36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022

A.Šlaustas - T.Kutavičius project

A.Šlaustas - T.Kutavičius project (Lithuania):

Arūnas Šlaustas - keyb
Tomas Kutavičius - keyb
Vytautas Mikeliūnas - vn
Vytautas Labutis - s.sax
Skirmantas Sasnauskas - trb
Eugenijus Kanevičius - db
Darius Rudis - dr

Returning to Vilnius Jazz after four-year break Arūnas Šlaustas is the main composer in this project. Tomas Kutavičius has contributed with ideas and his experience as an improviser.

Having collaborated extensively in the past, the leaders of the project started performing as a jazz piano duo last year. The tandem’s new work will remind the duo’s repertoire, however most of the compositions were written specially for the festival. With this project the pianists continue their search for compelling fusion of jazz and academic music.

“Ideas ripen naturally, and then I write them down. And if there is nothing to say, it is better to stay away from the stage”, says Šlaustas assuredly.

Music of keyboardist and composer Arūnas Šlaustas embodies a dialogue between jazz and academic music, bridges past and present.

Šlaustas commenced his career as a performer of academic music. After graduating from the Lithuanian Academy of Music, where he studied piano, he performed as a recitalist and as a soloist with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, and took part in contemporary music projects as a member and co-founder of Ex tempore ensemble.

The pianist started playing jazz in 1987 in Vladimir Chekasin’s Big Band of the Lithuanian Academy of Music. Later he played keyboards in Arnoldas Gurinavičius’ Quartet, The New Lithuanian Trio, D.Praspaliauskis’ Quartet and Dixieland. Together with the latter he formed Contra Jazz quintet.

Šlaustas has collaborated with majority of Lithuanian jazz celebrities, generated impressive solo jazz projects for festivals in Lithuania.

This year for Vilnius Jazz the keyboardist assembled a company of his long-standing partners.

Recently, Tomas Kutavičius has been busy as a composer of contemporary academic music rather than jazz. After graduating from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre he got engulfed with commissions.

Highlights of his new compositions include – Improvisation for large symphony orchestra (2011), Aqua quadrilium for two pianos and phonogram (2010), Signum for piano, violin and cello (2010), Triplum for solo violin, double bass and chamber orchestra (2009), Trejos devynerios for twelve flutes (2008).

Kutavičius has composed operas, a ballet, instrumental suites, musicales for children, and incidental music for theatre. In 1997, he received the Grand Prix at the International Grenoble Theatre Festival for music composed for A Journey, a production of the theatre studio Ąžuolas.

On jazz scene the composer has collaborated with Petras Vyšniauskuas, Arkady Gotesman, Juozas Milašius, Eugenijus Kanevičius, Skirmantas Sasnauskas, Dalius Naujokaitis, Vytautas Labutis, Vladimir Tarasov, Vladimir Chekasin, Klaus Kugel, Theo Jörgensmann, Jacques Siron, Jana Koubkova, Anatoly Vapirov among many other celebrities. Kutavičius has also authored impressive solo jazz projects, which feature his voice as well. Among them noteworthy are Conversations With My Soul (1991), Magister Ludi (2001), and Autumn Chant (2004).

With various formations he has toured throughout Europe, the USA and Japan.

Currently, Kutavičius is a member of jazz faculty at the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas.

In his creative path Vytautas Mikeliūnas also commingles jazz and academic music. He has received excellent violin schooling under professor Viktoras Radovičius at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, while Vladimir Chekasin fostered his jazz skills.

He spent ten years as the Principal Violin of the St.Christopher Chamber Orchestra. During that period he made quite a few jazz arrangements for the orchestra’s jazz programs. With the orchestra he took part in Jazz Fest in Berlin (1999).

The musician has collaborated with Kęstutis Lušas, Vytautas Labutis, Danielius Praspaliauskis, Leonid Shinkarenko and many other Lithuanian jazz masters, designed a number of programmes with his own Trio and Quartet. He has appeared in the major Lithuanian jazz festivals.

Mikeliūnas teaches at the Vilnius College of Higher Education.

