Liudas Mockunas & Ryoji Hojito | Vacation Music | No Business Records

Liudas Mockunas – soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones, clarinet and bass clarinet | Ryoji Hojito – piano, small instruments, voice, etc.

NoBusiness Records NBCD19, 2010. Edition of 1000 cd‘s * All compositions by Liudas Mockunas and Ryoji Hojito. * Tracks 1,2 and 3 recorded at MAMAstudios in Vilnius, 2006. Other tracks recorded at St.Catherin‘s Church in Vilnius, in 2007. * Mixed by Arunas Zujus and Liudas Mockunas at MAMAstudios. * Matered by Jakob Riis, at Hoby Workshop Studio in Malmo, Sweden. * Produced by Liudas Mockunas. * Executive producers – Yoshiko Hojito (darko) and Danas Mikailionis. * Co-produced by Valerij Anosov. * Photos and design by Neringa Zukauskaite-Mockuniene.

Tracklist: 1. Sunday 2‘31“ 2. Monday 8‘13“ 3. Tuesday 2‘52“ 4. Wednesday 5‘49“ 5. Thursday 16‘07“ 6. Friday 10‘39“ 7. Saturday 7‘24“

For a couple of years Ryoji Hojito, together with his wife Yoshiko, were coming to Lithuania for a one week autumn vacation. We’ve met in the course of their explorative journeys around the country and without thinking too much went to a studio for a spontaneous session and a year later played a concert at St. Catherin’s Church in Vilnius. Both of us were happy about the music we’ve got on tape and today we want to share with you seven impro peaces! Enjoy and plunge into our vacation mood…Liudas Mockunas

liudas mockunas & ryoji hojito | vacation music | no business records

Japanese pianist Ryoji Hojito

goes to Lithuania on holidays. He meets with reedist Liudas Mockūnas and they play music, spontaneously, improvised, first in a studio, with some stuff recorded a year later in St. Kotryna church in Vilnius during the next vacation, then packaged the thing to share it with us. I did not know Hojito, I must admit, and I know Mockūnas only from his collaboration with Mats Gustafsson on “The Vilnius Explosion”, and he impresses again. The album starts with “Sunday”, in an impressionistic way, with tentative piano chords, and tentative bass clarinet, for a slowly unfolding lyrical dialogue, full of joy and control, evolving into the next piece, “Monday”, into a more meditative and melancholy vein, with Mockūnas blowing some heartrending pieces on his soprano, but gradually the mood changes, as does the tension, with Hojito adding small percussion and some quicker runs on his keys, pushing the sax into somewhat more frenetic regions, supported by sudden accordion sounds. By “Tuesday”, raw baritone blasts are met by extended techniques on the piano. We’re in church on “Wednesday” for a solo piece on tenor by the Lithuanian, deeply emotional and dramatic, filling the space with plaintive phrases. “Thursday” starts avant-garde, with the Japanese singing and squeaking toys, and rattling all kinds of stuff, somewhat reminiscent of Nana Vasconcelos. Mockūnas’ response and ensuing phrases are to the point and beautiful, somewhat romantic but with loads of character, and the real fun sets in when Hojito starts using his keyboard, for staccato runs, resulting in some astonishing interplay, of the kind that many musicians would like to accomplish after lots of rehearsals, but here it comes naturally, free-spirited and again full of joy. “Friday” is more contemplative and slow, warm and sensitive, with the soaring soprano being supported by the prepared piano, in a great contrast between crystal-clear and distorted sounds, evolving towards more uncharted territories. “Saturday” ends the week in darker environments, full of gloomy deep circular breathing tones and irregular percussive attacks on the piano strings, voice and other objects. The only (again!) pity is that the applause of the apparently large crowd that opens the live performance does not end the album too. Too much said already, what a duo, bringing absolutely captivating music from beginning to end. A real find. A musical vacation. Highly recommended. Stef @free-jazz


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2 thoughts on “Liudas Mockunas & Ryoji Hojito | Vacation Music | No Business Records

  1. Not as, might be suggested by the title, songs to put you in the holiday mood, but seven improvisations recorded by Lithuanian saxophonist Liudas Mockūnas and Japanese pianist Ryoji Hojito, while the latter was on vacation in Lithuania. The pair met during the course of Hojito’s travels around the country and, without thinking too much, went into a studio for a spontaneous session which yielded the disc’s first three cuts. It is supplemented by four tracks recorded a year later during a concert in the national capital, Vilnius. Such renewed commitment confirms the worth of the outcome of this serendipitous meeting of two fertile imaginations.

