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Vilnius Jazz 2019

Ian Patterson By

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Politics surrounds music like everything else in life, but how often do musicians take a political stand on an issue by refusing to play?
Vilnius Jazz 2019
Russian Drama Theatre
Vilnius, Lithuania
October 16-20, 2019

Is a jazz festival primarily about entertainment, or is it meant to challenge the expectations of its audience? Does programming risk mean financial suicide? What responsibility does a festival have to promote young, emerging talent? What place do women have in jazz today? How does jazz benefit from collaborations with other art forms? Does jazz carry a diplomatic passport, or should its practitioners use their extraordinary platforms to exert greater political influence? These and other questions were raised during Vilnius Jazz 2019, where audiences were met with more than one surprise.

Overview

For its thirty second edition Vilnius Jazz pulled out all the stops. Topping the bill were The Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Sun Ra Arkestra, both making their respective debuts in Lithuania. The former was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, while the presence of the latter represented a personal milestone for Vilnius Jazz festival director Antanas Gustys, who had long attempted to lure the legendary band to the Lithuanian capital. A few old friends of Vilnius Jazz were welcomed back. Heavyweight tenor saxophonist David Murray was appearing for the first time in a decade, while Alexander von Schlippenbach, who had played the inaugural edition of Vilnius Jazz back in 1987, reminded all present that Europe's free jazz/avant-garde movement has been as distinctive as it has been enduring.

Prodigal son Vyacheslav Ganelin, the veteran Lithuanian keyboardist/composer resident in Israel since 1988, reunited with some old sparring partners to revive the heyday of modern jazz in Lithuania in an exciting new quartet. The breadth and depth of European jazz was further evidenced by musicians from Portugal, Latvia, Belgium, France and Norway, while late-night gigs and extended jam sessions in the Pavilion Club by some of the current crop of young Lithuanian bands underlined the vitality of the country's contemporary jazz scene. The format was simple enough -two gigs per evening in the Russian Drama Theatre, an early twentieth century edifice of baroque and renaissance design. Located in the old city, this UNESCO cultural heritage protected building has hosted plays in Polish, Russian and Lithuanian for over a century, with just brief closure during the second world war. The venue's intimacy, and the proximity of the audience to the performers, created an atmosphere sometimes lacking in larger, contemporary theaters.

In addition, a photographic exhibition by Sigitas Kondratas of artists who have appeared at Vilnius Jazz over the years adorned the walls of The Russian Theatre. In past editions of Vilnius Jazz, talks on various aspects of jazz history have been given by Jazz Forum's Pawel Brodowski on Krzysztof Komeda, and by Siena Jazz's Francesco Martinelli on The History of European Jazz: The Music, Musicians and Audience in Context (Equinox Publishing, 2018). For this edition of Vilnius Jazz, the author was invited to give a talk on Great Black Music—a title inspired by the slogan of The Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians.

The five-day festival began with the double bill of Tommy Got Waxed and Sofia Rei/JC Mallard. The former was a collaborative project bringing together Rotterdam-based band Tommy's Moustache and Vilnius-based band Sheep Got Waxed. The bands had met at 12 Points in 2017. Sofia Rei and JC Mallard presented The Book of Beriah from John Zorn's Masada Cycle. This report picks up from day two.

Thursday 17th

Hermia, Ceccaldi, Darrifourcq

Drawing from jazz, classical and experimental music, the Belgian/French trio of saxophonist Manuel Hermia, cellist Valentin Ceccaldi and drummer Sylvain Darrifourcq defied easy categorization. From the arresting opening number, it was clear that control and risk were two sides of the same coin. Rhythmic drive gave way to free-wheeling improvisation and delicacy ceded ground to raw power as all three musicians explored the sonic possibilities of their respective instruments.

On the second number, brooding bowed cello, percussive rustling and Hermia's legato-cum-overblowing morphed into a more urgent dialogue, one characterized by feverish bowed-cello riffing, stormy drums and Hermia's rasping attack.

Tempest gave way to collective introspection on "Chauve et courtois," whose initial stirrings sounded like the gears and cogs of a clock magnified audibly a thousandfold; Darrifourcq's manipulated his kit like a mad scientist, employing found objects with glee. Drawing mini cymbals over drum skins, or playing a toy xylophone, the drummer created a restless backdrop that was in stark contrast to Hermia's serene interjections.

