35th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 13-16 October, 2022

Liudas Mockūnas - Samuel Blaser - Marc Ducret

Lithuania-Switzerland-France

Liudas Mockūnas – reeds
Samuel Blaser – tb
Marc Ducret – g

The musicians of this trio know each other well, they are all members of French guitarist Marc Ducret’s project Lady M. They meet in other projects as well.

The tandem of Mockūnas and Ducret has existed for two decades. The musicians started collaborating in 2002, when the guitarist joined Mockūnas and the Danish drummer Stefan Pasborg’s band Toxikum, which won the Danish Music Award for the Toxikum album, and later toured Scandinavia, the Baltic States and France.

At the time, Liudas also started playing as a duo with Marc, and soon released a duo album. In Lithuania, they have been heard in various line-ups.

More than a decade ago, the creative friendship between Ducret and Swiss trombonist Blaser began. These musicians also participate in each other’s projects and play as a duo.

Last year, Mockūnas had the opportunity to play as a duo with this trombonist when his long-time partner drummer Pierre Favre did not come to Vilnius due to illness.

Now these creative personalities are embarking on a trio musical journey, inspired by the sound of the legendary trio of Jimmy Giuffre, Jim Hall and Bob Brookmeyer. However, this group will create its own sound by playing the compositions of all trio members.

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, building new creative partnerships in Scandinavia, Baltic States, Poland, Russia, Portugal and other countries.

Liudas 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.

Mockūnas 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 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 he has toured in Europe, the USA, China, Japan and Israel.

He is a prize winner of various jazz 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 written music for Copenhagen Art Ensemble, Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra and Chordos String Quartet.

The musician has inspired a number of progressive phenomena in jazz life as a teacher in the Jazz Department of the LAMT. In 2016, together with composer Vykintas Baltakas, he created the Contemporary Music/Improvised Music Master’s Program at the LAMT, which has brought a qualitatively new generation of improvisers and jazz creators to the country’s jazz scene and has inspired the rise of improvised music in Lithuania.

The musician and his associates founded Improdimensija, a creative platform for improvisation, experimentation and education. The world’s coryphées of improvised music are invited to the LAMT for masterclasses, and at the same time they perform in the Improdimensija concert series, which he initiated, and which also presents the most interesting Lithuanian jazz musicians of different generations. Furthermore, in 2020 Mockūnas and his colleague Arnas Mikalkėnas co-founded the Improdimensija Orchestra, which involves former and current students and their colleagues from the Master of Music in Contemporary Music program.

Mockūnas’ discography amounts to around 70 albums. He is a co-founder and co-strategist of an independent record label NoBusiness Records. In 2020, NoBusiness Records was awarded Vilnius Jazz Prize for contributions to Lithuanian jazz.

Samuel Blaser won many awards for classical and jazz performance while studying at La Chaux de Fonds Conservatoire, and since graduating has played in various big bands, including the European Radio Orchestra and Vienna Art Orchestra.
After receiving a Fulbright scholarship, he studied at the New York Conservatory and later settled in Berlin, where he is still resident. The trombonist’s interests range from jazz and classical to folk, rock and blues.

Blaser pursues his creative ambitions by playing in his own ensembles and in the projects of his colleagues. His motto is to exhaust all possibilities of the trombone and to make the most of every creative situation.

According to the musician, he was created as he is today by his partnership with the jazz masters of the older generation, such as Pierre Favre, John Hollenbeck, Gerry Hemingway, Marc Ducret, Paul Motian, Oliver Lake and Daniel Humair.

Unable to perform during the pandemic, the prolific artist set up the digital record label “Blaser Music” and released four albums. As soon as the Europe opened up, he began to perform extensively with his trio, quartet, various duos and as a soloist.

Marc Ducret is among today’s most original improvisers. When on stage he makes an impression of a man-orchestra. Empowered by acoustic and electric guitars the self-taught virtuoso does not restrict himself to a particular style, plays distinctive and unexpected music.

The guitarist started his professional career by playing in folk groups, rock and dance bands, accompanying singers and singing himself. This experience was his ‘Alma Mater’.

In 1986, Ducret joined the French Orchestre National de Jazz, and also started frequenting domestic and international festival scene. He soon gained recognition – was awarded Django Reinghardt Prize in 1987, in 1988 and 1989 Jazz Hot magazine voted him to be the best French jazz guitarist, and in 1989 he was hailed as SACEM (The Society for the Advancement of Continuing Education for Ministry) star.

Since 1991, the collaboration with American saxophonist Tim Berne brought recognition overseas for Ducret. He has since worked in a number of formations led by Berne, including Caos Totale, Bloodcount, Science Friction and Big Satan Trio (featuring drummer Tom Rainey). Ducret is regularly playing in the motherland of jazz.

He has collaborated with David Sanborn, Django Bates, Joey Baron, David Friedmann, Michel Portal, Joachim Kühn, Franco Ambrosetti, Didier Lockwood, Miroslav Vitous, Enrico Rava, Adam Nussbaum and Michel Godard, as well as AKA Moon, Louis Sclavis and Dominique Pifarely Acoustic Quartet, Andy Emler Quintet, Francois Jeanneau Pandemonium orchestra, Copenhagen Art Ensemble, Ensemble Cairn, François Corneloup Quartet, Bobby Previte Quartet among many other notables.

The guitarist’s artistic horizons are extremely wide. In the past he formed and led Seven Songs Tentet, exploring the music of the ‘60s with a very personal touch. He has performed solo in opera production, worked with the performers of traditional Chinese music, and recorded several soundtracks. Currently, he also collaborates with Ictus Contemporary Music Ensemble. Lady M is one of his projects after Shakespeare involving vocalists and instrumental ensemble. In 2011–2014, inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s writings, Ducret recorded five Tower albums (Ayler Records) with several ensembles. Ducret is also involved in multimedia art projects.

The guitarist combines his touring with giving master classes, which he has led in France, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Finland, USA, Scandinavia and Baltic States.

Ducret has recorded over 20 albums as a leader.  

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