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

Jievaras Jasinskis’ JJA Chamber Project

Lithuania

Jievaras Jasinskis – tb, composer
Mindaugas Vadoklis – flhn
Pranas Kentra – g
Paulius Volkovas – g
Domantas Razmus – perc
Dainius Rudvalis – db
Sigitas Gailius – vib
Andrius Rekašius – mar
Aistė Baliunytė – harp

A talented composer and arranger, bandleader, versatile trombonist Jievaras Jasinskis shakes up the stages of Lithuania’s most important jazz festivals every year with unconventional large-format projects.

JJA Chamber Project is this year’s new addition to his oeuvre, embodying the fusion of jazz and academic music, as well as the artist’s current field of interest. In this collective, Jasinskis has brought together professionals from two different disciplines to combine his favourite ambits as a jazz and academic musician. To what extent this has been successful will be revealed in his original compositions.

JJA Chamber Project has already been documented on one album, which can be listened to online.

The mastermind of the project Jievaras Jasinskis did not choose this creative direction by chance – after his bachelor’s degree in trombone studies, last year he graduated with a master’s degree in composition from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (LAMT) and took up the craft of a composer seriously.

His musical biography is atypical. He came to the music scene from the funk and acid jazz band Bekešo vilkai, later played in the popular youth bands Saulės kliošas and Skamp, and even made it to the Eurovision Song Contest with InCulto.

However, Jievaras decided to continue his professional career as a classical trombonist until his creative ambitions led him to jazz. The powerful Reinless, a band he formed in 2014, began to shake the jazz scene, followed by the formation of the Lithuanian JJazz Ensemble, his appointment as the principal conductor and artistic director of the Kaunas Big Band, his debut in the Euroradio Jazz Orchestra (2018), appearance as a soloist with the Latvian Radio Big Band, and his work as a composer.

Concert programmes have brought the trombonist on stage with Bob Minzer, Peter Beets, Victor Mendoza, Jorma Kalevi Louhivuori, Gunhild Carling and many other renowned international improvisers.

Neither jazz orchestras nor pop musicians can get by without Jasinskis’ arrangements. Without him, Andrius Mamontovas’ album Šiaurės naktis. Pusė penkių (North Night. Half past Four) would have hardly been given a new life – and now it was recorded with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra (LCO) at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London. He arranged the album’s music for the chamber orchestra; he made his debut as a composer at the LCO’s concert at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall.

He recently presented his first symphonic work, Simfonija iš Šiaurės Jeruzalės (Symphony from Jerusalem of the North), which combines classical music with Middle Eastern melodies and Lithuanian folklore.

Mindaugas Vadoklis is one of the most talented and versatile trumpeters on Lithuanian improvised music scene. He takes part in music and interdisciplinary art projects.

Mindaugas studied jazz at Klaipėda University and the LAMT. He regularly takes part in international jazz events, is the founder and director of the public institution Menų Cechas.

Since 2007, Mindaugas has worked with Lithuanian Army Volunteer Forces Big Band. He also plays in various Lithuanian jazz ensembles including Lithuanian Art Orchestra, Lithuanian Jazz Ensemble, Klaipėda Jazz Orchestra and Baltic Salsa Orchestra as well as diverse chamber ensembles.

He has collaborated not only with the most prominent Lithuanian jazz personalities, but also well-known foreign improvisers such as Kenny Wollesen, Jonathan Haffner, Retto Zuchner, Fulvio Buccafusco, Fabrizio Brusca, Goran Krmac and Bilal Karaman among many others. The trumpeter has shared the stage with Jojo Mayer, Sheila Raye Charles and Victor Mendoza.

With various formations Vadoklis performed in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Russia, the Ukraine and Baltic States.

Pranas Kentra, a versatile guitarist and jazzman, has studied at the University of Applied Sciences in Vilnius, the LAMT, and the Prince Claus Conservatoire in Groningen (the Netherlands). He is active in both jazz and contemporary music projects.

