Marimba Plus is the first and the unique music band from Russia in which marimba is the leading instrument and the creativity basis. Marimba Plus is an instrumental group that combines jazz, ethnic and contemporary music into a stylized musical cocktail able to satisfy the taste of any music connoisseur. The musicians reinterpret classical, academic traditions and ethnic rhythms and tones with jazz improvisation and modern tendencies and technologies. They call this style art-fusion.
Lev Slepner - marimba, percussion, keyboards, composer
Ilja Dvoretskiy - flute
Sergey Nankin - clarinet, bassethorn, vocal, percussion
Ivan Akatov - trumpet
Michael Zuyev - saxophone, keyboards
Evgeniy Yaryn - bass
Peter Vakulin - Sound
Photo by Natalia Gabbasova
Marimba is an instrument originated in Africa. It’s a wooden relative to xylophone incorporating in its sound the ethnic shades and extraordinary timbre power, which is capable to touch any listener.
The main idea of the band’s new project “Flight Over the World” is to travel all over the world, absorb different cultures and translate them through exclusive author's music. Plus the multi-language style of the band’s vocalists.
Marimba Plus was created in 1999 by young professional musicians, who have graduated from the Russian Gnesin Music Academy and Moscow State Conservatory. After that the group started to be more and more popular and appeared very often at prestigious Moscow clubs and concert-halls.
The Marimba Plus program is based on the composer works by the group leader – marimbist Lev Slepner, whose composing talent was marked by a Russian national reward “Triumph” in 2002. The main concept of his work is in the fusion of various music genres. Marimba Plus also performs works of foreign composers (R.Galliano, L. Schifrin, H.Silver, G.Benson, H. Hancock, S. Wonder, etc.) in original arrangements, written by Lev Slepner for the special set of instruments. Lev Slepner is the unique composer from Russia who writes especially for marimba and this instruments set.
Musicians tell and draw music: Eastern philosophy and African holiday, French elegance and Russian dances, celestial elephant and movie adventures, cosmic travel and nibelungen epic, nature, people, feelings and dozens of other images come together at this ethno-jazz mystery.
In 2007 Lev Slepner became the official endorser of Encore Mallets (USA) in Russia.
In 2007 the Malletkat (midi-marimba) became the new instrument in the band and the using of electronic opens the whole new world of sound possibility for the composer and marimbist – now he can use any sound from ethnic, classical to extra cosmic, electronic, use one-line loops and more wide range of music expressiveness.
The combination of energy and professionalism, of jazz playfulness and academic conservatism, of drive and meditation, of virtuosity and thoughtfulness makes the career of the Marimba Plus successful.
The group maintains a broad range of concert activity, takes part in numerous festivals in Russia and abroad, and gives performs in different halls and stages, including best Moscow Concert halls: Tchaikovsky Concert Hall and Moscow International Performance Arts Center, and open-airs for thousands people.
Marimba Plus has different programs for different halls, places and situations: club performances, philharmonic concerts, art events, chamber music, festivals, open-airs.
The group cooperates with leading russian jazz musicians - Daniel Kramer, Arkady Shilkloper, Oleg Butman, Alexey Podymkin, Oleg Osenkov, Eteri Beriashvili and other.
In 2003 together with the French violinist Didie Lockwood the musicians went on tour through Russian cities (Perm, Tumen, Samara, Nijni Novgorod and others). The tour was organized by Daniil Kramer - a famous Russian pianist.
The band made a lot of tours all over the Russia and abroad: France, Czechia, Germany, St.-Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Rybinsk, Vladimir, Bryansk, Saratov, Vladivostok and other.
Marimba Plus took part in many festivals in Russia and abroad: The largest Russian jazz festival “Usadba Jazz” in Archangelskoe Mansion, which gathers hundred of thousands of people, prestigious Moscow festivals: “All the Stars of Jazz” (curated by Anatoliy Krall), “Jazz in the Hermitage Garden”, “Home of Jazz” in Moscow Composers House. Marimba Plus participated at the Second International jazz festival in Petropavlovskoe-2004 (St.-Petersburg), where it performed with the jazz stars - the vibraphonist Mike Manieri and the vocalist Miles Griffith.
Another important event for the group was their participation in the Jazz festival of Montabane (France) together with such stars as Monti Alezander and Patricia Kaas.
In 2007 the group was invited at the International Moscow Festivals as Russian participants to perform in one program with international stars: at “CityJazz” with Avishai Cohen trio (Izrael) and at “Transformation” with Al Di Meola (USA).
Marimba Plus presented russian modern music at “Russian Seasons-2008” Inteco Gala Night in Munich (Germany). Also the group participated in International Ethno Festival in Prague (Czechia). In 2012 Lev Slepner performed in Uganda with a project of Alex Rostotsky “I Remember Joe Zawinul”
The band also performed at “Tea Festival” at Red Square, folk-marathon in Petrozavodsk, traditional Spring Jazz Festival “Bohemia-Jazz”, Internatiоnal Jazz Festivals in Vladivostok and Bryansk, number of the jazz festivals in Suzdal, Obninsk, Tomsk, Surgut, etc.
Charmed World (2004) (recorded with A. Shilkloper)
Flight Over The World (LP) (2014)
One of the most successful projects of group was “Ethnodrive”: a show with participation of the invited stars representing the unique ethnic music, specially arranged for the project. One of many invited stars were: Huun-Huur-Tu from Tuva, Adrian Sanchez (flamenco dancer) from Spain.
Musicians of Marimba Plus also play in different music projects: at video-art projects, cooperate with symphonic orchestras, participate at art shows and exhibitions, cultural events, openings, presentations, play with other musicians from classical to modern DJs.
Lev Slepner teaches students in his course of percussion to play drums, marimba and percussion. Also he makes open workshops and classes.
Marimba Plus has often appeared on leading Russian TV-channels as well as on radio as one of the most interesting music bands. The music activity of the Marimba Plus is often highlighted in press.
Uniqueness of Marimba Plus is that possessing the refined features of academic music, they have comprehended also jazz secrets, and added modern tendencies, surprisingly organically having made related these not always related qualities. So they reached trust and recognition at each of adherents of these musical directions, having united them in one indivisible audience with identical delight perceiving them.
Russian musician, pianist, composer, conductor, academic, professor of the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music