Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

3

Not Two...But Twenty! Festival

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Not Two...But Twenty! Festival
Wlen, Poland
September 21-23, 2018

Intro

There are some things worth celebrating in style, one of them being marked persistence in the face of adversity. That pretty much describes the continued existence of any jazz record label in these straitened times. To mark its 20th anniversary, Not Two Records convened an unprecedented line up of thirteen musicians from nine countries for a three day festival in the small village of Wlen in south-west Poland.

The talent on display was mouth-watering: Peter Brötzmann, Agusti Fernandez, Barry Guy, Mats Gustafsson, Per-Åke Holmlander, Maya Homburger, Zlatko Kaučič, Joëlle Léandre, Rafał Mazur, Paal Nilssen-Love, Steve Swell, Mikolaj Trzaska and Ken Vandermark. Each evening the assembled company performed in different configurations over four sets, which took in everything from hushed quiescence to rampaging drive. What was notable was how consistently they hit the heights.

That so many top names should gather in the bucolic Polish countryside provided eloquent testimony to not only the importance of the Not Two imprint, but also the regard in which label boss and promoter Marek Winiarski is held. Over the last two decades, the label has emerged as one of the world's most adventurous sources of avant-garde jazz, ranking alongside the likes of NoBusiness, Intakt and Clean Feed, and has released over 270 albums since its inception.

Winiarski founded Not Two in 1998 after his first label GOWI folded when his partner, drummer Zdzislaw Gogulski, declined to get involved in CD production. The moniker for the new venture came from the title of one of GOWI's most successful releases which featured reedman Mikołaj Trzaska and a guest appearance by Art Ensemble of Chicago trumpeter Lester Bowie, but also denoted that henceforth Winiarski was in sole command.

On the face of it, a palace in rolling wooded environs of Wlen was not the location you would expect for a festival of avant-garde music. But there are precedents, with other left field events such as the Nickelsdorf Jazz Konfrontationen and the Ulrichsberg Kaleidophon likewise sited far from centers of population. They work on the principle that if the cast is sufficiently appealing, then the people will come. And so it was here too: the concerts took place in front of an enthusiastic select audience of friends, family, supporters and well-wishers from Poland and further afield all of whom had made a special effort to attend.

Barry Guy/Maya Homburger

Winiarski and Not Two have been prominent supporters of English bassist Barry Guy, regularly inviting him for extended residencies as part of the Krakow Jazz Autumn, as well as releasing the results on Mad Dogs (2014), Mad Dogs On The Loose (2015) and Tensegrity (2016). Guy and his wife violinist Maya Homburger began the first evening in splendid fashion, revisiting some of the material from Tales Of Enchantment (Intakt, 2012) which adroitly brings together their passions for Baroque and Contemporary classical music in a synthesis beyond genre. Along with Homburger's recitals on subsequent days, these were the only scores to feature during the festival which otherwise mixed and matched the peerless improvisers in spontaneous creation.

They began with the 9th century hymn, "Veni Creator Spiritus," Homburger playing as she walked up to the stage area from the back of the room, straight away generating a special feel of serenity and contemplation. That was only reinforced by a beautiful interpretation of H.I.F. Bieber's sonata "The Annunciation" after which they moved into slightly more abstract realms with first a haiku-like piece by György Kurtág, and then Guy's title suite from their album.

Though kindred spirits, they reveled in unlikely permutations. At one point Homburger's bat whistle register arco contrasted with a percussive metallic wobble, elicited by Guy placing metal rods between his strings and striking them with a stick. Tuneful fragments materialized from the more austere fabric of exquisite dissonance, creating a surreal dream-like atmosphere. Another sequence utilizing metal rods and scratchy violin attacks gave chance elements to the bravura exhibition, before a thrilling unison dash and terminal flourish. What a start!

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Jazz Migration 2018 Live Reviews
Jazz Migration 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot Live Reviews
Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot
by Doug Hall
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290 Live Reviews
Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290
by Martin McFie
Published: December 9, 2018
Read U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin Live Reviews
U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 9, 2018
Read David Johansen at The Space at Westbury Live Reviews
David Johansen at The Space at Westbury
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 9, 2018
Read Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: December 8, 2018
Read "JazzNorway in a Nutshell 2018" Live Reviews JazzNorway in a Nutshell 2018
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 2, 2018
Read "Matthew Shipp Trio at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Matthew Shipp Trio at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "The Joe Doubleday Quartet at The Jazz Corner" Live Reviews The Joe Doubleday Quartet at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: November 4, 2018
Read "Justin Varnes & Ulysses Owens Jr at The Jazz Corner" Live Reviews Justin Varnes & Ulysses Owens Jr at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: October 6, 2018
Read "Pat Metheny at Merriam Theater" Live Reviews Pat Metheny at Merriam Theater
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 10, 2018
Read "Bill Laswell/Milford Graves/John Zorn at The Stone" Live Reviews Bill Laswell/Milford Graves/John Zorn at The Stone
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 22, 2017