"Jazz-Balalaika" quintet was founded by Gnesinsky Musical Institute (now - Academy) graduates about 20 years ago. At first it was a trio of folk instruments: bayan, balalaika and bass viol but soon a flute was added to them. The ensemble was called "Kaleidoscope" and began its concert activity and searching on the world of music under this name. The leaders of the group were a splendid balalaiker Alexander Paperny and a talented arranger Valery Chernyshev. It was their idea to create a non-typical group. The group member baneg to play music of different styles but soon jazz became their favorite style. Jazz and balalaika was an unusual combination. But the musicians weren't afraid of making experiments.
The musicians took for a model "Terem-quartet" ensemble which concert visited in 1986. This group from Leningrad (now St.-Petersburg) had broken all the barriers between the different styles of music. Musical composition of different epochs were mixed and followed one another not only in one concert but sometimes in the frame of one item. Those gags were a success. It turned out that it was possible to play in such way. Since then such unusual combination became the main stream in the work of "Jazz-Balalaika". So the item "Korobeiniki" appeared (composed by Dekusarov). Valery Chernyshev arranged this music according to the new style. He also arranged suite by E. Derbenko "The golden calf" - five gags for his quintet.
In 1987-89 "Kaleidoscope" worked at Tula philharmony: played folk music and gave performanes on a tour with the singer George Antonov. Meanwhile the musicians got more and more interested in clowning genre. Soon it was clear: the faces of musicians were too expressive for such music, besides the musicians were not only capable to play music but to dance. For making real musical gags a director Jury Kizinjok was invited. Valery Chernyshev arranged some new compositions. So a new clowning show appreared. It included such gags as "Amadeus", "Tango contra basso", "Antelope gnu" and others. They remain the best items of "Jazz-Balalaika". The audience liked these items very much. The greatest success had Alexander Paperny and flute player Boris Boltjansky.
In 1991 the quintet began to work together with a singer Vjacheslav Vojnarovsky, a soloist of Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow theatre. They went to tour to the USA. There were the last years of the Soviet Union. It was very hard for musicians to find a job in their native country. So they decided to stay in America for a while. They rented an apartment and began to play in Manhattan Central Park, where they had a great success. Now remembering that period of their life the musicians remark that they earned more than other street musicians. After three month the quintet returned to Moscow.
The situation in Russia turned better by that time. Valery Ljovushkin, the leader of group "Bim-Bom" (the clowning group) suggested the quintet working together. That was him who proposed to rename the group from "Kaleidoscope" to "Jazz-Balalaika". This name reflected the sense of their work. The groups "Jazz-Balalaika", "Bim-Bom" and "Mimmi-Krichi" accepted the invitation of Netherlander theatre "Karee" and went to Amsterdam where they worked for quite a long time. When they returned to Moscow they got another invitation - from the group "Terem-Quartet": to give joint concert at Mariinsky theatre.
In 1992 Leningrad clown corporation organized a tour for "Jazz-Balalaika" through Germany. The group was included in the show "Russiche Nacht". "Jazz-Balalaika" was the only group of musicians among the groups of circus actors. They acted in many theatres and concert halls of different German cities and towns. The group had such a great success that the annually tours through Germany became a tradition.
In 1994 "Jazz-Balalaika" was included into a Russian Culture Mission. They went by a motor ship from one European country to another acting on different stages. So the people in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel and Egypt got acquainted with the work of the Russian clowning group. This tour was followed by the other ones trough Austria, Belgium, Slovenie, Japan and other countries. The impressions of tour found their reflection in new composition of the quintet such as "In the Mountain King Cave", "Jewish Fantasy", "Santa Lucia" and others.
The musicians also took part in the Russian culture live. They acted in the program of Russian film festival "Kinotavr", festival "Window to Europe", universal athletic games for youth, ceremony of award presentation "Golden Mask", ceremonies of opening of different exhibitions in Russia and abroad and others.
"Jazz-Balalaika" gave concerts in Moscow, St.-Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Surgut, Orenburg, Sochi and other cities and towns. A non-typical quintet attracted attention of TV-persons. The musicians were invited to TV-shows and entertainment programs "Goluboj Ogonjok", "Shire Krug", "Vokrug Smeha", "Anshlag", "Ah, Anecdote, Anecdote" "Chto? Gde? Kogda?", and others.
The work of the group became subject of news in the press on the radio and on TV. The result of the group activity were some albums "In the Mood", "Jazz for Children", "Under Burning Heaven of Argentina" (the first performance of A. Piatsolla by Rissian musicians), "A Strange Tango" (the second album with music by A. Piatsolla), "From the Great to the Funny".
"A Strange Tango" was recorded in the spring of 1997 in the studio of "Satiricon" theatre. The head of the theatre Konstantin Rajkin was amazed by the music of "Jazz-Balalaika". So he invited the musicians to take part in the new play of the theatre "Jack and his Master" by M. Kundera. This invitation was unexpectedly for the group, besides it interfered with the Germany tours. The musicians had to choose between German tours and work at "Satiricon". At long last they chose "Satiricon". Their choice was justified. This long-life cooperation led to participation not only in performances but in others projects of "Satiricon": "Satiricon-Show", different records to many other performances.
Now "Jazz-Balalaika" is successfully working in Moscow and other cities and towns in Russia and abroad with two different programs. One is the clowning show "From the Great to the Funny". It includes only gags - the musical parodies of all epochs and folks. The quintet plays popular classical music, jazz, folk music, rock-and-roll and others. The musicians perform gags, dance, sing changing musical instruments and costumes. Another program is "A Strange Tango". It includes some composition of a serious music addressed to a more serious audience - the works of A. Piatsolla arranged by "Jazz-Balalaika". But in this program the musicians can't also help making some gags. Both programs are a great success by the spectators of all ages and social groups. The of "Jazz-Balalaika" brings the audience in a good mood. It means that the musicians work not in vain. Their creation is worth working and living.