Vytautas Labutis, a saxophone virtuoso, multi-instrumentalist, composer, is one of the leading figures on Lithuanian jazz scene. Lately, the musician has been busy experimenting with diverse formations and indulging the audiences with his novel ideas. Talented musician is at home in both small-scale and monumental jazz forms.

Labutis was instrumental in a number of leading Lithuanian jazz ensembles including Džiazo nublokšti quintet, L. Shinkarenko’s Jazz 4, Dainius Pulauskas Group, Vilnius Jazz Quartet and Lithuanian Jazz Trio among other.

Labutis has appeared in various projects including Vladimir Tarasov’s Lithuanian Art Orchestra and Lithuanian Young Composers Orchestra, as well as international ones such as JazzBaltica Ensemble, Octet Ost, East-West Vapirov Project, New European Saxophone Quartet and Moscow Composers Orchestra. With diverse ensembles he has performed all around Europe, toured in Asia, the USA and Australia, recorded over 50 CDs.

Besides jazz the saxophonist performs contemporary academic music, takes part in artistic performances, writes music for film and theatre.

Skirmantas Sasnauskas is one of the leading personalities on Lithuanian folk jazz scene. A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, he also teaches voice and trombone at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. He has ushered many a young colleagues into Lithuanian jazz scene.

While studying trombone at the Lithuanian State Conservatoire, he got interested in folklore traditions, started singing folk music and incorporating folk instrument timbres and colours in his music.

Later on teaming up with keyboardist Dainius Pulauskas, bassist Vladislav Borkovski and drummer Linas Būda, Sasnauskas has creatively expanded his unique style, merging jazz, folklore and avant-garde expression means. In 1987, his quartet inaugurated the very first Vilnius Jazz in the hall of the Lithuanian Academy of Science.

Sasnauskas played in Vladimir Chekasin’s Big Band, Petras Vyšniauskas’ Dixieland, participated in Vladimir Tarasov’s The Lithuanian Art Orchestra, Danielius Praspaliauskis’ Dixieland, and contemporary music ensemble Ex tempore projects, was a soloist and leader of the Kaunas Big Band. The musician has collaborated with majority of Lithuanian jazz luminaries, and of late he has been working with vocalist, composer and arranger Vita Rusaitytė.

Sasnauskas has toured in Finland, Germany, Sweden and Spain among other countries.

In 2007, he received Vilnius Jazz Award for his contributions to Lithuanian jazz.

Eugenijus Kanevičius is one of the most versatile Lithuanian bassists and composers. He made his debut on jazz scene in 1986.

The bassist has collaborated with all leading Lithuanian jazz musicians, was part of Petras Vyšniauskas’, Juozas Milašius’, Liudas Mockūnas’, Vytautas Labutis’, Vladimir Tarasov’s, Tomas Kutavičius’ significant projects, for many years has been sharing stage with Skirmantas Sasnauskas, Artūras Anusauskas, Egidijus Buožis, Arkady Gotesman, Arvydas Jofė and Neda Malūnavičiūtė among other musicians.

He has also worked with Estonian saxophonist Raivo Tafenau Quartet, Dream Big Band, has contributed to the success of Kaunas Big Band, Vilnius Jazz Quartet and Traffic.

E. Kanevičius’ music is featured on albums of Raivo Tafenau Quartet, L.V.K.A. and other groups. He has composed incidental music for children plays, recorded over 10 CDs.

The bassist regularly appears in jazz festivals in Lithuania, has represented Lithuania in Bulgaria, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Italy, Great Britain, etc.

In 2004, for his contributions the Lithuanian Musicians’ Union presented E. Kanevičius with Golden Disc Award.

Darius Rudis appears in diverse music projects with Jan Maksimovich, Baiba Skurstene, Artūras Chalikovas, Egidijus Buožis, Artūras Anusauskas, Dainius Pulauskas, Vytautas Labutis, Leonid Shinkarenko and Kęstutis Vaiginis among other Lithuanian jazz masters.

The drummer has collaborated with German pianist Bernd Homann, American vocalist Philip Hamilton, Bulgarian saxophonist Anatoly Vapirov, Finnish pianist Aleksi Tuomarila; appeared in jazz festivals in Switzerland, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Moldova, and Poland.

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