Skirmantas Sasnauskas (b. 1961) is a versatile musician, a representative of modern jazz and one of the foremost creators of ethno-jazz in Lithuania. His stylistically diverse output embraces free, fusion, synthesis of jazz with folk and academic music, avant-garde experiments, also traditional jazz. In addition to his first instrument, trombone, the multi-instrumentalist plays various old Lithuanian folk instruments. He is also known as a singer, performing traditional as well as experimental jazz, often using his voice in an instrumental way.
In his childhood years Skirmantas Sasnauskas was a member of the Ąžuoliukas choir, and has received first prizes at the national competition for young singers Dainų dainelė two years in a row. Later, he learned to play trombone, accordion and guitar. He started playing jazz in 1978, while studying at the J. Tallat-Kelpša High School of Music. During his subsequent studies at the Lithuanian Academy of Music, Skirmantas Sasnauskas founded the jazz trio and performed with Vladimir Chekasin Big Band. Besides his studies and early jazz career, he got fascinated with Lithuanian folk music and collaborated with folk groups Intakas, Vydraga, Ūla. After graduation from the Lithuanian Academy of Music in 1986, Skirmantas Sasnauskas became active member of the Lithuanian jazz scene - performed with Petras Vyšniauskas and founded his jazz quartet in the same year. In 1992 he received the Birštonas Jazz Festival Grand Prix for the program "Witches' Tales", performed by his jazz quartet and folk group Vydraga. A number of now famous Lithuanian jazz musicians have been developing their musicianship in various collectives led by Skirmantas Sasnauskas.
In 1992-4 the trombonist collaborated with the Estonian avant-garde jazz quintet Tunnetusuksus. Since 1994 he has been a member of the Ex tempore ensemble. He has also participated in radical projects by Juozas Milašius, performed in duo with Mieczysław Litwiński, and was a member of Danielius Praspaliauskis Dixieland and Vladimir Tarasov's Lithuanian Art Orchestra. Presently Skirmantas Sasnauskas collaborates with Dainius Pulauskas Group and is a member of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Big Band. He toured many European countries, and as a member of different groups participated in jazz festivals in the countries of former Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Finland, USA, Mexico, Germany, Poland, Spain, Sweden.
Skirmantas Sasnauskas is known as a composer as well - besides jazz compositions, he has composed incidental music for dance and theatre productions. In 2004 he was awarded the Gold Stage Cross (as the best theatre composer in Lithuania) for his music for the dance performance "Drowned Valley" (choreographer Vytis Jankauskas).
Skirmantas Sasnauskas is also responsible for restoration of archival recordings at the Institute of the Lithuanian Literature and Folklore.
© Jūratė Kučinskaitė