Jazztopad Festival 2016



Jason Moran, Wayne Shorter, Hugh Masekela, Marcin Masecki, the musical flavours of Hungary and Japan – these are only a few highlights of the Jazztopad festival programme, which gathers together regular events known and loved by the audience of this annual occasion alongside special commissions and premieres. This year provides a unique opportunity to celebrate, as Wrocław has been announced the 2016 European City of Culture.

Jazztopad, as usual, guarantees a line-up comprising some of the most prominent names in contemporary jazz – and a rich, stylistically diverse programme.

Jason Moran is considered to be one of the best pianists and composers of his generation. The creator of a well-received homage to Thelonious Monk merges his fascinations with post-bop and the avant-garde with hip-hop and contemporary art. His concert in Wrocław will be a special conceptual event themed around gratitude for the Poles' love of jazz, the music of freedom which thrived even under the worst oppression.

Wayne Shorter's performance will be a direct meeting with the living history of jazz. The legendary saxophonist, co-founder of Weather Report and a member of Miles Davis' Quintet, has proven that he remains a great innovator. The performance by Shorter and the LutosAir Quintet (a National Forum of Music ensemble, for this special occasion expanded to a 10-people lineup) is a special commission of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Opening Nights Performing Arts at Florida State University, Monterey Jazz Festival and the National Forum of Music in Wrocław. Other festival highlights will include premiere material from Polish star Marcin Masecki, optimistic and zestful performance by The Rainmakers, while the history of 20th-century music will be heard onstage during the concert of Hugh Masekela – a legend of South African jazz and Afrobeat, who has worked e.g. with Abdullah Ibrahim.

Experiment-seekers will certainly welcome The Necks, whose performances in Poland have been met with great enthusiasm. Tony Buck, Chris Abrahams and Lloyd Swanton (who have maintained the same line-up for 30 years) are famous for their slowly revealing improvisations, during which the artists carefully build sonic "microcosms". Their hypnotic (yet surprisingly accessible) mixture of avant-garde jazz, minimalism and ambient guarantees a fascinating journey into the unknown.

We also recommend the concerts of Colombian pianist Ricardo Gallo, French auteur Thomas de Pourquery and the astonishing clarinettist, François Houle.

Jazz at the National Forum of Music also offers a window onto sounds from various parts of the globe. During this year's edition, we tune our ears to the sounds of Japan and Hungary. It will provide an opportunity to get to know the fascinating Hungarian free jazz scene, represented by AMP Trio, and the improvisational virtuosity of Miklós Lukács, who plays the cimbalom – an instrument heard infrequently in jazz (NFM visitors may remember him from Charles Lloyd's Wild Man Dance). The sonic trip to Japan involves a concert in darkness, from which traditional instruments like the shō, koto and shamisen will emerge – alongside films and an evening of improvisation with e.g. Masahiko Satoh and Akira Sakata.

The programme of this year's edition of the Jazztopad festival includes much more – prepare for an exciting 10-day event full of improvisation, comprising concerts of renowned artists, open jam sessions, workshops, concerts in flats, discussion panels and events for children.