What associations usually arise when remembering a stay in Klaipeda? Jazz, sea, ships, amber … And from now on – „Amber catchers“. The original band Amber Hunters, consisting of six musicians from five different countries, will appear on the stage of the XXVII Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival. This group came together in 2020, when the pandemic broke out, at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Jazz Music, on the initiative of drummer Kaspars Petkus, who was studying there. “Finding a solution in music that sounds best takes as much as finding amber in the sea in the morning. We search until we find our own amber nugget,” – Kasparas describes the group’s creative process.
The band performs original funk fusion style compositions and improvisations inspired by western music artists such as Ghost-note, Snarky puppy, James brown, Parliament Funkadelic, Weather report, Butcher Brown and many more. The six members of the band, from different countries, are formed by different cultures, creating a distinctive Amber Hunters musical style.
Kasparas Petkus (Lithuania, Klaipeda) started his musical journey very early. At the age of 5 he learned to play the piano and sing, at the age of 11 he started playing drums at the Christian Protestant Church in Vilnius. After moving to Klaipeda, he performed concerts with the most famous jazz musicians of Western Lithuania, together organized various musical projects and composed music. After graduating from school, he entered the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music and annually invites music ensembles of different compositions to come to Klaipeda. Amber Hunters is the group that has put the most creative and organizational effort into it. I believe that our group has great potential and real opportunities to pave the way in the international music arena,” – says Kasparas.
Almantas Karečka (Lithuania, Klaipeda). “I started playing in fifth grade. When the music teachers suddenly asked who would like to play the trumpet, I thought – why not give it a try. The next day I went to music school and my musical path as a trumpet player began,” – Almantas shares his memories.
Johnny Biner (Frankfurt, Germany) – started playing at the age of 8. At first he became interested in drums, but soon felt a passion for guitar. Playing in Frankfurt with local rock and blues bands, he decided he wanted to pursue a career as a professional musician and joined the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music. “I always wanted to become a good guitarist who could surprise people with my music,” says Johnny.
Richard “Rico” Nacinelli (Italy, Pesaro). Richard started playing electric bass guitar at the age of 14. In 2009, he founded the band Barely Awake, which quickly gained recognition in his native Italy, and toured at many music clubs throughout Europe and beyond. Richard later worked in music, studied graphic design in Italy, joined the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music in 2018 and played in the groups Amber Hunters, Nausyqa and The floor is lava.
Arjan “Singho” Seville (USA, Hampshire / Spain, Alicante). Born in Spain and raised in the US, the musician often returns to Alicante to not forget his native language. He started playing the piano when he was just 4 years old, and jazz music fascinated him when he started high school. Arjan is currently studying jazz piano at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music and is intensively involved in production and composition. „I know that one day I will enter the international music industry with great force,“- Arjan has no doubts.
Oleg Tkachenko (Kazakhstan, Almaty). Born in Kyrgyzstan and later moved to Kazakhstan, Oleg started playing the guitar at the age of eight. He soon began playing the tenor saxophone and became interested in American R&B and jazz music. Oleg studied in Kazakhstan and later continued his studies at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music. Oleg says: „I am currently concentrating on music studies, but in the future I see myself among the best jazz saxophonists, composers and music producers.“
The sad news reached us at the end of the Amber Hunters presentation. Inga Grubliauskienė, the jazz organizer of Klaipėda Castle, announced that the leader of the group Kasparas Petkus suffered a spinal injury and we will probably not see him on the festival stage. „The whole jazz community sincerely wishes Kaspars a speedy recovery. Youth and passion for music work wonders – I have no doubt that soon we will see him masterfully juggling with drumsticks,” -I. Grubliauskienė does not lose optimism.
But the band’s show is sure to happen! Kasparas will be replaced on the stage by his beloved teacher from Amsterdam, Yoran Vroom, who has always admired and supported the idea of the Amber Hunters project. Kasparas himself believes that such an unexpected change in the composition of the group will give the performance even more „colors“, as he will be replaced by a master of percussion at the highest level.
Yoran Vroom (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Born into a family of musicians, he started beating drums very early and learned the art of percussion from the best professionals of this instrument. In 2013, Yoran graduated from the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music and began actively performing with many world-renowned artists. In addition to his concert activities, Yoran teaches at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Jazz Music and is one of the main lecturers in the jazz drum department. In 2021, he released his debut album Across Spectrum, which immediately gained international recognition.
„This young, but definitely promising team, promises a great mood and a rhythm that encourages movement. I believe that Amber Hunters, supported by teacher Yoran Vroom, will decorate the festival stage with an adventurous performance and give jazz music fans many memorable moments,” – says Klaipėda Castle Jazz Festival organizer Inga Grubliauskienė.
The XXVII Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival will take place on August 5-7, at the Cruise Ship Terminal. All events are free!