Almost as young as the re-established State of Lithuania, the Kaunas Jazz festival is ready to be back for the 28th time in a row. That’s right, not a single spring since 1991 has passed without Kaunas Jazz. The festival has outgrown the city limits, too – for a few years now, concerts promoted by Kaunas Jazz are also held in Vilnius and other cities in Lithuania. So, what’s in the programme for 2018?
The grand opening of the festival will traditionally be held at the Kaunas Town Hall on Sunday, April 22nd. Guests of the night will be the V4 Quartet Tamás Zsári (sax, Hungary), Tomas Liska, (double bass, Czech Republic), Marian Sevcik (drums, Slovakia) and Kuba Stankiewicz (piano, Poland), representing four European countries and the rich landscape of jazz throughout the continent. The invite-only event starts at 4PM but don’t worry of you won’t get in. At 6PM on the very same Sunday, there’s a great smooth jazz show in Raudondvaris manor by Oli Silk (UK) and his band. Have a listen:
After the inaugural concerts, the festival will be back on Friday, April 27th with way more locations and names. The main concert of the night will be held in the VMU Main Hall (S. Daukanto g. 28) and will feature Petras Vyšniauskas & Mescal Jazz Unit and Bob James Trio (US).
As Vienybės square is undergoing renovation at the moment, the open-air Kaunas Jazz stage will move down S. Daukanto street to the intersection with Laisvės alėja. On the evening of 27th, come here to dance to the Lithuanian-Litvak band Rakija Klezmer Orkestar and, presented by the Estonian jazz festival Jazzkaar, Laura & W.
Later that night, the action will move to Šilainiai district – Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble, taking the sounds of Benin, the homeland of Voodoo, and combining them with soulful songwriting, jazzy improvisations and funky beats, will groove in the Renginių Oazė concert hall.
Saturday, April 28th, will start early for jazz lovers. Put on your most comfortable boogie shoes, because lindy hop and jazz dance workshops in the public space at the City Garden Park will start as early as 1PM. The Jazz Street will include more locations along Vilniaus st. in the Old Town of Kaunas.
The aforementioned Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble will also perform in the open-air stage on April 28th. Saulės Kliošas, the legendary funk ensemble, will take over the stage at 10PM – their show will be highlighted with some fireworks.
Of course, there’ll be some indoor shows on Saturday, too. Visit VMU Main Hall for gigs by Shinkarenko Jazz 4N (Lithuania); Jacob Karlzon Trio (Sweden). Renginių Oazė have invited the Norwegian band Rohey for the night.
On Sunday, April 29th, a concert by Naissblue (Serbia), presented by Nissvile Jazz Festival, will be held at the Kaunas Choral Synagogue. The event starts at 2PM.
The closing concert of Kaunas Jazz 2018, at least in Kaunas, will be the long-awaited gig by the British r&b and soul singer and songwriter Laura Mvula. She will perform in Žalgirio arena, the biggest venue in the Baltics, on April 30th.
The concerts in the Choral Synagogue, the open-air stage and Jazz Street are free of charge. Information about tickets to the rest of the shows can be found here.