Liudas Mockūnas – reeds
Liudas Mockūnas put a trio involving acclaimed Lithuanian and Norwegian improvisers in 2013. Soon after, the trio went on tour in Western Europe and northern countries. In 2017, Scandinavian improvised music label Barefoot Records released the trio’s debut album Plunged featuring compositions by Mockūnas and Mikalkėnas.
The trio focuses on original material written by Mockūnas, the leader of improvised music in Lithuania, and his follower Mikalkėnas. It can be described as modern chamber jazz with inspiration from contemporary classical music and free jazz. The compositions abound with open kind of improvisations, unorthodox sonorities and noise aesthetics.
Multi-instrumentalist, composer and group leader Liudas Mockūnas is one of the most important representatives of improvised music in the Baltic region. Graduate of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (LAMT) and the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, he instantly took active stance on the scene of European improvised music.
Today he is the most dynamic Lithuanian jazz master, constantly migrating between 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”, a co-leader of international collectives “Toxikum” and electro-acoustic trio “Red Planet”, 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” and Mikko Innanen’s “Innkvisitio”, 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”, “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 “Toxikum” 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 Golden 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. Moreover, as a composer Mockūnas has been commissioned to write music for “Copenhagen Art Ensemble”, Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra and Chordos String Quartet.
In addition, he is famed 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, Giedrius Puskunigis, Osvaldas Balakauskas and Vytautas Germanavičius.
As a soloist he 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 is a co-founder and co-strategist of an independent record label NoBusiness Records.
In addition, Mockūnas has considerably contributed to jazz pedagogy. It is thanks to his and composer Vykintas Baltakas’ efforts that the contemporary music and free improvisation studies were included into a curriculum of the LAMT. It has harvested a number of outstanding representatives of improvised music.
Via his idiosyncratic creations showcasing utmost attention to sound the musician keeps daringly breaking the common notion of musical categories.
Inspired by free jazz trio “Ąžuoliniai berželiai” he formed one of his main collectives “Fluxus”. He also plays in a duo with trumpeter Dominykas Vyšniauskas, a trio with saxophonist Liudas Mockūnas and Norwegian drummer Hakon Berre, composes music for Kaunas Drama Theatre, takes part in theatre productions.
The productive partnership has associated the keyboardist with Justinas Kalinauskas, the creator of contemporary alternative theatre and happenings.
Mikalkėnas has collaborated with a number of renowned Lithuanian and foreign masters including Vytautas Labutis, Arkady Gotesman, Dalius Naujokaitis, Arvydas Joffė, Kenny Wollesen, Anne Liis Poll, Lasse Lindgren, Jerome Fourrier, Ken McCann and Francesco Angiuli.
In addition, the musician is actively involved in educational work. Currently, he teaches at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre; together with a businesswoman Daiva Masaitytė he recently opened Jazz Academy, an institution of non-formal education, in Kaunas.
Håkon Berre, a freelance musician residing in Denmark for the last 15 years, has worked with Mockūnas in several contexts including “Angel” noise trio, and with Peter Friis Nielsen Kalas free jazz trio. As a member of “Angel” trio, the drummer visited Lithuania for the first time in 2012.
Håkon’s palette of sounds is amazingly vast ranging from traditional percussion to pot lids, chains and electronics. His resourcefulness and love for experimentation can be heard in almost 30 of his CDs and LPs. He is a co-founder and an active member of the Barefoot Records label.
Berre is a co-leader in numerous bands including “Angel”, “haUtUllin”, “The Mighty Mouse”, Härja” and “Peter Friis Nielsen Kalas”. He has appeared in numerous clubs and venues all around the world with improvised music luminaries like Peter Brötzmann, Phil Minton, Axel Dörner, John Tchicai, Petter Wettre, Peter Friis-Nielsen, Hilmar Jensson, Mikko Innanen, Tobias Delius, Roland Ramanan, Fred Lonberg-Holm.
The drummer has composed and arranged music for theatre performances and art exhibitions, and has exhibited several interactive sound installations at art museums in both Denmark and Germany.