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

Improdimensija orchestra


Mėta Gabrielė Pelegrimaitė – fl, b
Kristupas Gikas – fl, DJ
Kazimieras Jušinskas – ss, as
Klaudijus Štuopinis – ts, bs
Arminas Bižys – as, bs
Dovydas Stalmokas – as, bss
Simas Petkevičius – as
Matas Samulionis – ts
Liudas Mockūnas – ss, ts, bss, cls
Klaudija Indriliūnaitė – g, electronika
Dominykas Norkūnas – g, bg
Simonas Kaupinis – tb
Mikas Kurtinaitis – tb
Gediminas Stepanavičius – tb, db
Arnas Mikalkėnas – p, perc
Domantas Razmus – dr, perc

The orchestra, formed on the initiative of improvised music masters Liudas Mockūnas and Arnas Mikalkėnas, involves alumni and current students of the Contemporary Music/Improvised Music Master’s Program at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (LAMT) as well as their associates.

The aforementioned program was developed several years ago by Mockūnas and composer Vykintas Baltakas. They invited their close friend Mikalkėnas to join the lecturer team. Before long, the new program injected fresh air in the LAMT and became an integral part of Improdimensija.

What is Improdimensija? It is a creative platform for improvisation, experimentation and education, opening the gateways to untrodden sound valleys, where not only the veterans, but also the younger generations unleash their creative powers.

The idea of ​​the free jazz and improvised music concert series Improdimensija (Improdimension) was born in Kaunas in 2011, when pianist, percussionist and composer Arnas Mikalkėnas and his friends started organising music projects in various venues of the former temporary capital of Lithuania.

In 2017, Improdimensija opened a new page in its history. After saxophonist and composer Mockūnas, known not only in but also outside of Europe, and Arūnas Zujus, the owner of and recording engineer at the MAMAstudios recording studio, joined Mikalkėnas the Improdimensija concerts started to be held in this studio in Vilnius.

During the three years of activity in Vilnius the Improdimensija series presented not only Lithuanian coryphées of jazz and improvised music such as Vyacheslav Ganelin, Vladimir Chekasin, Vladimir Tarasov, Dalius Naujokaitis, Juozas Milašius, Arkady Gotesman, Tomas Kutavičius and many others, but also the world stars of the genre: Mats Gustafosson, Barry Guy, Nate Wooley, Peter Evans, John Butcher, Jim Black, Drew Gress, Agusti Fernandez, etc.

Almost all improvisers from abroad also give masterclasses to young Lithuanian jazzmen. Improdimensija encourages and fosters intergenerational dialogue and collegial collaboration. Musicians of the younger generation share the Improdimensija stage with the Lithuanian and international luminaries. The young improvisers also introduce their compositions here.

The Improdimensija movement prompted the rise of improvised music in Lithuania, bringing the students of the LAMT Contemporary Music/Improvised Music Master’s Program, who have become an integral part of Vilnius’ underground life, to the vanguard.

The enduring relationship between students and teachers in this program eventually resulted in the Improdimensija Orchestra. According to its initiators, the two-year Masters in Contemporary Music/Improvised Music program flies by quickly, and it is always difficult to say goodbye to students. Thus, the desire has sparked off to bring together those who do not imagine their musical path without improvised music, profess the same musical aesthetics and speak one language.

All members of the orchestra are highly skilled, have a wide musical horizon and an unbridled creative imagination, so the music they perform will surprise even those who have heard everything.

According to the musicians, the program of the Improdimensija Orchestra is based exclusively on the ideas of the band members, written in graphically and traditionally notated scores. This concert is a great opportunity to prove the professionalism and creativity of improvisers of our younger generation.

Multi-instrumentalist, composer and group leader Liudas Mockūnas is one of the most important representatives of improvised music in the Baltic region. Graduate of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (LAMT) and the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, he instantly took active stance on the scene of European improvised music.

Today he is the most dynamic Lithuanian jazz master, constantly migrating between European festivals and jazz clubs, discovering new creative partners in Scandinavia, Baltic States, Poland, Russia, Portugal and other countries.

