The Jazztopad Festival, in partnership with Polish Cultural Institute New York, presents The Great Improvisation series online live streamed from the National Forum of Music (NFM) in Wrocław, Poland. The series presents various faces of jazz—from bold avant-garde and daring improvisation through to the mainstream. The ideal acoustics of the NFM halls provide a perfect environment for both young Polish bands as well as established artists. The series has presented such musicians as Wynton Marsalis, Bobo Stenson, Gregory Porter, Tomasz Stańko, Kuba Więcek, Brad Mehldau, and Dianne Reeves.
The Polish jazz scene has been a strongly recognizable brand in the world, both in terms of quality of festivals and the craft of artists. The Jazztopad Festival has been running for the past 17 years under the umbrella of the National Forum of Music. Jazztopad’s most distinctive feature is its commitment to commissioning new music and presenting special projects tailored for the festival. As the only Polish festival, Jazztopad has built relationships with the most important jazz centers in the world, supporting the promotion of Polish improvised music and cultural exchange for many years. Since 2015 Jazztopad has also had annual editions in New York.
On Saturday, January 16, 2021 at 11 AM (PST) / 2 PM (EST), outstanding Polish jazz pianist and composer Łukasz Ojdana will present his solo album Kurpian Songs & Meditations, an exploration and blending of jazz with traditional music of the ethnic region of Kurpie in Poland. Free live streaming at the Facebook pages of the Lincoln Center and the USC Polish Music Center.
On Saturday, February 13, 2021 at 11 AM (PST) / 2 PM (EST), the Radek Nowicki Quartet will take the stage. One of the most distinctive voices of Polish jazz saxophone, Radek Nowicki (right) has brought together an all-star band to explore improvisation deeply rooted in and inspired by tradition of such jazz giants as Wayne Shorter or John Coltrane. Free live streaming at the Facebook pages of Jazz at Lincoln Center and the USC Polish Music Center.
On Friday, February 19, 2021 at 11 AM (PST) / 2 PM (EST), the unique jazz/folk duo Maniucha & Ksawery will present their program. This vocal and bass duo draws inspiration from the deep-rooted yet endangered traditional songs of the vast Polesie region in Ukraine. Their compositions combine jazz improvisation with songs of spring, harvest, weddings, lullabies and love, to create a narrative of the cycles of nature and human life. Free live streaming at the Center for World Music, USC Polish Music Center, Center for Traditional Music and Dance and The Ukrainian Museum.
The Great Improvisation online series is presented by Jazztopad Festival and the National Forum of Music, in partnership with Polish Cultural Institute New York, and in collaboration with Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Center for World Music, the Polish Music Center at the USC Thornton School of Music, and Center for Traditional Music and Dance.
MANIUCHA & KSAWERY
Saturday, 19 February 2021 | 11 am (PST) / 2 pm (EST)
National Forum of Music, Red Hall
Free live streaming at Center for World Music, USC Polish Music Center, Center for Traditional Music and Dance & The Ukrainian Museum
About the Artists
Łukasz Ojdana is a pianist and a composer known to the wider audience mainly through the renowned trio RGG, with which he has been recording and touring since 2013, though that is only one of his artistic endeavours. For three years Ojdana was a member of Tomasz Stańko’s last quartet, he is also a member of the Zbigniew Namysłowski Quintet. His discography consists of ten award-winning and distinguished albums.
Kurpian Songs & Meditations is his first solo album in which he blends jazz with traditional melodies from the Kurpie region in Poland. As Ojdana explains: When considering my musical identity I came to the conclusion that the most inspirational and natural for me are the contents stemming from the cultural heritage of my country. Choosing such a seemingly obvious topic was not devoid of challenges. What I found interesting in Kurpian songs was that due to the limited temperament of my instrument I could not play them in the 1:1 ratio. The traditional performance of these melodies uses the scale consisting of quarter tones, which are impossible to get from a conventionally tuned piano… The aura of the music, resulting from the highly refined scale, along with its compliance with my harmonic language has multiplied my fascination with this subject – the pianist summed up.
The effect of these explorations is an album of an intimate and honest character, devoid of calculations and imitating trends, recorded almost in one take, without any sound tricks and multiple hours spent in the studio. I cannot play music in a calculated, cold way. I approach each album with the same excitement and discipline, at the same time trying to achieve the best possible end-result. In the case of a solo album I really wanted to catch the moment, while being fully aware of who I am. The energy and emotions that I was carrying that day gave birth to such an album – the musician concluded.
Biographical details about the Radek Nowicki Quartet and Maniucha & Ksawery will be posted in February.
[Sources: press release, instytutpolski.pl]