Mockuno NuClear | Drop It | No Business Records

Liudas Mockūnas – soprano, tenor and bass saxophones | Dmitrij Golovanov – piano and keys | Marijus Aleksa – drums | Vytis Nivinskas – bass on tracks 5, 6 | Darius Rudis – drums on track 7

All compositions by Liudas Mockūnas (KODA) except track 1 by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis “Diptych” VL 295, tracks 2 and 8 by Liudas Mockūnas and Marijus Aleksa (LATGAA), track 5 by Dmitrij Golovanov (LATGAA)

All music recorded by Arūnas Zujus. Tracks 1, 2, 7 and 8 recorded at MAMAstudios in Vilnius 2011, track 4 recorded at Jazz Kablys Club in Vilnius 2011, tracks 3, 5 and 6 recorded at M.K. Čiurlionis Gymnasium Theatre Hall in 2008. Mixed by Arūnas Zujus, Liudas Mockūnas and Dmitrij Golovanov in 2011. Mastered by Arūnas Zujus in 2011. Produced by Liudas Mockūnas. Executive producer Danas Mikailionis. Co-producer Valerij Anosov

Tracklist: 1. Prelude 7’07” 2. Prelude Variation 1 2’39” 3. The Cursed (Prelude Variation 2) 4’07” 4. The Dark Side / The Bright Side (The Bright Side is Dedicated to Andrew Hill) 11’22” 5. How to Earn Money 7’43” 6. Elephant Tango 5’52” 7. Drop it 8’24” 8. Take it 3’29”

This is the first album

of this trio with my homeland musicians. The music balances in between impro and composed, between heavy and beautiful, between jazz and whatever… I’v been playing most of these tunes with different ensembles of mine during the last 6 years, but they have never been released for different reasons. I realised – to be able to move on you really have to finish your unfinished work… Here it is. Enjoy! — Liudas Mockūnas

Liudas Mockūna

Liudas Mockūna

born in1976, 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 has received the Lithuanian daily newspaper “Lietuvos Rytas “prize for cultural activities in 2004, “Talent” prize from “Rhythmic Music Conservatory” friends in 2005, “Vilnius Jazz” festival prize in 2006,” Birstonas Jazz “2008 and Lithuanian Musicians Union “Golden Disc” 2008. He is a co-leader of bands “Pasborg-Mockunas “Megaphone”” featuring Marc Ducret and Paul Brousseu,”Revolver”, “Traffic Quartet”, “Red Planet”, member of the Copenhagen Art Ensemble and has collaborated with Marc Ducret, Mats Eilersten, Mark Solborg, Mats Gustaffson, Barry Guy, Andrew Hill, Arkady Gotesman, Valerijus Ramoska, Eugenijus Kanevicius, Vladimir Chekasin, Vladimir Tarasov, Jaak Sooaar, Piere Dorge and his “New Jungle Orchestra”, Ibrahim Electric, Pasborg’s Odessa 5, Arvydas Malcys, Giedrius Puskunigis, Linas Rimsa, Linas Paulauskis, Anatolijus Senderovas, Ensemble “Nepaklusnieji”,Lithuanian National Simphony Orchestra, Krilovy Hradec Symphony Orchestra, Mikko Innanen, Tuomas Ojala, Jarko Hakala, Marku Ounaskari, Jeff Arnal, Dietrich Eichmann, Jacob Anderskov, Nils Davidsen, Jakob Riis, “Ok Nok Kongo”, “Swinging Europe Big Band”, new music ensemble “Gaida”, trio “Fliis”, “Big Bombastic Collective”, Jonas Muller, Jonas Westergaard, Simon Toldam, Mads Hyhne, Edwin Wieringa, Scott Colley, Ryoji Hojito, Nasheet Waits, Staffan Svenson, Mike Svoboda, … Mockunas teaches at the Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy Jazz department, is one of the founders of Lithuanian Jazz Federation, runs a record label No Business Records which produces improvised music records.

Dmitrij Golovanov

Dmitrij Golovanov

Keyboardist and pianist is skilled in both acoustic piano and electronic keyboards; he is also at ease with modern sonorities and technologies. Quickly making headway in jazz world, the pianist has strong technique; is versatile, constructive and emotional at the same time. Well-grounded in rich history of jazz, the young musician is developing his own style, revealing both his pensive and witty nature. Performing on jazz scene for more than ten years, Dmitrij Golovanov is actively involved in Lithuanian jazz life; collaborates with Lithuanian jazz masters. His repertoire ranges from jazz classics (with Big Bands) to original creative (with group Riot). The pianist graduated from B. Dvarionas School of Music, studied at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, and F. Mendelssohn Collage of Music and Theatre in Leipzig. He has been a prize-winner in several competitions, appeared in a number of festivals and concerts, and recorded several CDs. Currently, he collaborates with Janas Maksimovičius, Liudas Mockūnas and group Riot; also plays in Leipzig based unconventional international formation Beat Freisens Spelunkenorchester (formed in 2006), comprised from traditional jazz trio and string quartet. As its regular member, Golovanov recently has appeared in festival Leipzig Jazz Tage 2007. His keyboards are also featured in Magic Mushrooms, last year’s laureate of Vilnius Jazz Young Power. Having graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre as a jazz performer and teacher, Dmitrij Golovanov has joined its faculty this year. In his participant’s application for Vilnius Jazz Young Power Dmitrij Golovanov has described his motivation as “overmastering inner desire”. At the final round he presents his composition Infected. — © Jūratė Kučinskaitė

