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3.4.04

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A Melt of Jazz and Hip-Hop: Roy Hargrove in Vilnius and Moscow 

Eastern European concert tour comes to an end for the famous jazz trumpeter/composer Roy Hargrouve. On April 27, he will perform at Kaunas Jazz Festival but on April 29, 30 and on May 1 at the Moscow jazz club "Le Club" with his new "RH Factor: Hard Groove"
Conceived, composed and produced by Hargrove, Hard Groove assembles some of the most respected young R&B artists like D'Angelo, Anthony Hamilton, Erykah Badu and Stephanie McKay, jazz/neo-soul/jam band players and hip hop MCs Q-Tip and Common. As Hargrove puts himself "I just wanted to open a door that would allow the musicians involved in jazz and the musicians involved in the R&B/hip hop mainstream to form some music that would have no limit", explains Hargrove. "It's like a merging of those two worlds." Unfortunately, during the tour, the vocal part will be done by himself, although the band part remains fully completed: Bobby Sparks (keyboards), Keith Anderson (sax), Billy Jones III (drums) and others.

Short info on artist:
Roy Hargrove may be only 33 years old, but in just 14 years as a professional, he's established a reputation as one of the most versatile and hardest working players in jazz. In 1999, he had his debut album "Diamond in The Rough" coming out (at the time Hargrove is just 20 years old!). The debut recording was followed by 10 other recordings, among them "With the Tenors of Our Time"with Johnny Griffin, Joe Henderson and Joshua Redman. In 1996, he went to Cuba and recorded the famous, Grammy winning "afro-cuban jazz landmark" "Habana" with Chuco Valdez, David Sanchez and Gregory Maloun.
Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove was born in Waco, TX on October 16, 1969. Inspired by the gospel music he heard in church on Sundays and the R&B and funk music that played on the radio, Roy began learning the trumpet in the fourth grade. By age 16, he was studying music at Dallas's prestigious Booker T. Washington School for the Visual and Performing Arts (fellow alumni: Erykah Badu and Norah Jones).

RH Factor: Hard Groove
The RH Factor: Hard Groove represents a turning point in Roy Hargrove's definitions of the music: "Personally this represents the passion that I have for the music to want to take it forward. That feeling alone made me realize that this was a spiritual event and that it was something that was history -- something to be remembered That's what the record is -- opening a new door. And this is only the beginning. There will be more episodes to come."

Roy Hargrove's performance in Kaunas Jazz Festival is definitely "the jazz event" of Baltic States!!! Recommended for everybody enjoying hip-hop, soul, jazz and funk.
Sources: Roy Hargrove at Verve and Jazz Kvadrat
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Jazz Mobsters "Sax Mafia" in Vilnius 

It's been a while, since rumors about the powerful Lithuanian mafia aroused. As always, nobody knew anything, just a suspicious glimpse and gossip like guesses. Now it seems, that if down there is something to be called mafia, then it's gonna perform on April 8 in Russian Drama Theatre, Vilnius.
All the members of Russian sax quartet SAX MAFIA are both improvisers and authors. Nikolay Rubanov
is well known as saxophonist of Russian rock band "AuctYon" and as a leader of "Union of Commercial Avant-Garde"; Edward Sivkov plays in folk group "Ne Te", in the various projects by Vlad Makarov and in Moscow Composers Orchestra, Yury Yaremchuk played in "Moscow Composers Orchestra", "3Ya", Sergey Letov is known as founder of the oldest Russian free jazz trio "Tri-O", plays in rock bands "Civil Defense", DDT a.o.
"Tri-O" was found in 1985 and soon became critically acclaimed not only in Russia, but in jazz festivals around Europe and even in United States. Starting as a avant-garde jazz ensemble performing in literary evenings, exhibitions and art events, they grew to becoming a contemporary jazz ensemble performing in all the USSR jazz festivals and, eventually, in such clubs as "Knitting Factory", "Anyway" in New York. They have also performed together with New Jungle Orchestra, this year's guest at Jazz Kaar, Estonia. Howard Mandel, a Down Beat critic, even wrote that "It's not necessary to be Afro-american to get the structure, strategy and freedom of jazz. In this particular case, all the attention goes to the small "Tri-O" ensemble (...). Their music is based on personal and social experiences, generated by the same spontane, self-understandable impulses that created the very early jazz and are supporting the contemporary one."
Quite amazing fact, that all the members of SAX-MAFIA live far away from each other: Rubanov - in St.
Petersburg, Sivkov - in Vologda, Yaremchuk - in Lvov, and Sergey Letov - in Moscow. The first performance of a quartet took place at Cultural Center DOM in Moscow.
Yury Sivkov found the project in February 2002. "SAX-MAFIA" has released 2 albums: "SAX-MAFIA by HOR Records - Concert in the DOM (quartet)" and "ethno.ru" (concert in Tyumen, trio) on Sergey Letov's
label PENTAGRAMMA.
"SAX-MAFIA" has performed in Moscow, Tyumen, Vologda, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Hamburg, Duesseldorf, Bonn, Mainz, Speyer, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Dresden.

