PETRAS VYŠNIAUSKAS — Viennese Concert (review)

PETRAS VYŠNIAUSKAS — Viennese Concert album cover Live album · 1991 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
snobb
It's a great fortune that still in 60s Lithuania has become one of the main center of experimental jazz in big territories east from Berlin - Vienna axe. Being occupied by Soviet Russians,it was one of rare places in all former Soviet Union where jazz wasn't under formal or informal ban. As a result,Moscow-born Lithuanian Conservatory graduate Slava Ganelin founded here one of the most radically experimental jazz band of the time,coming from that part of the wold - Ganelin Trio. Trio's activities as well as all members teaching in different Lithuanian music schools initiated serious growth of interest to that music in a country as well as established very influential domestic jazz tradition.

Reeds player Petras Vyšniauskas,who born in small Lithuanian provincial town and played on weddings from his early teens, became a leading sax player of mid generation jazz musicians, formed under Ganelin trio influence. During late 80s and 90s he became a main figure on domestic stage with very realistic ambitions to become a new Vladimir Chekasin (Ganelin Trio's sax player). Unfortunately, Petras didn't. Already in 90 he almost abandoned avant-garde jazz scene concentrating on teaching work in Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater and growing interest in collaboration with academic and neo-folk artists(he still plays rare jazz concerts till now though)

Still his works from late 80s - early 90s contain some excellent examples of quite original advanced jazz. "VIennese Concert" is Petras first ever live album and as well his debut on Western label. Recorded during concert in Vienna, this album contains in fact two different collectives music,recorded same day. First part is played by regular Vysniauskas trio (with Lithuanians pianist Kęstutis Lušas and drummer Gediminas Laurinavičius).It opens with Petras sax soloing - very Steve Lacy-like,but more lyrical,a bit dreamy and philosophical. Vyšniauskas has been always strongly related with his roots,provincial small town atmosphere and his music,being very modern by form just radiate that natural way of life. It's fantastic how being free-form dissonant trio leader, using synthesizers and unorthodox rhythm constructions,in depth Petras stays same small boy playing on the village weddings.

On the second part of concert,trio is joined by pianist Slava Ganelin himself and second drummer Mika Markovich (unknown name for me). Improved band left relaxed and almost dreamy atmosphere in past and jumps ahead with quirkiness and high energy of modern nervous urban world.

Vyšniauskas playing is excellent here, on the level of Steve Lacy but more personally colored and unique.It's pity there stayed only a few recorded evidences from that time, and all them are generally obscure.

P.S. Album opener's "Plunge" doesn't mean what you most probably expect - it's just a name of Petras hometown. Third and fifth compositions' titles come from Lithuanian small places names as well.
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