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

Mário Costa Quartet feat. Cuong Vu

Portugal-USA-France

Mário Costa – dr, electronics, composition
Cuong Vu – tp
Benoît Delbecq – p, synths & samplers
Bruno Chevillon – db

This international quartet reflects the Portuguese jazz breakthrough, which has produced a host of improvised music luminaries. This breakthrough was inspired by the Clean Feed record label founded in Portugal at the turn of the century. Its albums also paved the way for the quartet’s leader, Portuguese drummer Mário Costa, to the international jazz scene.

Representative of the elite of contemporary jazz, Mário Costa Quartet recorded Costa’s personal album Chromossome in early 2023. Its title symbolises the interplay between the creative drive of the project’s leader and the DNA of his three exceptional stage partners. Chromossome’s music is much more than the sum of the quartet members’ musical contribution.

“The compositions are very inspiring. No unnecessary notes. Each musician gives what is needed and is handed what he needs, like in an ideal, perfect democracy. I can feel the pleasure they had playing together. Magic”, said Italian jazz legend Enrico Rava of Chromossome.

Now the Vilnius Jazz aficionados have the chance to have their say.

Mário Costa picked up the drumsticks when he was six and started systematic percussion lessons at the age of eight. He studied percussion at the music school of his native Viana do Castelo, where he was introduced to the great composers of the 20th century like John Cage, Steve Reich and Iannis Xenakis amongst others.

Later, Mário graduated in jazz percussion from the Porto Superior School of Music and Performing Arts and went to New York to learn from the coryphées there. Soon after, he formed a lasting partnership with the French jazz luminary saxophonist Emile Parisien. Mário’s band Homo Sapiens was invited to present its project at the famous Casa da Música concert hall in Porto.

After appearing on Portuguese double bassist Hugo Carvalhais’ albums Nebulosa and Particula (on Clean Feed), Costa came to the attention of the international jazz community, started collaborating with saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Gabriel Pinto, violinist Dominique Pifarély and other jazz authorities. At the time, he formed a partnership with Lithuanian saxophonist Liudas Mockūnas, both of whom play in various ensembles with Carvalhais.

In 2015, Costa made his debut at the renowned Jazz in Marciac festival with Emile Parisien, the legendary Micheli Portal and Joachim Kuhn. A year later, the group released the album Sfumato, which was well received by the jazz community.

In 2018, the drummer released his first personal album, Oxy Patina, with guitarist Marc Ducret and pianist B. Delbecq. The Portuguese magazine Jazz.pt awarded the album five stars, voted it the Best Album of the Year and named Costa the Portuguese Jazz Musician of the Year. In 2020, the drummer joined the famous British saxophonist Andy Sheppard’s new quartet.

During his career, Costa has appeared in numerous groups and projects, including as a member of the Emile Parisien Quartet, Ensemble Super Modern, Orquestra de Jazz de Matosinhos, Gillen Santana’s Metamorphose. He also worked in a trio with Chris Corsano and Jorge Queijo, with Carlos Azevedo, Sérgio Carolino and Jeffery Davis, collaborated with the eminent Portuguese composers Miguel Araujo, António Zambujo, and the fado singer Ana Moura.

Mário has performed in many elite venues, including Carnegie Hall in New York, the SFJAZZ Center (USA), the Barbican Centre in London, the Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Luxembourg philharmonics, the Sala Paradiso in Amsterdam, the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman, the El Lunario in Mexico City, the Bogotá Theatre, the Sala da Cidade das Artes in Rio de Janeiro.

American trumpeter Cuong Vu has already appeared in Vilnius Jazz festival twice: in 2003 with the Myra Melford Quartet and in 2004 with his trio. A decades-long partnership with jazz star Pat Metheny, collaborations with the legendary Laurie Anderson and David Bowie, and work with some of the most prominent avant-garde jazz musicians of today attest to his reputation and flexibility.

The resourceful trumpet innovator cannot be pigeon-holed into standard musical genres and styles. He developed his own aesthetic and personal sound, and even managed to avoid the influence of Miles Davis, which imprisoned many a trumpet player.

Vu’s recognition has been earned through live concerts and recordings with his trio and quartet, featuring bassist Stomu Takeishi and today’s most prominent drummers, and through projects with coryphées of various musical genres.

Born in Vietnam to a pop singer and a multi-instrumentalist, Vu emigrated to the US with his mother and settled in Seattle at the age of six. Initially enamoured with the saxophone, one of his father’s instruments, he turned to the trumpet at eleven. The trumpeter studied jazz at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music with Joe Maneri, who influenced him greatly.

