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Instrumental soloists: Aleš Ogrin, keyboards; Gašper Kržmanc, guitar; Miha Recelj, drums; Lovro Ravbar, soprano and alto saxophones; Jaka Janežič, soprano and tenor saxophones
Vocal soloists: Rudolf Strnad, Vanja Ivankovič
Izidor Leitinger’s jazz suite “Ushai” performed by an augmented big band, featuring instrumental and vocal soloists.
Formed in 1996 and mainly comprising academically trained musicians, the Big Band Orchestra of the Slovenian Armed Forces is making its Jazz Festival Ljubljana debut. Although the primary role of the orchestra is performing at military protocol events, ceremonies and other official occasions, both the orchestra and its big band play numerous concerts and record albums in their own right. Among their releases is the album Big band Orkestra Slovenske vojske feat. Vlatko Stefanovski recorded in 2016 to mark the Big Band Orchestra’s 20th anniversary. The album also features sections from Suita Quasi Balkanika written by a renowned Slovenian composer and conductor, Izidor Leitinger. At our festival, the big band will perform Ushai, a suite composed by Leitinger especially for this ensemble.
Leitinger formed The Fool Cool Orchestra some time ago (he wrote the abovementioned Balkan suite for this band) and among others conducted the European Movement Jazz Orchestra (EMJO). He received a commission for a new suite from the Big Band Orchestra of the Slovenian Armed Forces in 2018, with the instruction not to limit the work to a particular style of music or arrangement. At the same time, the musicians requested the suite to be tailor-made for the band, with the option of augmenting its format when required. On this occasion, the lineup thus includes percussionists, horns, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet and vocal soloists. This is how Leitinger describes the character of the Ushai suite (which is Sanskrit for "victorious breath", and symbolizes the victory of the heart over the mind): “I did not limit myself in selecting a musical style when creating this work, and I am reluctant to talk about "classification" in art. I gave free rein to creativity and prioritized spontaneity, surprise and richness of the sound palette offered by the lineup of the Slovenian Armed Forces Orchestra.”