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Artūrs Sebris

From dance nights in Riga to «Ronnie Scott’s» club in London — Raimonds Raubiško’s twisted journey through life and music

Foto no Eduarda Raubiško personīgā arhīva

This JAZZin issue features an idea we’ve already began implementing — telling the readers some stories about Latvian jazz legends. This time we invite you to find out more about a Latvian jazz legend, saxophonist and composer Raimonds Raubiško (1939—2000). The material was written in 2016 by Artūrs Sebris and prepared for publication by Anete Ašmane.

Raimonds Raubiško is a name that might not mean a lot to an average Latvian, although it means way more to a jazz musician. A personality that has done so much to make the name of Latvia sound louder, and that got forgotten in a way nowadays. I have first heard of Raimonds in the secondary school when I was studying with Eduards — a son of Raimonds Raubiško. From the first bars of «Summertime» I’ve heard I immediately realised it’s something I have to investigate further on. After a couple of years it did happen, so in this article I’ll take a look on his creative life and love for his instrument and jazz music.

It wasn’t that easy to get the information on Raimonds, so I immediately went to visit Eduards Raubiško, who answered a lot of my questions and advised me the best ways to get more answers.


The parents of Raimonds Raubiško were not connected to music at all. His mother was a seamstress, his father worked at a post office, taking quite a prominent position, being Polish. Raubiško was a Polish surname, after all. Raimonds’ father came from Daugavpils. He moved to Riga, got to know Raimonds’ mother, and quite soon after their son was born [Raubiško E., interview].

At the age of seven Raimonds began to play the piano, studied at Riga 1st music school. Playing the piano though, wasn’t easy for a small Raimonds, his parents switching an alarm clock on up to three hours in a row, during which time Raimonds had to play. Nevertheless, he graduates from the music school, however his interests lay in a totally different field, he was drawn towards another instrument. One day Raimonds had heard his neighbour quietly playing a weird sounding instrument. Came closer to a window, took a look, watched for a bit — turned out that this instrument was a saxophone. This scene stayed in Raimonds’ mind for a long time. Then he realised that he had to investigate what this instrument’s all about. A neighbour was playing in a dance orchestra called «Baltie ceriņi» (White lilacs), with three saxophones, drums and a piano in the line–up. In the 50ies a saxophone was a forbidden instrument, it was like having guns in your house. Thinking Soviet–wise, those instruments were played by capitalists only. At the end Raimonds talked the neighbor into lending him the instrument to try it out, and after the first sounds that he could get from this instrument, Raimonds realised he has to master it [«Dialogs ar mūziku»].

The youngster got his secondary education at the 49th and 2nd schools. He began to play the saxophone relatively late. He remembers: «There was an amateur ensemble at my school — accordion, piano, one of the guys played a tiny pioneer drum. When I told then I could borrow a saxophone, everyone was mesmerized. I asked a neighbor, went to a rehearsal, and was happy to be able to play a waltz» [Lūsiņa I.]

At first he applied to a high school to study philology; there is no precise information on that, probably it was Latvian philology. Raimonds had also applied to Jāzeps Mediņš music high school to study clarinet: at that time the trumpet player Zigurds Linde had also been studying there.

After the Mediņi school he studied at the conservatory, with Eduards Mednis. As a colleague of Raimonds, Juris Mutulis, remembers, that Raimonds had hardly played clarinet at all. Sometimes you needed a sound of clarinet in the orchestra, but he stubbornly used a soprano saxophone instead of that, even though it couldn’t provide low sounds meant for clarinet. At one point he gave his clarinet to his son. However, Valērijs Kopmans has documented the fact that during his younger years Raimonds had been inspired by an improvising clarinetist Benny Goodman, so he had graduated from a clarinet class at the conservatory. This was how his musical journey began, and when he was at his 2nd year, the philology studies ended.

