Euan Stevenson Vilnius Quintet (Scotland/Lithuania):
Euan Stevenson – p
The Quintet made its debut last summer at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival. This collaborative project between Edinburgh and Vilnius Jazz Festivals was formed as a creative jazz laboratory involving young representatives of the two countries.
“A collaborative project is the best way to introduce Lithuanian performers to foreign audiences and unknown foreign musicians to Lithuanian audience”, says Antanas Gustys, one of the initiators of the Quintet and the producer of Vilnius Jazz.
The Quintet’s successful debut encouraged the musicians to make appearance in Scotland House Conference Hall in Brussels. And now Vilnius jazz aficionados have the chance to hear music of Euan Stevenson, Juozas Kuraitis and Dominykas Vyšniauskas.
In his music the Quintet’s leader Euan Stevenson manoeuvres between jazz and classical music, finds inspiration in pop and Scottish folk music. The pianist admits, that he wants his music to be accessible, hooky, and enjoyable for as wide an audience as possible.
Stevenson was classically trained but by his mid teens jazz had become his primary focus. However, his injury forced him to stop his jazz piano studies at the Birmingham Conservatoire. While he continued taking lessons from the formidable UK jazz pianist Liam Noble, he completed his degree specialising in classical composition at the University of Birmingham.
The multifarious musician is active as a solo pianist as well as plays in various formations, composes and arranges for chamber ensembles and jazz orchestras. His solo album Portraits, Preludes and Landscapes reveals his academic education and improviser’s ambitions. The critics compared the compositions featured on this CD to those by Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and even Erik Satie.
With his Trio Stevenson revisits the style of the great trios of the late 1950’s and 60’s. His scores for jazz orchestra have been performed by the BBC Big Band and his arrangements for nonet of jazz quartet, string quartet and harp received ecstatic reviews.
However, he has received the highest accolades for originality while playing with saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski. The duo recorded New Focus, which was acknowledged to be an impressive Scottish jazz revelation. The album was nominated for The 2012 Scottish Album of the Year Award.
The pianist has collaborated with jazz singers including Matthew Ford, Tina May, and Carla Cook. He also composes, arranges and plays piano for rising pop star Georgia. As a sideman he has worked with some of the top players on the UK jazz scene including Colin Steele, Tom Gordon and Trish Clowes. Furthermore, he is a co- founder and director of the independent record label Up On The 1 Records.
Juozas Kuraitis is a regular participant of Vilnius Jazz, a winner of Vilnius Jazz Young Power Competition (2006, 2007). The saxophonist has also garnered prizes at the J. Pakalnis Young Performers Competition (1999), Jazz Competition in Nida (2004) and Džiazo viltis (Jazz Hope, 2005).
In 2008, Kuraitis graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. He furthered his education in Sibelius Academy in Finland. He has sided in many a jazz master project such as Artūras Anusauskas, Herbie Kopf, George Kontrafouris, Robin Aristoren, and Kęstutis Vaiginis. Recently, he has been collaborating with Arkady Gotesman; is a member of the percussionist’s Quintet.
Kuraitis formed his own Quartet involving Dmitry Golovanov, Vytis Nivinskas and Darius Rudis. The saxophonist is at home in a wide spectre of music from mainstream to free jazz, tango and classical music. He has appeared in Lithuania’s main jazz and contemporary music festivals, was a member of In Culto, performed with Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra, Sax Fix saxophone quartet, various big bands; is a member of Vilnius Jazz Orchestra.
A winner of national and international competitions Dominykas Vyšniauskas studied at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Amsterdam School of the Arts, honed his skills in New York and Leipzig.
The trumpeter has worked with many international bands including Mezkal Jazz Unit, Swinging Europe European Youth Jazz Orchestra, Gerd Hermann Ortler Orchestra, Jazzwerkstatt, and Secret Swing Society, as well as Vilnius Jazz Orchestra, LRT and Kaunas big bands.
In various projects Vyšniauskas has shared the stage with Vijay Iyer, Klaus Kugel, Grazyna Auguscik, Michael Moore, Andreas & Matthias Pichler, Dalius Naujokaitis, Janas Maksimovičius, Liudas Mockūnas, Arturas Bumšteinas and other renowned musicians. He has performed in Europe, Canada and the US.
Over the last decade the double bassist Andrew Sharkey has played with many top Scottish artists, including Brian Kellock, Colin Steele, Konrad Wiszniewski and Niki King. He has also recently accompanied New Orleans saxophonist Jessie Davis and British pianist David Newton. Sharkey is a member Stevenson Trio.
Drummer James Drummond’s professional career began with rock band Strangeways, with whom he recorded five albums over twelve years and opened shows for many of rock’s big names such as Meatloaf, Bryan Adams, Europe and The Kinks. He has worked with musicians of all styles – Scottish singers Mae McKenna and Barbara Dickson, Japanese singer Imeko Shiratori, and the late sax legend Dick Heckstall-Smith.