Pianist, composer and producer whose style oscillates between jazz, classical and experimental music. Born in 1982 in Warsaw.
Table of contents: | Early Career | Berklee College of Music in Boston | Top Jazz Pianist | Classical Experiments | Aesthetics of Imperfection | Discography |
Marcin Masecki has become one of the most creative and original musicians of the new generation, recording and performing as a member of a jazz ensemble, but also as a performer of avant-garde and pop music. He has founded and co-founded a number of successful musical projects and groups over the first decade of the 21st Century.
He took his first piano lessons as a child, and got interested in jazz around the same period. In 1997, while he was attending musical secondary school he joined the band Alchemik, lead by saxophonist Grzegorz Piotrowski. In 1998, the band won the main price at the Jazz Hoeilaart festival in Brussels, where Masecki was also acclaimed as best solo performer. After several intense and exhausting tours and the release of four albums, Masecki left the band. Parallel to that project, the musician also collaborated with the group Oxen, and in 1998 he recorded an album with Andrzej Jagodziński, entitled Tribute to Marek&Wacek. The duo associated with the quartet Prima Vista to release new interpretations of film scores from the 1930s: Gdzie są filmy z tamtych lat / Where are the Films of those Years (2000).
Berklee College of Music in Boston
After graduating from secondary school in 2000, Masecki received a scholarship at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he spent two years dividing his time between studying, performing live and networking. He met the musicians with whom he formed the trio TAQ, as well as his future wife, vocalist Candelaria Saenz Valiente.
Top jazz pianist
Masecki came back to Poland in 2002 and quickly melted with the alternative and improvisational musical scene in Warsaw, mostly concentrated around the independent record label Lado ABC. In addition to his solo performances, he became involved in the creation of numerous musical projects which combined jazz improvisation with an avant-garde concept: Telewizor, Papierosy, TAQ, Wczasowicz Paweł or the trio Masecki/Rogiński/Moretti. He performed as a guest musician on Pink Freud's album Alchemia, and collaborated with the bands Muzykoterapia and Afro Kolektyw. As a studio musician he recorded alongside Tomasz Stańko, Michał Urbaniak, Reni Jusis and the Waglewski family, including work on the album Męska muzyka by Waglewski/Fisz/Emade.
In 2005, Marcin Masecki received the first prize and gold medal at the International Jazz Piano Competition in Moscow.
For three years he belonged to the quartet of one of the most prominent Polish double bassists Zbigniew Wegehaupt, with whom he recorded the critically acclaimed albums Wege (2006) and Tota (2008). In 2009, Marcin Masecki released his sophomore solo album BOB, which received unanimous positive reviews in the Polish press, critics describing the record as one of the most original yet stylistically indefinable albums of the year. Almost simultaneously, the debut album of the band Paristetris - the band Masecki created with his wife Candelaria Saenz Valiente and multi-instrumentalist Macio Moretti - hit the shelves. The record was promoted via numerous impromptu performances combining music on the edge of pop, cabaret, jazz and improvised avant-garde, presenting an unusual new genre emerging from the Polish independent scene.
Later that year Masecki introduced his new project to the Polish public: a 9 member formation called JazzBandBigBand. The group focuses on the interpretation of jazz as dance music, playing mostly compositions from the 1930s. In 2010, Masecki initiated yet another project, the jazz sextet Profesjonalizm, where he returned to his more traditional roots and took a characteristically distorted view on jazz from the 40s and 50s. Quite typically for him the album balanced on the borderline of pastiche and tibute.
His solo album John (at Lado ABC) was released in the Autumn of 2010, almost simultaneously to the second album of the band Paristetris entitled Honey Darlin. One of Masecki's latest projects, co-founded by Jan Emil Młynarski, is called the Jazz Band Młynarski-Masecki. Their debut album, Noc w Wielkim Mieście (Night in a Big City), was released in 2017. One year later Masecki's discography was extended by Taratil 'id Al-milad – an album with Polish Christmas carols sung in Arabic and played in an altered key and tempo, recorded with Barbara Kinga Majewska.
In February 2012 he recorded Bach’s fugues on his grandmother’s vintage Steinway using only a handy tape recorder. Before the recording, he detuned the piano in order to spoil its perfect sound. Masecki explained the unconventional method of recording in the following way:
This unusual tuning, the hiss of the tape and the natural compression of the recorder should help us focus on the fugue’s structure instead of paying attention to the sound. By this means the piece goes straight to your head, not to your senses. Die Kunst Der Fuge by Jan Sebastian Bach is a Mount Everest for every pianist: few parallel voices with equal priority. I set the bar really high and this is my first album with classical music, so I was terribly afraid of the outcome.
In 2013 he released three albums: one was devoted to polonaises, the second was a deconstruction of the music of Scarlatti while the last was devoted to Bach again (this time recorded with Pianohooligan).
Aesthetics of imperfection
On Polonezy (Polonaises) Masecki uses the aesthetics of imperfection – the ineptitude of musicians becomes a value here and the compositions are designed in such a way as to provoke musicians to distract each other and create chaotic, unsettled sound situations. It sounds a bit like Nino Rota’s music for Fellini’s movies. Rota was obviously more ‘accurate’ but he shared the same love for little bloopers.
In an interview for Wysokie Obcasy Magazine Masecki revealed the source of his motivation:
I was a wunderkind, a little sweet blonde who spoke three languages. If you are given so much attention and fascination for nothing, when you grow older you want to live up to this, earn this with your own merits.
Where does the love for spoiling sounds come from?
I was taught to be clean and polished so it became a challenge to find beauty in something dirty and broken.
- Mięso, 2007, CD-R
- BOB, 2009, Lado ABC
- John, 2010, Lado ABC
- Die Kunst Der Fuge, 2012, Lado ABC
- Bach Rewrite (z Piotrem Orzechowskim), 2013, Decca
- Scarlatti, 2013, Fortune
- Polonezy, 2013, Lado ABC
- Hymnen (with Candelaria Saenz Valiente), 2014, Bôłt
- Mazurki, 2015, For Tune
- Beethoven: Ostatnie sonaty fortepianowe/ Beethoven: Late Piano Sonatas: 2015, Lado ABC
- chopin nokturny, 2017, Lado ABC
- Taratil ‘id Al-milad (with Barbara Kinga Majewska), 2018, Bôłt
Originally written in Polish by Maciej Sienkiewicz, listopad 2010, Anna Gromnicka 2012; update: March 2019, MG.