Foto no Eduarda Raubiško personīgā arhīva

While studying at the conservatory, he had started playing in various ensembles. Besides clarinet, Raimonds began studying saxophone, especially because it was very trendy to play at the parties, so the orchestras were pretty needed. The balls and dances were played by a live band with brass instruments (at least one, more preferably two or three), and one could play somewhere every day — at student parties and dance evenings.

It wasn’t easy at all to get a saxophone at that time. Relatives of Raimonds from USA sent him a high–class instrument «Selmer». So at that time Raimonds Raubiško had an instrument so rare nobody else even dreamt having. Later on it was stolen.

Raimonds was amazed by Benny Goodman’s clarinet improvisations, liked the Glenn Miller Orchestra. He had often watched the «Moonlight Serenade» movie. In the mid–50–ies was actively listening to a Latvian sextet featuring Gunārs Kušķis on the clarinet — that was broadcasted on the national radio.
When the musicians participated in the dance nights, some popular swing themes of the 30ies often were played. Everyone loved «Perdido» by Juan Tizol. Then Raimonds was invited to a REMR orchestra (big band of the culture house of an electromechanical factory), lead by Ivars Mazurs and very popular at that time. That was a real school of jazz. With a huge enthusiasm the orchestra performed at the dance evenings at the factories, where they played jazz standards. Swing was the last style of jazz which could be danced to, but many others came to a club just for the sake of listening to an orchestra. [Kopmans V., «Raimonds Raubiško. Raimonda zvaigznes spīdēšana»]


One cannot forget that Latvian jazz has a way older history than it may seem. The presage of the success of the 70ies can be found in the 50s and 60s already. In 1957 in the Small Guild Ģederts Ramans had established a big band, where people, who didn’t like to play only the officially licit music, met. The musicians from clubs, pubs, and young people. The line–up of the orchestra was quite vast, the attitude towards music — serious, and that was the place where under Ramans’ guidance one could play the music that under some other conditions would be an obstacle to an ideological pressure.

Foto no Eduarda Raubiško personīgā arhīva


In autumn of 1959 the collaboration of Raubiško and a double bassist Aivars Zītars has begun. They both met at a Foreign seamen club. That was the place, empty and silent by day, where one could practice playing an instrument and play pool in the spare time. There were some possibilities to prepare a program together with the other musicians who decided to attend the Tallinn jazz festival.
It was extremely hard, of course, to become a part of that Foreign seamen club, but foreign seamen were also really surprised by the fact that one could listen to such music in Riga that Raubiško listened to and transcribed from the foreign recordings. At Raimonds’ house both he and Zītars have discussed and listened to the music from the US and stars of that time. The biggest authority to Raubiško at that point was John Coltrane. At the end of the 50s and the beginning of the 60s Raimonds Raubiško had quickly progressed as a jazz musician.

The musician himself had been open about those times: «I have been playing at an Interclub as well. My partners were great guys and musicians — Aivars Krūmiņš (trumpet), Ermens Bāliņš (piano), Aivars Zītars (double bass)… And then again, «Lullaby of Birdland» by George Shearing, «Misty» by Erroll Garner, «Tea for Two» by Vincent Youmans… At that time many musicians were interested in jazz. That was a trend, and it seemed that playing it also wasn’t that difficult» [Kopmans V., «Pa savu ceļu»]
Playing at the Foreign seamen club lasted for only a year and a half though, because a conflict with its leaders appeared.

«Armatūra» («Armature»)

Soon after applying to Mediņi Raubiško began playing at the Electromechanical factory culture house big band, lead by Ivars Mazurs, which people called «Armatūra» [Eņģelis D.]. It happened in the period from 1961 to 1966. [Medne I., «Saksofonistam Raimondam Raubiško — 75», LR3, 2014]

