Michael Gotz & Farko Dosumov: The Road to Jazzuka
“ The road to Jazzukha has been a long one, and has been peppered along the way with missed connections, Russian cab drivers, car bombings, piles of paperwork, an African dancer and a country band. These are just to name a few. ”
By Katy Bourne
Farko Rustamovich Dosumov had no plans to go to the United States. The then 18 year-old was living in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, going to college and playing bass in rock bands. The eventual goal was to move to Moscow with his identical twin brother, Fedor, and to form a band. When a musician friend suggested that Dosumov buy a lottery ticket for a green card to the United States, he did so on a fluke. He promptly forgot about it. About this time, Dosumov and another musician visited an apartment of a friend for the purpose of getting a blown amp fixed. Their friend was not home, but the musician with Dosumov asked if he wanted to "meet a really strange guy", who lived in the same apartment building. The really strange guy turned out to be the bassist, Sergey Gilev, a respected member of the Uzbek jazz scene. That afternoon, Giley showed jazz videos to the two young musicians. It was Dosumov's first exposure to the likes of Stanley Jordon and Miles Davis. Dosumov soon began studying and playing regularly with Giley. Six months later, while Dosumov was watching television, a package arrived in the mail. Dosumov handed the package to his father, not even checking to see whom it was addressed to. His father returned to the room and handed him back the package. "It's for you", he said. Dosumov looked at the package and in a moment he knew. His life was about to change forever.
It would be two years before Dosumov would arrive in the United States. After initial notification of his winning, it was an-other 6 months before Dosumov received the massive packet of requisite applications, forms and other documents he would need to complete before leaving. After turning in the first round of paperwork, there was another period of waiting. Dosumov had to travel to Moscow for an interview at the United States Embassy. This interview, Dosumov happily recalls, was initially scheduled for March 8, which was International Women's Day, a European holiday. Because all government offices were closed, his inter-view was rescheduled for the following day. After the interview, there was still more paperwork to complete and process, and Dosumov returned to Tashkent to do so. One day, while Dosumov was running errands in Tashkent, a series of car bombs went off. One of the buildings he had frequented for assistance in processing his paperwork was heavily damaged. Dosumov made his way home that day despite the horror and the mayhem, but he had the troubling thought that with this new wave of unrest and violence, there was no way he would be leaving Uzbekistan anytime soon. Fate would have it differently, however, and three months later, Dosumov was on a plane to the United States. This was 1999.
Meanwhile, 6259 miles away in Seattle, Washington, Michael Gotz was immersed in songwriting and recording. He was fascinated with the emerging trend of Internet music. Gotz was recording and mixing his original compositions and then posting them on the now defunct MP3.com. He tracked his songs regularly, seeing where they were on the charts and constantly finding new and better ways to enhance the sound and character of the music. Before diving into Internet music, Gotz had long been a fixture in the Seattle music scene, playing guitar in such notable groups as Passages, 381, The Jazz Police, The Northwest Girl's Choir and the popular reggae band, The Groove. He'd also played piano in The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. In addition, Gotz spent time studying with many respected musicians, including Howard Roberts, Gary Peacock and Jerome Gray. His Internet period was somewhat solitary but productive. Six of Gotz's songs went to number one in the categories of jazz, jazz-fusion and instrumental rock. The tune Solid Ground was number one in the jazz category, charting above John Scofield and Diana Krall. The same tune went to number 35 overall. This was a prolific period for Gotz, and aside from the occasional pick-up gig with a country band, composing and recording were his main focus.