Jerzy Mączyński is a saxophonist and composer who leads the band Jerry & the Pelican System. Some call him the voice of the young generation of well-educated Polish artists.
Jerzy Mączyński’s parents are two artists affiliated with the Warsaw Capitol Theatre – actress Anna Gornostaj and director Stanisław Mączyński. He acquired a thorough musical education in jazz and classical music classes at Warsaw’s Bednarska school and later the K. Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław, among others. He spent the last year of his first degree on a scholarship in Denmark, where he perfected his musical skills at Syddansk Musikkonservatorium in the city of Odense. In 2018, Mączyński started master degree studies at the Valencia branch of Boston’s Berklee College of Music in the faculty of contemporary music performance. He was the second Pole after Piotr ‘Pianohooligan’ Orzechowski to graduate from this prestigious college. He was also taught by such luminaries as Greg Osby, Perico Sambeat, Michał Kulenty and Zbigniew Namysłowski.
Jerzy is one of the founders of the free jazz band P.E. Quartet, with whom he recorded an album entitled Cokolwiek (Whatever, trans. MG) which was released in 2018. The other musicians from the quartet are guitarist Szymon Wójcik, double bassist Rafał Różalski and drummer Bartosz Szablowski. With the support of pianist Marcel Baliński, they also perform as RASP Lovers – with this line-up they created the album RASP Lovers: Romantic Alternative Schizophrenic Punk.
It is impossible to talk about Mączyński without mentioning his project named Jerry & The Pelican System, established in 2018, and the album of the same name. It was released in mid-2019 as the 83rd record in the prestigious Polish Jazz series, which had been relaunched several years previously. It is the result of Mączyński’s cooperation with Marcel Baliński, trumpeter Marcin Elszkowski, drummer and flautist Wiktoria Jakubowska, and double bassist Franciszek Pospieszalski.
Some pieces on the album were written during the young musician’s scholarship in Odense. Thanks to the level of freedom offered by the curriculum of the Danish university, Mączyński managed to create material that defies classification and cannot be pigeonholed. Originally, the album was supposed to have electronic and pop dimensions as well, but under the influence of the band members – especially drummer Wiktoria Jakubowska – the concept evolved and took on a more improvisational character. The diversity of the instrumentalists’ experience resulted in inter-genre and rule-free music which continually surprises listeners, but also requires them to be open-minded. As Mączyński himself puts it, the Pelican in the title of the album should be interpreted as an adjective describing the way he composes his songs. The ‘Pelican System’ is a structure characterised primarily by absurdity – it is no coincidence that Jerry & The Pelican System is often mentioned next to the legendary yass band Miłość or musicians from the Lado ABC label.
The intriguing album closes with the song Naya Rang, recorded together with violinist Apoorva Krishna, who specialises in one of the oldest improvisation systems in the world – Carnatic music. Their cooperation began during Jerry’s studies in Valencia, and it undoubtedly still has a significant impact on his inspirations and works. At the end of 2019, the violinist invited Jerzy to India. He spent several weeks there, performing with Krishna and Iranian pianist Hami Keivan, among others at the NCPA International Jazz Festival in Mumbai. Indian inspirations will also be noticeable on the next album by Jerry & The Pelican System, which, as the artist himself says, is already finished and will be released at a later date.
His achievements to date include performances at such festivals as Jazz Jantar, Dwa Brzegi Festival, Habitat Center in New Delhi, Lublin Jazz, Jazz Jamboree. He has also cooperated with, among others, Thomas de Perquery and Nitin Sawhney. The album Jerry & The Pelican System undoubtedly drew the audience’s attention. At the beginning of 2020, Jerry and his band were featured in three categories of the Jazz Forum magazine Jazz Top 2019 readers’ survey (tenor saxophone, new hope – band, new hope – musician). The musicians intended to go on a tour to the US in the second half of 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic interfered with their plans. However, the band did not give up and, with the support of the National Centre for Culture Poland, prepared the Jerzy Mączyński Jerry & The Pelican System Virtual Tour, which consists of a series of music programmes to be broadcast on the Internet from June to September 2020.
Jerzy Mączyński’s official website: https://jerzymaczynski.com
Originally written in Polish by Marcin Gozdanek, June 2020.
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