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JAZZ Od Nowa Festival ’2019

20.02 – 23.02.2017 r. (Wednesday - Saturday), 8 p.m.


In the history of Polish customs, there exists a deeply rooted conviction that the short period of multiple holiday pleasures and festive celebrations is unavoidably followed by the return to everyday dullness, measured in weeks or months. This conviction, however, hardly refers to Jazz Od Nowa Festival, which invariably demands diligent, systematic work of its organizers practically all year long: immediately after each edition, which just as inavariably turns out to be a musical feast, right until the next.

The present one is hardly going to be an exception. It may be reasonably assumed that the eminent figures of Polish, if not international jazz scene, already known to the festival audience, shall revisit JONF with new, inventive, or even provocative musical statements: to mention only Adam Pierończyk, Marek Stryszowski, or even Zbigniew Namysłowski. At the same time, it is going to be still another edition generously featuring international line-ups, among which Timucin Sahin – Kuba Płużek – Ingrid Laubrock, comprising musicians from Poland, Turkey and Germany, and Sylwester Ostrowski & The Jazz Brigade, in terms of nationality stretching from Poland to the US or even Japan, seem especially promising. Finally, we may expect still another interesting confrontation of diverse jazz styles, ranging from jazz-rock (Urszula Dudziak and Walk Away), through widely understood contemporary mainstream (Zbigniew Namysłowski Quintet), to avant-jazz (the New York duo Iconoclast, frequently visiting Poland).

The first evening shall commence with MAREK STRYSZOWSKI’S LITTLE EGOISTS playing JONF after twelve years’ break. The leader – a saxophonist and vocalist, one of the most versatile as well as creative Polish jazzmen – is known mainly as the co-leader of Laboratorium, generally considered the Polish equivalent of Weather Report. Little Egoists, conceived as the tentative substitute of Laboratorium that went into a longer period of inactivity in the late 1980s, proved quite interesting in their own right: see the suite Magnum Sal (the medieval Latin name of Wieliczka, known for its unique salt mine), performed for the first time at the World Art Underground – Wieliczka ‘95 festival, with such jazz-rock greats as Joe Zwinul or Susan Weinert.

The opening night’s second set will take us to a basically different angle of the jazz universe. Two thirds of TIMUCIN SAHIN - KUBA PŁUŻEK - INGRID LAUBROCK, the Turkish guitarist Timucin Sahin and the German-born saxophonist and composer Ingrid Laubrock, are primarily associated with the free jazz/free improv scene, rather closely connected with classical avant-garde. Lauborock, boasting the collaboration with Anthony Braxton, a seminal figure of this scene, has been widely acclaimed for her latest composition, significantly titled Contemporary Chaos Practices and boldly compared by some All About Jazz critic to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in terms of innovation and influence. Sahin, together with his band Timucin Sahin’s Flow State, received rave reviews for the album Nothing Bad Can Happen, presenting himself not only as a freely improvising guitar player. Kuba Płużek, a young pianist from Cracow, has surprisingly traditional credentials in this context, as a regular collaborator of Polish mainstream jazzmen, such as late Janusz Muniak. Nonetheless, his less radical approach may provide an unusual, interesting contrast to the avant-garde excursions of his partners.

Close to avant-jazz, in a rather restrained sense, has always been Adam Pierończyk, a talented and versatile Polish alto/soprano saxophone virtuoso. He is widely known for the cooperation with renowned foreign jazzmen, such as Miroslav Vitous or Greg Osby, with whom he has already performed at JONF. This year, he is going to be accompanied by Robert Kubiszyn, one of the most requested and competent Polish jazz/pop bassists, and John B. Arnold, a highly rated New York jazz drummer (a grandson of Hoagy Carmichael, the composer of memorable jazz standards), formerly playing with Chet Baker, Kenny Garrett, or John Abercrombie. As ADAM PIEROŃCZYK TRIO, they shall promote Monte Alban, the leader’s latest (twentieth) album, enthusiastically received by American jazz experts.

