Legendary free-jazz drummer William Hooker to play at Skaņu Mežs’2013

William Hooker will be performing in the Splendid Palace cinema in Riga on October 10 with a Baltic trio assembled specifically for Skaņu Mežs. Hooker is a free jazz drummer who is seen as an important player on the contemporary free improvisation scene. Lithuanian saxophonist, Luidas Mockūnas, and Latvian guitarist, Edgars Rubenis, make up the rest of the trio. This concert is supported by the US embassy in Latvia.

HookerWilliam Hooker (b. 1946) is a highly esteemed free jazz drummer. His presence at Skaņu Mežs this year will continue the festival’s exploration of free jazz and free improvisation. Up until now the festival has focused on Europe and its surrounding regions by inviting such guests as Evan Parker, Keith Rowe, Peter Brötzmann and Mats Gustafsson, as well as improvisers from the Beirut label Al Maslakh. This year the festival will focus on the so-called loft jazz scene of New York which is a genre of free jazz with a distinct sound closely tied to the history of classic American jazz. Hooker is well known as a virtuoso avant-garde jazz drummer, but has become popular due to his ability to cross genre boundaries. He has played improvisational music with William Parker, Christian Marclay and Sabir Mateen as well as with musicians from the dance- and rock music scenes, such as DJ Olive and musicians from Sonic Youth. His style is easily recognizable and is characterized by strong, precise beats which revolve around specific rhythm patterns, without ever fully succumbing to them, creating crisp and intense sound eddies.

Hooker will play in Riga with a trio assembled specially for Skaņu Mežs which, apart from Hooker, includes Liudas Mockūnas, a Lithuanian saxophonist and co-founder of the label NoBusiness Records, and Edgars Rubenis, a Latvian guitarist and leader of the group Mona De Bo.

Liudas Mockūnas is one of the most lively personalities of the Lithuanian improvisational music scene. He has played with such well known names within this genre as saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, from the band The Thing, Russian drummer Vladimir Tarasov, French guitarist Marc Ducret and English double-bass player Barry Guy. Together Mockūnas and Guy released the album “Lava” in 2012. The magazine All About Jazz has compared Mockūnas to Peter Brötzmann and emphasized his importance to the improvisational music culture of the Baltic states. He performs on both soprano and baritone saxophones. Liudas is also co-owner of the label NoBusiness records. This independent label has become one of the most important in the free jazz scene publishing music by such notable musicians as William Parker, Nate Wooley, The Thing, Evan Parker, Joe McPhee as well as William Hooker.

Edgar Rubenis, best known as the lead guitarist of the group Mona de Bo, has been performing solo since 2010. Making do without a stage name and keeping to the electric guitar Rubenis plays experimental and avant-garde music. He draws inspiration from artists such as Oren Ambarchi, Keiji Haino and Derek Bailey as well as Giacinto Scelsi and Morton Feldman, who are both musicians at the forefront of academic music. In his own music Rubenis focuses on the relationships between individual sounds, rather than on how they’re strung together in harmonic or melodic sequences. Recently his most fruitful collaborations have been with the Russian musicians Ilya Belorukov and Alexei Borisov, as well as frequent Skaņu Mežs participant Arturas Bumsteinas. Rubenis is currently studying sonology at the Institute of Sonology in The Hague.

The Skaņu Mežs festival will take place this year between 10 – 12 October with a final concert on October 26. The concert on October 10 at Splendid Palace will be dedicated to electro-acoustic music and audio-visual projects; the event on October 11 will feature dance music in the concert hall Palladium; Skaņu Mežs contemporary music programme will be presented on October 12 at the Railway History Museum.

As the festival draws closer, further information about artists playing at the festival, as well as new venues will be released.

William Hooker’s videos:

At the Loft Society in Cincinnati

Bliss w/David Soldier, Darius Jones, Adam Lane

The Symbol of the Unconquered