Piotr Baron was born on January 5th, 1961, in Wrocław. He didn't complete his formal musical education until 2005, when he was the oldest student to be granted a Masters of Arts at the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław. He is nonetheless one of the most important figures in Polish jazz.
Saxophonist, composer and pedagogue. Baron also works as a critic and publicist for Jazz Forum Magazine and Diapazon.pl. and has his own weekly radio program on Radio Wrocław.
He made his debut in 1977, and by 1978 he had already won an award as a soloist at the Jazz Festival over the Oder River / Jazz nad Odrą. Two years later, he won the prize for second place at the same festival. In 1984, he won the Grand Prix for a soloist at the San Sebastian Festival "Jazz Aldia" in Spain.
Baron has recorded over 60 albums with Art Farmer, Eddie Henderson, Victor Lewis and John Hicks. He has six solo albums – Take One (1995), Tango (1996), Blue Rain (1997), Bogurodzica (2000) and Reference (2004), recorded in New York. Playing tenor sax, he is the co-founder of the cult band Travelling Birds Quintet, with Cezary Konrad on drums, Darek Oleszkiewicz on bass, Kuba Stankiewicz on the piano and Piotr Wojtasik playing trumpet and flugelhorn. Since 1988 he has performed occasionally with symphonies and chamber orchestras, playing a jazz, entertainment and modern repertoire.
Baron has conducted musical workshops in Chodzież, Pułtusk, Puławy, Lwów (Ukraine) and Prague (the Czech Republic). Since 1998 he has taught saxophone and theoretical jazz at the Jazz and Entertainment Music School in Wrocław (I and II grade), at the Zielona Góra University (since 2001) and at the State Higher Professional School in Nysa (since 2008). He wrote a handbook called Technical School of the Saxophone and a book, Jazz Etudes. He has lectured at universities in the USA and in Turkey. Baron also works as a critic and publicist for Jazz Forum Magazine and Diapazon.pl. Since 1994 he has presented his own weekly radio program on Radio Wrocław. As a jazz musician, he was nominated twice for the Fryderyk Prize (also known as "the Polish Grammy"), in 2000 and 2004, and his Bogurodzica also received a nomination in the category "Jazz Record of the Year 2000." Famous Polish musicians with whom Baron has worked include: Urszula Dudziak, Michał Urbaniak, Zbigniew Namysłowski and Tomasz Stańko. He has also collaborated with Ray Charles, Art Farmer, Al Porcino, Billy Harper and David Murray. For his thirty years of artistic accomplishment, Piotr Baron was honoured with the Brown Medal "Meritorious for Culture Gloria Artis", and with the Honorary Award of the Polish Jazz Society.
Projects: Travelling Birds Quintet, Piotr Baron Trio, Piotr Baron Quartet, Piotr Baron Quintet
- Blue Rain (Power Bros, 1997)
Piotr Baron - tenor & soprano saxophones, Sławomir Kulpowicz - piano, Jacek Niedziela - double bass, Kazimierz Jonkisz - drums.
- Bogurodzica (Universal Music Group, 2000)
Piotr Baron - tenor saxophone, Piotr Wojtasik - trumpet, Darek Oleszkiewicz - double bass, Artur Dutkiewicz - piano, Kazimierz Jonkisz - drums.
- Reference (Sony Jazz, 2004)
Piotr Baron - tenor & soprano saxophones, Eddie Henderson - trumpet & flugelhorn, John Hicks - piano, Darek Oleszkiewicz - double bass, Victor Lewis - drums.
- Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus (celEsTis, 2008)
Piotr Baron - tenor & soprano saxophones, Michał Tokaj - piano, Michał Barański - double bass, Łukasz Zyta - drums & percussion, Natalia Niemen - vocals, Mieczysław Szcześniak - vocals, Tomas Celis Sanchez - percussion, Piotr Wojtasik - trumpet.
Piotr Baron - Reference
"After ‘Bogurodzica', which combined elements of medieval music with the aesthetics of John Coltrane, Baron's next offering seems to be very accessible and closer to the jazz tradition. ‘Reference' refers to bop, central current, free and blues; his fascination with Coltrane's legacy is visible now, but it takes shape mainly through sound and expression.
In order to record this album, Baron went to New York, where, together with American musicians, he recorded all the material (in one day and with no previous auditions!). He invited in the pianist John Hicks, the trumpeter Eddie Henderson, the drummer Victor Lewis (who had previously performed with Woody Shaw) and the bass player Dariusz Oleszkiewicz, who had apparently already been in the USA for several months. The album opens with ‘Reference', the most interesting and most refined of the recordings; a deft theme, a clear three-piece form, dynamic musical character and expressive improvisation are the essential characteristics of the piece. The ballad ‘Blue Butterfly' is worth listening to, with its delicate soprano and nearly Davis Henderson-like sound, and at the end there is ‘Amen', in which impulsive expression makes its return.
The Americans' playing (with the possible exception of Victor Lewis) leaves something to be desired; the musicians' attitudes are too conservative, and elements of routine in some of the solos destroy the climax built up by the leader. Baron's sax outshines the others in these recordings -- its sound is multilayer and full of resonance, with energy blending with articulation in an indivisible whole. Baron refers not only to Coltrane, but to the whole modern sax tradition, including artists like Phaorah Anders and his recording of ‘You've Got To Have Freedom.' ‘Reference' will be not only become an important record in Piotr Baron's musical career, but also a testimonial to the immortality of Coltrane's ideas in Polish jazz." (Bogdan Chmura, Tygodnik Powszechny).
Author: Marek Romański, December 2008.