Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ola Bilinska - Berjozkele (Yiddish Lullabies) [Jewish Historical Institute]

Ola Bilińska - vocal, OP1 synth, electric guitar, vibes, Moogerfooger delay
Michał Moniuszko - double bass
Kacper Szroeder - trumpet, flugelhorn, bielarussian dulcimer
Mikołaj Trzaska - bass clarinet
Raphael Rogiński - electric guitar

The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute 2014

I have recently written shortly about Berjozkele's concert during the Jewish Culture Festival and I promised to write more about the group and their music, available on cd thanks to the support of Jewish Historical Institute. Bilinska's project is in fact of great etnographic, historical interest, in many ways a dive into the past. The album is a collection of yiddish songs of yonder times, before the tragic disappearance of jewish culture in Europe. Thankfully, it's not only a recollection of a lost culture but a modern interpretation of it, an example of its recent revitalization. The presence of Raphael Roginski and Mikołaj Trzaska on the record is somehow symbolic, given the two are greatly responsible for the phenomenon of polish new jewish music.

Berjozkele's music, however, is not only a journey into the past. All the songs are connected by the common theme of night and dream. It's a collection of lullabies, songs that dwell in-between the light of the day and the pitch dark of the night. On the border, following the fine line between real and surreal, tragic and comic, a dream and a nightmare.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Krakow Concert Schedule 27.07-02.08

Apologies for the short delay in presenting the concert recommendations for the upcoming week. As the month of the festivals is nearing its end, there won't be this much live music to follow, but no worries, you won't be left without it either.

29.07. Owczarek / Kolodziejczyk / Ogorek at Galeria i!
A trio session by Cracow's improvisers that will include Paulina Owczarek on baritone, Malwina Kołodziejczyk on tenor saxophone and Ernest Ogorek on bass guitar.

30.07. D.R.A.G at Tak Było
Quartet led by Dominika Rusinowska playing the violin that includes other young and talented musicians as well: Mateusz Gaweda on piano, Jakub Mielcarek on double bass and Józef Rusinowski. The band cites Eric Dolphy, McCoy Tyner, Zbigniew Seifert and John Zorn among their most important inspirations.

02.08. The Blessed Beat at Piec'ART
The Blessed Beat are a trio with David Kollar on guitar, Paolo Raineri on trumpet and Simone Cavina on drums. The group uses plenty of electronics. Those who like the Miles Davis psychodely and surrealism should be satisfied.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Krakow Concert Schedule 20-26.07

Summer break mode is on these days, whether it's sizzling sun or a tropical rain. Fortunately, some good music is still around to keep you company while you try to relax in the evening trying to chill.

20.07. Pawel Kaczmarczyk Audiofeeling Trio at Pod Baranami (Summer Jazz Festival)
Kaczmarczyk's Audiofeeling Trio is definitely one of the most respected jazz piano trio's on a polish stage and is deserves a wider recognition. Which will hopefully happen with their fresh of the press "Something Personal" cd which already has gathered some more than positive reviews.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Warsaw Summer Jazz Days 2015 Summary

I have and undisputed pleasure to follow closely Warsaw Summer Jazz Days in the last few years and it is clear it is one of the main jazz events in the calendar. There are clear difficulties in creating a line-up that will hold a mainstream commercial appeal necessary for the event of the kind, while mantaining some artistic validity. There are only a few household names in jazz today that can guarantee both, and you can't bring Wayne Shorter Quartet every year (although I, personally, wouldn't mind that).

That being said this year's festival, while quite promising, was for me a bit of disappointment. There were not true "wow" and "yeaah" moments that I remember fondly from the previous years (Sun Ra Arkestra, Gregory Porter, Gary Peacock, Matana Roberts or the aforementioned Wayne Shorter to name just a few). I don't like and I don't feel like writing a negative review unless I feel it's necessary to give a true picture of the event. I'll try to focus on the positive in the brief, selective rundown below (chronological order).

Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet
His concert 3 years ago at the festival was, for me, a completely unexpected marvel. He came back to Warsaw with a quartet and confirmed the impression - a brilliant trumpet player with an original sound and forward-thinking composer and leader. He finds great support in the band with Harish Raghavan on bass and Justin Brown on drums. His ballad duo with Sam Harris on the piano was hearbreaking.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Shlomo Bar & Kutiman Orchestra at Krakow Jewish Culture Festival

I've written in the previous post about two concerts of the Festival that I loved for the sense of the intimacy that the concerts created, showing the different side of this big festival. But the big stage has its merits as well and this post is dedicated to the two bands I believe played the best, both in Tempel Synagogue and during the grande finale at Szeroka Street.

Shlomo Bar & Habrera Hativet come first, a concert that was part of "classical" side of the program, but that sounded nothing like the visit in a museum. Shlomo Bar is a charismatic vocalist with a voice strong as a bell. But also a true showman, a percussionist with a gift for stage gesture. The music by the band combines the musical traditions of sephardic Andalusian Jews' mysticism and middle-Easter flavours. The music was full of life, vivid, and managed to make the opposites meet. Majestic and fun. A meditation in the desert. A wedding party in oasis.

The kind of music that has the power to transcend the millenias, as proven by the thousands of people dancing to it this year at Szeroka Street.

Kutiman Orchestra was the last band on stage this year (before the festival's all-star orchestra closed the night) and the deserved this honor without any doubts. A ten man strong unit on stage with plenty of percussion, horns and the leader behind a set of synthesizers that would make any vintage electronica fan drool.
Even as the band hit the first notes, they captured the crowd immediately and filled the space (either Synagore and Szeroka Street) with non-stop grooves, horn sections' punch, funky basslines, psychodelic guitar (with occasional hard rock riff) and and spaced out synth. The Orchestra is an unstoppable dance machine ("What's going down? We're grooving this town"). I believe the Godfather of Soul himself mr. James Brown would say the are bad mothe*uckers.

Fantastic show, if you ever got a chance to see them, don't miss out. Otherwise hunt for the records.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Ori and Berjozkele at Krakow Jewish Culture Festival

The time is running in a fast forward mode, but before I jump to Warsaw Summer Jazz Days festival I have to bring back some music from the last week and a half in Krakow.

Krakow Jewish Culture Festival is a beautiful, massive event, with a grande finale at Szeroka Street, with the daily, majestic concerts at Tempel Synagogue and the handfull of workshops, lectures ecc to go around. Which may be I found two concerts in particular of great value. Both took place in the small and cosy Cheder Cafe which allowed for more intimate musical experience.

And it's hard to be more musically intimate than during the festival's first live concert by an artist from Berlin - ORI. Alone on the small stage, barefoot, probably to get more real feel of the space, with just a mike a small sampler and a keyboard.

Ori's music is an atmospheric mixture of minimal electronica with trippy beats and charming voice. Delicate and intimate, soulfull and nostalgic. Taking inspiration in both folk pop ballad and neo soul music, Ori often loops his own voice in order to create intricately layered arrangements, sings with a lot of feedback to give even more otherworldly quality to his music which seems fit somewhere between the melancholic songs of Bon Iver and ethereal quality of songs by Sigur Ros.

Hypnotizing performance by the songwriter which you should most definitely check out.

Berjozkele  is a project led by Olga Bilinska (vocals, piano, loops), with Michał Moniuszko on double bass, Kacper Szroeder on trumpet and dulcimer and Raphael Roginski on guitar. They play and sing jidysz lullabies, surreal tales of dreams and mysteries. The music is esoteric, it had the me the feeling the Grimm's fables have - that of magical space full of wonder but where terror and sadness lingers in the shadow.

It was truly the music of the night, a mesmerizing performance by the band.

(I'll try to write more soon  about them and their debut cd released december last year)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Krakow Concert Schedule 13-19.07

Just got back from Warsaw Summer Jazz Days which was rather disappointing and makes the memories of Krakow Jewish Culture festival even more precious. I'll get back to both festivals in the next few posts. The main musical events for the following days are related to Summer Jazz Festival with the daily concerts at Piwnica Pod Baranami and Harris Piano Jazz Bar.