    A co-founder of the adventurous No Business imprint, the Lithuanian also weighs in as one of the country’s premier improvisors, appearing alongside an ever increasing catalogue of Baltic, Scandinavian, and US performers. Mockūnas is a virtuoso, particularly on the baritone, where he commands the upper registers in tandem with shrieking overtones and deep gut-wrenching blasts to add a visceral and emotional edge to his blowing. Guitarist/turntablist Yoshihide Otomo was a prime influence inspiring the pianist to expand his range of expression, which has since blossomed with the likes of bassist Joelle Leandre and saxophonist John Zorn. Hojito ranges between a straightforward, pretty lyricism and the type of manipulation associated with the European improv scene, using small instruments and fixtures on the piano interior, at times recalling the work of British pianist Keith Tippett.

    Together the twosome proves responsive and audacious. “Sunday” finds clarinet and piano combining in folk-inflected melody. One of the highlights, “Monday,” starts out similarly bright before turning first mournful, as the reedman’s nasal soprano saxophone slides between pitches, then impassioned, as the Japanese’s piano preparations layer a strangely percussive white noise which imparts a quality of muffled dislocation. They turn fractious by the end, with anguished squalling sax and crashing piano.

    Mockūnas takes center stage on “Wednesday,” his falsetto needling and keypad popping on baritone leads to an abrasive organ like effect created by his circular lines blending with the natural echo of the venue. At 16 minutes, the fast changing “Thursday” is the longest piece and another high point. Hojito’s wordless vocals and assorted noise generating objects are the wildcard; his snatches of horn, melodica and squeaky toys intertwine winningly with the saxophonist’s keening harmonics in a stormy yet lyrical slab of free jazz.

  2. This is an interesting album, two musicians from different cultures who find common ground in improvisation and make an exciting and thought provoking album in the process. Japanese pianist (also using percussion and voice) Ryoji Hojito met saxophonist and bass clarinetist Liudas Mockunas for an compelling musical dialogue. Recorded half in the studio and half in concert the performance begins with “Sunday” which is a short prelude for saxophone or bass clarinet and piano, with the music developing in a probing and swirling manner. “Monday” opens with spare piano and chimes, soon joined by long and longing tones of saxophone, patiently spinning a tale.

    The music has echoes of regret and opportunities lost, but the melancholy mood is broken when the pace picks up dramatically toward the end of the performance, becoming loud and free. “Tuesday” has brief deep honks of baritone plumbing the musical depths like sonar around shaken light percussion. They develop a probing improvisation using open space to frame the music. Spare, searching saxophone begins “Wednesday” developing spontaneously with light percussion and responding in real time as the music develops. Mockunas digs deeper with his horn and soon raw and lengthy peals of saxophone are ripping the air, building to an ecstatic conclusion. “Thursday” is the longest piece on the album, developing several sections over the course of sixteen minutes.

    Beginning quietly with squeaks and grunts, the music moves into an abstract dialogue for dark toned piano and saxophone, building and responding to each other. There is a lengthy free exposition for saxophone and piano, before downshifting to a quiet spacious setting. Deep emotional horn builds in at the end over what sounds like either accordion or organ (unlisted in the notes) before Ryoji Hojito returns to piano for the final dialogue. “Friday” sneaks in and probes slowly with saxophone and shaken percussion, haunting like an incantation or ceremony, open and spacious, developing with great patience and concentration. Rippling light piano is featured, saxophone enters majestically and builds to a strong duet conclusion. “Saturday” is the finale that begins in a slow and quiet fashion, with raw sounding saxophone building up against light percussion. Abstract and challenging, the music encapsulates much of what makes this performance so interesting. Musicians coming together with no preconceived notions and creating singular and unique art in the moment.

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