Liudas Mockūnas - saxes, cls
Solo appearance is a rarity in jazz festivals. It requires the greatest maturity, is a very personal and risky endeavour exposing the musician’s soul and capabilities. It does not allow the performer to hide behind anything.
The Vilnius Jazz presents a double solo program featuring the improvisers whose projects always heat the concert atmosphere to the utmost degree, often becoming the festival climactic events.
Multi-instrumentalist Liudas Mockūnas has been performing solo for eleven years, but has never appeared in a recital yet. And he recorded his debut album quite recently – it will be released in January. “I would always be dissatisfied with my recordings. There is so much good solo music for saxophone, so is a big risk to walk the trodden path”, admitted the musician constantly in search for new colours.
Dalius Naujokaitis is the musician we seldom hear about, and his rare appearances in Lithuania slit the jazz sphere like a comet. “He is fully possessed by his art. Having lost his mind for the Muses of music, he is moving ahead unforeseeably and dangerously, as all poets do” Jonas Mekas described the New Yorker jazz avant-gardist.
The concert won’t be short on intrigues. After giving solo performances the musicians will join in a duo.
Multi-instrumentalist, composer and group leader Liudas Mockūnas is one of the most creative representatives of the Lithuanian contemporary jazz and improvised music. Upon graduating from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (LAMT) and the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, he took active stance on the scene of European improvised music.
Today he is possibly the most dynamic Lithuanian jazz master, constantly migrating to European festivals and jazz clubs, discovering new creative partners in Scandinavia, Baltic States, Poland, Russia, Portugal and other countries.
The musician is the leader of Mockūno Nuclear and Traffic Trio, co-leader of various international collectives such as Toxikum, electro-acoustic trio Red Planet and Lithuanian Saga Quartet, 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, Vladimir Tarasov Trio, contemporary music ensembles Gaida and Konvoj Art. In addition, he is an associate of the Lithuanian Ensemble Network.
He has taken part in programmes of Andrew Hill’s Jazz Par octet, Ibrahim Electric, British TrioVD, Mikko Innanen’s Innkvisitio, Free Tallinn Trio, Mats Gustaffsson, Raymond Strid and Frank Gratkowski among other jazz innovators.
In 2004, Mockūnas and Stefan Pasborg received the Danish Music Award for Toxicum’s album. The saxophonist is a prize winner of various competitions in Lithuania, Latvia and France; a recipient of Vilnius Jazz and Birštonas Jazz prizes for contribution to Lithuanian jazz, as well as Gold 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.
In addition, he is famed not only as an exponent of improvised music and avant-garde jazz, but also 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 and Giedrius Puskunigis.
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.
Mockūnas’ discography amounts to around 60 albums. He has contributed greatly to the production of experimental jazz recordings – he is a co-founder and co-strategist of an independent record label NoBusiness Records.
Currently, Mockūnas is an associate Professor at the departments of jazz in the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, and Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University Music Academy.
Dalius Naujokaitis, a percussionist of avant-garde experimental music and free jazz, has resided and worked in New York for two decades. Invited by filmmaker Jonas Mekas he went and settled there in 1995. Naujokaitis founded a studio in Jonas Mekas’ Anthology Film Archives, and gradually got involved in New York’s club community.
In the beginning he had to earn bread and butter from various accidental jobs – worked for a button manufacturer, served as a porter in clubs and restaurants, a painter, an advertisement distributor. His jazz career in New York kicked-off after meeting avant-gardist drummer Kenny Wollesen. Naujokaitis joined his group. Before soon he started forming his own bands and initiating various projects.
“The extraordinarily expressive composer and performer discovers music everywhere – from sounds of nature to urban noise, and whatever he touches – dishes, staircase holders, a saw – turns into a music instrument. Dalius Naujokaitis-Naujo is a free musician playing free music, not restricted by music clichés or stylistic requirements, traditional performing techniques and typical forms of composition”, jazz critic Jūratė Kučinskaitė described the musician.
The percussionist regularly comes back to his motherland to be part of Lithuanian projects, also appears with them abroad.