Manic industrial rhythms announced "Les flics de la police," with Ceccaldi's propulsive cello ostinato and Darrifourcq's hard-hitting polyrhythms underpinning Hermia's most emotive blowing of the set. The audience's enthusiastic response ensured an encore, the trio launching a frenzied free-jazz attack that, once the flame was spent, petered out on the back of a repeating cello ostinato.

Art Ensemble of Chicago

Even before the Art Ensemble of Chicago took to the stage applause rang out for the band. It was nothing to do with the band's fiftieth anniversary, but everything to do with politics.

Politics surrounds music like everything else in life, but how often do musicians take a political stand on an issue by refusing to play? When emcee Domantas Razauskas announced that The Art Ensemble of Chicago had cancelled its concert in Istanbul the following night in protest against Turkey's invasion of Syria, the news was greeted with applause by the Vilnius audience.

There followed an especially warm welcome for the musicians, whom Razauskas introduced to the stage one by one. Roscoe Mitchell and Don Moye are all that remain of the quintet that started its incredible journey fifty years ago in Chicago, but they have recruited a stellar band of guest musicians since hitting the road again in 2017, following a hiatus of seven years. The creative juices are undiminished, as demonstrated by the brilliant We Are On The Edge: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration (Pi Recordings, 2019).

In time-honored fashion, Mitchell, Moye, trumpeter Hugh Ragin, cellist Tomeka Reid, pianist Brett Carson, percussionist Dudù Kouaté and double bassists Silvia Bolognesi and Junius Paul spread out on the stage, turned ninety degrees to the left and observed a moment's silence. This ritual is designed to focus the energy and attention of the audience to what is taking place on stage. It's something similar for the musicians themselves, though for Joseph Jarman—who passed away in January 2019—the silence represents a wordless prayer for unity and peace in the world.

A single note from Mitchell's whistle was met with a pocket of silence. More single notes alternated with silence. A trumpet blast, the strike of a gong and a lone bass note responded in turn, commencing what would become a thirty-five-minute group improvisation.

A flutter of brushes and the rumble of mallets ignited a bass pulse and arco drone. Kouaté's deft percussive accents—tinkling chimes and bells, the rattle of shakers— coursed throughout, while the piano's rhythmic entrance sparked greater collective push and pull. Enticed, Mitchell unfurled longer improvised lines, free and intense, responding to pounding bass strings, bowed riffs and drones, and Moye's martial rhythms. Carson, a long-time collaborator with Mitchell, but playing only his seventh gig with the Art Ensemble tore into his keys, pulling the others into the musical vortex.

The music wheeled and spun in an orchestral jam of notable intensity, veering between free-jazz cacophony and heady, experimental abstraction. Like the rapid flicking of a book's pages the triggers were too numerous to follow. Numerous calls and numerous responses -the music itself was the conductor.

The second act saw an extended dialog between Moye and Kouate, based around the Senegalese percussionist's composition "Africation"—an ode to African self-determination and self-rule. Kouaté sang, as did his tama (talking drum), before he joined Moye on congas, the two trading back and forth. Mitchell played a supporting role on saxophone.

Ten minutes in and the percussionists' narrative was redirected by the arrival of piano, bass and saxophone. A groove emerged. Moye returned to his kit and upped the ante. Mitchell squawked and wailed as the other instruments chirped and chattered, the individual voices stretching out almost imperceptibly until the music swelled grandly. Twenty minutes passed by in a flash. Before you knew it, the band had struck up "Odwalla," the Art Ensemble's perennial, swinging farewell.

The encore served up a little more of what had gone before but added little to the overall effect, proving perhaps that less is more.

Friday 18

Ganelin, Vyšniauskas, Pashkevich, Gotesman

Though making its Lithuanian debut, the individual members of this quartet know each other very well, having played together in each others' ensembles for thirty-plus years. And it was a homecoming of sorts for Vyacheslav Ganelin, one of the legendary figures of Lithuanian jazz, who has spent the past thirty year in Israel.

For forty-five uninterrupted minutes the quartet explored open-ended variations, where extended improvisations were tied together by subtle compositional threads. From a somber intro dictated by Ganelin on piano and electronics, the dual saxophones of Petras Vyšniauskas (soprano) and Deniss Pashkevich (tenor) and an animated Arkady Gotesman quickly lifted the music into more visceral terrain.

