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Album Review

Mindaugas Stumbras: Inspirations

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Mindaugas Stumbras: Inspirations


Mindaugas Stumbras is a leading jazz guitarist of Lithuanian scene who has much of potential to be broadly acclaimed by international community. He graduated from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow in 2019, and he has already played and toured internationally not only with the well known Lithuanian fusion jazz band Brave Noises, but also with such names as MENT4L feat. Seamus Blake, Fergus McCreadie, Michelangelo Scandroglio, Kenneth Dahl Knudsen, Kenny Wollesen, Luis Bonilla and JM Jazz World Orcherstra and Tommy Smith's Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Stumbras last released a studio recording in 2018—an EP Our Kingdom (Self Produced), which captured him together with his Scotland day's colleagues—Mateusz Sobieski, Mark Hendry, Greg Irons and Cameron Thomson-Duncan. Our Kingdom is an amalgam of the best features of traditional and modern jazz with strong touch of lyricism and romanticism. Inspirations, to some extent, is a follow up of the previous release but captured together with the most talented Lithuanian comrades. Starting with acoustic guitar and trumpet playing note-by-note on the first composition, "Lullaby," the album immediately latches onto exciting and emotional melodies.

Stumbras' guitar has a smooth and deep reverb. His musical language on Inspirations is closely related to seventh or ninth chords progressions. Nevertheless, being a fan of rock music and other genres, the Lithuanian guitarist enriches his playing with Spanish scale fragments on "Lullaby," drifts towards more rock vibe at the second half of "Fairytale," and even jumps into a pop ballad style on "Winter Breeze." Pretty, colorful and dynamic guitar lines are ever present.

It is notable that Stumbras' guitar-playing remains a foundational element of this record. However, other musicians are at least of the same importance. Vivid alto saxophone phrases and powerful piano and double bass parts gives an major complement to the overall concept of the album. But the deepest amazement comes from Mindaugas Vadoklis on trumpet. His playing jogs the memory of a nostalgic Chet Baker mood and cosmic Nils Petter Molvaer atmosphere.

The album contains eight great compositions, but if there were a prize for the most distinctive and unique tune the track "Saulele Motule (Mother Sun)" would collect it. "Saulele Motule" originally is sorrowful Lithuanian folk song. Stumbras arranged it by his own vision and did so perfectly. Minimalistic textures with dominant guitar lines and pizzicato style double bass finally end with looped and manipulated guitar waves.

Stumbras has been referred to as a Lithuanian Bill Frisell. This this is not completely accurate. Inspirations is rather a blend of Frisell and Pat Metheny, with Scandinavian jazz melancholy. However, from a uniqueness perspective, Stumbras is still in a process of shaping his own style and sound. Maybe such uniqueness lies upon combinations of jazz and Lithuanian folk? It is very likely. Nevertheless, the second opus by the young Lithuanian guitarist and composer is a sincere and beautiful musical journey marked by picturesque compositions.

Track Listing

Lullaby; Fairytale; Inspirations; Flume; Winter Breeze; Saulele Motule; Ubuntu; New Beginning

Personnel

Mindaugas Stumbras: guitar; Dmitrij Golovanov: piano; Denis Murašov: bass; Mindaugas Vadoklis: trumpet; Karolis Šarkus: saxophone, alto; Domantas Razmus: drums.

Album information

Title: Inspirations | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Self Produced

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