1. Irkutsk

From the recording Guitar Fifty Years

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I went to Irkutsk in Siberia in summer 1994. Weather was fine, high about 70. We took the worship team from our church and played on the streets day after day, with a gospel presentation. Young college jazz students were coming often, curious what music we were making. I sometimes really let loose some guitar jams on those streets, sensing a boldness and freedom. We had a lot of love of good jazz and guitarists in common. One asked, "are you also an evangelist?" Surprised that I was indeed one of them. Some of them even came to some of the evening gospel meetings, and a few responded to the invitation. Was I grateful!
I spent an entire day with these musicians, and showed them this piece I wrote, latin jazz influenced. Evgen asked to borrow it overnight, and returned it the next day. I (with permission) went with them to the night club where their band played. The played Russian folk, American Jazz, Beatles. So amazing, professional! I sat in with a few tunes, such an unforgettable experience, the atmosphere so exotic.
Evgen Seredkin wrote, "James Wirth guitarist and unique composer from Texas, became friends while with us. We talked all day with great enthusiasm. Showed him our city, listening to him play, a lot of joking, talking about music, the musicians, about God, about religion, about life. He wrote this piece just at the time and called it "Irkutsk". I apologize to all for being renamed it to our taste, but James did not mind when I heard his work in the form in which it is presented it on my CD. He is very praised by us all for the good work!"
A few months later, I received a cassette in the mail, Russian writing all over. It was their jazz band, and they included a cover of my song, doing a wonderful job!