Vadim Kolpakov

scotscot Virtuoso
edited January 2007 in Welcome Posts: 603
For the last several months I've been playing with a Russian Gypsy guitar player named Vadim Kolpakov. We've been rehearsing relentlessly for a big extravaganza of Russian and Gypsy music being put on by the music department at UNC Charlotte. We did the show and it was a real success, but that's not the point of this post.

This guy is absolutely an unbelievable performer. His guitar playing, singing and dancing are beyond anything I can describe. It's (of course) not "gypsy jazz" but there are many stylistic and repertoire similarities, especially to the music of Matelot/Boulou/Elios Ferre, and also to Opus 4 and Angelo Debarre. Except it's totally Russian, not Franco-Russian.

Vadim plays a 7-string guitar tuned to open G and it's played finger style, but this is not limiting and in fact he can play a passable "pompe" and can play insane improvisations ove many GJ standards at the most torrid tempos - it's hard for me to keep up.

He gets around and in the last few months has given concerts in Boston, Ohio, Iowa, and Eugene, Oregon. If you like guitar playing and gypsy style music, do not miss an opportunity to see him. There are shows coming up and I'll post them here as I know about them.

For the record, there is a performance Feb 3 at Patou Bistro in Charlotte with Vadim and me on guitars, Anne Harley voice, Yuriy Chesnok piano, and Alim Aslanov accordion. All these folks are incredible musicians - I can't figure out how I got involved playing with them!


  • BarengeroBarengero Auda CityProdigy
    Posts: 527
    Hi Scot,

    thank you very much for this interesting post. I love that russian gypsy music very much. For anyone else who is interested: You can find a lot more informations about Vadim Kolpakov and a bunch of videos on this website:

    Scot, are you planning to make some recordings with Vadim?

  • Ken BloomKen Bloom Pilot Mountain, North CarolinaNew
    Posts: 164
    Vadim is typical of a lot of "folk" musicians I've played with who were trained in Eastern Europe and especially Russia. They approach the instrument with the same thoroughness of training that any classical musician would as well as most professional jazz players. There are schools you can go to and study the instruments with this kind of thoroughness. In Bulgaria it's the gaida (bagpipe), kaval, (flute) and tambura (bouzouki).
    I find it interesting that the rest stroke technique that Michael teaches in his book is excactly the same technique that is taught in conservatories for domra players is the same technique I've observed bouzouki players and tamuritza players use. It would seem to be a pan-european approach to the flatpick. Just my 2p.
    Ken Bloom
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,017
    Hi Ken,

    The rest stroke technique had been traditionally used on almost every plectrum instrument throughout the world. The oud is the ancestor of all plectrum instruments, and has always been played with rest strokes. As the oud evolved and spread throughout the world the technique must have gone with it. Makes sense, since in an acoustic setting the rest stoke is arguably the most efficient way to get tone, speed, and volume.

    There was a very sudden abandonment of the rest stroke when the electric guitar came into prominence. But if you look at all the old jazz guitar instructions books, they all say to use the rest stroke:

    imageEddie Lang Modern Advanced Guitar Method" border="0"

    imageThe George Van Eps Method for Guitar" border="0"

    And all the great Italian mandolin virtuosos of the 19th Century used the rest stroke. The famous Bickford Mandolin method describes a picking technique which is almost word for word how I describe the rest stroke in Gypsy picking.

    imageThe Bickford Mandolin Method" border="0" width="100">

    But starting in 1950s the rest stroke fell by the wayside. A few players used Joe Pass. But I believe he later switched to free strokes. Only the Gypsies really kept that technique alive on the guitar. But most ethnic plectrum instruments still use the rest stroke.

  • Ken BloomKen Bloom Pilot Mountain, North CarolinaNew
    Posts: 164
    Several years ago I made some picks for a Serbian tambura player. He liked them out of cow horn. They were around 3mm thick and long, shaped and held just like the oud players hold their misrap. He tried my bouzouki and I tried his instrument. We both thought each other's instruments were unplayable. Mine was too easy for him. His had heavy strings, very low frets and a very high action. The technique was exactly as I expected, the rest stroke, very loose wrist.
    Ken Bloom
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 603
    It's probably more correct to say that guitarists in France preserved the rest stroke on the guitar. There was a lengthy period following Django's death when there were very few gypsies playing jazz. During this period the rest stroke was still used by music hall guitarists in Paris both gypsy and not, guitarists in Corsica and also by non-gypsy jazz guitarists - Marcel Bianchi, for example - who were influenced by Django. Django and Baro were taught their RH technique by Poulette Castro who learned it - who can say where? The rest stroke is known all around the mediterranean and is used in all kinds of music. Many people here think of it as some mysterious thing, because it's not a commonly used technique here in North America - unless you play European music.
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