VLADIMIR CHEKASIN, VLADIMIR TARASOV (Lithuania), Flat Earth Society (Belgium)



Music from the cycle Invasion of Classical Music

November 16 I 19:00 I Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius


Vladimir Chekasin – saxes, electr, voice

Vladimir Tarasov – dr, perc


‘Finally,’ was the response of the Lithuanian jazz fans when the recipients of the National Culture and Art Award were announced in February 2017. According to one music fan, the award which went to the trio of pianist Viacheslav Ganelin, drummer Vladimir Tarasov and saxophone player Vladimir Chekasin (GTC) was long overdue. Almost sole jazz band formed in Lithuania, which composed original music and surprised audiences, was known on the jazz scene stretching from New York to Beijing.

The trio was formed in 1971 and during its 15-year career earned recognition outside the boundaries of the then Soviet Union performing nearly across the entire Europe. Drawing inspiration from free jazz, folklore, and chamber music, the band offered something completely new and original.

The group’s record Con Anima released in 1976 is considered to be the first jazz album released in Lithuania. The trio, which existed until 1986, has so far been unsurpassed in the jazz scene in Lithuania both in terms of creativity and its recognition by music fans. The history of the group has been immortalised in dozens of recordings and Tarasov’s autobiographical book Trio

Two members of the trio – Tarasov and Chekasin – will appear on the Vilnius Mama Jazz scene this year and promise an intrigue: "Invasion of the Classics".

Although a separate series of lectures could be delivered about the life of both musicians, brief facts from their biographies are none-the-less impressive.

Born in Yekaterinburg (Russia), Chekasin started his career in his hometown and moved to Lithuania in 1971. The saxophonist, composer, and educator is deservingly called the jazz guru of the country. Such famous Lithuanian jazz figures as Petras Vyšniauskas, Vytautas Labutis, Leonidas Šinkarenko, Neda Malūnavičiūtė, Liudas Mockūnas and others were Chekasin’s students.

Back in 1971, Chekasin triumphed at the international festival in Prague coming ahead of all young jazz musicians. Since the release of this debut album in Prague, he has released or collaborated in over 60 albums, appeared in the concerts in Europe, North America and Asia, and almost every year still implements a dozen of new projects involving both Lithuanian and international musicians.

Chekasin has also composed music for theatre and films, including the score for two films, Taxi-Blues and The Wedding, awarded at the Cannes Film Festival. He also collaborates in the projects composing music for stage, dance and pantomime performances.

Born in the city of Arkhangelsk (Russia), Tarasov moved to Lithuania in 1968 and became one of the most prominent jazz figures in the country. When GTC disbanded, the musician continued to surprise audiences with new projects related both to jazz and other genres of music. 

Tarasov has for many years collaborated with the Lithuanian Symphony Orchestra and symphony, chamber and jazz orchestras in Lithuania, Europe and the US. His stage collaborations include performances with such renowned musicians and artists as Andrew Cyrille, The Rova Saxophone Quartet, Anthony Braxton, Lauren Newton, Didier Petit and many others. 

An important part of Tarasov’s creative work is music for orchestras, films and stage plays. His music can be heard in Russian, Swiss and German films and in theatres in New Orleans, New York, Paris and elsewhere. Individually and in collaboration with a variety of different artists, Tarasov has created many visual arts projects. His projects were staged in the Venice Biennale, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Southbank Arts Centre in London. 

In 1991, Tarasov founded the Lithuanian Art Orchestra.


Flat Earth Society (Belgium)

November 16 I 22:00 I Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius

Controlled chaos by the Flemish Flat Earth Society big band at the Vilnius Mama Jazz Festival


To the extent the supporters of the flat earth theory are negatively “loony”, the Belgium Flat Earth Society big band is positively “loony”.  The band, which celebrates its 20-year jubilee, can fuel a fiery party where, it seems, is a place only for traditional sounds thus creating a spectacle which could be called a professionally manufactured chaos.

The project started in 1998. Peter Vermeersch, a former architect, virtuoso of clarinet, saxophone and keyboards, who became the leader of the band, went ahead with expanding the horizons of jazz from the very start.  The previous avant-garde escapades of the leader in his group X-Legged Sally served as an “opening act” to the 14-member team who play like a completely free operating, but a well-oiled outfit, where listening to each other and taking cues, audacity and improvisations go hand in hand.

Vermeersch is an undisputed leader of the band and has shared the stage with such musicians as Josse de Pauw, Wim Vandekeybus, Vincent Ball, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker or Fred Frith and wrote music for such collectives as Arditti Quartet, Prima La Musica and The Smith Quartet. Called one of the godfathers of the Belgian music scene, Vermeersch has contributed to pop, avant-garde and jazz music, and this experience culminates in the orchestrations of the Flat Earth Society.

Moving between the established pieces and free improvisations, members of the big band dive into original music encounters inspired by the classics of the genre. They are brave to make extraordinary choices and allow for the music to pulsate and the musicians to be punk, disregarding conventional forms. As a result, the heavy rock elements, well recognizable motifs and the greatness of the 14-piece band hit you like a spontaneous musical wave. The most interesting thing is however, that the music of the Flat Earth Society never goes off the rails. Dancing and tumbling chords and notes seem to know where they belong, what comes next, and that they will never be forgotten.

Out of all these experiences a stirring masterpiece of progressive jazz emerges which accommodates both a rich musical note and a good kick in the butt.