The guitarist has sided a number of Lithuanian jazz masters, Kaunas and Vilnius big bands, Dutch, Bulgarian and Chinese musicians, as well as performed with St. Christopher and Klaipėda chamber orchestras. In 2013, Pranas Kentra Trio won the Gitarų šėlsmas (Guitar Rampage) competition in Vilnius. The guitarist is also a member of Synaesthesis contemporary music ensemble; teaches at the University of Applied Sciences.

With various projects Pranas appeared in the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Baltic States. He has released two personal albums.

Paulius Volkovas studied the guitar at the University of Applied Sciences in Vilnius. While still a student he began participating in festivals and competitions as both a performer and composer. In 2006, his trio claimed first prize at the Džiazo fontanas (Jazz Fountain) festival in Panevėžys. In 2009, as a member of Yrinauda he was awarded Grand Prix at the Vilnius Jazz Young Power competition.

Paulius has worked with Reinless, Jing’a Ling, Saulės Kliošas, Migloko, The Ditties, The Schwings, Baisios Stygos and Mad Harmonix. With various bands he appeared in main jazz festivals in Lithuania, and toured in Germany, Poland, Turkey, France, Belarus, Italy, Finland, Estonia and Latvia.

Domantas Razmus, a younger generation drummer, percussionist and composer active on jazz and improvised music scene. He started his professional career at the age of 18, after passing an audition for the Travelling Youth Orchestra, with which he performed in France and the Baltic States.

The drummer graduated with a master’s degree in Contemporary Music/Improvised Music from the LAMT, studied at the Prince Claus Conservatoire in Groningen as part of the Erasmus exchange programme. Since 2012, he has been performing extensively, participating in open jazz sessions and experimental music projects.

Razmus is a member of Castor Stetson, Honkin’ Dudes, Laivo Troupe, Leonardas Pilkauskas Septet and Lithuanian JJazz Orchestra. In various projects he sided many Lithuanian jazz and improvised music greats, including Liudas Mockūnas, Arnas Mikalkėnas, Kęstutis Vaiginis, Liutauras Janušaitis, Klaudijus Štuopinis, Dmitrij Golovanov, Vytis Nivinskas.

Domantas has performed at all major jazz festivals in Lithuania, as well as contemporary music festivals in Raseiniai, Druskomanija and Jauna Muzika.

With different ensembles (R.A.D.D., TDT, D. Jurevičius Group) the drummer won three Grand Prix in Vilnius Jazz Young Power competition (2013, 2016 and 2018). In 2017, he was awarded the first prize at the Tamsta Drumday competition.

Dainius Rudvalis is one of the most promising representatives of Lithuania’s academic music scene. He studied the double bass at the LAMT and Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno (Czech Republic), and for several years collaborated with the famous Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra.

In 2016, he joined the international Nordic Symphony Orchestra, where he serves as the principal double bass. At present, Dainius is also the principal double bass of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra (LNSO), and a member of both Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra and the Bass Arco String Quartet.

Andrius Rekašius studied the percussion at the LAMT and the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. He is a member of the LNSO, the contemporary music ensemble Synaesthesis and the Giunter Percussion ensemble.

Sigitas Gailius has graduated as a percussionist from the LAMT, where he has been teaching percussion instruments since 2016. He also plays in the Giunter Percussion ensemble, appeared as a soloist with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and the Riga Sinfonietta.

Aistė Baliunytė is one of the most professional harpists in Lithuania, a prize winner of many international competitions and a holder of scholarships from various foundations. After graduating from the National M.K. Čiurlionis School of Art, Aistė continued her education at the National Conservatoire of Music in Paris (CNSMD de Paris) and is currently the principal harp at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre orchestra.

The harpist also collaborates with the Klaipėda Music Theatre and the Gävle Symphony Orchestra (Sweden), performs in Lithuania and abroad as a soloist and chamber musician. She is the first harpist in Lithuania to record her solo album. 

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