trio NEDA / LABUTIS / BANYS
Neda Malūnavičiūtė – voc
Vytautas Labutis – saxes
Richardas Banys – p
Birštonas 2018 jazz festival
about trio and musicians
This trio has yet celebrated its three-year anniversary. In the middle of 2017 Neda Malūnavičiūtė and Vytautas Labutis, two old stage partners, started teaming up with young and creative pianist Richardas Banys. No wonder, since its first days in 1990 this tandem was always fuelled by experiments. During long years of partnership Vytautas and Neda have developed an unprecedented telepathic sense of ensemble and way of communicating, which empowers them to realise any idea. Their improvisational vocabulary is inexhaustible. Trio performs a programme of original compositions by Vytautas Labutis, Richardas Banys and several other authors.
Lithuanian jazz prima donna, flutist and vocalist Neda Malūnavičiūtė celebrates the 30th anniversary of her jazz career this year. It was in Birštonas Jazz that she made her jazz debut in 1988 with B.Dvarionas School of Music jazz ensemble led by Vladimir Chekasin. Later on, Neda ascended the Birštonas Jazz stage with the Quintet of Artūras Anusauskas (the recipient of the festival’s Grand Prix), ensemble Džiazo nublokšti, Vilnius Jazz Quartet, Dainius Pulauskas Jazz Sextet and Vilnius Jazz Orchestra among other collectives. The singer has improvised with almost every Lithuanian jazz master, collaborated with Vytautas Labutis Octet, Leonid Shinkarenko Quintet Jazz 5, and Kaunas Big Band, was a member of Exlex improvised music group formed together with late percussionist Tomas Dobrovolskis, performed as a trio with Artūras Anusauskas and Vytautas Labutis. Since 2006, Neda has been actively collaborating with trio Meilės trikampis (Love Triangle) and as a duo with actor Olegas Ditkovskis performing songs written by or for her. The soloist has also collaborated with Russian pianist Daniil Kramer, the Quartet of Estonian saxophonist Raivo Tafenau, appeared in projects of German pianist Bernd Homann and Belarusian Big Band led by Michail Finberg.“You can’t say that there is one right genre – either one does have what to say or does not. With bigger variety life gets more interesting. I am happy that my everyday life has no place for routine. I am always in a vortex of things: I chose with whom, what and where I want to play”, said the singer.
No jazz festival in Lithuania managed without Neda. With various formations she performed in Finland, Sweden, Spain, the USA, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Russia and Poland.
In 1994, Malūnavičiūtė won Grand Prix at the International Vocal Competition in Bialystok (Poland), in 1997 earned Bravo award for her album Laikas prisiminti (Time to Remember), and in 1999 with Dainius Pulauskas Sextet she was awarded Grand Prix at the International Competition Yesterday in Pärnu (Estonia) for the most original interpretation of Yesterday by Lennon and McCartney. In 2012, for contributions to Lithuanian jazz the singer was presented with Birštonas Jazz Grand Prix.
Multi-instrumentalist, composer and pedagogue Vytautas Labutis, a recipient of Birštonas Jazz Grand Prix (1996), is one of the key figures on Lithuanian jazz scene.
His name is associated with a number of leading Lithuanian jazz ensembles including Džiazo nublokšti Quintet, Shinkarenko’s Jazz 4, DPG, Vilnius Jazz Quartet and Lithuanian Jazz Trio among others.
The talented musician is at home in both small-scale and monumental jazz forms. Be it composing for large ensembles or playing in duos, he expertly combines diverse music styles and expression means. Labutis’ repertoire is brimming with such an amount of compositions, that you never know which melody or what else he will bolt out of the blue.
The saxophonist has toured in many European countries with his quartet, which has been playing a wide range of music from peculiar ragas to funk and free jazz for over 20 years. The quartet’s album Sounding City, recorded with Neda, was introduced in Barcelona, Madrid, Stockholm, Budapest, Gdansk and at Warsaw’s celebrated jazz festival Jazz Jamboree.
Vytautas has appeared in various projects including Vladimir Tarasov’s The Lithuanian Art Orchestra and Lithuanian Young Composers Orchestra, as well as international ones such as JazzBaltica Ensemble, Octet Ost, East-West Vapirov Project, New European Saxophone Quartet and Moscow Composers Orchestra. With diverse ensembles he has performed all around Europe, toured in Asia, the USA and Australia, recorded over 50 CDs.
Besides jazz the saxophonist performs contemporary academic music, takes part in artistic performances, writes music for film and theatre, and contributes to upbringing of new jazz generation in Balys Dvarionas Music School. His disciples, technically skilled and intelligent beyond their years, earn awards in national and international competitions.
Pianist Richardas Banys started his path into music with independent piano and composition studies in Šiauliai, which he continued in Šiauliai Conservatoire. Later he entered the Department of Popular Music in the University of Applied Sciences where he delved into his preferred jazz element. In 2016, he earned the Master Degree in Jazz Piano from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, where he studied under professor Artūras Anusauskas.
Richardas is a winner of Džiazo fontanas (Jazz Fountain) festival (2005, 2006). In 2014, he was voted the best instrumentalist in Vilnius Jazz Young Power competition and captured second prize in Jazz Improvisation international jazz piano competition organised at the LAMT. In 2015, the pianist earned third prize and a special prize for stage presence in Jazz World international jazz competition in Rostov (Russia). In 2016, Richardas gave a recital at the main stage of Vilnius Mama Jazz international festival.
The musician shared the stage with many Lithuanian jazz masters including Vladimir Chekasin, Ana Chekasina, Neda Malūnavičiūtė, Aleksandras Tenas, Gintaras Šulinskas, Linas Būda, Remigijus Rančys, Darius Rudis and Vytis Nivinskas. He appeared in a number of academic music concerts, collaborated with singer Judita Leitaitė, accordionist and composer Andrius Kulikauskas.
Currently, he teaches the piano in the Department of Rhythmic Music at the University of Applied Sciences.