31st Vilnius Jazz Festival. 11-14 October, 2018
Nomad (Austria):

Sainkho Namtchylak - voice;
Wolfgang Puschnig - reeds;
Paul Urbanek - piano.


Lithuanian jazz aficionados should be indebted to Vilnius Jazz for discovering of this unique singer. Sometimes she is even called the Festival’s symbol. Since 1989, when Sainkho Namtchylak mesmerized Lithuanian audience with her multiphonics for the first time, Vilnius Jazz hosted her five times – in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1998. And every time her ever-growing group of fans has discovered her anew.

In the jubilee Vilnius Jazz Sainkho Namtchylak presents her project Nomad. It is also the title of her new album, summarizing her experiments, recorded for Leo label on occasion of her 50th anniversary. When commenting on this project, the singer reminded the common knowledge, that the new is the forgotten old. As a matter of fact, the basis of this programme is the forgotten old or song. According to Sainkho, song is a short story conveyed within a compact musical form. The process of song composition has always involved variation and improvisation; the song used to transform with every performance, and this transformation for the large part was determined by the mood of the audience. Song’s best versions were preserved and passed on in verbal form from generation to generation.

The creators of the project Nomad attempt to project the main quality of song – its ability to vary and develop. Computer – a symbol of new generation in this programme – captures melodic fragments, rhythmic sketches and sound loops. Its self-developing electronic program is used as the basis of a song. Combining live performance and recorded melody allows for varied number of performers – two, three, four or six.

Nomad’s inspiration and soul Sainkho Namtchylak is one of the few vocalists, daringly investigating avant-garde jazz improvisation territory. Owner of an extraordinary voice, in her music she organically combines old vocal technique and modern sound producing techniques, i.e. tradition and avant-garde. Her wide creative horizons embrace world music, free jazz, ethnic pop-electronics and avant-garde experiments. She fosters Middle Eastern vocal tradition by performing Tuvan folk music and Tibetan songs; she has tried her hand in theatre and poetry; she also introduced herself as an artist, illustrator of her own albums, this year she authored a book Karmaland.

Born in Tuva, Sainkho began her music studies in her native city, later she continued in Moscow. There, she discovered improvisation and studied Siberian lamaistic and shamanistic traditions as well as Tuvan and Mongolian overtone singing. Sainkho Namtchylak started her professional career as a folk singer with Sayani. As a member of this ensemble she earned her first recognition – became the winner of the Russian Federation Folk Singers’ Competition in 1986.

However, Sainkho’s artistic route took unexpected turn in 1989, when she started collaborating with group Tri-O in combining her unique folk singing with avant-garde experiments. Sainkho proceeded in this direction after moving to Europe in 1991, in the beginning to Vienna (Austria), then Dublin (Ireland) and Berlin (Germany). In 1993, she has made a victorious dip into pop world with her project Out of Tuva, but before long returned to her favourite field – avant-garde experiments. 

Experimenting always brings Sainkho Namtchylak together with innovative jazz improvisers. She finds like-minded colleagues all over the world – group Tri-O, Moscow Composers Orchestra, Eva Parker, Buch Morrise, Ned Rothenberg and Andreas Vollenweider, Lithuanian improvisers Vladimir Chekasin, Vladimir Tarasov, Juozas Milašius and Vytautas Pilibavičius. Last year Sainkho collaborated with Andrė Pabarčiūtė and Tomas Dobrovolskis.

Sainkho Namtchylak’s project features Wolfgang Puschnig, one of the most authoritative European jazz musicians, one of the most prominent representatives of Austrian jazz after Joe Zawinul. A multi-instrumentalist, au fait with flute and piccolo flute, alto and soprano saxophones, alto and bass clarinets, exotic shakuhachi and hoje, he is active in a wide range of fields from traditional and classical to ethnic and avant-garde music. Wolfgang Puschnig moulds his idiosyncratic sound world as a cosmopolitan, however he never forgets his own roots; his elegiac intonations, melodious vocal expression of lines and astounding virtuosity contribute to his personal style.

Born in Klagenfurt, Slovenia, Wolfgang Puschnig grew up surrounded by folk music, which eventually became part of his musical universe. After graduating from school in 1974, he studied saxophone, flute and musicology in Vienna. In 1977, together with pianist Mathias Rüegg he formed Vienna Art Orchestra (VAO), a unique orchestra with which he worked up to 1989. Wolfgang Puschnig was the main soloist in many of VAO’s legendary programmes such as Concerto Piccolo (1980), From No Time to Rag Time (1982), The Minimalism of Erik Satie (1984) and Lonely Nightride of a Saxophone Player (1985).

Besides working with the extremely resourceful Vienna Art Orchestra, Wolfgang Puschnig regularly collaborates with Carla Bley’s Very Big Band (since 1985), free-funk trio with bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Korean percussion group Samul Nori (since 1987), ensembles Megadrums, Red Sun and Grey, vocalists Lauren Newton and Linda Sharrock, violinist Mark Feldman, and percussionist Milton Cardona. Wolfgang Puschnig also leads his groups Air Mail, Pat Brothers and AM4. Having delved in jazz, based on Alpine folklore, with his Klagenfurt-based folk jazz group Sokrates Sixtinic Bongoloids in his youth, he has continued cultivating this line in Alpine Aspects project with bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and trumpeter Herbert Joos in 1991. In 2004, he was conferred the honorary Doctorate from his native Klagenfurt Alpen-Adria University. In 1998, he received Hans Koller Prize as the best musician of the year.

Virtuoso soloist and resourceful musician regularly appearing in various international formations, he also teaches and composes for film and theatre.

Pianist Paul Urbanek is one of Wolfgang Puschnig’s regular stage partners. Paul Urbanek has made his name as a composer, creator and developer of compositional method called reverse composing, introduced in album The Hans Koller Concept. He composed the piano line based on Hans Koller’s solo improvisations and spontaneous dialogues with Wolfgang Puschnig, recorded several years ago. Nominated the best album of the year in 2001, it earned Paul Urbanek Hans Koller Prize.

Paul Urbanek followed in the footsteps of his father also pianist. He has made his jazz debut in 1986. Having studied piano and improvisation at the Gustav Mahler Conservatoire in Vienna and keyboards in Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts, he appears as a pianist, keyboardist, composer and arranger. As a studio artist, he has collaborated in 70 albums along with Wolfgang Puschnig, Hans Koller, Alegre Corea, Izabel Padovani, Kim Dok Soo, Maria Pia De Vito, Bertl Mayer, group The Next Generation of Sound, Orchestre National Des Jazz to name but a few.

© Jūratė Kučinskaitė

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