William Hooker - Liudas Mockūnas (USA/Lithuania):
William Hooker - dr
The illustrious figures of improvised scene collaborate for the first time. Up to now, the Lithuanian audience knew William Hooker, one of the most innovative drummers of his generation, only from his numerous albums, three of which were released by NoBusiness Records based in Vilnius. The recordings reveal his unquenchable urge to ceaselessly search for new forms of music and partners, and defy genre bounds.
Rather than establishing a regular unit, William Hooker leads a number of intriguing projects involving the most creative and idiosyncratic improvisers of different generations. The assortment of projects allows him to carry out his compositional intentions, and showcase his resourcefulness and flexibility. Whether set against a silent film or anchored by a poetic theme, Hooker brings dramatic tension and human warmth to avant-garde jazz.
The drummer started performing at the age 12. While in college, he received a unique music education – he delved into the output of the 20th century composers, which he combined with independent study of the jazz albums on Blue Note Records. While he was disappointed by the lack of ability on the jazz scene as a whole, he chose the radical path and has stayed faithful to the aesthetics of free jazz to this day.
Since his first album (1978) featuring David Murray, David S. Ware and Jemeel Moondoc, the virtuoso has worked with the exceptional personalities of improvised music scene. Sadly, little of the experiments he made found their way onto records. It wasn’t until the early ‘90s that his work emerged on independent labels like Knitting Factory, Silkheart and Homestead.
In his early years, Hooker collaborated with pianist Mark Hennen, saxophonists Charles Compo and Blaise Siwula, trombonist Masahiko Kono and many other experimenters. Later his attention landed on the figures of alternative rock and avant-garde – guitarists Thurston Moore, Elliot Sharp, Lee Ranaldo, as well as representatives of electronic music Brian Doherty, Douglas Walker, turntablists DJ Olive and Christian Marclay.
Hooker is one of the most interesting composers and players in modern jazz. He has recorded over 30 albums; enjoys regular substantial commissions, performs in major venues in the USA, Europe and Asia.
The reed virtuoso and composer Liudas Mockūnas is becoming a frequent visitor of the orbit of the coryphées of improvised music. Recently his album Lava recorded with double bassist Barry Guy, a British legend of improvised music, earned outstanding reviews. His new studio collaboration features free jazz saxophonist Evan Parker.
Mockūnas is one of the most creative representatives of the Lithuanian contemporary jazz and improvised music. Upon graduating from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (LAMT) and the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, he took active stance on the scene of European improvised music.
The musician is a co-leader of various international collectives such as Toxikum, electro-acoustic trio Red Planet and Lithuanian Saga Quartet, a member of Copenhagen Art Ensemble, Pasborg’s Odessa 5, Vladimir Tarasov Trio and the Gaida Ensemble. Presently, he concentrates on his trio Nuclear.
The reed champion has taken part in programmes of Pierre Dorge and his New Jungle Orchestra, played as a duo with Marc Ducret and Ryoji Hojito, Barry Guy, Petras Geniušas, Vladimir Tarasov and Artūras Bumšteinas, collaborated with Jacob Anderskov, Nils Davidsen, Vladimir Chekasin, Arkady Gotesman, Mats Eilertsen, Mark Solborg, Jonas Westergaard, Jakob Riis, Jaak Sooäär and many other intriguing jazz musicians.
He has performed with Andrew Hill’s Jazz Par octet, Mikko Innanen Inkvisitio, Ibrahim Electric, British TrioVD, Markus Pesonen Handenctet, Free Tallinn Trio, Mats Gustaffsson, Raymond Strid and Frank Gratkowski.
Mockūnas is a prize winner of various competitions in Lithuania, Latvia and France; a recipient of Vilnius Jazz and Birštonas Jazz prizes for contribution to Lithuanian jazz, as well as Gold Disc awarded by the Lithuanian Musicians’ Union. In 2011, he was decorated with a Golden Cross of the Stage (award for achievements in Lithuanian theatre field) for the best music for theatre production.
In addition, he is famed not only as an exponent of improvised music and avant-garde jazz, but also as an expert of contemporary academic music. His repertoire includes works by academic music composers including Bronius Kutavičius, Anatolijus Šenderovas, Arvydas Malcys, Vyacheslav Ganelin, Dietrich Eichmann, Vykintas Baltakas, Raminta Šerkšnytė and Giedrius Puskunigis.
As a soloist the saxophonist has performed with Kralovy Hradec Symphony Orchestra, the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra and Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra as well as St. Christopher and Klaipėda chamber orchestras and Chordos String Quartet.
With various formations Mockūnas has toured in Europe, the USA and China.