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Jazztopad 2014

Jazztopad 2014
Henning Bolte By

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Jazztopad 2014
November 19-22, 2014

The city of Wroclaw by the Odra river in the southwest of Poland has occupied a pre-eminent position throughout its long turbulent history, and it still does.

The Wroclaw way

Wroclaw's Jazztopad festival is a relatively young one. This applies to the number of editions up to now, which is 11. It applies to its artistic director, Piotr Turkiewicz, and it applies to the age of participating musicians. It is not the average age that is of importance here, but the number of musicians of the young(est) generation and their structural weight on the festival program. It is the Wroclaw way of jazz to jazz.

Actually there is more to mention. First of all the Wroclaw C's: commissions, collaborations/cultural institutes, concert hall/context and Capital of Culture. The nature of the festival is contained in the premieres of works commissioned each year, of world- renowned musicians, that are performed by the ensembles of the National Form of Music, the organizer of the festival. This part of the festival is reported on All About Jazz by Ian Patterson, under the header "Three World Premieres." The Wroclaw way of jazz to jazz.

The collaborations are another important constituent of the festival. Over the years Jazztopad organized two kinds of collaborations. First, collaborations as JazzPlaysEurope, Take Five Europe, and the laboratory Melting Pot Made In Wroclaw—all with young, up-and-coming musicians from different (European) countries. Second, bilateral collaborations with festivals in Europe (Akbank Istanbul/Turkey in this year's edition) and abroad (Seoul/South Korea in this year's edition). The two festivals exchange indigenous artists and ensembles from their countries and present them to their audiences. The Wroclaw way of jazz to jazz. There are still more 'C's that will be dealt with later on. The dense bundling of these components, the interrelatedness of these constituents, may be considered innovative, adventurous and quite unique in the landscape of European jazz festivals. In the next two years Jazztopad will be embedded in two more big 'C's: in a brand-new concert hall in town and in the European Capital of Culture 2016. The Wroclaw way of jazz to jazz.

Polish Jazz Showcase

Due to arrival on the day of the showcase the concerts "in the middle," Mulato Astatke (November 16), Cortex (November 17), Five 38, Hang Em High (November 18) unfortunately could not be covered.

Seven showcases of Polish or Polish-Scandinavian groups were presented at two venues, Wrocław Philharmonic Hall, the main venue, and Centrum Kultury Agora. Two groups, Piotr Damasiewicz Quartet Mnemotaksja and Flesh Machine, played the club Mleczarnia jam sessions and Living Room concerts. All participating musicians are established, experienced musicians of the younger generation having worked in longer existing working units, some with a changing line-up. A couple of them had already played the 2013 edition of Jazztopad—with other groups or partly other line-ups. There is some continuity in the showcases, so the showcases are not one time 'showy' events, but also serve a documentary purpose.

Two groups were headed by a trumpeter (Tomasz Dabrowski, Piotr Damasiewicz), two by a clarinetist (Waclaw Zimpel, Mateusz Rybicki), and the rest of the groups were headed by a violinist (Adam Bałdych), a saxophonist (Maciej Obara), a guitarist (Marek Kądziela) or a pianist (Piotr Orzechowski). One group, Stryjo, a piano trio, acted as (leaderless) equalists.

Showcase 1 (Wrocław Philharmonic Hall)

Clarinetist Wacław Zimpel (1983) can be considered as one of the most profiled Polish musicians of the youngest generation. Classically trained, he draws his main inspiration from sacred and ritual music from various cultures and from the pioneers of Western minimal music. It is unified in the music of his latest album of his nine piece Wacław Zimpel To Tu Orchestra (Nature Moves, ForTune, 2014). Zimpel is a musician with a beautiful tone, great virtuosity, and versatility. He has created a clear profile of a broad musical range (gnawa, Indian and medieval music) and collaborations (amongst others with koto player Michiyo Yagi). He was supposed to perform with his Polish-German quartet (debut album Stone Fog, ForTune (2013)) which by circumstance was reduced to a duo performance with pianist Krzysztof Dys. The duo mostly played contra-alto clarinet and occasionally some exotic flutes, thus rendering a beautiful, captivating, and challenging performance. It was another convincing manifestation of his ability to render good and attractive music in each format-averse to bragging.


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