Milda Kiaušaitė, 2012-05-02

In brief: The jazz fiesta is continued. The art exhibition ‘Jazz Stop’ by Mindaugas Juodis was opened at MJ Studio and Arina & CO gave a concert at the Vienybės Square.

Those listeners who cannot imagine the festival without more refined, more professional and exotic jazz visited the concert of Kaunas Big Band at the State Philharmonic. This year the huge collective gave a performance with Jorma Kalevi Louhivuori – the leader of The Northern Governors and winner of the international Nomme Jazz competition. Jorma revealed his lyrical, calmer, more subtle side of a musician and composer. The guest from Finland soon came to an understanding with the Big Band and the space was fulfilled with dancing, intertwining sounds.  

Jorma Kalevi Louhivuori was later replaced by the guest from the USA – Rudresh Mahanthapp Samdhi with the band. The performer was announced the best alto saxophonist of the year by the Jazz Journalists Association (USA) for the third time already. He invited the listeners to the journey of cultures and sounds: classical jazz was supplemented with Indian motifs and heat. It seemed that the jazz aesthetes were charmed by the mysterious and exotic compositions.

The guests from Finland - The Northern Governors - gave another concert at Vienybės Square and enthused the youth with their energy by presenting the same programme performed at the Combo Club earlier.


One can hardly imagine Kaunas Jazz Festival without the Saulės Kliošas band, who presented their most popular songs at Vienybės Square.


At the meantime the group of young musicians Le Cercle (France) went wild at the Combo Club. The band truly drew their listeners into the ‘circle’ and was asked to repeat their pieces again and again. 

Sunday – the last day of the festival in Kaunas – promised a calm and lyrical programme. One could enjoy Jewish themes presented by Ori Dakari Trio at Kaunas Synagogue or listen to the sacred jazz of Dominykas Vyšniauskas and Andreas & Matthias Pichler Trio at Vytautas Magnus Church.

The final concert of the festival presented Lizz Wright and her performance at the Žalgiris Arena, which attracted several thousands of listeners. Symbolically, it was the last concert of the performer‘s tour across Europe. Comparing L. Wright to Nina Simone or Tracy Chapman, as the organisers did, would be questionable: her vocal is pleasant and strong yet not so colourful or exceptional. However, L. Wright gave her songs some bright spirituality, warmth and religiosity without any ironical smile. Her performance combining rock classics, inner light of the singer, jazz sounds, some R&B, gospels, original compositions and a strong jazz vocal truly charmed the listeners.

The last evening of the festival finally revealed the winner of Kaunas Jazz Award given to the best performer by a solid jury. The silvery award was presented to Rudresh Mahanthapp Samdhi. The organisers returned the symbolic key back to Mayor Andrius Kupčinskas and the cosy and calm performance of Justė Arlauskaitė (Jazzu) and Leon Somov as if promised the continuation of the festival.


Photographs by Milda Kiaušaitė

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