanks so much for post­ing it.

  • Stevie Nicks Nixon says:

    Thank you so much. I love this so much! Every­thing about it is so, so beau­ti­ful that although I have now watched it a hand­ful of times, I haven’t made it to the end once with­out tear­ing up!!!

  • Paul Wood says:

    Dave Brubeck was not only one of the all time greats in the world of jazz but one hell of a won­der­ful human being. He is missed by so many, includ­ing me.

  • THORNE says:


  • Ludo Segers says:

    What a fab­u­lous per­for­mance!

  • whatithink says:

    Thing is, Brubeck missed the request, which is not the tune he played. Moscow Nights, or Moscow Evenings, is also known as Mid­night in Moscow, and was a hit record in the ear­ly 60’s by Ken­ny Ball. Entire­ly dif­fer­ent song and bet­ter than what Brubeck did. Still, it was fun.

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