35th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 13-16 October, 2022

Samuel Blaser Quartet

Samuel Blaser Quartet (Switzerland/France/USA):

Samuel Blaser - tb
Marc Ducret - g
Baenz Oester - b
Gerald Cleaver - dr

The Quartet unites the exceptional innovators and virtuosos whose music is hardly predicted.

Musician and composer Samuel Blaser is considered to be a new trombone star in the realm of the improvised music. He was born and raised in a musical family in La Chaux-de-Fonds, also known as a vibrant jazz metropolis of Switzerland.

While still a student at the local conservatoire, Blaser won numerous awards for both his classical and jazz performances including the Benny Golson Prize in 2000, and was able to work in various big bands featuring guest luminaries like Phil Woods, Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Buddy DeFranco and Jim McNeely.

Later Blaser worked with the prestigious Vienna Art Orchestra, and then represented Switzerland in the European Radio Big Band Tribute to Oscar Peterson tour in 2005.

Having received a Fulbright scholarship, Blaser went study in the United States at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College in New York. Before long, he copped three prizes at the Fribourg Jazz Festival and landed a spot with his own band in the concert series at the Zagreb Jazz Festival.

Dividing his time between New York City and Berlin, Blaser continues to work with a number of other groups as well such as Malcolm Braff & TNT, Animal Forum, and the Ravitz/Blaser Duo. Perpetual motion seems to be Blaser’s abiding principle.

“The world of music fascinates me to no end, and I’m determined to take one journey after another with my instrument and work,” says Blaser. “Believe me, I’m proof that a shiny trombone can send a message right to your heart and change your life.”

Composer and guitarist Marc Ducret is among today’s most original improvisers. When on stage he makes an impression of a man-orchestra. Empowered by acoustic and electric guitars the self-taught virtuoso does not restrict himself to a particular style, plays distinctive and unexpected music.

Marc Ducret’s music embraces all imaginable music forms – attacking electric guitar outbursts, subtle impressionistic abstractions, rock hits bursting into noise avalanches as well as bits and pieces from the world of flamenco and classical music.

The guitarist began his professional career playing in folk groups, rock and dance bands, accompanying singers and singing himself. This experience was his ‘Alma Mater’.

In 1986, Marc Ducret became a member of the French Orchestre National de Jazz, and also started frequenting domestic and international festival scene. He soon gained recognition – was awarded Django Reinghardt Prize in 1987, in 1988 and 1989 Jazz Hot magazine elected him the best French jazz guitarist, and in 1989 he was hailed as SACEM (The Society for the Advancement of Continuing Education for Ministry) star.

Since 1991, collaboration with American saxophonist Tim Berne brought Marc Ducret recognition overseas. He has since worked in a number of formations led by T. Berne, including duo, Big Satan, Caos Totale and Bloodcount. The guitarist also recoded several solo albums, released on T. Berne’s Screwgun label.

Marc Ducret today is one of the few European musicians regularly playing in the motherland of jazz. He also collaborates with Larry Schneider, David Friedmann, Michel Portal, Joachim Kühn, Franco Ambrosetti, Didier Lockwood, Miroslav Vitous, Enrico Rava, Adam Nussbaum, Django Bates, Joey Baron, Michel Godard, and many other luminaries, works with various groups, including AKA Moon, Acoustic Quartet with Louis Sclavis and Dominique Pifarély, Andy Emler Quintet, François Jeanneau orchestra Pandémonium, Copenhagen Art Ensemble, François Corneloup and Bobby Previte quartets.

In addition, Marc Ducret performs solo and with his own ensembles, including the tentet Seven Songs, exploring the music of the '60s with a very personal touch.

Lithuanian jazz aficionados had the chance to get mesmerised by his technical equilibristics and quick as lightning turns and twists of his thoughts. In 2004, he appeared with Toxikum in Birštonas Jazz Festival, the following year – with his trio and Liudas Mockūnas in Vilnius Jazz, and in 2006, he returned to Vilnius Jazz with L. Mockūnas, Stefan Pasborg and Paul Brousseau. M. Ducret and L. Mockūnas have recorded a duo album.

Baenz Oester is one of the most sought-after bass-players on the European jazz scene. Almost endless list of his partners attests to his versatility. He plays with such diverse pianists like Malcolm Braff, Michel Wintsch and Hans Feigenwinter.

Besides being a very busy sidemen – he played with international luminaries like Michael Brecker, Dewey Redman, Joe Lovano, Pierre Favre, Bill Stewart, Vienna Art Orchestra – Oester leads his own bands.

Oester is highly praised for his warm, soulful gut-string sound and the unpretentious cleverness of his singing lines. He is one of the great romantic rebels of contemporary jazz: he has an unflagging admiration for the tradition, but also likes to explore the unknown.

Born and raised in Detroit, Gerald Cleaver is a product of the city’s rich music tradition. Inspired by his father, drummer John Cleaver, he began playing the drums at an early age. He also played violin in elementary school, and trumpet in junior high school and high school.

As a teenager he gained invaluable experience playing with Detroit jazz masters Ali Muhammad Jackson, Lamont Hamilton, Earl Van Riper and Pancho Hagood. After graduating from the University of Michigan he began teaching in Detroit where he worked with Rodney Whitaker, A. Spencer Barefield, Marcus Belgrave, Donald Walden, Wendell Harrison, and with visiting musicians Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Burrell, Frank Foster, Howard Johnson, Diana Krall and Don Byron.

In 1995, he accepted an appointment as assistant professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Michigan. He moved to New York in 2002. He has performed or recorded with many a legend of improvised music including Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Matt Shipp, William Parker, Craig Taborn, Charles Gayle, Dave Douglas, Tim Berne, Ellery Eskelin and Miroslav Vitous, among others.


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