Marijus Aleksa

Marijus Aleksa

appeared on the professional music scene at the age of thirteen playing in “Vilnius jazz festival 1999” and “Birstonas jazz festival 2000” with a well known Lithuanian jazz piano player Oleg Molokojedov. Till now he played in all Lithuanian jazz festivals with all Lithuanian jazz stars like Vladimir Chekasin, Petras Vysniauskas, Liudas Mockunas, e.t.c. He also played in some jazz festivals abroad and collaborated with a famous Swiss jazz bass player Herbie Kopf. In the year 2004 Marijus Aleksa started to play with one of the most famous pop groups in Lithuania called “SKAMP”.

Vytis Nivinskas

Vytis Nivinskas

An influential figure among Lithuanian jazz musicians, double bassist Vytis Nivinskas demonstrates mature musical thinking, rich and expressive sound, vivid and active articulation, flexible and tuneful melodic lines. He developed an interest in music rather late. Fascinated with jazz he traded studies of philosophy at Vilnius University for double bass. Emerging on jazz stage in 1994, the bassist has not take long to acquire a solid experience as he played with leading Lithuanian jazz musicians, participated in numerous jazz, rock, classical and contemporary music projects. Vytis Nivinskas is a creative personality who has initiated such exclusive projects as “Coltrane Impressions” (2000, his debut as band leader) and an international group “Baltic Asteroids” where he played during his studies in the USA and revealed himself as a composer. Recently he is performing with the groups “Saga” and “Riot”, composing and teaching. — (c) Jūratė Kučinskaitė

Darius Rudis

Darius Rudis

born in 1982 is a young drummer, acclaimed for his skillful and versatile performance, is making headlong progress. Sensitive accompanist plays wide range of styles from flamenco and Latin (with El Quadro) to modern jazz (with Artūras Anusauskas’ group) and fusion (with Jazz Brothers). Darius Rudis studied accordion and percussion at the Balys Dvarionas School of Music, graduated from the Vilnius Conservatory, and currently studies percussion with Arkady Gotesman at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Despite his young age, Darius Rudis is an experienced musician. He made his debut in 1999 and soon has earned reputation of one of the best drummers in Lithuania. Currently Darius Rudis is one of the busiest Lithuanian drummers, playing in groups led by the foremost Lithuanian jazz musicians, such as Dainius Pulauskas, Leonid Shinkarenko, Vytautas Labutis, Arūnas Šlaustas, Jan Maksimowicz, Artūras Anusauskas, Egidijus Buožis, Artūras Chalikovas. The drummer also appeared in international projects with Alexi Tuomarila, Anatoly Vapirov, took part in jazz festivals in Lithuania and abroad including Pori Jazz 2004 (with Jan Maksimowicz Quartet). Recently Darius Rudis has primarily performed with Tune Up, Mutabor, El Quadro, and in quartet with Eugenijus Kanevičius, Eduardas Armonas and Baiba Skurstene. Besides his performing career, Darius Rudis is on a faculty at the Vilnius College. — © Jūratė Kučinskaitė


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3 thoughts on “Mockuno NuClear | Drop It | No Business Records

  1. In its enterprising catalogue of modern day masters and loft jazz rarities, the Lithuanian No Business imprint also documents local musicians. Chief among them is one of the country’s premier improvisers, saxophonist Liudas Mockūnas. Previous appearances on the label have placed him in a Peter Brotzmann-like trio on Live at 11:20 (2010) and in an impromptu freewheeling duet with Japanese pianist Ryoji Hojito on Vacation Music (2011). On Drop It by the self-referential Mockūno NuClear, Mockunas corrals a changing cast of compatriots for a program drawn from live and studio sessions over a three year period.

    Stylistically and temporally diverse, the set ranges from a classical interpretation to freely improvised expressionism, via rocky fusion and jazzier interplay. Mockūnas’ approach recalls Swedish reedman Mats Gustafsson not only in his wide-ranging ambit, but also in his juxtaposition of foghorn blast overblowing (especially on baritone saxophone) and mewling whimpers, while on soprano, he favors a piercing, nasal vibrato. Of the core trio, pianist Dmitrij Golovanov covers a broad repertoire similar to the leader (though he is best served by the acoustic instrument rather than the electronic keyboards which rob him of character), while drummer Marijus Aleksa co-opts insistent patterns to demarcate a choppy pulse.

