The colourful Vilnius Mama Jazz festival, which offers a variety of jazz styles, has been held in the capital since 2002. The musical line-ups have encompassed everything from all star projects to contemporary post-bop, live sound for silent cinema, and arrangements of Led Zeppelin music accompanied by cabbage soup flavour. Quality, originality, and relevance are the unifying factors defining the diversity of festival programmes.
The goal of the international jazz festival each year is to introduce interesting international jazz phenomena to Lithuanian audiences and to provide an environment for young artists to participate in national and international projects.
Over the nine years of the festival, musicians such as Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Bill Frisell, Marcus Miller, Christian McBride, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Medeski Martin & Wood, Dave Douglas, Wayne Shorter, Danilo Perez, John Patitucci, Brian Blade, Chris Potter, Bill Evans, The Bad Plus, Victor Bailey, Joe McPhee, Chris Minh Doky, John Scofield, Bobby Previte, Dave Samuels, Billy Cobham, Gerald Clayton, Robert Glasper (USA), Peter Brotzmann (Germany), Miroslav Vita (Czech Republic) Jean Luc Ponty, Louis Sclavo, Erik Truffaz (France), Vienna Art Orchestra (Austria), Satoko Fujii (Japan), Copenhagen Art Ensemble (Denmark), Dennis Rollins, Gilad Atzmon, Jay Phelps (Great Britain) , Rosario Giuliani, Flavio Boltro (Italy), Eivind Aarset (Norway), and many other famous musicians have taken part.
While much of the festival programme is host to internationally renowned artists, the Vilnius Mama Jazz scene is also open to music that has not won prestigious Grammy trophies or received favourable Downbeat reviews. Among the great discoveries, we have had the inventive Quelques Fiers Mongols group, who gave a truly astonishing performance, the young French band OZMA that delivered a superb fresh take on traditional jazz, flautist Ronald Snijders from the Netherlands who had the festival audience dancing, not once but twice, or the French quartet PRINT whose mathematical and crystal-clear music are all an integral part of the festival.
Every year, Lithuanian musicians present new programmes specially devised for the Vilnius Mama Jazz scene. Both mature masters and young musicians have the opportunity to play at the international festival. Indeed many of them start their festival career as participants in night jam sessions.
Special attention is paid to creative young musicians at this international festival with the Vilnius Mama Jazz festival providing master classes with prominent musicians during the festival.
From 2011, the Vilnius Mama Jazz festival programme will include a performance by the winner of the International Piano Competition Jazz Improvisation Festival This year’s winner, Marijus Sūdžius, will open the tenth anniversary of the Vilnius Mama Jazz festival on November 16.
The Vilnius Mama Jazz festival tries not to set limits on the festival programme and so jazz giants, unexpected discoveries, nurtured national jazz and refreshing new names and new trends are all part of a single festival.