The music followed a symphonic logic, softly lyrical at one extreme, tempestuous at the other—the journeys between the two poles gradual and organic. Even at the music's most impassioned, however, the quartet never lost its collective sense of purpose, which made for a powerful, unified statement. The music moved inescapably towards a thrilling, rhythmically propulsive finale, with tenor saxophone and piano riffing as Vyšniauskas cast spiraling figures.

The encore wove a contrasting spell. Ganelin's spare piano and deft electronics combined with Vyšniauskas' softy lowing bansuri (Indian flute) and Pashkevich' sympathetic tenor to conjure a meditative reverie, broken, in the end, by Pashkevich' triumphant shout.

Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio feat. Alexander von Schlippenbach

. Over the past decade tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Amado's Motion Trio has built a name as one of Europe's most arresting improvising trios, a reputation cemented by recordings such as The Flame Alphabet (Not Two Records, 2013), The Freedom Principle (NoBusiness Records, 2014) and Desire and Freedom (Not Two Records, 2016). For this tour Motion trio was joined by European free-jazz pioneer Alexander von Schlippenbach, making a return to Vilnius Jazz after thirty-one years.

In the blink of an eye, Amado, cellist Miguel Mira, drummer Gabriel Ferrandini and von Schlippenbach moved though the gears from an edgily explorative opening to full-on group improvisation. von Schlippenbach was the first to stretch out with a robustly percussive solo. A ruminative passage followed, headed by Amado's gently probing tenor. As if catching some unseen current, Amado's lines grew bolder, drawing first von Schlippenbach, then Mira and Ferrandini into the eye of the storm, where the raging crosscurrents collided spectacularly.

The music ebbed and flowed—as if guided by gravitational force—between contemplative and lyrical terrain, free-jazz fire, and restless abstraction. It was as breathless as it was tirelessly inventive, bringing to mind Joe Zawinul's notion whereby everybody solos and nobody solos at the same time.

An unaccompanied, bass-like cello solo was the one concession to individualism, but the sonic contrast it provided was captivating in itself. For over ten minutes, with only minor percussive cajoling, Mira totally commanded the stage. The final word, however, went to the quartet, which reignited the improvisational flame for one final charge.

Saturday 19

Milašius Power Band

Take a renowned guitar experimentalist ( Juozas Milašius), an unconventional rock guitarist (Audrius Kalytis) and a contemporary sound artist (Darius Čiuta ) and you have the ingredients for something a little out of the ordinary. Milašius Power Band's performance, in fact, came with a warning of sorts. The festival programme spoke about the trio's declared lack of musical logic, routine or goals. And whilst that could translate as 'free improvisation'—the sort of thing the Vilnius Jazz audience had lapped up during the previous two evenings of the festival—the references to 'anti-communication' and 'anti-improvisation' might have set a few alarm bells ringing.

Čiuta stood a little behind the two guitarists, holding a small electronic device that resembled a mini laptop. Milašius and Kalytis stood stage front, each staring at laptops resting on the stage. As though on command by signal sent from Čiuta, the two guitars unleashed the first sound, a unified power cord of explosive intensity that sent shock waves through the audience. A little boy, aged perhaps seven, burst into tears. His mother spent the next ten minutes attempting to calm and reassure him, before she was forced to take him out of the theatre.

With only minor variations—a shortening or lengthening of the gaps between ear-splitting chords, a little spluttering feedback—the performance continued thus for just shy of an hour. The scared boy wasn't the only one uncomfortable with the curious sonic assault. The sound of creaking, decades-old theatre chairs rose in response as numerous people opted to retreat to the safety of the foyer or the bar. As they left, others were obliged to stand, due to the narrow spaces between rows. The rising-falling waves of people throughout the theatre resembled rows of dominoes.

The majority, however, stayed to the end, rewarding the trio with warmth and applause. Afterwards, the theatre was abuzz with opinion. Some people were angry, though for different reasons. This wasn't jazz, somebody complained. It was dangerously loud, another objected. It wasn't a concert for children several people opined, or this wasn't the venue or the occasion for such avant-garde experimentation. And so on.

