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Album Review

Oak Birches & Klaipėda Jazz Orchestra: Bon Bon Paris


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Oak Birches & Klaipėda Jazz Orchestra: Bon Bon Paris
Bon Bon Paris brings together two Lithuanian collectives—free jazz trio from Kaunas, Oak Birches, and a less free collective Klaipėda Jazz Orchestra. The album has two compositions, the author of which is the Oak Birches member and one of the leading Lithuanian avant-garde musicians and composers, Arnas Mikalkėnas. Nevertheless, as linear notes state, each member of this project contributes his ideas equally, with strong sense of intellectual background and personal creativity.

Before listening to this recording, it is hard to predict what to expect. It seemed that pure free jazz or event contemporary music could be heard, but a more traditional sound could not be ruled out either. However, it turns out that the collaboration of the Kaunas and Klaipėda teams brings an intriguing intermediate version. The album certainly lacks neither abstract avant-igarde-ish passages nor melodic and harmonious orchestral lines. By the way, enough space for improvisation and aleatory tricks is left next to the clearly composed parts together with astonishing and creative solos by Tomas Razmus, Dovydas Stalmokas, Kęstutis Sova, Simonas Kaupinis, Valdas Surdokas, Dmitrij Levencov, Mindaugas Vadoklis and Mindaugas Apulskis.

In addition, Bon Bon Paris is particularly noteworthy for its bass line, which is led by Kaupinis' tuba and not a single double bass. Mikalkėnas drumming should also be singled out. He plays not overly chaotic or sophisticated rhythm structures, which are typical for free jazz performers, but exceptionally catchy, groovy patterns as he holds pulse on the ride cymbal.

Dynamics, compositional structures, technicality and creativity of musicians live up to melomaniac's expectations. Bon Bon Paris makes you look for parallels with various Anthony Braxton collectives as well as Fire Orchestra or even somehow echoes about heritage of Max Roach, Sun Ra and Don Cherry. Thus, the album of Oak Birches and Klaipėda Jazz Orchestra hold the attention, inviting repeated listenings.

Track Listing

Bon Bon Paris; 3x3.


Arnas Mikalkėnas: percussion; Tomas Razmus: saxophone, alto; Mindaugas Vadoklis: trumpet; Simonas Kaupinis: tuba; Kęstutis Sova: saxophone, baritone; Mindaugas Apulskis: saxophone, tenor; Dovydas Stalmokas: saxophone, alto; Valdas Surdokas: trombone; Sigitas Saukalas: trombone; Jonas Katauskas: trumpet; Dmitrij Levencov: trumpet.

Additional Instrumentation

Oak Birches: Tomas Razmus: alto saxophone; Simonas Kaupinis: tuba; Arnas Mikalkėnas: percussion; Klaipėda Jazz Orchestra: Dovydas Stalmokas: alto saxophone, bass clarinet; Mindaugas Apulskis; tenor saxophone; Kęstutis Sova: baritone saxophone (art director); Valdas Surdokas: trombone; Sigitas Saukalas: trombone; Jonas Katauskas: trumpet; Dmitrij Levencov: trumpet; Mindaugas Vadoklis: trumpet.

Album information

Title: Bon Bon Paris | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: ImproDimensija Records

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