This was the starting point of a career of a young saxophone player, and this was also the first solid working place for almost every jazz musician of that time. After the first leader of the band, a Belarusian Raiskin, left, Mazurs became its leader — a jazz fan, one or a few who was really interested in jazz back then. The saxophones of «Armatūra» featured Raimonds Raubiško, Linards Bārenis, Ivars Birkāns, Gunārs Kušķis, Alnis Zaķis; the trumpeter was Aivars Krūmiņš — later on a good friend of Raubiško for their whole lifes. As Raimonds Raubiško tells Ivars Mazurs in his interview: «My conscious jazz career began in this line–up. «Armatūra» was a jazz forge, and almost everyone who was seriously playing jazz went through that forge» [«Dialogs ar mūziku»]

Rīgas Estrādes orķestris («Riga Stage Orchestra»)

In the 50ies and the 60ies the highest jazz level could be heard and performed by REO (Riga Stage Orchestra) lead by Egīls Švarcs. Jazz classics arranged by Vitālijs Dolgovs sounded there until the moment when jazz music in the orchestra came to an end — an era of pop music came to replace jazz. In this period, in the middle of the 1960s, Raubiško switched to REO as well, at that time lead by Raimonds Pauls, and he invited Raubiško to join. He has been playing at REO from 1968 to 1978.

Raimonds in one of his interviews: «There was a wonderful soloist at REO Aino Bāliņa who sang jazz classics. At that time the orchestra became a real pop music band. I can say that for all these 10 years, except the participation in the Prague festival, I have spent in the pop and stage music. The work in REO demanded all of my time. But, If I’m being honest, a constant dissatisfaction and asking too much of myself were the reason. Although those self–doubts made me work harder. Of course, I felt happy that I’ve stayed in jazz, and twice as happy because I have also accomplished something [Kopmans V., «Pa savu ceļu»]

In 1970s during the concert tour of REO he has participated in the Prague jazz festival, where he got internationally acknowledged. In the closing concert of the festival Raubiško was the only Latvian musician who got invited to play in «Interjazz» — symbolical big band consisting of the best Eastern European musicians. This concert of «Interjazz» lead by Václav Zahradník was even recorded on a vinyl by a Czechoslovakian label «Supraphon». Most probably, a really rare vinyl. [Kopmans V., «Pa savu ceļu»]

At the same time «Melodija» label releases an album on vinyl called «REO jazz rhythms». The leading soloists included a tenor saxophonist Raubiško. The mastery of the musician was noticed, and he got an invitation to work at the Latvian television and radio orchestra lead by Alnis Zaķis. The leading soloists of the big band were Latvian jazz stars.

Latvian Radio big band

The Latvian SSR television and radio stage orchestra was founded in 1966. From 1968 to 1991 it was lead by a violinist and arranger Alnis Zaķis, who also invited Raimonds Raubiško to join the band.
They’ve invited the best of the best REO musicians to join the radio big band at that time. Gunārs Rozenbergs was already a part of it, there he met Raubiško and they started collaborating closely.
Eduards speaks about his father quitting the Radio big band: «The formal reason was the second heart attack, he was issued a second disability level. Formally he couldn’t keep on working, he couldn’t have been employed. So he was officially fired and continued working using another person’s documents».

Foto no Eduarda Raubiško personīgā arhīva


Raubiško started being more active when in 1975 the long awaited Riga jazz club opened its doors. That was the place for rehearsals and concerts. And then, within a year, one could see posters of concerts of a great quartet «2R+2B» (Raimonds Raubiško — tenor saxophone, Gunārs Rozenbergs — trumpet, Boriss Bannyh — bass, Vladimirs Boldirevs — drums) on the walls of this jazz club. The ensemble had a powerful rhythm section, they played free jazz, Rozenbergs’ compositions. The quartet usually played at festivals, although the ensemble didn’t have any serious work. Raubiško and Rozenbergs were working at the Latvian Radio big band — there they could dedicate more time to practice and talks. A union of four amazing performers was brave enough to form an ensemble, and it’s hard to find anyone like them in the history of Latvian jazz. [Kopmans V., Raimonds Raubiško. Raimonda zvaigznes spīdēšana»]

The real sensation arose when the quartet participated in the USSR festival «Tbilisi — 78». It was a success on the whole Soviet union level, Raubiško traveled through all Soviet union with his ensemble. The specialists forecasted the most amazing future for the musicians, but the forecasts couldn’t come true — Vladimirs Boldirevs emigrated to Moscow, Boriss Bannyh suffered in a car accident, and couldn’t play as good afterwards.

