Kęstutis Vaiginis - sax
“The Quartet came into being quite naturally, as is with most Lithuanian groups: the musicians keep colliding like free atoms until the moment comes when they bind together into squads. The only difference is that we stepped over our fence and discovered good musicians on the other side”, joked Dmitrij Golovanov, a keyboardist residing in Vilnius, one of the inspirers of the Tree Stones.
He and saxophonist Kęstutis Vaiginis came up with an idea of a quartet involving young virtuosos from Baltic States in 2012. Dmitrij invited Kaspars Kurdeko, a Latvian drummer and his former schoolmate from Amsterdam Conservatoire, and Kęstutis – Peedu Kass, an Estonian bassist whom he met in jam session in Estonia.
The group made its debut in Warsaw after rehearsing just for an hour, but the resulting concert, according to musicians, is impossible to forget.
From the very beginning the band’s playing was evident with great musical chemistry and dynamic interplay. Many other groups could only envy its productivity. In addition to performing in the Baltic States, the quartet appeared in the legendary Jazz Jamboree festival in Poland, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Germany, gave concerts in Czech Republic. Last year the quartet released its debut album Baltic Sketches, which is being presented at the Vilnius Jazz festival.
Educated abroad the Tree Stones virtuosos are awaited at the festivals and praised as gifted composers. They write music for the quartet. Kęstutis and Dmitrij put a lot of effort to keep the group going, which is not easy for its members are in demand and plan very much in advance.
Kęstutis Vaiginis is an initiator and leader of a number of international projects; he also tours around the world with Dainius Pulauskas Group. As a leader and guest musician in various collectives he appeared in prestigious festivals including Nord Sea Jazz, Rotterdam, London, Ottawa, Cape Town, Istanbul and Hong Kong to name but a few, toured in Malaysia.
Vaiginis revealed his compositional talent while still a student at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, the Prince Claus Conservatorium and Amsterdam School of the Arts (the Netherlands), as well as Manhattan School of Music in New York. Since then, as a member of various collectives the saxophonist (and flutist) performed his compositions not only in Lithuania, but also the Netherlands, Spain, France, the USA, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Belarus.
During his study years Vaiginis started composing for big bands as well. In 2008, he formed Independent Artists Ensemble, a Lithuanian youth big band. In 2013, the musician performed his compositions with German State Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Two years ago Vaiginis was awarded Europamusicale prize, which the European Culture Foundation gives annually to one European musician. In the past a winner of numerous national and international competitions, he is a recipient of Grand Prix of Birštonas Jazz Festival (2010).
The list of his former and current stage partners includes such jazz coryphées as David Berkmann, Lex Sipiagin, Barbara Dennerlein, Hernan Romero, Ed Howard, Adam Cruz, Randal Corsen, Bilal Karmaran, Burak Bedikyan, Caner Kaptan, Herbie Kopf, Joon Haavisto and Deniss Pashkevich, as well as Indonesian, Korean and Italian musicians.
His discography amounts to three personal albums; his compositions were included in several Lithuanian music collections. “His vision is wide-ranging from the subtle to the provocative, rooted in an appreciation of tradition and yet looking forward”, said Steve Wilson, an illustrious American saxophonist, about Vaiginis’ Unexpected Choices recorded with acclaimed New Yorkers.
In 2007, Dmitrij Golovanov has garnered Vilnius Jazz Young Power Grand Prix, the following year won the International Jazz Improvisation Competition in Vilnius, and in 2013 reached the finals of the European Jazz Competition in Rotterdam.
The keyboardist revels in free jazz, experiments with electro-acoustic music, however he is also well schooled in jazz traditions. He leads the LAMT Big Band. His distinct traits are versatility and creativity.
Golovanov got jazz basics at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, later furthered his education in Mendelssohn-Bartholdy University of Music and Theatre in Leipzig.
The pianist’s skills, his expressive and melodious phrasing, subtle taste and imagination appeal to Lithuanian and foreign jazz masters who invite Dmitrij to take part in various projects. He has collaborated with Brothers Briliai, Annie Kierulff and Anders Andersson, Jacob Riis, Byron Wallen, Eska Mtungwazi, trio VD, Jan Maksimovich and other luminaries of Lithuanian jazz; is a member of Liudas Mockūnas’ NuClear; partakes in international formations Beat Freisen Spelunkenorkester (Germany-Lithuania-Taiwan) and Swilit (Switzerland-Lithuania).
His latest passion is keyboards and drums duo with percussionist Arkady Gotesman. The duo favours spontaneous improvisation stemming from a combination of acoustic percussion gestures, keyboard melodies and live electronics’ tricks. Duo’s exotic jazz is sometimes enriched by Rolandas Rastauskas’ poems.
According to Golovanov, no other instrument can match the expression range of keyboards and piano. “Through music I can project my entire life experience and values”, says the performer. One will discover that in his debut solo album Me (released last year) seamlessly intertwining his original compositions with free improvisations.
Peedu Kass is one of the sought-after Estonian bassists. Home, his debut album as a leader, was awarded the prestigious Elion Young Jazz Talent prize. Kass has been an active member of the Baltic jazz and contemporary music scene since winning the acclaimed 2006 Sony Jazz Stage competition.
Peedu studied double bass at the Tallinn Georg Ots Music College as well as the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. He continued his education at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and is currently studying at the renowned Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. In addition, he manages working from small groups to numerous big bands and orchestras.
Peedu has been often featured with the ECM protégé Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, performing and premiering contemporary classical music throughout Europe. He has also been active as a composer and arranger.
His short career has taken him to record dates with Grammy Award winners Mark Gross and Antonio Hart, as well as playing with Django Bates, Lonnie Liston Smith, Tony Allen and the European Jazz Orchestra.
Kaspars Kurdeko received classical education from the Music Academy in Riga. However, he is most happy when improvising and experimenting. Music has been his life passion. With different formations the drummer has appeared in the USA, South Korea, Sweden, Portugal, etc.