Paweł Szamburski – one of the mainstays of Warsaw improvised music scene and one of the fathers of its renaissance – both as a clarinet player and a cultural activist. Associated with many bands, among others, Tupika, Cukunft, Horny Trees, Sza/Za, and Bastarda. He creates music for film, silent cinema, theatre, and contemporary dance. Most often he uses clarinet, voice, and electronics.
One of the mainstays of Warsaw improvised music scene and one of the fathers of its renaissance – both as a clarinet player and a cultural activist.
He studied at the Faculty of Cultural Anthropology and Musicology of the University of Warsaw. Together with Macio Moretti, in 2004 he launched a record label called Lado ABC – the one to let the world know such artists like Marcin Masecki, Raphael Rogiński, Levity, LXMP, Ed Wood, Hubert Zemler, SzaZa, Cukunft and many others. Up till now Lado remains the most recognizable independent label in Poland.
Probably one of Szamburski’s most important music projects is his duet with Patryk Zakrocki, called Sza/Za. The musicians have been running a sort of a music and picture quest, writing music to films, plays and dance shows. The duet has performed a tour “SzaZa plays Polański” in the US playing music to Polański’s early short subjects. In 2009, the SzaZa project won a distinction at the Kontrapunkt International Theatre Festival in Szczecin and the main prize at the 15th National Competition at the Contemporary Art Exhibition from the Minister of Culture and the Narodowy Theatre. In a widened line-up with Sza/Za/Ze with Hubert Zemler the band prepared a programme based on the works of experimental film pioneers in Poland – Stefan and Franciszka Themerson. From the beginning SzaZa has cooperated with film directors, choreographers as well as other musicians, such as Piotr Cieplak, Katarzyna Chmielewska, Leszek Bzdyl, Ola Bilińska or Kazuchisa Uchihashi.
As a clarinettist Szamburski belongs to several important bands of contemporary improvised scene including the clarinet quartet Ircha, created by Mikołaj Trzaska and consisting of Trzaska, Michał Górczyński, Paweł Szamburski, and Wacław Zimpel. In 2012 their album „Zikaron Lefanay” was announced album of the year in the ranking of the critics at Jazzarium.pl, a Polish jazz portal. The concerts of Ircha are performances on the border of improvisation, jazz, chamber music and theatre. Together with Raphael Rogiński, Michał Górczyński and Paweł Szpura, Szamburski forms the Cukunft quartet – one of the first groups of the scene called now new Jewish music.
In 2014, his first album, Ceratitis Capitata was released. What does the name of the album mean? In English, it is the Mediterranean fruit fly or medfly. It flew into a church in Błonie, near Tarnów, where the clarinettist was recording his album and was constantly flying nearby the microphone. Each piece is inspired by the songs, melodies and harmonies of different religious systems: Catholicism, Judaism, Bahaism, Sufism, and Orthodoxy. Szamburski explores music that leads to mystical rapture, and ecstasy, but he himself stands aside and does not allow himself to be carried away by these emotions, instead slowly disassembling the religious motifs.
Bastarda is a trio of Szamburski, Michał Górczyński, and Tomasz Pokrzywiński. The musicians refer to the medieval ‘viola bastarda’ technique, improvising around medieval melodies. By combining their experience in improvising (Szamburski, Górczyński), performing contemporary music (Górczyński) and early music (Pokrzywiński), they worked out their own, original way of performing early music. On their debut album Promitat Eterno they interpreted the compositions of Piotr of Grudziądz. Two years later the album Ars Moriendi was released. It focused on the subject of death and funeral rites. The material consists of compositions from the beginning of the Renaissance, and their selection was supervised by musicologist Antonio Chemotti.
Szamburski wrote music to theatrical performances by Piotr Cieplak (Wątpliwość, Utwór Sentymentalny Na 4 Aktorów, Przed Południem Przed Zmierzchem – Doubt, Sentimental Piece for 4 Actors, Before the Noon, Before the Dusk, trans. MG), by Paweł Miśkiewicz (Auto Da Fe), and by Marcin Liber (Stars Fall in August).
At the end of 2019, the premiere of Szamburski’s second solo album, titled Homo Ludens, was announced. On this occasion, the artist went on a nationwide tour, thus saying goodbye to the material from his first album Ceratitis Capitata.
Maria Raducanu, Frank London, Joe McPhee, David Krakauer, Kazuchisa Uchihashi, Burkhard Stangl, Franz Hauzinger, Raphael Rogiński, Candelaria Saenz Valiente, Tomasz Duda, Patryk Zakrocki, Macio Moretti, Tomasz Stańko, Mikołaj Trzaska, Paul Brody, Wacław Zimpel, Noel Akchote, Kuba Kossak, Michał Gos, Michał Górczyński, Hubert Zemler, Piotr Bukowski, Roman Ślefarski, Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski, Norbert Kubacz, DJ Lenar, DJ Eprom, DJ Olive and many others.
"Recording session at rudera" (CD-R, 2002)
"Broń rasowego marzenia" (Lado ABC, 2006)
"Meritum" (Lado ABC, 2004)
"Single Live" (mini cd-r, 2005)
"Szcz" (Lado ABC, 2006)
"Lider fun Mordechaj Gebirtig" (CD-R, 2005)
"Itstikeyt / Fargangenheit" (Lado ABC, 2010)
"Wilde Blumen" (Lado ABC, 2013)
"Horny Trees" (Kilogram Records, 2008)
"Branches Of Dirty Delight" (Lado ABC, 2009)
"Przed południem, przed zmierzchem" (Lado ABC, 2009)
Mikołaj Trzaska Ircha Clarinet Quartet
„Lark Uprising” [Quintet feat. Joe McPhee] (Multikulti 2010)
„Watching Edvard” (Kilogram Records 2011)
„Zikaron - Lefanay” (Kilogram Records 2012)
"Black Bones" (Kilogram Records, 2014)
"Gra Różę" (Kilogram Records, 2013)
"Ceratitis Capitata" (Lado ABC, 2014)
"Libelid" (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, 2016)
"Promitat Eterno" (Lado ABC, 2016)
"Ars Moriendi" (Lado ABC, 2019)
Laar (Michał Górczyński i Paweł Szamburski), Sahnil Arif Farobiansah, Warsaw Gamelan Group
"Bidadari" (ForTune, 2018)
Author: Kajetan Prochyra, 2014; updated by MG, December 2019.