Such complaints served to raise a number of questions; what exactly does jazz mean in 2019? How pro-active are we against the everyday assault of noise pollution? What are the advantages and risks of exposing children to adventurous music? To what extent should a jazz festival entertain, and to what extent should it challenge its audiences' expectations?

Vilnius Jazz Artistic Director Antanas Gustys acknowledged that he had taken a risk in programming such a provocative, even controversial act, but the simple fact that nobody remained indifferent to Juozas Milašius' Power Band's unique performance art was surely justification enough. Every so often, it's healthy to be forced outside our comfort zone, to live new artistic spaces that challenge our notions of what we think we know, like and understand.

Sun Ra Arkestra

For almost sixty-five years, the Sun Ra Arkestra has pioneered a unique trajectory in jazz. Sun Ra himself may have passed away in 1993, but it was his wish that the orchestra continue in his name. Briefly, John Gilmore held the reins before he too died, in 1995. Since then the Sun Ra Arkestra has been steered by Marshall Allen, a member since 1958. Now ninety-five years old, Allen continues to defy the odds by bringing Sun Ra's music to the entire world.

Remarkably, for the guts of the two-hour duration of the concert Allen remained on his feet, directing and exhorting the orchestra and drawing flurries of sound from his alto saxophone. The orchestra was not quite its usual size, with three of the twelve-man unit unable to board the flight to Vilnius due to outsize instrument cases.

It didn't matter too much, as from the brass-rich opener "Sunology," with its harmonic traces of Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, and the infectious Latin vamp of "Stranger in Paradise" to the swinging "Interplanetary Music," the Arkestra sounded in rude health. The more avant-garde leanings have perhaps been stripped back over the years, leaving a polished core of swing, bop, and blues.

The blues ballad "Tapestry from an Asteroid" and the hard-swinging, New Orleans-flavored "The Blues Set" both featured some fierce blowing from Allen, but it was the Arkestra's collective voice, particularly on the steamy latter number, that really seduced.

Allen's gong and Tyler Mitchell's grooving bass ostinato signaled "Angels and Demons at Play," which saw Danny Ray Thompson double on flute and theatrical vocals. "Space is the Place" sounded a little tired, truth be told, but there were plenty of other highlights. Chief among these was a tender, lyrical version of "When You Wish Upon a Star," featuring the irrepressible Allen, and the traditional procession around the audience, which brought the crowd to its feet, clapping the musicians all the way back onto the stage again.

An upbeat, instrumental version of "Sometimes I'm Happy"—with Cecil Brooks III on muted trumpet playing the vocal line—preceded a call-and-response between Allen and the audience. For the encore, Allen switched to EWI while Tevin Thomas whipped up some woozy, Ra-esque sci-fi effects on the keyboard, on the set's most abstract tune.

Uplifting and celebratory, Sun Ra Arkestra led by Marshall Allen, perhaps more than any other group, exemplifies the timeless appeal of jazz. Damned good medicine.

For festival director Antanas Gustys, bringing the Sun Ra Arkestra to Vilnius Jazz was the culmination of a long-standing ambition. Shortly after the concert Gustys recalled how he had spoken with Sun Ra on two occasions about the possibility of bringing the Arkestra to Vilnius Jazz. Ra asked Gustys where he was from. When Gustys informed Ra that he came from Lithuania, Ra exclaimed: 'Wonderful country!' 'You know it?' asked Gustys. 'Oh yes,' Ra replied. 'I always stop in Lithuania when I travel from Saturn.'

Gustys promised Ra that he would bring the Arkestra to Vilnius Jazz. It would take nearly thirty years to make it happen, by which time Ra had died, but there was no hiding the satisfaction that Gustys felt in realizing his goal.

"This year I decided that maybe it was the last chance in my life to get this orchestra to Vilnius," said Gustys after the concert, "so I put all my effort to make it happen. I am very happy."

Young Power Night Stage

The future of Lithuanian jazz is in good hands if the nightly showcase concerts in the Pavillion Club were anything to go by. The 1970s LPs adorning a wall gave the venue a slightly retro feel, but the music was rooted very much in the here and now.

Katarsis3 feat. Simonas Kaupinis and Aurelijus Užameckis, Llmookk, Mindaugas Stumbras 4tet, Danceable, Tiesulas and Laivo Troupe all impressed with their uniformly adventurous music and virtuoso playing. The Pavillion Club concerts were curated by Kristupas Kmitas, a dynamic drummer who appeared with several groups and in all the jam sessions.