Sources: Vilnius Jazz Festival , Sergei Letov Web Site

1.4.04

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JAZZANOVA in Club Prive, Tallinn 

Everybody, who has been following the electronic music/acid jazz scene, knows Jazzanova, one of the many German electronic music wonders emerging in the recent years (see Kruder&Dorfmeister, De Phazz etc.). I haven’t dig in them much, “In Between” record seems pretty chilled, fusion of rhythms, instruments and samples. A very ambient, but messy piece of music. Their website (www.jazzanova.ee) states that “Jazzanova have developed a percussion-oriented, sophisticated, clean and warm broken-beat-style that is constantly changing in form and allows no pigeon-holing. It’s just simply Jazzanova!”. Sounds very intelligent and great, but to my opinion, nothing good comes out, when you mix everything you can (hip-hop, soul, deep jazz, bosa nova, strings with a good topping of pretension). Also there is more jazz in the title, than in the content (probably, the rare sax and flute sample are the ones bravely claiming the snobbish title). Ok, maybe I'm not in the best mood now, and those going to Club Prive tonight will groove high together with the latest from the electronic jazz scene.
Jazzanova will perform tonight, April 1, in Club Prive.
Check out more at www.clubprive.ee

28.3.04

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A Quick Glimpse at Riga Saxophone Quartet 

In the rather shattered and irregular Latvian jazz and contemporary music scene, RSQ sometimes seems like a savior. It is present both in serious academic music and jazz events surprising the audience with unheard arrangements, vivid interplays and sound saxophone tune, and in small local festivities, receptions, openings, church and school concerts showing the variety of possible sax arrangements from Verdi's "Carmen" to Hancock's superfunky "Cantaloupe Island". Now for 12 years already, RSQ has been one of the few, if not THE ONLY ONE serious professional jazz and contemporary ensemble in Latvia. No wonder that most of the modern Latvian composers have dedicated their works for the quartet.
Riga Sax Quartet

Short History
It was first formed in 1992, but the current collective is together since 2000 having about 120 concerts during a concert season in Latvia. In 1999, RSQ was awarded the Big Music Prize (the highest musical award in Latvia), and recorded with the internationally acclaimed French academic saxophone player Jean Pierre Baraglioli. Since then, RSQ have been on several international tours, incl., China Norway, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Austria, Portugal etc. RSQ was first to introduce the heartbreaking, nuance filled melodies of Argentian composer Astor Piazzola to Latvia, long before they appeared in the repertoires of symphonic orchestras. In fact, RSQ popularity may be explained by their enormous repertoir starting from Bach, Hegel, Marchello to the original saxophone composers Grimson, Norholm, Fisher, Dibua, Solal to the jazz masters Gillespie, Gershwin, Ellington, Woods. In 2001, RSQ organized the second international saxophone festival SAXOPHONIA. We have got another coming in winter, 2005.
Check out three pieces from RSQ first CD:
Mike Mower "It's Lovely Once You Are"
Astor Piazzolla "Adios Nonino"
Phill Woods "Three Improvisation for Sax Quartet. Part I "

Artists
ARTIS SIMANIS (Alto sax)
After graduating from St.Petersburg Conervatory in 1986, Artis Sīmanis is the first to establish a saxophone class at Jazeps Medins Riga Music college (the biggest undergraduate musical education institution in Latvia). Therefore, he is often considered to be the father of academic saxophone school in Latvia. Indeed, he is the mentor for the rest of RSQ members. In 1991, he opens the first sax class at Latvian Conservatory as well. Performed together with the acclaimed New Danish Saxophone Quartet, Latvian Philharmonic Orchestra, Moscow Symphonic Orchestra. Artis is now associated professor at Latvian Music Conservatory.

Gints Paberzs (soprano sax)
Probably, the best known Latvian saxophonist, mostly because of his participation in the popular acid jazz/funk band Time After Time (you can check their latest album here); often seen as the cool sax guy of Latvia. Studied in Latvian Music Conservatory and Danish Royal Music Academy.

Renars Lacis (baritone saxophone)
Masters degree in music from Latvian Academy of Music with Artis Simanis as his professor (1998). Besides playing at the RSQ Renars is leading an active concert life
as a soloist, mainly focusing on the contemporary saxophone music.

Ainars Shablovskis (tenor saxophone)
Ainars' instrumental skills have been perfected attending masterclasses with such celebrities as professor Jorgen Bove by the Royal Academy of Music in Denmark and professor Claude Delangle by the Highest Music Conservatoire in Paris. One academic term, year 2000 he studied at the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm (professor Christer Johnsson class).
In 1998 Ainars won the 2nd prize in Nova Nomina, a concert cycle-show of Latvia music college students. 1999 came with an absolute victory in the competition The Best Chamber Ensemble organized by Latvia Academy of Music and the 2nd place in the Yamaha Competition for Woodwind Instruments.

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