Dainius Pulauskas - p, synth
This season Dainius Pulauskas Group (DPG) celebrates its 20th anniversary in Lithuanian festivals. Two decades ago Birštonas Jazz hosted the debut of Dainius Pulauskas Quintet. It was the DPG’s first line-up. Before long it grew into the Sextet, which became one of the leading and most widely internationally recognised Lithuanian jazz collectives.
In 2001, the Sextet received Gold Disc awarded to the best musicians of the year by the Lithuanian Musicians’ Union. In 2004, the Lithuanian Institute presented the ensemble with LT tapatybė (LT Identity) award for international promulgation of Lithuanian jazz.
Since 2004, the Dainius Pulauskas Group (DPG) has become an umbrella-title for various jazz formations, performing exclusively his music. Today the DPG’s line-up includes three founding members: Dainius Pulauskas, Valerijus Ramoška and Linas Būda.
The Best of 20 Years, their latest 9th album, documents the highlights of Dainius Pulauskas’ company.
20 years saw the DPG performing in more than 120 jazz festivals in 30 countries, four continents. It was the first Lithuanian group to enter the concert stages of Malaysia, Indonesia, Republic of South Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia. Last week it returned from the festivals in South Korea, where it performed open-air concerts for huge audiences.
The DPG made ten tours of Asia, three of which in China and two in India. It brought the jazz aficionados to their knees in the prestigious festivals in Ottawa, London, Cape Town and Tokyo.
For this year’s Vilnius Jazz, Pulauskas has mounted a new program Dance Magic. It is a garland of nine dances spanning from Baroque to Latin ones. The composer confessed, that has been eager to begin with the project, for in the past he used to play for the pop dance tournaments with Oktava Ensemble.
However, this program is meant for listening rather than dancing. It is jazz music with spontaneous improvisations, which will also involve the project’s partner Amber Quartet, mission of which, according to the composer, will be to enrich the DPG’s timbral palette with academic flavours.
Keyboardist, composer, arranger and group leader Dainius Pulauskas is one of the most productive and active Lithuanian jazz masters. His music can be heard on 16 personal CDs, two personal DVDs, and 9 jazz collections.
He excels in combining acoustic and electronic timbres, striking colour palette and improvisation. “Pulauskas is without a doubt, one of the most interesting composers at the fusion end of European jazz. His group deserves to be placed at the forefront of progressive European jazz-fusion”, wrote Allaboutjazz.com.
He started his musical career in Oktava vocal-instrumental ensemble. Its late leader Mindaugas Tamošiūnas encouraged him to try his hand in jazz. Hitherto he only composed pop songs that are documented in two pop song albums.
Before forming his own group, Pulauskas played jazz in Skirmantas Sasnauskas Quartet, which brought the leader Birštonas Jazz Grand Prix in 1992.
Today Pulauskas is at ease with big bands and orchestras, as well as large-scale jazz compositions. He does not shun from joining his group with other collectives: has composed suites for the DPG and Kaunas Big Band, the DPG and symphony orchestra, the DPG and pop and world music performers.
Lithuanian choirs regularly perform Pulauskas’ works and arrangements in the Lithuanian Song Festival. He also composes music for theatre, arranges for and appears in TV projects.
The keyboardist works with jazz and folk musicians, as well as academic music performers: he has recorded CDs with Sutaras folk band, Čiurlionis Quartet, and singer Veronika Povilionienė.
In international projects Pulauskas has collaborated with musicians from the USA, France, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Italy, Finland, Germany and Russia; appeared and recorded a CD with Baltic Jazz Trio involving Toivo Untu, an acclaimed Estonian jazzman, and Māris Briežkalns, a Latvian jazz virtuoso.
The keyboardist has given solo appearances in international piano festivals in Liepaja and Prague, as well as the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall.
He has earned a number of awards: Bravo (1999) as the best Lithuanian jazz musician; Grand Prix for the best arrangement of Yesterday by Lennon and McCartney at the International Competition Yesterday Pärnu’99 (Estonia); Grand Prix at the Birštonas Jazz Festival (2000), Vilnius Jazz award for contributions to Lithuanian jazz (2010), Kaunas Jazz Prize (2016).