It would take a separate article to do justice to all the Lithuanian showcase bands who performed during Vilnius Jazz 2019, but notable were the contributions of three non-musicians. Ugne Kavaliauskaite and Elmyra Ragimova offered a captivating spectacle of contemporary dance to the music of Danceable—aka Dainora Tulgirdas Aleksaitė (vocals, violin), Domantas Pūras (electric bass, electronics), Ignas Šoliūnas (electric guitar) and Kristupas Kmitas (drums).

Poet Marius Povilas Elijas Martynenko held the audience spellbound with his verse. Backed by Kazimieras Jušinskas (saxophone), Pijus Oras (bass) and Kmitas once again on drums, Martynenko's poetry instilled complete silence in the audience.

The bringing together of jazz/improvised music with dance and poetry provided some of the undoubted highlights of Vilnius Jazz 2019. Vilnius Jazz festival director Gustys regards this generation of musicians with great respect, and a certain amount of personal pride.

"There is a very strong stream of young musicians in Lithuania," said Gustys. "They have strong personalities and mostly play their own music. In the jam sessions I didn't hear any jazz standards at all. They improvise here and now, and they are strong enough and free enough to do it. It's very important to be without any complex, otherwise you cannot be a free artist," he explained.

"These young musicians are very creative, in different ways and in different directions, and I am happy about this because in some small way I have helped inspire this with Vilnius Young Power jazz competition. It's fourteen years old now. It's a long-term development and we begin to see the results."

Sunday 20

Vilnius Jazz Young Power

From ten groups considered for the 14th Vilnius Jazz Young Power competition, four made the final: VR Quartet; I'm Out; MartisMatisLukisVainus; and Kanalizacija. Indie rock was as much a common denominator as jazz and there was a certain overlapping of personnel in the bands, but the level of performance was uniformly high. Each band played original compositions and one standard.

There was, in addition, a special performance by the winners of the 2018 Vilnius Jazz Young Power competition, Castor Stetson. Audience votes were given equal weight to the votes of a panel of judges. The results were announced before the final evening's performances. The winner of the Grand Prix was Kanalizacija, who received a 1000 Euro cash prize, and surely more importantly, a recording session in Mama Studios.

On another day I'm Out might just as easily have won, but such is the nature of music competitions. Competition in music is an odd concept, but its adaptation globally attests to the career boosting importance that a win can potentially provide for young musicians.

The prize for best original composition went to MartisMatisLukisVainius, while prizes for best instrumentalist went to bassist Vainius Indriūnas (VR Quartet) and guitarist Dominykas Norkūnas (Kanalizacija). The 16th Vilnius Jazz Award for outstanding contribution to Lithuanian jazz went to saxophonist Simonas Šipavičius (Sheep Got Waxed).

Mockūnas, Mikalkėnas, Berre

Muliple-reed player Liudas Mockūnas is one of the highest profile Lithuanian jazz musicians, having collaborated with some of Europe's finest jazz musicians/improvisers, including Barry Guy, Mats Eilertsen and Stefan Pasborg, to name just a few. Mockūnas first played in a trio with Arnas Mikalkėnas and Norwegian Håkon Berre in 2014, since when the trio has toured extensively. The trio played Vilnius Jazz in 2014, which would result in the live recording—and the trio's debut— Plunged (Barefoot Records, 2017).

Not for the first time in Vilnius Jazz 2019, the audience experienced an extended improvisation, with the trio's music running the gamut from whispered exchange to bullish charge. At the centre was Mockūnas, who embraced gentle lyricism on soprano saxophone and braying free jazz on the fearsome contrabass clarinet. Trio dialogues were countered by unaccompanied features, with Berre's micro-rhythms and myriad percussive details contrasting with Mockūnas' bruising solo spot—rasping, spluttering and honking wildly.

The shifts in and out of a trio dynamic were continual, making the intermittent impact of three unified voices all the more striking. One hammered piano motif sparked an animated trio passage, with Berre working his kit feverishly—with all manner of sticks, brushes and toys—and Mockūnas following his muse with abandon. Mockūnas and Berre gravitated towards and locked into Mikalkėnas' ostinato in a thrilling conclusion to a powerful, twenty-five-minute exploration.