Last but not least, Saturday Night is officially the Night of Jazz in Krakow, with plenty of venues participating in the event (also part of the Summer Jazz Festival).

15.07 Joachim Mencel Artisena at Harris Piano Jazz Bar (Summer Jazz Festival)
When Joachim Mencel played with this new project at Starzy i Mlodzi Festival I felt immensely happy - he's back. Artisena features Mencel on piano and hurdy-gurdy playing inspired music with the kind of spiritual energy that I've been waiting for from the pianist for ages.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Warsaw Summer Jazz Days 2015 part 2

Admittedly it's the first half of the festival to feature the household names, but one can be sure there will be some great music in the latter half as well.

3rd day focuses on polish jazz and presents two young piano trios (winners of a national jazz debut competition), and the music of Krzysztof Kobylinski, a talented pianist and composer whose music is appreciated by the likes of Adam Makowicz, Mike Stern or Randy Brecker.
The final evening bring the most alternative lineup to the stage, starting with the improbable mix of reggae warm and northern chill. The temperature will rise with the percussion and passion filled performance with Master Musicians of Jajouka. Last but not least another piano trio, winner of Open Jazz competion for the spot at the festival's schedule, with Mateusz Kolakowski behind the piano, a talented pianist who emerged on polish jazz scene as barely a teenager, has kept under the radar since but seems to be coming back to great form.
It seems to me the last day could be very well the unexpected winner of the festival.

Franciszek Raczkowski Trio
Paweł Wszołek Trio
Joey Calderazzo Trio plays Kobyliński
Krzysztof Kobyliński EtnoJazz Orchestra

3rd day focuses on polish jazz and presents two young piano trios (winners of a national jazz debut competition), and the music of Krzysztof Kobylinski, a talented pianist and composer whose music is appreciated by the likes of Adam Makowicz, Mike Stern or Randy Brecker.

Sly & Robbie meet Nils Petter Molvaer
Bill Laswell Material and the Master Musicians of Jajouka
Kolakowski / Korelus / Wykpisz

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Warsaw Summer Jazz Days 2015

Warsaw Summer Jazz Days remains one of the most important jazz events in Poland, quite successfully balancing the delicate line between commercial and artistic validity. This year's program seems to do that perfectly and I honestly can't wait to be there.

Here's what awaits you in Warsaw on the first two days of the festival at the Soho Factory.

Giovanni Guido Trio 

Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet

Vijay Iyer Trio

Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet

James Carter Organ Trio

Brad Mehldau Trio

A correspondence battle between three piano trios, an upcoming star Giovanni Guido, one of the most intriguing pianists around Vijay Iyer and one of the most established musicians of the genre Brad Mehldau. How will the informal competion turn out? We'll see.

Apart from that you'll have the explosive James Carter with his organ trio, the sophisticated Ambrose Akinmusire (!!! he's performance 3 years ago at the festival was truly fantastic) and, from Marsalis clan, Jason on vibes. Sounds like a recipe for amazing two days.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Krakow Concert Schedule 06-12/07 / Warsaw Summer Jazz Days

25th Krakow Jewish Culture Festival is barely over, yet there's no time to rest (alhtough there will be time to reminiscence - I'll write about my four favourite performances of the festival in the next few days).
The Heat is on, Summer is here, which means plenty of festivals of all sorts. Krakow's Summer Jazz Festival continues with some strong moments this week, Rozstaje / Crossroads has joined Euroradio Folk Festival for a week-long run. Plus Warsaw Summer JAzz Days this year looks mightily fine (I'll cover this festival in a separate post tomorrow). Buckle up, summer is no time to be lazy.

05-12.07 Rozstaje / Crossroads Festival (and Euroradio Folk Festival)
Two mighty folk festivals has joined forces in Krakow this year. 200 musicians, 50 concerts, 4 coninents represented. Any world music afficionado will be satisfied.

Check the program closely at festival's webpage Rozstaje / Crossroads 2015
Any examples? Manou Gallo Groove Orchestra from Ivory Coast sound like a perfect plan for Saturday evening.