Ahead of the NATO Summit: the SHAPE International Band/NATO Jazz Orchestra to perform in Klaipėda

The highlight of the XXIX Klaipėda Castle Jazz Festival programme on 24 June; (Saturday) evening will feature a performance by the SHAPE International Band/NATO Jazz Orchestra, an international jazz project and the official musical representative of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

Formed almost four decades ago, the aim of the group was to support our allies in Europe and to perform on ceremonial occasions. The group then consisted of fifteen volunteers, organised under the leadership of Major Mike Sheehan. Seeing the diplomatic value of the group, several allied nations began to donate instruments, sheet music and funds for the group’s initial needs. In its first year of existence, SHAPE International Band performed more than 30 shows. In 1985, General Bernard Rodgers (USA) declared the SHAPE International Band the official musical representative of NATO.

The Jazz Ensemble is composed of the best musicians from NATO military bands, with many years of professional touring and recording experience and selected for their stylistic and improvisational skills.

The band that will be crowning the programme of the Klaipėda Castle Jazz Festival will include a Lithuanian – Donatas Bukauskas. “We are delighted and proud that Donatas Bukauskas – trombonist, singer, composer, jazz musician – is an official member of the NATO Orchestra representing Lithuania. It is gratifying that NATO musicians remember Klaipėda and us, the festival organisers, with great warmth and respect. The infrastructure, the work of the sound operators and the wonderful audience are highly appreciated,” says Inga Grubliauskienė, the head of the Klaipėda Castle Jazz Festival.

Since its inception, the SHAPE International Band has performed in support of the Alliance and throughout Europe as exclusive guest artists. The group has performed at renowned events such as the Bansko International Jazz Festival, the Lier Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Wigan International Jazz Festival, the Brussels Jazz Marathon, the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Cork Jazz Festival, and many more. Today, the group consists of 18 international professional military musicians led by conductor, Chief Warrant Officer Foure James Bettencourt (USA).

The band includes trumpets, trombones, saxophones, rhythm section and vocalists. “The SHAPE International Band performs classic American big band jazz arrangements from Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and vocal arrangements from artists like Frank Sinatra and Johnny Hallyday.

The audience will be able to see the performance of this group at Klaipėda Theatre Square on 24 June. from 21.00


Klaipėda Castle Jazz Festival is a jazz music festival organised in Klaipėda since 1994. XXIX festival will take place on 22-24 June this year. The festival will take place on June 24th, 2018 at the Theatre Square in Klaipėda. All festival events are free of charge.