We’ve updated our Terms of Use to reflect our new entity name and address. You can review the changes here.
We’ve updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.

Acrobat: Music for, and by, Dmitri Shostakovich

by Michael Bates

supported by
John Cratchley
John Cratchley thumbnail
John Cratchley If you don't know Michael Bates' work then I think you are missing a trick...he is a wonderful bass player and a first-rate composer (as well as co-hosting the Greenleaf Music podcast 'A Noise from the Deep' with Dave Douglas).
This is an adventurous project that really pulls it off...a great assembly of Contemporary Jazz players and Michael's vibrant and considered arrangements coalesce in a terrific listen,delivered in 'the spirit' of Shostakovich...which means expect surprises!
Just a shout out for his magnificent new release; 'Northern Spy' with his trio of Michael Blake and Bean.
Also for the brilliant cover design on 'Acrobat' by the unmistakable Stephen Byram!!

Christopher Moklebust
Christopher Moklebust thumbnail
Christopher Moklebust At times Acrobat feels more concerned with the life of Dmitri Shostakovich rather then the music of Shostakovich. I would prefer the opposite to be the case. Personally, I hear much more influence from early 70's Miles Davis rather than Shostakovich - which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Either way, there is an impressive array of songs here. This is not feel good jazz, just as Shostakovich is not feel good classical, it is somber and ever so subtly paranoid. Favorite track: Yurodivy.
  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      $9 USD


  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    CD edition of Michael Bates "Acrobat: Music for, and by, Dmitri Shostakovich"

    Includes unlimited streaming of Acrobat: Music for, and by, Dmitri Shostakovich via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 4 days
    Purchasable with gift card

      $12.98 USD or more 


Talking Bird 08:06
Strong Arm 07:08
Some Wounds 06:59
Yurodivy 05:20
Arcangela 07:02


1. Dance of Death
2. Talking Bird
3. Strong Arm
4. Some Wounds
5. Fugitive Pieces
6. Silent Witness
7. The Given Day
8. Yurodivy
9. Arcangela

CD Quality - 16 bit / 44.1 khz

Composer Dmitri Shostakovich lived an extraordinarily strange life. A cultured, creative individual forced to play a part in his country’s history against his will, used as a propaganda tool of a tyrant. In such a claustrophobic and paranoia inducing environment, Shostakovich was still able to create musical works of genius that have inspired musicians for decades since, including bassist/composer Michael Bates.

It would be hard not to admire an individual who endured so much for his art. Shostakovich’s musical expression covered a vast emotional territory, from tortured to wistful, deferential to satirical. Risking his own safety and legacy, Shostakovich would deceptively fill his compositions with themes that mocked the person and policies of Stalin and his repressive State. He was a unique figure in the cultural legacy of Russia, a man invested in but not of the State. An agitator, appendage and survivor of Stalin’s Soviet Union: these unique characteristics have made Shostakovich and his music an intriguing study.

Bates has long been a fan of Shostakovich’s music and, through his own study and exploration, has created an ensemble dedicated to the spirit of Shostakovich and his work. This imaginative and intrepid ensemble includes saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed, trumpeter Russ Johnson, pianist Russ Lossing and drummer Tom Rainey. Together on the new CD Acrobat: Music for, and by, Dmitri Shostakovich (Sunnyside, 2011), the ensemble brings life to Bates’s compositions that are written to embody the many moods of Shostakovich and his diverse output.

The program begins with an arrangement of “Dance of Death” from Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E-minor, Fourth Movement. The quirky theme is bounced about jauntily by Speed’s clarinet and Johnson’s trumpet in a jagged mazurka. “Talking Bird” follows with clarinet and buzzy bass in a loose waltz meets march. The urgent “Strong Arm” features a driving melody that meets a twisted yet swinging rhythm maze, the mystery is enhanced by the ambiguous tonal wash of the electric piano. The tempo slows on the impressionistic “Some Wounds” with the lovely ruminations of Lossing’s piano and Bates’s bass with the melody sung by longing tenor saxophone and trumpet.

“Fugitive Pieces” features a shrewd ensemble performance that imitates the paranoia and drama of a man on the run. Echoing the work of Miles Davis on In a Silent Way, “Silent Witness” exudes an Eastern European echo of the early fusion masterpiece. “The Given Day” balances a smooth, yet dissonant horn line against a pulling rhythm section with a disorienting effect. Based heavily on a Shostakovich theme, “Yurodivy” meanders brazenly though blindly as instruments proceed and retreat, testing the unsteady waters. “Arcangela” begins solemnly before it picks up a percussive propulsion and urgency.

Michael Bates has been an important part of the New York jazz scene for nearly a decade. His work on double bass has been featured alongside many of the music’s most important and influential performers. Bates’s work as a composer and bandleader has been garnering recognition recently with his well received releases on the trumpeter Dave Douglas’s Greenleaf Music record label. Bates’s compositions blend elements from many musical sources, including classical, jazz and rock.

Acrobat is a triumph as both a unique musical statement and a tribute to an oft misunderstood legend. Bates is able to generate tremendously inventive musical statements that showcase his wit, sarcasm and daring, also nodding to the similar sentiments frequently present in the work of his hero, Dmitri Shostakovich.


released November 22, 2012

Chris Speed - sax, clarinet
Russ Johnson - trumpet
Russ Lossing - piano, Rhodes
Tom Rainey - drums
Michael Bates - double bass


all rights reserved



Sunnyside Records New York, New York

contact / help

Contact Sunnyside Records

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Report this album or account

If you like Acrobat: Music for, and by, Dmitri Shostakovich, you may also like: