William Hooker & Liudas Mockūnas | Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival | No Business Records

Liudas Mockūnas – soprano, alto and tenor saxophones | William Hooker – drums

All Compositions by William Hooker (MUSIC BMI) and Liudas Mockūnas (KODA). Recorded live at Vilnius Jazz Festival, on 11th October 2013 by Arūnas Zujus. Mixed by Arūnas Zujus and Liudas Mockūnas at MAMA studios, mastered by Arūnas Zujus. Photos by Vytautas Suslavičius. Design by Neringa Žukauskaitė. Produced by Liudas Mockūnas and Danas Mikailionis. Co-producer – Valerij Anosov

Tracklist: 1. ID [17:27] 2. IDEA [13:13] 3. IDEAL [15:28] 4. IDOL (7:14]

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 William Hooker | Photo by Vytautas Suslavičius

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Liudas Mockūnas | Photo by Vytautas Suslavičius

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3 thoughts on “William Hooker & Liudas Mockūnas | Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival | No Business Records

  1. Veteran drummer William Hooker continues to expand his varied discography on the No Business imprint, with the addition of Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival. Like Crossing Points (2011) with the late reedman Thomas Chapin, it’s a meeting with a resourceful saxophonist -this time Liudas Mockūnas, a co-founder of the label. But unlike the former encounter, on this occasion Hooker avoids the all out aural assault which tested Chapin to the limits, settling instead for power exercised with restraint and precision. And the result is all the better for it. Even in the most extreme moments the two always seem to possess another gear should they need it.

    Both men are at the top of their game on this date, captured at the 2013 edition of the Lithuanian capital’s jazz festival. Mockūnas and Hooker form a relaxed, purposeful pairing. A strong sense of mutual engagement pervades the four jointly extemporized cuts. Mockūnas comes out of the Peter Brötzmann/Mats Gustafsson lineage of saxophone players: like them he stands as a broad brush elemental presence, melding a roughly etched lyricism with overblown curdled squalls. Hooker responds as if following a score only he can see. His tightly focused exclamations create an unfurling carpet of structured interjection which both buoys and prompts the hornman.

    Each allows ample leeway for the other in spacious transparent interaction throughout the concert, leavened by two short solo interludes in “Ideal.” Straight from the incremental beginning of “Id” where isolated strikes of cymbal and snare alternate with a gurgling saxophone stream, the confidence, trust and listening is evident. As the piece flows in unbroken dialogue into “Idea,” the culmination arrives through an anthemic swell of rolling rhythm and impassioned blowing. But it’s not until the concluding “Idol,” where the heartbeat throb and convoluted soprano murmurs grow into piercing multiphonics recalling bagpipes, that the anticipated slugfest materializes. It makes for an exhilarating end to a superior free jazz outing.

  2. It is ever more clear to me that William Hooker is one of the premiere free improv drummers of our time. In a small group setting he can be counted on to invent an almost orchestral panorama of sounds and gestures. You get this very strongly in his duet performances with soprano, alto and tenor saxman Liudas Mockunas on their 2013 performance Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival (No Business CD 68).

    It is just the two of them in a totally free context for a lengthy and rewarding set. Mockunas has much spirit and a full sound that complements Hooker’s drumming synergies with a parallel energy and flourish that make the meeting seem totally right.

    There is a tumbling forward into our present-future throughout. Mockunas has his own sound on all three saxes and Hooker responds in kind.

    There was magic in the air on stage and in the audience that day. And the duo brings it into our hearing with great, long cosmic phrasings and extended form.

    This is a set that will satisfy those who like their freedom scalding hot. It’s a blazer to clear your head and set you spinning into space. Bravo!

  3. Thanks to this set – released in 2014 but only today played for the first time – I was introduced to Mockūnas, a foreign name to these ears until now. Make no mistake, he’s a brilliant reedist. Gifted with a rotund tone that betrays inventive fervor and sensible microtonal abilities, the Lithuanian approaches the not-so-easy task of a duet with drums with a mix of consideration and incorruptibility, raising the intensity level when the emotions fire on all cylinders and quietening things down where needed. In Hooker’s method we find the symbolism of a ritual and the serenity of wisdom; the man seems to know exactly where every cymbal whisper, tom roll or awkward pattern must be placed, to the point of making us wonder if some of his parts were scored. The recording quality lets us appreciate the intrinsic vibration of the drum skins, from which Hooker extrapolates vital correspondences with the saxophonist’s propositions. The earthly manifestations of a good acoustic chemistry materialize in front of a listener since the very beginning. Rewarding music by two deeply connected human beings.

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