JONF’s second evening will be concluded this year by JAROS - OBARA - DAMASIEWICZ - MIŚKIEWICZ – TARWID. This quintet may be tentatively labelled as the Polish jazz supergroup under the leadership of Michał Jaros, a talented double bass player, known for collaborations with eminent jazzmen from Poland and the USA, such as Piotr Baron or Dominik Bukowski and Wadada Leo Smith or Patricia Barber respectively. Michał Miśkiewicz has enjoyed international fame as the drummer of late Tomasz Stańko’s quartet and, presently, Marcin Wasilewski Trio. The latter boasts the prestigious contract with Manfred Eicher’s ECM Records – as does the quartet led by Maciej Obara, a talented alto saxophone player. For his part, Piotr Damasiewicz is one of the most promising young Polish trumpeters, awarded the highly requested Fryderyk Prize for the Jazz Debut of the Year 2012, while Grzegorz Tarwid belongs to the leading representatives of the post-yass movement (the Polish approximation of avant-jazz) as a member of Jachna/Tarwid/Karch trio. In Toruń, they are going to promote Floating Bridges, the leader’s latest album displaying jazz, rock, or even classical inspirations.

The opening act of the next evening shall be the New York duo ICONOCLAST, consisting of Julie Joslyn, playing violin and alto saxophone, as well as producing electronic noises or diverse vocal shouts, and Leo Ciesa, playing drums and occasionally keyboards. Established in 1987 and having released ten albums so far, the group has become known mainly for numerous concerts all over the world – also in Poland, where they performed at Od Nowa in 2005 – and for multimedia artistic approach (Julie is also a painter and a psychoanalyst). Musicwise, they are associated with postmodern ecleticism emanating from New York’s famous Knitting Factory club (Leo also regularly plays there in Doctor Nerve, a highly rated avant jazz/rock octet). Their productions – rhytmically unpredictable albeit precise, sonically transparent as well as original, melodically catchy and formally coherent – have won them acclaim even in distant Russia, where they had a gorgeously designed compilation album In the Vodka Garden released in 2005.

The evening’s second set will definitely stand in contrast to Iconoclast’s performance, as SYLWESTER OSTROWSKI & THE JAZZ BRIGADE represent altogether more restrained, if not traditional, approach to jazz. Under the leadership of Sylwester Ostrowski – a tenor sax player, well deserved as a long-time organizer of jazz events, such as Zmagania Jazzowe (Jazz Combats) in Szczecin – the group pursues the path of modern mainstream. For example, they perform inspired jazz versions of classic Polish tunes, such as Chopin’s “Revolutionary” study, even though the line-up consists mainly of foreign musicians (Miki Hayama, a Japanese pianist settled in New York, and three Americans, including the renowned trumpeter Freddie Hendrix). An additional proof of Ostrowski’s prestige on the international jazz scene are his collaborations with legendary gospel and jazz singers, Dorrey Lin Lyles and Deborah Brown, as well as with the pianist Darius Brubeck (son of famous Dave).

The final festival night is going to be a special treat for Polish jazz lovers. At first, they shall be exposed to the timeless music of ZBIGNIEW NAMYSŁOWSKI QUINTET, led by one of the Founding Fathers of Polish modern jazz, a consummate virtuoso of alto, soprano and sopranino saxes. Throughout his career, spanning almost sixty years, Namysłowski basically remained faithful to the modern jazz mainstream, frequently and successfully attempting to combine it with Polish and Balkan folklore, or even classical music. His compositions, remarkably sophisticated in terms of harmony, rhythmic patterns, texture and tonality, unfailingly stand the test of time, as the festival audience is about to find out once again. First of all, however, the fact that his quintet comprises the musicians more than one generation younger than the leader is virtually a symbol of the continuous successful evolution of Polish jazz.

As JONF’s closing attraction this year, we shall admire, once again, URSZULA DUDZIAK, a singer of worldwide fame – this time accompanied by WALK AWAY, for many years considered the best electric jazz group in Poland. Their jazzrock/funky style corresponds, to some extent, to the one of Michał Urbaniak Constellation – the band that marked the beginning of international careers of its leader and Urszula Dudziak, Urbaniak’s wife at the time. With Walk Away, she performed on a permanent basis in the years 1988-1995, recording two albums – however, the list of her collaborators is much longer, comprising such megastars of jazz, rock, or even pop as Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Bobby McFerrin, or Sting. Apart from the unusual vocal potential, exemplified by the rare ability of electronically processed polyphonic singing, Mrs. Dudziak also possesses a remarkable storyelling gift, due to which she is always able to strike a good rapport with the audience – as will definitely be the case also this time around.

Olaf Wojciechowski