Polish Musicians Rock the Edinburgh Jazz&Blues Festival

Marcin Wasilewski Trio, fot. © Tomasz Sikora / ECM Records
Marcin Wasilewski Trio, fot. © Tomasz Sikora / ECM Records

A roster of fascinating Polish artists performs at the world-famous Edinburgh Jazz&Bues Festival this summer.

Aga Zaryan is first on the programme, with subsequent shows by Marcin Masecki and his Profesjonalizm band, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio, Maciej Obara Quartet and Mitch & Mitch with Their Incredible Combo.

The Edinburgh event is one of Europe’s leading musical festivals, gathering top quality artists from across the globe since 1978. Throughout the ten days of the event, the festival features jazz and blues performances, as well as a wide variety of improvised music shows.

The young and accalaimed jazz vocalist Aga Zaryan opens the Polish programme of this year’s edition with a performance on the Salon Elegance stage on the 25th of July. The young singer who has already recorded with the prestigious Blue Note label (her Looking, Walking, Being was released in 2010), was recently hailed a major star of European vocal jazz by the British press. The warm and slightly matte tone of her voice, reminiscent of Shirley Horn, Carmen Rea, and even Joni Mitchell, has won Zaryan the hearts of American critics and fans alike. The singer also fascinates audiences with her ambitious choice of poetics texts, from the verses of Czesław Miłosz (she devoted a whole album to the poem, entitled A Book of Luminous Things, and recorded with EMI in 2011), through poems by Anna Świrszczyńska and texts written during the Warsaw Uprising, to contemporary American poetry.

The Edinburgh concert marks Zaryan’s first-ever appearance in Scotland, where she performs together with Michał Tokaj, David Dorużka, Michał Barański and Łukasz Żyta.

The second Polish star to perform at the festival is the jazz pianist Marcin Wasilewski, who travels to Scotland with his youthful and famous trio. Marcin Wasilewski, Sławomir Kurkiewicz and Michał Miśkiewicz perform on the 26th of July at Queen’s Hall. The ensemble rose to fame through their fruitful long-term cooperation with the icon of jazz, Tomasz Stańko, and they have performed on Polish and European stages with similiar triumph, recording three albums for the ECM label to date. 
Following Leszek Możdżer and Marcin Masecki, Wasilewski is the third Polish jazz pianist recognised by music critics across the world.

The next day of the festival belongs to the quartet of saxophonist Maciej Obara. His ensemble performs at The Bosco Theatre. The musician’s career started after recording Message from Ohio in 2006, with which he won the Bielska Zadymka Jazz Contest for young instrumentalists. In the year 2008, Obara set out on a tour across Poland together with Antoine Roney, the prominent American saxophone player. In 2008 Obara was recommended by Manfred Eicher of the ECM to Tomasz Stańko, which resulted in their frutful cooperation. The musicians Obara and Wania met while performing in one of Tomasz Stańko's bands, and the encounter triggered a great musical friendship between the two talented artists. The Maciej Obara Quartet is the result of their collaboration dating from a period in which they jointly recorded a track called Equilibrium. The piece was first performed at The Jazztopad Festival in Wrocław in November, 2011. Obara's and Wania's common desire for the creation of musical stories bears fruit, and the Quartet is a long-awaited project for all of the musicians' fans. A fresh and unique project of the European jazz scene, the ensemble has already received enthusiastic reviews.

A day later, on the 28th of July, 2012, the Bosco Theatre is visited by Profesjonalizm, a project from the young pianist Marcin Masecki. Musicians involved in the project are the true "crème de la crème" of Warsaw’s independent scene: Masecki plays with Szuszkiewicz, Górczyński, Duda, Domagalski and Rogiewicz. The band features a trumpet, two saxophones (alternating with clarinets), drums, a double bass, and a piano. The music on their debut album Chopin Chopin Chopin was composed by the band’s leader in mid-2010. It had been commissioned by one of Warsaw’s community centers, Dom Kultury Śródmieście. For inspiration, Masecki looked towards his earliest musical experiences, a time when, as a twelve-year-old, he would participate in jam sessions at the notorious Akwarium jazz club. This album is also his response to the American jazz from the lush 1920-1950 era. The album was recorded after only a week of rehearsals in Warsaw’s Chłodna 25 club, and it is one of the most courageous and interesting records released in Poland in 2011.

The march of Polish musicians through Edinburgh is crowned with performance of an alternative band, linked with the Warsaw-based Lado ABC studio. Veterans of the Mitch & Mitch with Their Incredible Combo project claim to be a group which "sticks to country". All of their musical insipirations and employed motifs are filtered through the idea of "country and eastern", which the musicians invented during the process of their constant juggling with different musical genres. Macio Moretti and Bartek Magneto, two arists from a Warsaw-based Starzy Singers band created Mitch & Mitch in 2002.

Today the band includes up to 9 members, and its Moretti has been honoured for his "musical personality, flawless sense of convention, incredible energy in performance and fruitful efforts of popularising alternative music" with the Passport award of the Polityka weekly.
The band’s last two albums, XXII Century Sound Pioneers (Lado ABC, 2010) and Love For Three Cockroaches with Igor Krutogolov (Auris Media / Lado ABC, 2010), were showered with enthusiastic reviews. This incredible combo presents its show on the 28th of July, 2012, at Edinburgh’s Teatro Spiegeltent.

For a detailed programme of the festival, see: www.edinburghjazzfestival.com

Editor: SRS

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