The importance of this band was best described by a photographer Grigorijs Levins: «In my opinion it was one of the most important events in Latvian musical life — «2R+2B». It was not only the best event in the Latvian musical field, but in terms of the whole Soviet union.» [«Dialogs ar mūziku»]

Trio — Raubiško, Galenieks, Briežkalns

After «2R+2B» has fallen apart, Raubiško thought that only a miracle could save his further ensemble work. He said: «Two years have passed and the miracle did happen. Ivars Galenieks — a musician with a conservatory education, I knew him as a good bass guitar player» [Kopmans V., Raimonds Raubiško. Raimonda zvaigznes spīdēšana»]

Raimonds didn’t know that this musician, fallen in love with jazz, in his spare time fanatically tries to master the skill of playing the double bass. They met at Riga jazz club. Raubiško offered a tune, and Ivars brilliantly read the sheets. Then they played together. It sounded quite good, so they began practicing. Soon they invited their new colleague from the television and radio orchestra, Māris Briežkalns, to try him out. He got noticed, thanks to his perseverance and a wish to work. Māris accepted the invitation.

In spring of 1981 together with Gunārs Rozenbergs and Ivars Vīgners (piano) they performed at a jazz festival in Yaroslavl as a quintet, even participated in a vinyl recording. Soon in the fully booked Riga jazz club the trio «Raubiško — Galenieks — Briežkalns» sounded as a debut, well accepted by the audience, which became an important stimuli to their further work.

The next year was really bright for them. Participation in festivals in Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Kuibyshev, «Vasaras ritmi–82» in Riga, a collaboration with the Soviet jazz leaders — Vyacheslav Ganelin trio — in Tallinn.

The union critics’ pool, published for the first time by the newspaper «Padomju jaunatne» (Soviet Youth) in the year of 1982, mentioned: Māris Briežkalns is in the Top–5 of the best drummers in the country, Ivars Galenieks — the second double bassist in the country, and Raimonds Raubiško opens the parade of tenor saxophonists. The trio overally is known as one of the five best bands in the country. The musicians haven’t even been dreaming of such a fame.

The name of the recording «Pictures of Ancient Egypt» and the concept of it after Sabirjan Kumayev’s work has appeared out of a joke — when preparing a studio material, Raubiško has called one of the compositions a «Keops’ Pyramid» after phonetic similarity of the Cheops and a surname of the bassist in the Radio and TV light music orchestra. The sound engineer Aleksandrs Grīva had advised to stick to Cheops in the name, and, connecting the rest of the compositions with the Ancient Egypt theme, create a recording form in a corresponding concept. A Russian jazz pianist Zhenya Gimmer, in turn, recalls Raimonds’ performance in the 1980ies at the Novosibirsk jazz symposium: «A tall person walks up on stage, seems to be a basketball player. Tenor saxophone in his hands looks like an alto saxophone, smaller by size. Raubiško gathers attention with not too long, but great, virtuoso improvisations, putting the listeners into a state of hypnosis» [Eņģelis D.]

Quite an unexpected event in the musician’s life happens in 1984 — the decision by Latvian philarmony on founding a Raimonds Raubiško jazz trio by takes place. [Kopmans V., Raimonds Raubiško. Raimonda zvaigznes spīdēšana»]


Eduards Raubiško says: «As I remember him, he had always founded his own ensembles. He didn’t want to stay alone and attend jams where one needed to just show off and go home right after. He always wanted to have his own band. I always remember him like that, gathering together new bands with new line–ups all the time.»

Rehearsals of «Jazztet» took place in the Jazz club, a place with both a stage and a rehearsal space. This line–up rehearsed in the room number 29, so Raimonds had written a jazz tune called «29 Room Blues».