    In a way, the diversity obscures as much as it elucidates, making it hard to get a fix on the band’s intent. On “Prelude,” Mockūnas traces an arc of increasing intensity around a Bach-like piano study by 19th century Lithuanian composer Mikalotus Konstantinas Čiurlionis until conjoining with Golovanov in a meditative confluence of tenor saxophone and piano. Two variations follow: the first is a duet of fluttering baritone and responsively tumbling drums; the second has the reedman alone, blowing up a storm on the larger horn before culminating in a craggy exposition of the piece’s reiterated cadences on soprano and baritone simultaneously.

    The remainder of the album is similarly diffuse. “The Dark Side/The Bright Side” starts in a swirl of buzzing, Morse code electronic keyboards and braying baritone before segueing into earthy repetitions with a fusion flavor. On the driving title track, the baritone begins an ostinato which the electric piano then keeps aloft, latterly with an uncoiling soprano excursion. Mockūnas again wields the straight horn to good effect on “Elephant Tango” galloping over a rhythmic form with nothing of the pachyderm about it. Everyone shows their chops on the tricky “How To Earn Money,” one of the high points.

  2. The current avant scene may not be in the focal sights of the mass media or the general public, but it thrives nonetheless. As Edgard Varese once said, and Frank Zappa espoused, “the present-day composer refuses to die.” That can also be said for the improvising musicians out there in new jazz land.

    A not as yet well-known group from Europe, Mockuno NuClear, serves as an example. Their CD Drop It (No Business 37) gives you evidence (if you needed any) that the work of innovation and synthesis, advance and retrenchment continues on in ways that show vitality. Now you may have to search it out. The era where there was for example Sam Goody stores in multiple neighborhoods routinely stocking the newest avant music may be a thing of the past (though tomorrow in the States it is Record Store Day), and important small boutique labels like No Business (centered in Lithuania) may not find themselves on display in a chain like Best Buy, but the music is still being made and much of it is very good and innovative to boot.

    So today we take a look at Drop It. Mockuno NuClear is a trio of Liudas Mockunas on soprano, tenor and bass saxes; Dmitrij Golovanov on piano and keys; and Marijus Aleksa on drums; augmented by the bass of Vytis Nivinskas on two cuts and the second drumming of Darius Rudis on one.

    This is a band that has the freedom of the “new thing” tradition with some of the power and electricity of post-Milesian psychedelia and the kind of zany avant compositional style and improvisational insouciance of ICP and the Ganelin Trio. Liudas has his own coloristic-noteful facility on all three saxes, Dmitrij has out improv key chops but can rock out too when needed, and Marijus feels equally comfortable in out-swing, out-rock, or out-out settings.

    With all this as a backdrop, the band covers its territory with energy and creativity. You may not know what is coming next as you first listen, but that is a good thing, isn’t it? And once you piece together the whole set in your head after a few listens, if you are like me, you’ll find that this is an impressive effort. Perhaps the biggest surprise is “Elephant Tango,” where, after various moods and transgressions against what is supposed to go with what have taken place, they burst into a burlesque Bechet-does-a-tango thing that will make you smile with appreciation.

    That’s how this album goes. It’s rather irresistible once you surrender to its ways. Encore!

  3. Liudas Mockunas is a young Lithuanian saxophonist playing alto, tenor and soprano who deserves attention. Joined on this adventurous album by members of his group Mockuno NuClear are Dmitrij Golovanov on piano and electric keyboards, Marijus Aleksa on drums plus Vytis Nivinskas on bass and Darius Rudis playing drums on a few tracks. The group makes music that cuts an exciting progressive path through modern improvised music. The opening and closing tracks, “Prelude” and “Take It” develop slowly and gradually like intro and outro pieces. Saxophone and piano probe on the former, with the pace gradually picking up as bass and shimmering drums join, returning to melodic sax and piano duet.

    The latter has quiet cyclic phrased saxophone with cymbal splashes, gradually building a long sax tone that is held until the end. “The Cursed (Prelude Variation 2)” has light toned sax solo sax swirling, gaining steam and brawn, while putting out small pithy phrases like musical morse code, shaded with overblowing, and textures woven well in this performance that was recorded live.

    “The Dark Side / The Bright Side (The Bright Side is Dedicated to Andrew Hill)” is a lengthy suite where percussion, raw saxophone electric piano combine like an electric period earthy electric Miles Davis stew, full of dark funk, raw and nasty, with guttural saxophone on the first part, and a low forlorn textural solo. The second half has the electric piano, bass and drum trio developing into strong collective post-bop improv, before Mockunas returns, providing long tones of saxophone over a slower tempo. “How to Earn Money” roars out of the gate with fast paced full band improvisation pulsating, and after a fast paced rippling piano, bass and drums interlude, saxophone and drums grapple like wrestlers in a very exciting duet section.

    “Elephant Tango” advances a cool sinuous melody growing forward with piercing saxophone taking things outside the traditional tango, then returning back to melodic improvisation with saxophone and drums setting the pace. Deep honks of sax with electric piano moving funky saxophone bleating and cool drum patterns low toned rhodes underpins “Drop It” with exciting drums and saxophone development. All in all a well played thought out set, making clear by degrees the group’s attention to detail.

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