Dalius Naujokaitis

„Dalius Naujo is a genius percussionist who has lately moved into conducting and composing. He is not normal! He is totally pocessed by his art, nothing else matters to him! The muses of music have made him lose his mind, he is moving ahead unpredictably and dangerously, as all poets do.“ – Jonas Mekas (jonasmekas.com)

A pilgrim of the avant-garde experimental music and free jazz scene and currently based in New York, Dalius Naujokaitis-Naujo started his musical career in Lithuania and regularly returns for various projects. He is a free musician playing free music, devoid of musical clichés and stylistic boundaries, disregarding traditional means of sound production and customary creative forms. The texture of Naujokaitis’s music has absorbed a rich universe of sound – it contains musical elements from different countries and regions, features from various trends and genres, as well as sounds and noises from the surrounding world. This creator and performer, distinguished by his extraordinary expressiveness, finds music everywhere, from the sounds of nature to the hum of cities. And in his hands very diverse objects – dishes, handrails, saws – turn into musical instruments. Bursting with vital energy, Naujokaitis values spontaneous music making very highly, participating with great passion in various performances, including many initiated by him. 

Jūratė Kučinskaitė

Einu (with Rasa Rasa)

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Einu (with Rasa Rasa)

Kada Buva (with Rasa Rasa)

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Kada Buva (with Rasa Rasa)

Biography

Dalius Naujokaitis was born in Vilnius. He began to take an interest in drums at an early age, and later graduated from the Vilnius Conservatoire in Arvydas Vainius’ percussion class. Whilst still a student, he performed with the progressive rock band Saulės Laikrodis in 1984.

In 1986 he began playing in Skirmantas Sasnauskas’s jazz band. Then in the late 1980s he became a member of Juozas Milašius’s band, Gitarmanija, and together with like-minded colleagues plunged himself into noise music, which was still uncharted territory in Lithuanian jazz at the time. He played with a great many jazz musicians over this period, including Vladimiras Čekasinas, Petras Vyšniauskas, Tomas Kutavičius and Eugenijus Kanevičius, and performed with various rock, jazz, punk and pop bands. 

In 1995 Naujokaitis moved to New York and, after giving a series of solo performances at the Anthology Film Archives, he joined the city’s growing ranks of creative improvisers. In cooperation with other artists he founded the band Free Music on Second Street in the Anthology Film Archives. In this project he collaborated with Eugenijus Varkalis and Audrius Naujokaitis. He also has a close creative relationship with the Lithuanian-American film artist Jonas Mekas. Naujokaitis’ music can be heard in Mekas’s films “Happy Birthday To John Lennon”, “On My Way To Fujijama I Saw” and “This Side Of Paradise”. 

Naujokaitis constantly participates in musical projects and initiatives. He has played and recorded music with the likes of Butch Morris, Art Baron, Aaron Keane, Mike Irwin, Alex Weiss, Rocco John Iacavone, Doug Wieselman, Briggan Krauss, Tim Kieper, Jonathon Haffner, Sean Francis Conway, Nick Gianni, On Ka Daivis, Dmitry Ishenko and many others. In terms of bands, he has played with groups such as Nublu Orchestra, Now We Are Here, Brooklyn Bears, Tiger Lithy, Nick Gianni’s Evolution, Kenny Wollesen’s Wollesonic Laboratories and The Himalayas (a group occasionally joined by Jonas Mekas on vocals). He has also played with the dance music band Brazilian Girls and many others. 

Sutartinės, a genre of traditional Lithuanian polyphonic music, occupies a special place in Naujokaitis’s work. This genre forms the basis of the music Untyte, a band he founded together with the New York-based artist Sandra Koponen in 2008. In 2012, Naujokaitis together with Kenny Wollesen and Jonathon Haffner initiated the ongoing “Rasa Rasa” project, culminating in the recording of “Wollesen, Haffner, & Naujo: Rasa, Rasa,” which was released in 2014 by John Zorn’s legendary Tzadik label in its Spectrum series. Recorded with other creators of new improvisational music and with traditional performers from Lithuania, the album consists of ancient Lithuanian sutartinės embellished with touches of modern music. 

While continuing to regularly collaborate with drummer Kenny Wollesen, saxophonist Jonathon Haffner and Jonas Mekas in the United States, Naujokaitis also regularly visits Lithuania to perform with both established and up and coming Lithuanian jazz artists. These include Juozas Milašius, Liudas Mockūnas, Tomas Dobrovolskis, Dovydas Stalmokas, Dominykas VyšniauskaS and Mindaugas Vadoklis. Naujokaitis also formed the Naujo Atomic Orchestra together with young jazz musicians. The orchestra recently toured in Austria and Croatia, performing alongside Traffic Trio (an LP of their concert “Kablys. Live at 11:20” was released by No Business Records in 2010). And together with Kenny Wollesen, Jonathon Haffner, Sean Francis Conway and a number of talented young Lithuanian artists, he held a series of weekly concerts in Vilnius and Kaunas as part of the “Ministry of Fluxus” public art project. 

Naujokaitis is also active in the film and theatre scene. Before he moved to New York he had already worked on a number of projects. In 1994, together with Juozas Milašius and Valdas Pranulis, he produced the theatre performance “The Woman in the Dunes” (based on the eponymous novel by Kobo Abe), in which all of them appeared as actors. He also scored the soundtrack for the film “A Love Story” (directed by Julius Žižliauskas) in collaboration with Vilija Naujokaitienė. Having moved to New York, he continued to collaborate with Julius Ziz (Julius Žižliauskas). Together with Ken Jacobs he created the film-music project “Lumiere/Naujokaitis/Jacobs: Nervous System Concerts” and collaborated with the contemporary dance groups “Limbic Six” and “Tiny Mythic Theatre”. He has directed two films; “The Door” (2011) and “Notes for ‘The Conducting Machine’” (2012). Both of these films were designed as scores for his musical composition “The Conducting Machine” (which was performed with the participation of Dalius’s mother, who played the knitting machine).
 

Jūratė Kučinskaitė

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