Trumpeter Valerijus Ramoška is a regular member of Dainius Pulauskas groups. With the DPG he performed in more than 120 festivals, toured 30 countries. He also plays in Kaunas Big Band and performs as a soloist with other Lithuanian big bands, appears in various chamber formations, takes part in the LRT group’s projects and contemporary academic music events.
Ramoška has collaborated with all of Lithuanian jazz coryphées including Vladimir Chekasin, Vladimir Tarasov, Liudas Mockūnas, Petras Vyšniauskas, Vytautas Labutis, Skirmantas Sasnauskas, Leonid Shinkarenko, Egidijus Buožis and Jievaras Jasinskis’ Reinless as well as singer Rūta Ščiogolevaitė and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra.
He teaches the trumpet and jazz improvisation at the Vilnius College and Balys Dvarionas Music School in Vilnius. The trumpeter is a recipient of Birštonas Jazz’s Grand Prix 2014.
Saxophonist and composer Liutauras Janušaitis is the first Lithuanian to graduate from Berkelee College of Music in Boston, the American jazz smithy (2011). Before that the musician has studied the jazz saxophone at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.
The saxophonist also has collaborated with academic musicians – Collegium Quartet and the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra. He was among the founders of the first salsa orchestra in Lithuania; formed groups Resound, Certain Case and LJ Electrobop Trio. With various collectives Janušaitis took part in Vilnius, Kaunas, Birštonas and other jazz and contemporary music festivals, performed in Western Europe, Baltic States, Russia, Japan and the USA.
In autumn 2013, he joined Dainius Pulauskas Group, with it participated in jazz festivals Ottawa and London and main jazz forums of Africa, India, China, Japan, the Ukraine and South Korea, toured in Slovakia and Turkey. The saxophonist also works with other collectives, regularly collaborates with Japanese and Scandinavian musicians with whom he recorded several albums.
Since 2012, he has served as the conductor of Kaunas Big Band.
Saxophonist and composer Kęstutis Vaiginis, one of the most productive jazz masters in Lithuania, is an initiator and leader of a number of international projects. With various formations he performed his compositions in Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, France, the USA, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Georgia and other countries.
He revealed his compositional talent while still a student at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, the Prince Claus Conservatorium and Amsterdam School of the Arts (the Netherlands), as well as Manhattan School of Music in New York.
During his study years Vaiginis started composing for big bands as well. Some years ago he formed and led Independent Artists Ensemble, a Lithuanian youth big band; performed his own compositions with the German State Youth Jazz Orchestra.
The list of his former and current stage partners includes such jazz coryphées as David Berkman, David Kikoski, Heikko Remmel, Jelle Van Gie, Barbara Dennerlein, Hernan Romero, Ed Howard, Adam Cruz, Randal Corsen, Bilal Karmaran, Burak Bedikyan, Caner Kaptan, Herbie Kopf, Joon Haavisto and Deniss Pashkevich, as well as Indonesian, Korean and Italian musicians. The musician is a member of Lithuanian-Latvian-Estonian Tree Stones Quartet and Dainius Pulauskas Group.
Recently, the saxophonist has started a long-term project JazzLab with keyboardist Dmitrij Golovanov. This is a creative laboratory where the tandem collaborates with new partners.
As a leader and guest musician of various collectives he has appeared in prestigious jazz festivals including Nord Sea Jazz, Rotterdam, London, Ottawa, Cape Town, Istanbul, Hong Kong and Tokyo to name but a few, toured in four continents.
Three years ago the saxophonist received the European Culture Foundation’s Europamusicale Music Prize, which annually is given to one European musician.
He also takes part in projects of various other genres; appeared in Gaida contemporary music festival.
Vaiginis’ discography amounts to ten albums three of which are personal; several of his compositions were included in Lithuanian music collections.