The second piece stemmed from an extended Mikalkėnas piano solo of jagged percussive waves. This segued into a brief solo percussion segment, which saw the drummer torture a piece of polystyrene with a bass bow. Mockūnas and Mikalkėnas joined in a high-wire, nerve-shredding duo improvisation that once again finished with a frenetic trio sprint to the line.

The final act began with a slow-burning, noirish groove, though in no time at all Mockūnas' soprano saxophone was soaring above the understated rhythm. The trio navigated a plateau of sustained intensity, each driving the others on in a heady pact, before the music quietly faded and returned to the silence from which it began.

Murray, Håker-Flaten, Nilssen-Love

Saxophonist David Murray is nothing if not eclectic. Since the mid-1970s, the Californian has played with a who's who of leading free-jazz players. He also co-founded the World Saxophone Quartet, which he has co-led for over forty years. In a discography of nearly a hundred records as leader/co-leader, Murray has paid tribute to the music of Grateful Dead, recorded Nat King Cole in Spanish, and collaborated with everyone from Cassandra Wilson to Macy Gray.

Murray was returning to Vilnius Jazz a decade or so after bringing his Black Saint quartet to the Russian Drama Theatre. In tow with Murray this time were outstanding Norwegian musicians, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and double bassist Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten.

The trio tore out of the blocks with "Fast Life," a breathless post-bop romp that would have collapsed the lungs of lesser mortals. Murray is one of the great tenor virtuosos, with a freedom in his playing that runs from Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler to pianist Don Pullen. Such was the energy invested in Murray's solos that it was little wonder he sat out altogether whenever Nilssen Love and Håker-Flaten soloed in turn.

Murray switched to bass clarinet on "Song for Biko" by Johnny Dyani, the South African bassist of The Blue Notes fame, with whom Murray played in the late 1970s. Bass clarinet and blues-drenched lines made way for tenor saxophone as Murray led a series of extended solos from all three musicians -Nilssen-Love's efforts in particular igniting the passions of the crowd.

After so much muscle and bustle, Carole King/Gerry Goffin's "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman"—originally written for Aretha Franklin—seemed to offer timely balm, though there were more fireworks in the leader's locker. Håker-Flaten's more soulful approach saw the song through to the end, unusually perhaps, without the trio returning to the head. The fast and furious bop-meets-free jazz of "Curious Circle" closed the show in spectacular fashion, with the trio, and Murray in particular, playing at an even faster tempo and with even greater intensity than anything that had gone before.

The encore, by contrast, brought breathing space for all with a beautiful rendition of the standard "Chelsea Bridge," with Håker-Flaten 's solo the pick of the bunch. This time the trio revisited the head on the way out, where Murray's soulfulness hinted at the influence of Ben Webster.

Wrap-up

Vilnius Jazz 2019 will long be remembered, for a variety of reasons. To have both The Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Sun Ra Arkestra on the same bill was undoubtedly special, but the quality of the music overall, on both the main stage and on the showcase stage of the Pavillion Club was extremely high. On both stages, over the entire festival, there were only three Lithuanian female instrumentalists, which raises the question as to why more women are not visible on the Lithuanian jazz scene. If the genre is not to remain an almost exclusively male domain, then female role models will be necessary to encourage those considering a career in music.

Vilnius Jazz 2019 will also be remembered for the performance of Milašius Power Band and the bruhaha surrounding it. Juozas Milašius certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons, igniting animated debate. He has been pushing the boundaries for several decades now. There are surely easier paths to follow, both artistically and commercially speaking, but Milašius has refused to compromise his vision, which is the mark of a serious artist.

Then there was the applause that greeted the announcement of the Art Ensemble of Chicago's decision not to play Turkey in the light of its invasion of Syria. The decision was widely reported around the world. The Vilnius crowd's response was reported in respected jazz magazine Salt Peanuts—a wave of sorts of its own.

The sight of the Sun Ra Arkestra snaking its way around the Russian Drama Theatre, with the crowd on its feet, will stick in the memory of many. For another audience, those with the stamina to embrace the small hours in the Pavillion Club night after night, the emerging Lithuanian jazz/improvising musicians sent an energized—and energizing— message that the future of the music in this part of the world is in good hands.

Photos: Courtesy of Tomas Terekas

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