The name «Jazztet» was a trick to being able to vary with the line–up. The band included all of our best jazzmen — Bannyh, Boldirev, Rozenbergs, Briežkalns, Galenieks, Madars Kalniņš, Viktors Avdjukevičs, Raimonds Kalniņš, and the young ones as well — Viktors Ritovs, Andris Grunte, as well as even younger ones — Ilona Kudiņa, Jevgēņijs Jaņins, Artūrs Kutepovs and Andrejs Jevsjukovs.


Raimonds Raubiško has toured abroad a lot — to the festivals in the Soviet union (Tallinn, St.Petersburg, Tbilisi, Moscow, Electreni, Novosibirsk), later on — in Europe and USA as well. Jazz musicians at that times were greeted by fully booked halls and even stadiums. In Russia Raubiško was well–known and is still remembered and respected. Māris Briežkalns remembers that, when going to an airport in Novosibirsk, the bus driver began to cry, saying that the guests have no idea how they emotionally charged the city. At the time when the opportunity to move to Europe appeared, the musicians played with Egīls Straume as well.

Foto no Eduarda Raubiško personīgā arhīva

The trip in 1989 to the «Ronnie Scott’s» club in London together with Viktors Avdjukevičs, Māris Briežkalns, Madars Kalniņš, Jūlija Smirnova and Gunārs Rozenbergs was considered by Raimonds Raubiško one of the peaks of his career. «Jazztet» was the first one out of the socialist countries that played at the famous jazz club. The two most difficult (in a good sense) weeks were spent warming up other bands. There was an opportunity to listen to Joe Henderson, Art Blakey and his «The Jazz Messengers» live. Raimonds Raubiško remembers: «It’s a huge pleasure for every person, especially a musician, to meet his idols. I had the honor of meeting Art Blakey and «The Jazz Messengers» and getting acquainted with them. Their signatures, including an autograph of Art Blakey himself, are very close to my heart» [«Dialogs ar mūziku»]

Madars Kalniņš also remembers the trip: «It was an interesting story, how we got there. Two years prior we went to a «Pori Jazz» festival. There we met a pianist whose aim was to get to «Ronnie Scott’s» club to perform. He told us he’ll get us gigs there and will invite us to England. Naturally, nobody listened to what he said… What a nonsense, England? But it appeared that two years later something came up — yes, really! Off we go! So he sent us the scores we needed to play there. We divided that — we needed to play two sets every night. For two weeks.»

The second significant trip abroad was a performance at the «Lionel Hampton festival» in USA in 1991, which was a kind of a reply to Grover Washington’s visit to Riga. Various performances in pubs and universities were organised, local Latvians came to listen. It was an unusual trip in a way, going to visit americans and playing them their music. One could say, this trip was one of examples of Raimonds Raubiško’s significance and his world level as a musician. Ray Brown, Paquito de Rivera and even Lionel Hampton himself also played at the festival, «throwing sticks in the air», as Madars Kalniņš remembers.


In the beginning of the 1990s Aivars Zītars, who moved to Canada, invited Raubiško to Toronto for the Latvian expat song festival. Zītars was meant to arrange a jazz evening at the Latvian centre. Three canadians were invited over, and the evening (recorded on the VHS tape) was a success. Latvian listeners were amazed by how Raubiško played. He, of course, was a central figure. [Eņģelis D.]
Raimonds Raubiško himself admits: «Participation in international festivals means a lot to every musician because everything one could see in a festival like this is irreplaceable, you cannot get it listening to a plate or tape, you get it only when you can see it and be a part of it» [«Dialogs ar mūziku»]


Musical sympathies of Raimonds Raubiško have been changing, moving from traditional jazz, big band music, to a modern bebop language — quite a meaningful period of his creative work was an artistic collaboration between Raubiško and Gunārs Rozenbergs.