Domas Aleksa is one of the most promising bassists and jazzmen of younger generation, winner of a number of national and international jazz competitions.
He started playing the bass while still in music school, and after graduating from classical cello he enrolled in the Vilnius College to further study bass.
He formed his first group at the age of 15. In the beginning Aleksa was mostly active on club music scene, made his name as a bassist of Brassbastardz, Skamp, Guerila Jazz.lt, A.I.R. and Groovy Taxi. In 2004, he formed his own group D’Orange with which he also recorded two albums.
In 2012, Aleksa joined Dainius Pulauskas Group with which he appeared in a number of prestigious international jazz festivals, including London, Ottawa and Tokyo, as well as major festivals in Africa, China, India and South Korea. His bass is heard in more than 30 albums of various styles of music.
Linas Būda, a seasoned Lithuanian rock and metal drummer, is, perhaps, better known as the master of jazz percussion. Since 1994, he has been a member of Pulauskas’ groups with which he has appeared in 120 jazz festivals in different continents. He also works with the LRT group and Antis, the legendary rock group.
One of the most versatile Lithuanian percussionists Artūras Pranckūnas has lately been frequenting the DPG projects.
He started his career in Pavel Giunter’s Vilnius Percussion. Since 2004, as a soloist and group member he has collaborated with Baltic Salsa Orchestra, Giunter Percussion, El Quatro, InCulto, Latin Power and other groups in Lithuania and abroad.
Amber Quartet has made its debut in 2014 presenting a unique project in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, namely, performing on amber instruments made for them. According to Vytautas Mikeliūnas, the Artistic Director of the Quartet, the amber instruments are perfect for playing jazz and delving in sound experiments.
However, this time the musicians will play traditional string instruments, which also tally with improvisation. Almost all members of the Quartet have experience on jazz scene.
Vytautas Mikeliūnas has received violin schooling under professor Viktoras Radovičius at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, while Vladimir Chekasin fostered his jazz skills.
He spent ten years as the principal violin of the St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra. During that period he made quite a few arrangements for the orchestra’s jazz programs. With the orchestra he took part in Jazz Fest in Berlin in 1999.
The musician has presented programmes with his own trio and quartet, collaborated with Kęstutis Lušas, Vytautas Labutis, Arūnas Šlaustas, Danielius Praspaliauskis, Leonid Shinkarenko and many other Lithuanian jazz masters. He has appeared in the major Lithuanian jazz festivals.
Tadas Dešukas studied the violin at the National M.K. Čiurlionis School of Art and the Rhythmic Music Department at the Vilnius College, where he honed his skills under Vladimir Chekasin; participated in his projects.
In 2006 was voted the best instrumentalist of the Vilnius Jazz Young Power.
In various projects Dešukas has teamed up with various performers of jazz, electronic, popular and classical music including Arvydas Jofė, Leonid Shinkarenko, Eugenijus Kanevičius and Povilas Jaraminas to name but a few. He has worked with Curtain of the Rain, played in Labai baisios stygos and Baisios stygos, recorded for the Lithuanian Radio.
The violinist has appeared in jazz festivals in Birštonas, Nida, Šiauliai and Vilnius, performed in Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Portugal and Poland among other European countries.
Jurgis Juozapaitis graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, where he has earned Master and Doctoral degrees in viola performance and also the Doctorate of Arts. He also furthered his education in the Conservatoire de Paris (2006–2007).
The violist is a member of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and Claviola Trio, regularly appears as a soloist and chamber musician.
For almost two decades Onutė Švabauskaitė had served as the principal cello of St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra. Currently, she is a member of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra. She also performs as a soloist.
In 2000–2006, Švabauskaitė played in Beduin Jazz string quartet. In 2010, she formed Fabula Rasa string quartet. The cellist collaborates with jazz, baroque and contemporary music projects, presents Lithuanian music in at home and abroad.
Together with the creative team of Sandglasses concert installation by composer Justė Janulytė the cellist has appeared in major contemporary music festivals in Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Poland, as well as Sydney Festival in Australia.