Jazz Therapy with Niedbała

A quartet of young Polish musicians—Michał Niedbała (piano), Mikołaj Sikora (bass), Piotr Przewoźniak (drums) and Ola Przewoźniak (vocals)—launched a weekly series of original online concerts on June 1. Their project, jazzbaja, is a jazz reinterpretation of some well-known Polish songs traditionally sung for children at bedtime. Each new segment in the program will be released at 7 p.m. Central European Summer Time (1 p.m. EDT, 12 noon CDT, 11 a.m. MDT and 10 a.m. PDT) on every upcoming Monday in June (8, 15, 22 and 29).

According to the founder of the group, pianist Michał Niedbała:

[…] jazzbaja is a project returning to the classical Polish fairy tales that aims to bring solace to the audience and transport them to the world of childhood fantasies during these difficult times. We thought that this is just the moment to revive these tales and so we used some of the well-known title music and songs made by such [film] studios as Se-Ma-For, for example, to provide us with musical material for concerts and recordings. There are many different songs and although they underwent a loosely-defined jazz treatment, we nonetheless wanted to keep the audience focused on the music and the song arrangements to be easy on the ears.

Given such an approach, jazzbaja—as envisioned by its creators—is to be a musical remedy and an artistic aid to fight isolation and solitude by immersing the listeners in the enchanted world of children’s stories (bajki in Polish). This dreamlike world of limitless fantasy and endless creative potential is something that kids and adults can happily enjoy as they listen to this jazz group’s novel musical therapy.

The core trio (Niedbała/Sikora/Przewoźniak) was founded by 16-year old Michał Niedbała in 2017, when he first met bass player Mikołaj Sikora. Percussionist Piotr Przewoźniak joined the group after he met Michał and Mikołaj during entrance exams to the Kraków Music Academy. Their debut EP was self-published on the internet in 2019 and since then the young musicians have performed at a variety of jazz clubs and festivals in Poland and abroad. 

The jazzbaja internet concerts are made possible by Fundacja Bema20 that since 2018 supports the art scene in Tarnów. Another partner in this enterprise, Tarnów Music School (from which Michał and Mikołaj had graduated), provides a performance/recording venue in their new concert hall.

You can listen to Michał Niedbała and his trio with vocalist Ola Przewoźniak taking on the famous Polish tale of a charming teddy bear, Miś uszatek, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBnONRjX_jo.

Michał also has a YouTube channel, where several videos of his performances with Mikołaj Sikora and Piotr Przewoźniak can be seen: https://www.youtube.com/user/MichalNiedbalaMusic

This unusual and truly imaginative project already attracted media attention, including an article in JazzPRESS and Presto music magazine. Recently, the young musicians gave interviews for the Radio Złote Przeboje [Golden Hits Radio] and more media interviews are scheduled for the near future.

Niedbała and the Paderewski Festival

2013/2014 Paderewski Youth Exchange participants: Paulina Ostrowska and Michał Niedbała from Poland with Jack Raventos from California on the Central Coast, November 2014

As a side note, having previously won a school piano competition in his home town of Tarnów, Michał Niedbała had been selected to participate in the international Youth Cultural Exchange program jointly administered by the Province of Tarnów and the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles. As a result, in 2013, Michał spent a week at Paderewski’s former manor house in Kąśna Dolna, enjoying a week of individual piano, harmony and composition lessons. He also participated in master classes and in solo and chamber music concerts with his peers from California. A year later, in 2014, Michał traveled with another student from Tarnów to California to visit with his American friends and perform in concerts at the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles and other locations on California’s Central Coast. This happy chain of events amply proves how international educational exchanges can encourage and launch careers of talented young musicians.

[Sources: photo of ensemble: Paweł Topolski; photo of exchange: Raventos family]