The musician is the leader of Mockūno Nuclear and Traffic Trio, a co-leader of international collectives Toxikum and electro-acoustic trio Red Planet, a member of Copenhagen Art Ensemble, Markus Pesonen’s Hendecet, Stefan Pasborg’s Free Moby Dick and Odessa 5, international groups Dirty Mountain, Heavy Beauty and Mikko Innanen’s Innkvisitio, contemporary music ensembles Gaida and Konvoj Art. In addition, he is an associate of the Lithuanian Ensemble Network.

The saxophonist plays in a duo with Marc Ducret and Ryoji Hojito, Barry Guy, William Hooker, Petras Geniušas, Artūras Bumšteinas, Vladimir Tarasov and Mikko Innanen, collaborates with Pierre Dørge and his New Jungle Orchestra, Jacob Anderskov, Nils Davidsen, Vladimir Chekasin, Arkady Gotesman, Mats Eilertsen, Mark Solborg, Jonas Westergaard, Jakob Riis, Jaak Sooäär, Hugo Carvalhais and many other intriguing jazz musicians.

He has taken part in programmes of Andrew Hill’s Jazz Par octet, Ibrahim Electric, British TrioVD, Free Tallinn Trio, Mats Gustaffsson, Raymond Strid and Frank Gratkowski among other jazz innovators.

In 2004, Mockūnas and Stefan Pasborg received the Danish Music Award for Toxikum’s album. The saxophonist 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 “Golden Disc” awarded by the Lithuanian Musicians’ Union.

In 2011, he was decorated with a “Golden Cross of the Stage” (award for achievements in the Lithuanian theatre field) for the best music for theatre production. Moreover, as a composer Mockūnas has been commissioned to write music for Copenhagen Art Ensemble, Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra and Chordos String Quartet.

In addition, he is famed as an expert of contemporary academic music. His repertoire includes works by such composers as Bronius Kutavičius, Anatolijus Šenderovas, Arvydas Malcys, Vyacheslav Ganelin, Dietrich Eichmann, Vykintas Baltakas, Raminta Šerkšnytė, Giedrius Puskunigis, Osvaldas Balakauskas and Vytautas Germanavičius.

As a soloist he 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 he has toured in Europe, the USA, China, Japan and Israel.

Mockūnas’ discography amounts to around 60 albums. He is a co-founder and co-strategist of an independent record label NoBusiness Records, and an associate professor at the Jazz Department of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.

Arnas Mikalkėnas, a percussionist, keyboardist, composer, leader, pedagogue and Spiritus Movens of numerous projects, is dedicated to non-commercial music.

In 2011–2015, he studied jazz piano at the Vytautas Magnus University Academy of Music, in 2015–2017 – electronic music composition and performance at the Kaunas University of Technology.

Via his idiosyncratic creations showcasing utmost attention to sound the musician bravely breaks the common notion of musical categories. Mockūnas is his regular stage partner. They both appear in various formations at the Improdimensija series. Since 2013, they have been performing as a trio with Haåkon Berre, a Norwegian drummer residing in Denmark. The trio has toured in Lithuania, Estonia, Norway and the Czech Republic and released the album Plunged (Barefoot Records).

Inspired by free jazz trio Ąžuoliniai berželiai he formed Fluxus, one of his main collectives. He also plays in duos with Tomas Razmus, and with Dominykas Vyšniauskas, composes music for Kaunas Drama Theatre, takes part in theatre productions. The productive partnership has associated the improviser with Justinas Kalinauskas, the creator of contemporary alternative theatre and happenings.

Mikalkėnas has collaborated with a number of renowned Lithuanian and foreign masters of improvised music including Vytautas Labutis, Arkady Gotesman, Dalius Naujokaitis, Arvydas Joffė, Kenny Wollesen, Anne Liis Poll, Lasse Lindgren, Jerome Fourrier, Ken McCann, Francesco Angiuli and Nuria Andorrà.

In addition, the musician is actively involved in educational work. In 2018, together with a businesswoman Daiva Masaitytė he opened Jazz Academy in Kaunas, an institution of non-formal education for the young enthusiast who are not satisfied with the curriculum offered by the national music schools. The musician also teaches at the Vytautas Magnus University Music Academy and J. Gruodis Conservatoire in Kaunas.

Mikalkėnas has given concerts in Italy, Germany, Ireland, Poland and other countries.

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