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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