| Danielius Praspaliauskis / Arūnas Šlaustas
Quintet Contra Jazz (Lithuania):
Danielius Praspaliauskis - as
Arunas Šlaustas - keyboards
Vytautas Mikeliunas- v
Vladislav Borkovski - b
Marius Aleksa - dr
The new album materialises developed by the band synthesis of jazz and academic music that was consolidated in the programs of the Quintet that were performed last year, at Kaunas Jazz and Vilnius Jazz festivals. Basing on ageless J.S.Bach's oeuvre and academic classic, through pastiches of themes and improvised interludes growing into pure jazz, Contra Jazz builds this bridge between nowadays and the past, having fused bounds between cultures, genres and temperaments.
Contra Jazz of current cast was naturally formed in a couple of years. All members of the Quintet are prominent Lithuanian jazz masters, who have been in contact with classic music since their childhood.
One of the leaders and composers of the Quintet is saxophonist Danielius Praspaliauskis. He is a diverse musician, who since 1991 takes active part on Lithuanian jazz stages, performs various style jazz and academic music of various styles. The saxophonist is known from LRT (Lithuanian Radio and Television) and Kaunas Big bands, V.Tarasov's LAO. He has also performed with such international teams as A.Vapirov's Big-band, EBU Big-band, European Young People Big-band. With various teams he has extensively toured in various European countries. Besides jazz the saxophonist performs academic music: he plays with Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, participates in contemporary music projects, has recorded several pieces of contemporary Lithuanian composers. D.Praspaliauskis has participated in contemporary music festivals both in Lithuania and abroad, including Warsaw Autumn in Poland and Caravan in 2001 in Mongolia.
From 1994 m. D.Praspaliauskis distinguishes as a leader; he constantly gathers various ensembles, leads the Dixieland. The saxophonist has recently tested his skills in playing acid jazz: he participated in L.Rimsha's projects Opera in da House and Guerilla Jazz.lt.
D.Praspaliauskis' old colleague is a co-leader of the Quintet, and the composer and producer of the new album, Arunas Šlaustas. This pianist, keyboardist and composer is acknowledged not only in jazz, but also in academic music field. The prominent laureate and winner of national and international pianist contests has played a number of academic music recitals, performed with Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and contemporary music ensemble Ex Tempore. A.Šlaustas began to play jazz at LMA Big-band, lead by V.Chekasin, later he was a member-pianist of The New Lithuanian Trio, D.Praspaliauskis quartet and Dixieland. A.Šlaustas not only performs: he composes music muziką, looking for new jazz and academic music links. Jazz lovers remember the outcomes of his experimenting that sounded during Vilnius Jazz festivals: Eklektishkasis Bolero (Eclectic Bolero) (1995) and Ciaccona (1999).
Original colour of Contra Jazz enriches Vytautas Mikeliunas's violin. Well-known performer of academic music, concertmaster of St.Christopher's Orchestra, the violinist performs both with jazz musicians, initiates jazz projects, arranges. Having begun to learn secrets of jazz at V.Chekasins, in 1981 he already performed this music with K.Lushas ensemble (participated at Vitebsk Jazz Festival). When, after long break he returned back on jazz stage, V.Mikeliunas played with V.Labutis' octet, S.Sasnauskas, A.Gurinavichius, and A.Šlaustas. The musician participated at many various jazz festivals in Lithuania and abroad.
Contra Jazz bass line is lead by Vladislav Borkovski. Having begun to play jazz in 1985, in V.Chekasin's student ensemble, he has performed with a number of different trend Lithuanian jazz musicians: S.Sasnauskas, D.Praspaliauskis, J.Milashius, D.Naujokaitis, P.Vyshniauskas, L.Mockūnas and others. He is a regular member of D.Pulauskas sextet, takes active part at jazz festivals in Lithuania and abroad - in Europe and Asia.
The drummer of the Quintet - Marijus Aleksa - most probably is the youngest representative of Lithuanian jazz professionals' league. He is a student of Vilnius conservatoire. Having substituted his first instrument, piano, with percussion, currently M. Aleksa is distinguished by his mastership and divergent musical thinking.
M.Aleksa appeared on international jazz stage when he was very young: at the age of thirteen he played at several festivals in duets with O. Molokojedov. M.Aleksa's curriculum vitae/biography includes Junior Jazz (in Vilnius, 1997, 1999, 2001) and Birštonas (2000), Vilnius (2000), Kaunas (2001, 2002, 2003), and Klaipėda (2003) jazz festivals. The drummer played in Norway, where he studied in 2001-2002, participated at Gospel and Jazz Festival in Poland. In 2001, during the National Junior Jazz Musician Contest M. Aleksa was acknowledged as the best drummer. In 2002 together with The Jazz Pictures band he won the second prize in Junior Jazz Band Contest in Vilnius.
© Jūratė Kučinskaitė