Trying to learn what Raubiško’s musical influences were like, the most known names are John Coltrane and Dexter Gordon. A powerful influence to Raubiško’s style was a great saxophonist Sonny Rollins. One of the most significant transformations with Raubiško happened after he got to know Ornette Coleman’s music. [Kopmans V., «Pa savu ceļu»] «When I heard Coleman for the first time, I got lost. I was irritated by his music. But the more I listened to it, the more I realised: this music exactly is what will revolutionise jazz. And that is exactly what happened. What was there so special about free jazz? Let’s remember bebop. A precise form: head — improvisation — head. Rhythm and harmony were holding you in their claws. Improvisations also had to follow the style. I don’t deny bebop, hard bop, cool, I play all of them as well. But everything develops, after all. Free jazz demands a really impeccable performance, and at the same time is so free, has a freedom of musical speech, always unexpected notes and culminations. Free jazz lets one deal with Latvian folklore in an interesting way», remembers Raimonds. [Kopmans V., «Pa savu ceļu»]

In the 1950s a talented tenor saxophonist attracts attention with his quintet and his manner of play closest to one of Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. His interest in free jazz and a free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman results in a recording«Pictures of Ancient Egypt» where Raubiško’s compositions are played by the composer together with Māris Briežkalns and Ivars Galenieks. Here we have to add that Raimonds was one of the few who played jazz with all of its modern development directions and with a right attitude towards the style. He realised it at the right time — you have to play with a right technique and tone; the phrases can differ, but the differences have to be really insignificant. Raubiško has grinded, looked after, cleaned every style he was a deep fan of.

If we pay attention to the individual style, the phrasing of his play, his aggressive style allows calling him a bopper. When talking to young musicians, the master used to say — you have to play bebop. And sticked to this himself as well — being deep into avant garde and modern jazz, kept being a true admirer of hard bop traditions and musical language.

When Raimonds came back from the USA trip, he brought Aebersold’s tapes and scores which he considered the biggest treasure, because nobody here had it back then, remembers his son. The compositions he loved the most and played on repeat were «Donna Lee» and «Confirmation», but that was later, closer to the end of his life.


Raimonds was very friendly to new generations because, when the jazz club was opened, he was very happy for everyone who wanted to play. He was the only one creating the new generation back then. Eduards Raubiško remembers that after work at the Radio big band ended, he had always been searching for places to organise jazz improvisation evenings at.

Raubiško’s teaching was really very important. During all his life it happened as practical work with young musicians, leading the rehearsal process. At one of Raubiško’s created bands «Flute Fever» together with the master Ilona Kudiņa played the flute, joined by a drummer Tālis Gžibovskis and bassist Zigmunds Žukovskis. «I remember overhearing them talking — there was a line–up like that — Gžibovskis on drums, Žukovskis on the bass, Kudiņa, Kutepovs, the people who weren’t connected to jazz so much back then… He said they had to play the head and then play whatever you want! He allowed them to create!», remembers Eduards.

Raubiško was inspiring to young musicians who were too shy to get on the stage, but at the «Hamlets» club, invited by Raimonds, they might as well be getting on the stage for the first time ever. After that Raimonds encouraged them to learn something new for the next time and when meeting them asked if they did (so they had to demonstrate it on the spot). Those who have tried playing with him remember his weird, different, sarcastic, but positive sense of humor.

Madars Kalniņš: «We spent more time together while traveling. He was just the same as everyone else — you couldn’t feel the age difference. And I think that it was really typical for jazz musicians, they don’t get old as the years pass by, it was really easy to talk with the man, many different jokes and all».

