The Latvian Radio Big Band
The Latvian Radio Big Band was founded in 1966 as the Latvian SSR Television and Radio Music-hall Orchestra. After the reestablishment of the Latvian independence, the Latvian Radio Big Band – the only professional jazz orchestra in Latvia – was shut down in 1996. After a 16-year break, with new ideas and fully energized, the Latvian Radio Big Band was reborn.
The renaissance of the jazz orchestra was led by such Latvian jazz musicians as Māris Briežkalns, Kārlis Vanags, and Raimonds Pauls. The first performance of the newly re-established orchestra was with one of the leading jazz vocalists in the world Kurt Elling and the Italian jazz diva Roberta Gambarini.
Since then, the big band has performed with such musical stars as James Morrison, Seamus Blake, Randy Brecker, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Marius Neset, Jojo Mayer, Richard Bona, Michael Pipoquinha, Ruthie Foster, Diane Schuur and many others.
As a part of the Latvian centenary celebrations, the Latvian Radio Big Band was welcomed with sold-out venues standing ovations in two prestigious American concert halls – In the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and in the Lincoln Center in New York, also joining Randy Brecker in the Jazz Baltica festival in Germany.
Each of the Latvian Radio Big Band performances is like an energy exchange between the musicians and the audience. Today the collective is an integral part of the Latvian culture scene and they are preparing new and interesting projects under the leadership of Kārlis Vanags.