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Mockunas, Liudas: Hydro 2 (NoBusiness)

The second volume of Lithuanian soprano and tenor saxophonist Liudas Mockunas's unusual album of water-based saxophone technique, augmenting the instrument by placing the bell of the sax into water, here in an epic live performance that uses both water and extreme technical skills and authoritative intent as he draws astoundingly diverse sounds from his instrument.

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product information:

Label: NoBusiness
Catalog ID: NBCD 113
Squidco Product Code: 26802

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2018
Country: Lithuania
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded at tje IMPRODIMENSIJA concert series at MAMAstudios, in Vilnius, Lithuania, in October 2017, by Arunas Zujus.


Liudas Mockunas-soprano saxophone, prepared soprano saxophone, percussion

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Artist Biographies:

"Liudas Mockūnas (b. 1976) is a representative of modern creative and free avant-garde jazz, his music obliterates the boundaries between jazz and academic music. Exploring the nature of sound and the potential of overtones, he has developed his own playing style saturated with multiphonic techniques. According to the critics, "this reed player works with highly unorthodox mixtures, with sounds ranging from expressive instrumental burnouts over filmic horror to apocalypse-hymns and transcendent bells. His music may be unpredictable with an energizing mixture of free jazz, lyricism and mid-European expressionism."

The musician's education is both in jazz and classical fields. A graduate of M.K.Čiurlionis School of Arts, he received his master's degree from the Lithuanian Academy of Music in 2002 (under Vladimir Chekasin). In 2005 he received Jazz Performance Masters from the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen. He has further perfected his skills and knowledge through a number of courses and private lessons.The saxophonist has accumulated a solid stage experience. He started playing jazz as a child of eight and made his stage debut in 1988 with the Youth Jazz Ensemble led by Vladimir Chekasin. From the age of 15 he has constantly been part of jazz festivals and emerged as a leader in 1996; he has performed with numerous Lithuanian jazz musicians.

Liudas Mockūnas truly merits the name of Lithuanian jazz ambassador. He is constantly involved in international projects both as initiator and member of different groups. His international collaborations were given a new impetus when in 1999 he started his studies in Copenhagen. In 2000 he and the Danish drummer Stefan Pasborg founded a highly acclaimed group Toxikum, their self-titled album in Denmark was hailed Jazz Discovery of the Year 2004.

A co-leader of the groups Red Planet, Baltic Trio, Artomic, and Revolver, he also collaborates with the Copenhagen Art Ensemble, Pierre Dørge and his New Jungle Orchestra. He has played with the Swinging Europe Big Band and has participated in the La Villet Jazz Festival's international big band project with the World Saxophone Quartet. Mockūnas has also collaborated with Marc Ducret, David Murray, Oliver Lake, Mats Eilertsen, Jaak Sooäär, Mikko Innanen, Jeff Arnal, Dietrich Eichmann, Scott Colley, Ryoji Hojito, Nasheet Waits, Mats Gustafsson, Chris Speed, Mike Svoboda and Andrew Hill. With different groups Mockūnas has performed across Europe, in the USA and China. In 2004 he initiated Traffic Quartet, a group of Lithuanian musicians (Valerijus Ramoška, Liudas Mockūnas, Eugenijus Kanevičius and Arkady Gotesman).

Liudas Mockūnas is a winner of a number of competitions. In 1993 and 1995 he became laureate of Juozas Pakalnis Wind Players Competition; in 1993 and 1995 he participated in the "Berklee in Germany" workshops (led by Gary Burton) and was granted a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music (USA). In 2000 he received the second prizes from Brilliant Note, an international saxophonists' competition in Latvia, and the international jazz soloists' competition in Klaipeda. In 2001 the MAP trio (Liudas Mockūnas, Jacob Anderskov and Stefan Pasborg) won the European improvisational music competition in France. His achievement in music was recognized by the Mūzų Malūnas Prize in 2004, and by the Vilnius Jazz Festival Prize "For Contribution into Lithuanian Jazz Culture" in 2006.

Liudas Mockūnas also performs contemporary classical repertoire (pieces by Bronius Kutavičius, Algirdas Martinaitis, Remigijus Merkelys and others). He has performed with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, the St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra and the Gaida Ensemble. He also composes music for theatre and cinema. Since 2004 he teaches at the Jazz Department of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre."

-Music Information Centre Lithuania (

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track listing:

1. Hydro 2 46:09
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Liudas Mockūnas, an iconic Lithuanian improvisation and jazz figure, still continues his exploration of water. By combining water and reeds he steps into an unpredictable and unique sonic meadow. His first attempt to put the bridle on water, Hydro, was released in 2017 by NoBusiness Records. At the end of 2018 the same label presented the second part, Hydro 2. Like its predecessor it is a solo record. Water and solo? On one hand that sounds promising, but on the other it is a little bit risky. Is it possible to cope with amorphous and, let's say, uncontrollable water by yourself?

Beginning with a brief comparison of Hydro and Hydro 2, the first part was prepared beforehand and studio-recorded , whereas Hydro 2 is pure improvisation captured at the "Improdimensija" concert series in Vilnius, on 5th of October 2017. Moreover, Hydro was divided into different suites in contrast to Hydro 2 which consists only one track. So, this second chapter of water-based musical epic is more complex, dynamic and intimate than its predecessor.

Hydro 2 begins with the gentle sound of bubbling water caused by a soprano sax bell sunk into it. But the album cannot be labeled a fluffy one. Hydro 2 dramaturgy could be expressed in a sinusoid graphic with its peaks and lows. In particular, those parts where the listener hears water-prepared soprano sax sound more gentle compared to non-prepared ones. At those points it seems that water somehow plays a comforter role on this record and turns on a more peaceful mood. In general, perhaps, it is inherent in water to bring us peace, and Liudas proves that.

The sonic variety of Hydro 2 just knocks listeners' socks off. This record has an enormous abundance of odd sounds and tunes. Reassuring bubbling water sound, soprano sax sometimes buzzing like a mosquito or bleating like a goat, or even the saxophonist's delicate puffs and breathing sounds amalgamate harmoniously in Hydro 2. Furthermore, Liudas just drops a bomb with quite a rare instrument, a keyless overtone saxophone which was created for educational purpose, i.e., to improve overtone playing technique. In the context of Hydro 2, the keyless overtone sax sounds extremely powerful, deep and, because of the jaw-dropping tonguing technique of Liudas, it just bursts into colorful sonic bloom. Moreover, it marks a turning point to a more aggressive manner and staccato articulation as well.

What is more, Liudas, who is an adherent of acoustic sound, does not use any effects (delay, reverb, etc.) on this record. Such an acoustic approach asks the listener to focus on the nature of sound, on its primeval origins and to dive into the boundless ocean of tones and overtones. The answer to the question asked at the beginning of the review is more than clear: Mockūnas definitely has found his own way to get in touch with water, and the result is more than rewarding."-Vitalijus Gailius, All About Jazz

Get additional information at All About Jazz
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
European Improvisation and Experimental Forms
Solo Artist Recordings
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players
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