Even though he didn’t play a lot technically, Raimonds was competent enough in principles of jazz pianism, harmony and accompaniment to show his colleagues stylistically right nuances of play. [Eņģelis D.] Madars Kalniņš speaks about his first jazz lesson with Raimonds: «He showed me that the left hand didn’t have to play the bass, because the bassist plays the bass! It was theoretically shown to me, all the rest was up to me. He just gave me a tape, told me — listen to it, you have to play like that. And that tape was no less than «Art Blakey and Jazz Messengers». As a leader of an ensemble he was very demanding, very precise, and we’ve spent a lot of time together practicing. Not just going to play at corporate parties, but spent a lot of time practicing. We’ve played with a metronome, couldn’t be in a rush, couldn’t stay back, got some sweat there concerning the rhythm. Not to the tempo, practiced some syncopes to be played in the right time. Yes, it was kind of harsh from time to time — but cool, because we got good results afterwards!»

Foto no Eduarda Raubiško personīgā arhīva

Raubiško has emphasized the importance of playing a lot. «If you want to play something right, you have to practice for 5 hours a day, and if you can’t do it due to some reason, you have to leave this idea aside» [Eņģelis D.] «The audience doesn’t have any clue of how much you have to work on keeping your good shape. I practice for 5–6 hours every single day. I pay the most of my attention to the technique. Although it’s not enough, mastering a great technique. You have to reach complete automatism. You have to become one with your instrument. Technique is my language, improvisation are my thoughts, my world perception, my intellect.» [Kopmans V., «Pa savu ceļu»]

True music was also very important to Raubiško. He was a real fan of hard bop, bebop and free jazz himself, sometimes a denying attitude to funk, soul and the other popular genres of that time was felt, remembers Madars Kalniņš. Raubiško’s thoughts on this were quite harsh: «Unfortunately, in the 60ies the pop music invasion began, the attitude towards music has turned upside down. Simple primitivism won in the show business, professionals stepped aside giving way to those who couldn’t even tune their guitars, played two chords on repeat. This had set back serious music in Latvia, including jazz, for at least 20 years. REO got commercialized as well, in the beginning playing Gershwin, Ellington, then became a typical Raimonds Pauls’ song orchestra.» [Lūsiņa I.] Although M.Kalniņš admits that «the denying attitude was mostly towards the manner of performing, because, as we all know, every music could be played with some inspiration, made interesting, or just played as a diletant.»

The question of jazz education was always important to Raimonds. The saxophonist couldn’t be calm about the fact that in the 90ies jazz in Latvia wasn’t taught systematically at all, so in 1999 in Staicele one of Raimonds’ ideas saw the light of day — the first professional saxophone competition in Latvia «Spožā nots» (Bright note). The idea of the contest was to revive the life of saxophone players in Latvia both in classical and jazz music. The idea of the contest was implemented by the chief of the council of Staicele of that time Jānis Bakmanis and Raimonds himself.

Foto no Eduarda Raubiško personīgā arhīva


On September 27th of 2000, shortly before his performance, Raimonds dies. In 2002 with the help of Eduards Raubiško an album is released in his memory called «Puspuda sāls», featuring music composed by George Gershwin, Ben Harper, Raimonds Raubiško, Raimonds Pauls and many other composers. The compositions were played by Raubiško, Rozenbergs, Briežkalns, Kalniņš and other jazz musicians. Eduards tells about the album: «I remember how I created the CD. I tried to include something of every style in it, as much as I knew from back then… The year 2002, 15 years ago! I tried to include a composition for every style he had ever played. I lacked just one real bop composition. There were all kind of jazz tunes free, some with a big band, with Rozenbergs’ music, a «Chelsea Bridge» ballad, and one bebop piece was missing. So I was stuck, there wasn’t any good recordings — not a «Donna Lee», nor a «Confirmation» that he loved so much. And in the end I’ve found it, in quite a bad quality, so it differs from the rest of the CD.»


Raimonds Raubiško is one of the most prominent personalities in Latvian jazz history. Not only listening to the recordings, but also evaluating his input in Latvian jazz, its development and finding new talents. Raimonds was and will be the icon of Latvian jazz, with too little information that could be found on him, and we should remedy that. When working on this article and getting to know Raimonds’ life and perception, I myself have been rethinking many things about my life… We shouldn’t stop working on the articles like this one, we have to go on and search for those personalities who have their own stories to tell.