Igor Boiko – Ukranian Jazz Master
This month we are visiting Russia and shining the Spotlight on Ukranian Jazz Master, Igor Boiko. Igor has been playing the guitar since he was eight years old and has been playing in groups since the age of fifteen. He graduated from Gliere Music College in Kiev and applies his musical education in his school the “Laboratory of Professional Education for Guitarists” where he teaches his students in Russia. “Laboratory” students are educated in “melodic improvising, with a knowledge of harmony and chord function”. Some of his educational concepts were published in his book entitled “My Method”. Boiko has released six albums with his latest entitled “Sparks and Shadows”. In this interview Igor talks about how he got started playing guitar, his “Laboratory” and his favorite guitars and amps.
300guitars: Hello Igor. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where were you born and raised and when did you first start playing the guitar? What inspired you to learn to play the guitar?
Igor Boiko: First of all I’d like to thank your site for this interview and for the interviews with my students which you’ve already published.
I was born in a small city in Ukraine called Sumy. I started playing guitar at the age of 8, and I’ve been playing in professional groups since I was 15. I graduated from the Gliere Music College in Kiev, in the guitar department headed by the famous jazz guitarist and educator Vladimir Molotkov. In 1990 I moved to Moscow and began working with the orchestra “Sovremennik” under the direction of Anatoly Kroll, and later worked with Aleksei Kozlov’s group Arsenal. In 1996 I formed my own group, “The Igor Boiko Band,” which I still perform with. My first solo album “Bob’s Your Uncle” came out in 1997 on the Soyuz label, and since then I’ve made six solo albums on various labels.
300guitars: What was your first guitar and amplifier? How old were you?
Igor Boiko: I started playing on cheap European-made guitars. At that time in our country American and Japanese instruments were quite rare, buying them was extremely difficult, especially for a novice musician. When I began working with professional groups I first used Yamaha, then a Japanese-made Gibson copy, then an Ibanez S series, from which I eventually switched to a Fender Stratocaster.
300guitars: Who were your earliest musical influences? Who do you listen to now?
Igor Boiko: It’s hard to say. . . it wasn’t just one person or one musical style. Of course there was jazz: Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Joe Pass and others. Of course there was funk and soul: Blood, Sweat and Tears, Grand Funk, Chicago, Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau. Of course there was rock: Deep Purple, Pink Floyd. Fusion: Tribal Tech, Brecker Brothers etc. In general, everything I liked had an influence on me one way or another — like with everyone all the time — it’s hard to single out specific groups or specific musicians, for me there are no styles or categories, just good music and bad.
300guitars: Which guitars are you currently using these days?
Igor Boiko: My main instruments now are the Fender Igor Boiko Tele, made by Fender. Also in my arsenal is the unique instrument “Fodera Boiko Tele” made by the famous guitar masters Vincent Fodera and Vadim Medved. All my Telecasters are different, despite their cosmetic similarities. In concert and for recording I sometimes play a Fender Jeff Beck Strat, and I also endorse the Ibanez George Benson GB 100. In addition I have a Carvin Nylon Synth Access Guitar.
300guitars: What are your favorite amplifiers?
Igor Boiko: For the past fifteen years I was using Fender and Mesa Boogie with various modifications, but now I prefer Bogner.
300guitars: Do you use effects?
Igor Boiko: Nowadays I’m using: MXR Stereo Chorus, Maxon Vintage series AD-999 analog delay, Maxon CS-9 stereo chorus PRO, Maxon CP-9 Pro+ compressor/limiter, EBS Dyna Verb, T-REX Tremster, Boss OC-2 Octaver, Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer (Robert Keeley), Xotic BB Preamp, Xotic RC Booster, Xotic AC Plus, Ernie Ball Volume Pedal, Full tone Clyde Deluxe Wah Wah Pedal, KORG DT-10 Tuner, KORG OT-12 Tuner.
300guitars: Is your rig different for live performances than studio sessions?
Igor Boiko: Even though I have lots of session and studio experience, I feel most comfortable when I’m playing live, where the music depends on the atmosphere of the venue and the “buzz” I get from the crowd. I would say I’m more of a live musician than a studio musician.
300guitars: When did you first start writing songs?
Igor Boiko: I began composing at an early age, but I think it was when I hit my twenties that I really started writing well, and from that point my skills in composition and arranging took off and continue to develop to this day. On my solo albums I have mostly original compositions, with a few exceptions.
300guitars: What are some of your other interests outside of the music industry?
Igor Boiko: Literature, travel, cooking, sometimes woodworking.
300guitars: Please tell us about your “Igor Boiko Lab”.
Igor Boiko: My own school, the “Laboratory of Professional Education for Guitarists” was founded in January of 2005. My methods of instruction were developed over the course of 25 years. The method I offer my students is a system of learning the language of melodic improvising, with a knowledge of harmony and chord function; the main goal is to help guitarists discover and realize their own inner music. The material we cover in the Laboratory is not style-based, that is it can be applied to completely different musical directions. By the way, some of these concepts were published in my book “My Method,” which was released in 2002; a new edition is being prepared now.
300guitars: What are some of the most memorable events of your career and life?
Igor Boiko: I was born to my parents, and then my son was born — these are perhaps the main events. Secondly, the fact that my main interest in life coincides with my profession. Also, now I have become an independent musician in the sense that I can refuse projects that I don’t want to do. And thank God, 6 albums have been recorded, I have my school, and books are being written. I have had the fortune to share the stage with some of the greats — Ray Charles, Billy Cobham, Mike Stern, Larry Carlton, and others, I won’t name all of them. Actually, all the events of my life are important for me, each in its own way, and you can hear this in my music.
300guitars: What are your plans for the future?
Igor Boiko: Honestly, I don’t like to talk about plans, but there are some ideas specifically in the area of publishing.
300guitars: Thank you very much for taking the time for this Spotlight interview! I wish you much success in the future.
Igor Boiko: Thank you for the interest you have shown; it’s been interesting and a pleasure to answer your questions. I hope that all readers and visitors to “300guitars” will like not only my interview but also my music, which you can find at http://www.igorboiko.com/content/blogcategory/41/102/ 😉
Here is a short clip of Igor Boiko at the Kremlin Palace.
You can read interview with two of his excellent “Laboratory” students here: