LMTA Big Band (Lithuania):
The LMTA Big Band started its existence in the 80’s, when Vladimir Chekasin, the master of Lithuanian jazz, gathered together jazz enthusiasts and formed an orchestra at the then Lithuanian State Conservatoire.
The collective turned out to be a creative laboratory of this universal artist. In five years the Lithuanian State Conservatoire Big Band developed three substantial programmes blending various jazz styles – from ragtime to avant-garde, ethno-music and rock, as well as characteristics of different epochs and ways of music making.
In Soviet time this Orchestra was regarded as a certain oasis of freedom that cultivated unorthodox attitudes of both musicians and audiences. Jazz innovators gave over a hundred performances in Lithuanian and abroad, were ranked among Soviet jazz top polls.
Soloists with the Big Band included V. Chekasin and his disciples – saxophonists Petras Vyšniauskas and Vytautas Labutis. Rhythm section involved the members of V. Chekasin Quartet: pianist Olegas Molokojedovas, bassist Leonid Shinkarenko and drummer Gediminas Laurinavičius.
For many musicians the Big Band led by V. Chekasin was the main professional Alma Mater. It is here that the elite of today’s Lithuanian jazz was educated.
In the 90’s, Eugenijus Vedeckas revived the student big band tradition at the LMTA. Under his direction the Big Band started appearing in international festivals, and inviting jazz and big band authorities from abroad.
Since autumn 2007, the LMTA Big Band has been led by saxophonist and composer Liudas Mockūnas, a V. Cheksain’s disciple, one of the leading exponents of contemporary jazz and improvised music in Lithuania.
The Big Band’s programme presented at the Birštonas Jazz Festival 2008 caused a sensation. Led by L.Mockūnas the LMTA students presented a programme featuring contemporary compositions from the repertoire of virtuoso Danish orchestra “Copenhagen Art Ensemble”.
However, L.Mockūnas believes, that the LMTA Big Band’s mission is not realisation of original projects or ambitions of the director, but rather serving a practical purpose for students. Thus, L.Mockūnas seeks, that this instructive collective plays diverse music.