Vlad West, known in Russia as Vladimir Sermakashev, is a legend in the world of Russian jazz. Born in Baku as a child prodigy, Vlad began to study piano from the age of three, composing at the Baku Conservatory from the age of five, as well as arranging and playing solo piano concerts alongside his well known professors from thereon out.
“Mr. West has the technique and knowledge of classical and jazz music well beyond that of an ordinary piano player.” Mr. Starr, president of Oberlin College, Jazz Studies, wrote about Vlad in one of his books: “In his combination of grittiness and lyricism, blues feeling and sheer drive, he has few equals, in Europe certainly and even in America.”
By the age of sixteen, Vlad had made his name as a well-known jazz musician in Moscow. He was featured all over Europe and America: VILLAGE VOICE, JAZZ FORUM, DOWN BEAT… “His rhythmic sense is simply unbelievable, and he is, I would say, swimming in rhythm” – Downbeat.
At a very young age, he used to sit in the only movie theater in his hometown, Nostalgia, and play music alongside the silent films. He had composed, arranged and performed the scoring with a full orchestra for nine movies in Russia. Some of which were distributed in America, where he now resides.
Vlad and his quartet played extensively throughout the European Jazz festival circuit. He has shared the stage with Duke Ellington, Gerry Mulligan, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Tony Scott and Earle Warren, among many others. On his first American jazz album, SAY HELLO TO RUSSIA (saxophone), Scott Yanow from JazzTimes magazine said: “West comes up with creative and frequently hard-driving solos on six of his originals and three standards, making one wonder why he is not better known.” Owen Cordle from Down Beat Magazine: “As a composer, he demonstrates an affinity for the classic Coltrane quartet of FAR AWAY and BLACK SNOW.” His album, IN MY CORNER (piano), was released in 2012. Frederick Starr writes: “…Hats off to the new Vlad West and to the newer Vlad Wests yet to come!”
Vlad had written the music for the documentary, TO AMERICA WITH LOVE (Public Broadcasting). He was also the inspiration, music and story consultant for the movie MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON (Columbia Pictures).