Jūratė Kučinskaitė, 2009 05 12

P.D'Rivera and Ch.Chagas. Photo of 

In brief: Without fearing the crisis, the 19th international Kaunas Jazz festival moved out Kaunas on the last weekend of April traditionally. It is said that an artist should be hungry or at least unhappy to create. Therefore, it seems that the hard times should be the most suitable for purification and perhaps even creative rise. Did Kaunas Jazz festival of this year justify these statements?

The critical period corrected the scope of ideas of the festival. Despite the rather abundant financial support, the more modest programme of Kaunas Jazz festival shorter by one day did not astound by extremely bright stars this year. The only figure of the global calibre Paquito D‘Rivera gave a concert with his “critical” band as well – with young musicians. The classic of Bosanova Joao Bosco invited another collective Nosso Trio, which participated in the festival, to take part in his quintet. Even the traditional concert “at listener’s request” in Vilnius betrayed the regime of saving.

Still, the festival preserved all traditions created during the years of its existence: the march of Ąžuolynas orchestra in Laisvės Alley; the opening of the festival with carillon music; free jazz concerts, jazz fashion and the festival firework in the Unity Square; night club programme, sacral jazz music concert at Vytautas Magnus Church, etc. There appeared to be so many traditions of the festival, that a thought arose about the unused possibility of the organisers to sacrifice quantity for quality. Perhaps some firework could be replaced by some musicians, who would be more expensive and of higher quality?

Also, it is frustrating that several concerts took place at the same time, even having in mind the shorter programme of this year. The author was one of the people who betrayed the concert of sacral jazz music of the accordionist Klaus Paier and cellist Asja Valcic for the concert of Kaunas Bigband. As a result, no mistake was made: Kaunas Bigband prepared for the festival well, it gladdened listeners by youthful energy, fluent playing spiced up by solos of known saxophonists T.Razmus, T.Botyrius, S.Sasnauskas, V.Ramoška.

Other Lithuanian projects presented on the stage of Vytautas Magnus University differed by direction and level. Dainius Pulauskas Group showed real mastery and high level of playing in ensemble. Meanwhile, it could be felt that the organisers of the festival gave a huge moral advance to the participant of TV reality show Baiba Skurstene, a Latvian singer residing in Lithuania, and her project Baiba’s Groove House. The future will show whether she will be able to use the advance of trust suitably.

Lithuanian debut makers were not the only who failed to get into contact with the audience – the Brazilian vocalist and guitarist Joao Bosco could not boast about it as well. The classic of contemporary Bosanova, who represented the colours of Latin jazz, did not flirt with the audience too much. As a result, the hall met only the accordionist Chico Chagas, who joined the quintet of J.Bosco for one composition, with acclamation.

The charismatic accordionist from Brazil living in London Chico Chagas, who performed with an international sextet Chico Chagas&Dave O'Higgins Band feat. John Parricelli in the festival found a wonderful relation with the audience. He taught listeners how to sing along; he even turned the audience into a member of the band who created rain sounds in the hall. The biggest part of the programme was formed of works composed by Chico Chagas himself. The sincerity of the musician received great evaluation of the audience – it granted the traditional eighth Jazz Eaters Award to the musician.

Meanwhile, the most recognised participant of the festival, a Cuban saxophonist, clarinettist, composer and band leader Paquito D’Rivera did not feel gravelled by such a decision of the audience. The programme of Paquito D’Rivera’s quintet was decorated by works from the recent album “Funk Tango”, which was awarded by Grammy as the best Latin jazz album of 2007. Paquito D’Rivera was accompanied by young talented Cuban musicians in the Lithuanian festival instead of the team that recorded the aforementioned album. Despite this fact, the subtle and sensitive programme of Paquito D’Rivera’s quintet became the climax of the festival of this year.

Finally, lovers of jazz had a chance to feast in Combo club along with the Dutch band Seven Eleven, French band Electro Deluxe and Japanese band Cro-Magnon. The music of the latter band was serious and rich with electronic music details, change of tempos and monotony of repeating loops.

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