In August 5-7 a powerful tsunami of improvisational music is expected in Klaipeda, which promises to flood the hearts of listeners with music in a positive and good mood. XXVII Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival is the most awaited holiday of the year for fans of this music genre. Festival organizers promise a lot of pleasant surprises, but there are things that don’t change from year to year. This year, on the stage, we will see Laimonas Urbikas from Klaipėda, a unique saxophonist named after the symbol of Klaipėda Castle Jazz Festival. It is no coincidence that this musician is depicted in the poster of our jazz festival created by photographer, musician and artist Algis Kriščiunas.
„I can’t imagine Klaipeda without a jazz festival anymore. For me, it’s the best summer evenings, when quality music is played, I see well-meaning people – free, dancing, communicating. Every year, when creating a festival poster, I think about it and rejoice in advance.“ – says the author of the poster Algis Kriščiunas.
How did Laimonas Urbikas become a symbol of Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival? „It simply came to our notice then. I had to see that dozens of times. Getting to know Vytautas Grubliauskas, the leader of the popular jazz ensemble Doudi Jazz Band, at one of the festivals became crucial. It was he who invited me to study in Klaipeda, at that time the only department of jazz music in the Baltic States, headed by Vytautas. The fact that Lauris Amantovs, a “practicing”, principled and demanding musician from Latvia, also came to study jazz music at that time was a decisive coincidence. He brought his friends to the West Coast Band in Dixieland and we became a nucleus that lasted all my years of study. Making music in a band was a good practice, which is necessary to make the acquired knowledge meaningful in the jazz department. ”- Laimonas shares his memories. The trust shown by the teachers, invitations to play music together at jazz festivals, later involvement in the organizational and concert activities of Klaipėda Castle Jazz Festival gave the musician confidence, invaluable experience, many acquaintances and unique moments. Celebrating the name of Klaipeda, with the festival team and well-known musicians, L. Urbikas had the good fortune to visit many countries of the world, performed dozens of concerts in Japan, China, Ukraine, the USA and others. As an integral part of the Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival, he had the opportunity to perform with world-famous musicians: Wojtek Pilichowski, Wolfgang Lackershmidt, Niki Harry, Paulette McWilliams, Jo Jo Meyer, Herbie Kopf, Keiko Borjeson and others.
Currently, Laimonas Urbikas shares his experience with students of the Klaipėda Stasys Šimkus Conservatory, Jazz Music Department, plays in the Klapėda Naval Orchestra, and conducts the Klaipėda Dixieland Memeland. His contribution to the popularization of intellectual music has not gone unnoticed – in 2017. Laimonas Urbikas was awarded the Klaipėda Castle Jazz Festival “Jazz Stars” award for the promotion of jazz music, and the listeners award him applause every time he enters the stage.
Laimonas’ long-term friendship with the course friend Laurius Amantovs has not ended until now. He invited his esteemed friend with his Mirage Jazz Orchestra and excellent Latvian vocalist Diana Pirags to perform at the XXVII Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival. However, this decision was determined not only by friendly relations, but also by the undeniable professionalism of this musical ensemble. 2004 The Mirage Jazz Orchestra, which appeared on the stage for the first time in January, unites the best Latvian jazz musicians. Lauris Amantovs, while studying at Klaipeda University, dreamed of his own group and this dream came true. The Mirage Jazz Orchestra always welcomes guests on various TV and radio shows, concert halls and festivals. The creativity of this ensemble and the non-traditional approach to music have earned them an important and respected position in the Latvian music world. In orchestral performances, expressive improvisations intertwine with romantic ballads, and cheerful rhythms complement the orchestral sound. Professional and charming musicians Lauris Amantovs (tromobon, artistic director), Laimonas Urbikas (saxophone), Raivo Stašans (saxophone, flute), Indrikis Veitners (saxophone, clarinet), Normunds Piesis (trumpet), Janis Amantovs (trumpet) (piano), Andris Grunte (double bass), Artis Orubs (percussion), let’s not forget how great power music and friendship are.
Along with the Mirage Jazz Orchestra, you will also see the wonderful Latvian jazz vocalist Diana Pirags on the stage of Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival. She is one of the most popular jazz singers in Latvia. Her masterful improvisations, gentle timbre and charm are hard to resist. Diana is involved in many local and international projects, sings in 8 languages and is completely enthralled to various music styles: Jazz, Latino, Pop, House, Hip Hop, Rock and Soul. The vocalist often performs with Lauris Amantovs Jazz Quartet. Such artistic collaboration gives them great pleasure to play together and the audience the pleasure of listening.
„Klaipeda is unimaginable without jazz, jazz is unimaginable without Laimonas Urbikas, and Laimonas’ musical path is unimaginable without wonderful fellow passengers, who walk with him to the rhythm of jazz. I have no doubt that the performance of Mirage Jazz Orchestra, Laimonas Urbikas and Diana Pirags will give the listeners a lot of joy and unforgettable moments,” says the festival organizer Inga Grubliauskienė.
You will see the result of this great international cooperation on August 5th. The XXVII Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival will take place on August 5-7, at the Cruise Ship Terminal. All events are free!