After two-year timeout, Dainius Pulauskas Group again graces the stage of Vilnius Jazz. The festival has hosted the group, then Sextet, in 1998 and 1999. In 2004, it was augmented to Septet, and in 2005, Dainius Pulauskas Group presented a joint project with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra. Its fifth appearance at the Vilnius Jazz introduces Dainius Pulauskas’ suite of episodes and improvisations, composed specially for the jubilee festival.
Dainius Pulauskas Group has been gradually maturing since 1994. Having made its debut as a Quintet, in 1996 the ensemble has established itself as a Sextet, occasionally expanding to larger formation. Almost in no time it became one of the leading Lithuanian jazz groups. The mastery of the group members, their extraordinary ensemble sense, and, of course, their music – a unique and colourful version of fusion dubbed “the powerful pulse of modern jazz” (Risto Haapsamo) – has brought Dainius Pulauskas Group international recognition. The group performs its leader’s original compositions, displaying strict texture and colourful combinations of acoustic and electronic instruments. Dubbed the ambassador of Lithuanian jazz, Dainius Pulauskas Group has toured in Europe, appeared in jazz festivals in China and India, this year performed in the Motherland of jazz – took part in jazz festival Big Band Jam 2007 in Washington DC. The Group released 6 CDs (Orca was released this year) and a DVD (Trajectories).
Lately, the group’s line-up became more flexible – on different occasions it collaborates with Vytautas Labutis, Skirmantas Sasnauskas, Eugenijus Jonavičius, and Swiss bassist Herbie Kopf.
For the first time Dainius Pulauskas Group features saxophonist Kęstutis Vaiginis. Masterful and mature jazzman of younger generation, acclaimed for his transparent timbre, lyrical and emotional approach, plays both classical music and jazz, and also composes.
Kęstutis Vaiginis studied at the Vilnius Conservatoire and earned Master Degree from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre where he studied with Petras Vyšniauskas. Having started playing jazz in his brother Ugnius Vaiginis’ Dixieland in 1999, he has become active on Lithuanian jazz scene collaborating with both peers and seasoned jazz masters. He has played in Jazz Pictures, Guerilla Jazz.lt, Vytautas Labutis’ Orkestretto, collaborated with Artūras Anusauskas, Linas Rimša, Dainius Pulauskas, and Eugenijus Kanevičius, among others. The saxophonist also appeared in a number of international projects.
Since 2003, Kęstutis Vaiginis has been polishing up his skills in the Netherlands, where he has lead and composed for several international groups. Favouring quartet format, currently he works with several quartets of his own – one Lithuanian, the rest international; he also participates in other projects.
Saxophonist Rimantas Brazaitis has played in Dainius Pulauskas Group since its very inception in 1996. A soloist with the Lithuanian Radio and Television Big Band, he has played jazz for almost 35 years. He began in Kaunas Radio Studio Jazz Ensemble (lead. R. Grabštas), then continued in Oktava orchestra. Rimantas Brazaitis has contributed to various jazz projects and numerous jazz recordings.
Trumpeter Valerijus Ramoška, Dainius Pulauskas Group’sinitial member, also appears in Arūnas Šlaustas’ project.
Trombonist Skirmantas Sasnauskas has collaborated with Dainius Pulauskas Group in the past. He also appears in Arūnas Šlaustas’ project.
Sextet’s leader keyboardist and composer Dainius Pulauskas is one of the most outstanding Lithuanian jazz musicians, skilful pianist and keyboardist, exceptional leader and original composer. He succeeded in forming and nurturing an outstanding jazz ensemble. His original compositions became the hallmark of the ensemble.
He studied piano at the Vilnius Conservatoire and the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. D. Pulauskas tried his hand at composing and arranging, and tested himself as a leader while playing in and touring around the world with Oktava orchestra, which he joined in 1981.
Since his jazz debut with Skirmantas Sasnauskas’ Jazz Quartet in 1990, the pianist has collaborated with almost all Lithuanian jazz celebrities. In 1994, he made his debut as a leader of a Quintet, which soon grew into a Sextet and later to even more flexible Dainius Pulauskas Group.
Best known as the leader, keyboardist and composer of the aforementioned ensemble, Dainius Pulauskas is active as a pianist as well – performs as a soloist, has recorded personal CD Moods (2000). He also collaborates with trumpeter Valerijus Ramoška, plays in Leonid Shinkarenko’s ensembles, Kęstutis Vaiginis’ Quartet and the LRT Big Band.
The musician has earned a number of awards starting with Bravo (1998) for the best Lithuanian jazz musician (first and the only award for jazz musician) and ending with LT Identity 2004 for promulgation of Lithuanian jazz awarded by the Lithuanian Institute.
Bassist Leonid Shinkarenko has joined the Dainius Pulauskas Group several years ago, even though he has been collaborating with Dainius Pulauskas in various formations for more than a decade.
The acoustic and electric bass virtuoso and composer is one of the cornerstones of Lithuanian jazz. He started his career in jazz in 1981 as a member of his teacher Vladimir Chekasin’s Quartet, and since then has collaborated with musicians of various trends. In 1997, he made his debut as a leader of Leonid Shinkarenko Jazz 4, which became the basis of his future formations – Quintet, Septet, performing his original compositions.
As a member of various ensembles, the bassist performed on jazz scenes throughout Europe, contributed to about 60 recordings. Currently, he works with his own groups, collaborates with Lithuanian Jazz Trio and Dainius Pulauskas Group. In addition to performing, L. Shinkarenko is involved in pedagogical work; organises Nida jazz marathon, which has grown into Nida Jazz Festival.
Linas Būda has been drumming in Dainius Pulauskas Group since 1994. In the past, a member of rock ensembles, the drummer turned to jazz in 1987, played in Skirmantas Sasnauskas’, Danielius Praspaliauskis’, and Eugenijus Kanevičius’ ensembles. Linas Būda often joins other Lithuanian jazzmen in various jazz projects; is a member of LRT Big Band, and appears in international projects.
Arkady Gotesman’s percussion contributes additional hues to Dainius Pulauskas Group’s fusion. A universal drummer and ingenious percussionist has played on a professional jazz scene since 1982: worked in Trimitas wind orchestra and Oktava ensemble, and started playing jazz in Gintautas Abarius’ Trio. Since 1990, he has collaborated with Petras Vyšniauskas and Viacheslav Ganelin and since 1994, with D. Pulauskas.
Known as a conceptual musician, Arkady Gotesman has played with a number of diverse musicians, such as Christoph Bauman, Roland Dahinden, Jack Siron, Fredie Studer, and almost all Lithuanian jazz masters; participated in numerous recordings. Currently, he primarily collaborates with Liudas Mockūnas, Janas Maksimovičius, performs as a soloist.
In addition to playing jazz, he performs contemporary academic music, appears in contemporary music festivals, writes scenarios for performances and installations, and collaborates with actors and modern dancers, as well as symphony orchestras. Arkady Gotesman writes music for theatre and performs it live on stage.
© Jūratė Kučinskaitė