Jazztopad Festival presents: The best of Polish Jazz in the U.S.



For the second time a special edition of Wrocław’s Jazztopad Festival will take place in the homeland of Jazz, the United States, in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute New York. In June and July leading Polish jazz ensembles the Piotr Damasiewicz Quintet, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio, the Obara International Quartet, and the Lutosławski Quartet (well-known for their partnerships with outstanding international jazz musicians) will perform in New Haven, New York, Washington DC, and Bolton Landing. Stars of previous editions of Jazztopad, including Tony Malaby and Uri Caine, will join the Polish musicians.

Artists from Poland will play at the prestigious Jazz at Lincoln Center and during the famous International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven with Bang on a Can All-Stars, in the cult New York club Jazz Standard, at Williamsburg’s dynamically developing National Sawdust, at the Sembrich Opera Museum in Bolton Landing, and other well-known music venues.

"The American edition of Jazztopad Festival will be above all an opportunity to discover the most important artists from the Polish contemporary jazz scene. Jazztopad Festival presents, apart from regular concerts, special projects and commissions, as well as concerts in private apartments. I am happy we have been able to transfer these specific elements of our festival across the Atlantic Ocean,” says Piotr Turkiewicz, Artistic Director of the Festival. This is the first presentation of Polish jazz on a large scale in the USA.

The Polish jazz scene has been a strongly recognizable brand in the word, both in terms of quality of festivals and the craft of artists. For twelve years, Wroclaw’s Jazztopad Festival has commissioned works which often push the boundaries of genre and combine jazz with classical music.  The festival collaborates with events all over the world, including the Korean Jarasum International Jazz Festival, Japan’s Tokyo Jazz Festival, Turkish Akbank Jazz Festival and as of last year, Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. CD recordings of Jazztopad events are released by the most prestigious international labels, including ECM and Blue Note Records.

The Piotr Damasiewicz Quintet (Piotr Damasiewicz - trumpet, Gerard Lebik – saxophone, Maksymilian Mucha – double bass, Artur Tuźnik – piano, Krzysztof Dziedzic - percussion) is a new project led by one of the most original trumpeters on the Polish jazz scene. The quintet is the product of a 15-year collaboration between Damasiewicz and Lebik, two outstanding contemporary jazz performers. In his multi-faceted creative work, Piotr Damasiewicz draws from free jazz, modal jazz, free improv, and also composes for big lineups. Damasiewicz’s collaborations include Portugal’s Red Trio, Spinifex VeNN Circles, and Escape Art Quintet. He has been a member of international creative platforms, such as Take Five Europe 2013 and the European Jazz Network. The Saxophonist Gerard Lebik is an experienced and mature musician whose explorations take him to various realms of music. He is recognized as the heir to the unique phrasing and sound of the legendary saxophone virtuoso Tomasz Szukalski. Gerard is active in improvisation, as well as experimental and intermedia music. He has authored several installations and sound interventions. Other members of the Piotr Damasiewicz Quintet are outstanding improvisers, open to new artistic challenges, experienced in playing in numerous venues. Krzysztof Dziedzic is among the best Polish jazz drummers, playing concerts with the greatest jazz artists, and is a long-standing collaborator of Szukalski’s. Maksymilian Mucha and Artur Tuźnik are exceptionally talented, award-winning musicians of the younger generation, with successful performances in and outside Poland to their credit.

The Marcin Wasilewski Trio (Marcin Wasilewski – leader, piano, Sławomir Kurkiewicz – double bass, Michał Miśkiewicz – drums) is the most famous Polish jazz trio and the only all-Polish group in the catalogue of ECM Records, universally hailed as the world’s most important jazz recording company. The Marcin Wasilewski Trio combines jazz tradition and modernity in the very challenging formula of piano trio, key to the modern jazz. At the same time the trio has been able to find its own recognizable voice. The Marcin Wasilewski Trio is acclaimed as one of outstanding and unique jazz formations of their generation, enjoying recognition in Poland and abroad. In 2013 the group celebrated 20 years in the same lineup. For 15 years the trio teamed up with Tomasz Stańko and his quartet, recording a number of albums for ECM and playing concerts around the world. The Trio members have collaborated with artists such as Jan Garbarek, Gianluigi Trovesi, John Surman, Louis Sclavis, Arthur Blythe, Joe Lovano, Bernt Rosengren, Dino Saluzzi, Bobo Stenson, Anders Jormin, Manu Katché, and Jon Christensen. Marcin Wasilewski is a pianist revered not only by jazz fans. DownBeat magazine named him a rising jazz piano star. In 2015 he won the Polish Phonographic Academy’s Fryderyk award for best Jazz artist of the year. The trio’s latest album, Spark of Life, won a Fryderyk for the Best Album of the Year. This was the third Fryderyk awarded to the trio, and the eighth to Marcin Wasilewski.

