Saxophonist, composer and band leader Kārlis Vanags first dreamt of leading his own big band when he was 13, a dream realized in 2007 when he formed his own band in Riga, Latvia.
Kārlis Vanags City Jazz Big Band is a 21 piece band that unites musicians wishing to play music of high artistic quality for their own and listeners’ enjoyment. In the relatively short period of its existence the big band has performed together with a great deal of leading Latvian jazz and pop singers and soloists as well as foreign artists – Mats Holmquist, Magnus Lindgren, Magnum Coltrane Price, Erik Soderlind, Robert Ikiz, Diva Cruz, Bill Richardson, Chris Beaty, Michael Varekamp.
Band’s key performances are regular nights in the clubs and jazz festivals all over the contry like Rigas Ritmi, Saulkrasti Jazz, Ventspils Groove, Riga City festival, Big Band Music Festival etc.
Big band’s repertoire includes classical values: Count Basie, Duke Ellingtone, Cole Porter, Henry Manchini, Glen Miller etc. as well as contemporary big band arrangers: Thad Jones, Tom Kubis, Bob Mintzer, Mats Holmquist, Magnus Lindgren etc. The band also plays original works of its own participants piano player Ritvars Garoza and the band leader Kārlis Vanags.
Kārlis Vanags City Jazz Big Band has participated in the DVD recording of Latvian pop singer Linda Leen “Live at the Opera”, CD recording “Jazz in Latvia 2008″, more recently the band gave a live concert at the Latvian Nactional Radio 1st studio, which was passed on Euroradio listeners around the world. At the moment big band actively works on its debut studio album, which is planned to be released in the end of the year 2011.
Things sad about Kārlis Vanags City Jazz Big Band:
“Rigas Ritmi ended with a surprising bang. It was surprising because a 21-piece orchestra followed Francesco Cafiso in the Open Air Leisure Park, and it was composed entirely of young musicians from Riga. It was a bang because they kicked ass. The City Jazz Big Band has been together for four years, and plays mostly original material, with charts by tenor saxophonist/bandleader Karlis Vanags and pianist Ritvars Garoza. They made a noisy milling crowd stand still and listen, or else pair off and dance.”
-Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes.
“The band is a good teamwork and it deliberately stages complicated and technically difficult pieces of jazz music dared to be played only by the most advanced musical acts. Kārlis Vanags City Jazz Big Band works on its performance to every finest detail and the result is surprising indeed.”
“Kārlis Vanags City Jazz Big Band is characterized by youth and passion combined with a deep understanding of swing and jazz.”
“The band pleasantly surprises with its high professional standards that they have set for themselves.”
“The big band is pure groove – I like it very much”