It was in the 1970s during the Jazz Jamboree Festival and later in East Berlin, while the GTC (Vyacheslav Ganelin, Vladimir Tarasov and Vladimir Chekasin) was performing successfully their programmes (“ Poco a poco“ and “Catalogue”), that the West became aware of the existence of new jazz behind the Iron Curtain. The GTC was from Vilnius, Lithuania. Time passed, and the jazz scene in Lithuania grew up with strong originality and talent. Members of the Saga Quartet are creators with academic and musical education of already independent, open to the world Lithuania, and participants in many international festivals and projects. But Vladimir Chekasin was a teacher of most of the members of the quartet and they have inherited from him the free spirit in improvisation.
Just listen to Andrė Pabarčiutė’s dreamlike voice crossing landscapes from Paul Eluard’s poetry to Sainkho Namchylak’s cry, but so personal at the end. Listen to her lyrical and introspective piano playing, also using strange moods of prepared-piano. Listen to the burning breath of Liudas Mockūnas, sometimes eruptive, sometimes consumed. Listen to the powerful health of Vytis Nivinskas’ double-bass beating like blood in the veins, or to the Marijus Aleksa’s bewitched dance of drums, between modern jazz, an African shaman’s trance and Italy’s Peplum …
The sagas you can hear in this album are open, fresh and coloured, peaceful and chaotic, incredibly free-minded. But most of all, they are deeply alive.
It’s time now for all jazz lovers to wake up and open their ears to this new generation of Lithuanian jazz!
Andrė Pabarčiūtė (b.1986) studies piano at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre under Prof. Petras Geniušas and is a student of Vladimir Chekasin. She has participated in the Vilnius Jazz, Turning Sounds, Jazz Voices and other festivals.
Liudas Mockūnas (b.1976) has received his MA from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre under Vladimir Chekasin and a master in jazz performance from the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen. In 2000 he and the Danish drummer Stefan Pasborg founded a group called Toxikum. Their album of the same title in Denmark was hailed Jazz Discovery of the Year 2004. He is also a member of the Copenhagen Art Ensemble and has collaborated with Marc Ducret, Mats Eilersten, Jaak Sooaar, Mikko Innanen, Scott Colley, Ryoji Hojito, Nasheet Waits, Mats Gustafson, Mike Svoboda and Andrew Hill together with the Andrew Hill Octet he was awarded the Jazzpar Price.
Vytis Nivinskas (b.1974) has studied bass at Vilnius Conservatory, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, the Carl Nielsen Academy of Music in Denmark and DePaul University in Chicago. While in the USA he worked with many musicians from Chicago and New York City including Nobu Stowe, Bill Brimfield, The Trapeze Unit, Lawrence ‘Butch’ Morris, Kenny Wollesen and together with Rimvydas Paulikas co-founded band Baltic Asteroids. He performs different kinds of jazz, rock and academic music and teaches in native Vilnius.
Marijus Aleksa (b.1985) is one of most gifted Lithuanian drummers. He made his debut on the international jazz stage at the age of 13 with the pianist Oleg Molokoyedov. He has appeared in almost all jazz festivals in Lithuania, collaborated with Lithuanian jazz masters, and worked in international ensembles, including Herbie Kopf Hip-noses, etc. He is a student at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.