Later Vu moved to New York, where he began playing with Dave Douglas, Bobby Previte, Chris Speed, Andy Laster, Jamie Saft and Gerry Hemingway. He was also a member of drummer George Schuller’s Orange Then Blue big band and Jeff Song’s Lowbrow, led his own groups Scratcher and Vu-Tet, and released three albums as a leader – Bound, Pure and Come Play with Me – in succession. The latter was ranked by Amazon as one of the 100 best jazz albums of all time.

Vu began performing to large audiences as a member of Pat Metheny’s band. The trumpeter toured extensively with it, recording the albums Speaking of Now (2002) and Way Up (2005), both of which won a Grammy in the contemporary jazz category. Around that time, Vu joined the Melford Quintet and released his fourth album, Mostly Residual, featuring guitar coryphée Bill Frisell.

The trumpeter then dived into teaching, becoming an associate professor of jazz studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he also earned recognition and was honoured with the Distinguished Teaching Award for his creative work with students. One of his former students is featured on the Vu Quartet’s album Leaps of Faith.

Later, the trumpeter collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Eyvind Kang and the Italian jazz trio Wasabi. In recent years, he has focused on working with his own bands.

Vu was named one of the top 50 jazz musicians by Classic CD magazine and was voted the Best Foreign Musician by the Italian Jazz Critics Association in 2006.

French pianist Benoît Delbecq’s 20-year career in jazz has earned him many accolades. He is featured on more than 50 albums, and has been recognised by the likes of Mal Waldron, Steve Lacy, György Ligeti and Steve Coleman.

The pianist’s distinctive musical language combines the sound of prepared piano, synthesizers and other electronics.

Trained as a classical pianist, Delbecq studied improvised music from the age of 16 with free jazz pioneer Alan Silva; immersed himself in sound engineering and acoustics at 18. He then honed his jazz skills at masterclasses with renowned improvisers Dave Holland, S. Coleman, Muhal Richard Abrams, Kenny Wheeler and others at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada and studied composition and music analysis with Olivier Messiaen’s student Solange Ancona.

Delbecq composes music for films and collaborates as a composer with theatre artists and writers. As a pianist, he is active in a wide range of capacities, from solo appearances to performances with large ensembles. His Hask Collective Paris was active for several years, he is a founding member of Bureau de Son Paris. He is currently performing with his trio Delbecq 3 and quartet Delbecq 4, Miles Perkin Quartet, Toma Gouband Trio, S. Murcia’s projects Eyeballing and My Mother is a Fish, Jonas Burgwinkel’s Medusa Beats, Robin Verheyen’s The Bach Riddles, Daniel Zimmermann’s Dichotomies.

It would be difficult to list all the celebrities with whom Delbecq has shared the stage. They include Evan Parker, Michael Moore, Han Bennink, Gerald Cleaver, M. Ducret, Fred Hersch, Mary Halvorson, Taylor Ho Bynum, Samuel Blaser, Tim Berne, Lotte Anker, Oliver Lake, Tony Malaby, Jim Black.

In addition to performing, composing and producing recordings, the pianist gives masterclasses in various countries around the world.

French double bassist Bruno Chevillon is already known to Vilnius Jazz audiences for his performances with the Dominique Pifarély Quartet (2015) and the M. Ducret Trio (2017).

Chevillon carries on the tradition of double bass greats Jean-François Jenny-Clark, Joelle Leandre and Barre Phillips, opening up new horizons for this instrument. A passionate explorer of the possibilities of the double bass, he does not claim to be a leader on the stage but has many admirers.

He has studied art, photography and classical double bass at the Avignon Conservatoire. This atypical experience has influenced his approach to improvisation, sparked his inclination towards synthetic art projects and his desire to experiment. He was given the foundations of jazz by André Jaume, one of France’s foremost multi-instrumentalists.

The double bassist collaborated with dance artists and other theatrical artists, photographer Guy Le Querrec, and was inspired by the work of film director Piero Paolo Pasolini. He has been a member of numerous improvised music groups: he has participated in almost all of Louis Sclavis’ projects, played in trios with Yves Robert and Aaron Scott, with Joey Baron and Daniel Humaira, with Bernard Lubat and Frabncçois Corneloup, also in Christophe Marguet’s ensembles, in Michel Portal Quartet and in numerous other groups, and collaborated with Elliott Sharp, Tim Berne, Marc Ducret, Franck Vigroux.

An important aspect of his work is his projects with pianist Stephan Oliva. Together they have recorded albums, formed a trio with Paul Motian, and played in other ensembles.

Chevillon has also been involved in the classical music scene on several occasions. He presented a work for double bass and sampler at the Radio France Festival, recorded a composition with an accordionist based on material from the radio archives, and founded Scoffio di Scelsi, a group that interprets the music of composer Giacinto Scelsi in a distinctive way. Chevillon’s extensive discography includes all the major names in contemporary French jazz. 

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