After last year’s successful tour of the USA and Canada, the Wrocław festival will again present the Obara International Quartet. Saxophonist Maciej Obara is among the most active Polish musicians in the European Jazz scene. His collaborators have included Tomasz Stańko and musicians from the New York School of Improvisational Music: Ralph Alessi, Mark Helias and Nesheet Waits. With his international quartet featuring outstanding pianist Dominik Wania and a Scandinavian rhythm section, over the last three years he has performed at the most important international jazz festivals. Dominik Wania, known for his collaborations with the leading figures of Polish Jazz, studied at the New England Conservatory with Danilo Perez, helping him to develop a wide range of improvisational techniques. Ole Morten Vaagan (double bassist and composer) is co-founder with the legendary Mathias Eick of MOTIF, one of the most interesting Norwegian groups of the younger generation. Vaagan is known for his collaborations with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano and Jorge Rossi. Gard Nilssen (drums) has is behind projects such as the free jazz improvisational trio Puma (hailed by DownBeat in 2010 as one of the most innovative improvisational music groups), the free-jazz group Bushman’s Revenge and Acoustic Unity with André Roligheten and Petter Eldh (Clean Feed). Arild Andersen is also a regular collaborator.

A resident ensemble of the National Forum of Music (Wrocław, Poland), the Lutosławski Quartet has been going from strength to strength for ten years – they began their anniversary year with a nomination for a BBC Music Magazine Award. They have performed at numerous prestigious festivals, such as the Klara Festival in Brussels and the Ankara Music Festival in Turkey. Their collaborators include Bruno Canino, Paul Gulda, the Silesian String Quartet, the Royal String Quartet, Jacek Kaspszyk, Tomasz Strahl, Ryszard Groblewski, Nicholas Daniel, Eugene Indjic, Michel Lethiec and outstanding jazz artists Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, and Uri Caine. With Krzysztof Jakowicz and Andrzej Bauer they recorded their first CD with chamber music by Witold Lutosławski (CD Accord). Their main specialty is 20th century music, with an emphasis on raising the awareness of Polish music. But their repertoire includes Classical and Romantic works as well as jazz. The Lutosławski Quartet will perform with the legendary Uri Caine at this year’s Jazztopad.

The pianist Uri Caine has recorded 25 CDs as a leader. His commissions include the Wiener Volksoper, The Seattle Chamber Players, Relache, the Beaux Arts Trio Kammerorchester Basel, Concerto Köln and The American Composers Orchestra. Caine was Music Director of the Venice Biennale in September 2003. From 2006-2009 he was a composer-in-residence of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 2009 he was nominated for Grammy for Othello Syndrome. Caine said of his collaboration on a piece commissioned by Jazztopad: “Writing music for Lutosławski Quartet was a great pleasure. Lutosławski Quartet is excellent musicians, our rehearsals were long, but we had great fun. We created together to make something extraordinary happen.”

Tony Malaby joins the Polish musicians for the concert at Cornelia Street Cafe. Malaby is a virtuoso of tenor and soprano saxophone, with over 70 albums to his credit. He gives regular concerts and workshops around the world, and critics more and more often draw our attention to the characteristic, charming style of his compositions. Malaby has performed and recorded with artists including Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Wadada Leo Smith, William Parker, Mark Dresser Joachim Kühn and Kenny Wheeler. He runs trios and quartets which distinguish themselves with their original sound and a focused composition-oriented approach also when they improvise collectively. Recently Malaby’s groups have featured the drummers: Paul Motian, Tom Rainey and John Hollenbeck, the double bassists: William Parker and Drew Gress, the cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and the trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith.

The American edition of the Jazztopad Festival is presented by the National Forum of Music, Polish Cultural Institute New York, in collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center, International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Jazz Standard, Cornelia Street Cafe, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Super Club, HappyLucky no.1, National Sawdust, and The Sembrich Museum.

Piotr Turkiewicz – Artistic Director
Andrzej Kosendiak – General Director
Anna Perzanowska – Executive Producer

Magdalena Kaczmarczyk – Festival Coordinator