Wacław Zimpel has become one of a premier representatives of the Polish jazz scene. He made his debut as a co-founder of the jazz formation Emergency, while seeking his own original means of expression based on the traditions of jazz and contemporary classical music. His main inspiration comes from the work of such artists as: Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Jimmy Giuffre, Anton Webern, Igor Strawiński. His musical exploration focus primarily on the modern approach to musical material in improvisation, applying twentieth-century compositional techniques for melody and harmony. What is characteristic for his music is also his approach to the sound of the band and the original choice of instruments.
He graduated with honours from the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznan, Poland, in Prof. Zdzislaw Nowak's classical clarinet class. Zimpel studied also at Hochschule Für Musik und Theater in Hannover with Prof. Johannes Peitz. His musical ideas are focused on different forms of improvisation and classical music. Classical music had a major impact on what Wacław Zimpel is doing today, on his approach to the instrument, polyphony, phrasing, articulation. In particular, among the important composers he distinguishes Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Debussy. Nevertheless, according to Zimpel, improvisation is the best tool of communication.
Zimpel has collaborated extensively with major contemporary improvisers and composers, including Ken Vandermark, Bobby Few, Joe McPhee, Steve Cohn, Christian Ramond, Mikolaj Trzaska, Tim Daisy, Steve Swell, Dave Rempis, Klaus Kugel, Marcin Masecki, Raphael Roginski. His and Tim Daisy's project Four Walls was announced CD of the year 2008 by the Polish internet jazz magazine Diapazon.
As Francesco Martinelli (pointofdeparture.org, December 2010, USA) wrote:
Zimpel's name goes straight into the list of European jazzmen that gave new life to clarinet and bass clarinet, continuing Dolphy's example: Surman, Sclavis, Trovesi, and the like.
Wacław Zimpel, as the first Polish musician in history to receive the prestigious title of Best New Release 2010 - Honorable Mention awarded by All About Jazz for his album Undivided - Passion. It is the fourth album by the composer and also the first of his new Undivided project. Here the clarinetist is accompanied by a remarkable rhythmic section; Klaus Kugel - one of the most outstanding musicians of the European avant-garde (he used to work with Bobo Stenson and Tomasz Stańko), Mark Tokar - prominent Ukrainian double bassist (who recorded with Ken Vandermark and Steve Swellem). To record this extraordinary music, the Undivided trio invited Bobby Few - a legend of world jazz and heir to Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell’s pianism. The American pianist went into history of modern jazz, by recording a memorable album, back in the 60s and 70s, with such renown figures as Albert Ayler, Steve Lacy, Archy Shepp, Frank Wright. Zimpel, while referring to his album Passion, said
The decision to write Passion was motivated by my will to reflect through music on the subject of suffering, pain. And this is the most adept way to speak about it. All those texts are a great source of inspiration. I think that the essence of the Old Testament, New Testament, Zohar, Kabir’s poetry, great texts of Eastern mysticism - they all say the same thing. And this thing should be, I wish it was, the essence of what I’m doing in music.
In 2011 another album was released by Undivided formation, this time they recorded with the legend of jazz clarinet Perry Robinson.
Music critics like to call Zimpel’s music an avant-garde or free jazz, but he prefers the term: 'music of the world'. Recently Zimpel has also found a significant inspiration in folk music. As he says:
The shift towards folk art arises from the fact that there is the essence of creativity that often escapes from our modern world. The importance of folk music is the sound meditation, immersion in sound, the rhythm, and the entrance into a trance.
Saxophonist Ken Vandermark, an extraordinary personality of Chicago jazz, a guru among musicians involved in the improvisation, has referred to Zimpel as one of the greatest musicians of his generation in Europe. In 2012 Vandermark and Zimpel are to perform a series of concerts in Poland, accompanied by the Resonance ensemble as part of Vandermark's experimental jazz project in Poland.
Wacław Zimpel is the leader of: The Light, Hera, Undivided, Four Walls, a member of Ircha group, Reed Trio, Resonance Kena Vandermarka. He was the only Polish musician who performed at this year's Chicago Umbrella Festival, which presents the greatest jazz musicians from around the world. Zimpel presented to the Chicago audience his new group that was composed of American musicians: the guitarist Matt Schneider, drummer Tim Daisy and bassist Devin Hoff. He has performed with the following projects: Mikołaj Trzaska Quartet, Trzaska/Zimpel/Dys, Zimpel/Kusiołęk, Clarinet Summit z Theo Jorgensmannem and Oleś brothers.
In 2016, Zimpel released his first fully solo album Lines on the Instant Classic label. Popular music site The Quietus described the album as a 'spectacular solo statement' and 'yet another essential transmission from modern Poland'.
Author: Ewa Paderewska, February 2011. Updated by AZ, July 2016. Source: popupmusic.pl, Wacławzimpel.pl, TheQuietus.com.