24. Summer Jazz Festival Kraków
Friday, June 28, 2019, 8:00 PM - Sunday, July 28, 2019
He often swears, rarely shaves, wears what he likes, stamps his feet during concerts… In classical music circles, he is still occasionally frowned upon for his loose interpretation of traditions. But Nigel Kennedy never strived for attention from just those circles, preferring instead to look beyond and work on interpretations of other genres, including rock and jazz. He has described his philosophy by saying “I just play what I feel like playing at the time.” During the concert opening the 24th Summer Jazz Festival Kraków, we will hear the premiere of his latest genre-spanning project Nigel Kennedy Plays Jimi Hendrix. On 28 June, the British (and somewhat Polish) violin virtuoso is supported by the American guitar maestro Mike Stern at the Auditorium Maximum of the Jagiellonian University. And the concert is just a taster of the feast awaiting us in July – you will find the detailed menu in the next edition of “Karnet”. (Bartosz Suchecki, “Karnet”)
You hear: Kraków, summertime… You think: jazz! It has been thus for almost a quarter of a century, and we still haven’t had enough!
Some people need sunshine, the beach and palm trees to relax. For music fans, the requirements are rather different: they need an atmospheric space filled with excellent musicians. And although the capital of Małopolska meets those criteria throughout the year, for jazz fans the highlight is the Summer Jazz Festival Kraków (28 June – 28 July). The event made its debut in 1996 as part of the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Piwnica pod Baranami, and over the years it has grown to become the powerhouse it is today. The city’s cult clubs and beautiful backdrops have hosted almost all representatives of the Polish scene and myriad stars from abroad. And this year will be no different!
Virtuosos and legends
The summer celebration of jazz kicked off with a bang in June with music by Jimi Hendrix arranged for Nigel Kennedy’s violin and Mike Stern’s guitar, resounding at the Auditorium Maximum of the Jagiellonian University. The hottest month of the year also gets off to a good start: on 1 July we will hear the premiere of the summer instalment of the cycle Seifert Tour. The concert studio at Radio Kraków presents two winners of the Zbigniew Seifert Violin Competition: Mateusz Smoczyński and Mario Forte from New York. The evening also features Mark Feldman who served as juror at the most recent three competitions.
And that’s just the introduction to the extensive programme of the Summer Jazz Festival Kraków, which includes dozens of concerts held throughout the city. The busiest locations will be Piwnica pod Baranami and Harris Piano Jazz Bar, hosting jazz musicians from Poland and all over the world every day. To start with, we will hear Mike and Leni Stern performing at both clubs. In the following days, Kraków’s stages host the acclaimed violinist Adam Bałdych, first appearing in a duo with Krzysztof Dys on piano and then with his quartet. We will hear an elegant tribute to Jarek Śmietana from Friends AKA Piotr Baron (saxophone), Marek Napiórkowski (guitar), Wojciech Karolak (Hammond organ), Antoni Dębski (guitar) and Adam Czerwiński (percussion). We will meet them again in other configurations later in the summer. Wojciech Karolak and Adam Czerwiński perform with their trios, while Marek Napiórkowski appears with his band and alongside Dorota Miśkiewicz.
Poland’s affair with jazz
In the days that follow we will hear the crème de la crème of Polish jazz, including Kraków’s own Old Metropolitan Band, Jan “Ptaszyn” Wróblewski, Marek Bałata, Bernard Maseli, Aga Zaryan, Piotr Wyleżoł and Krzesimir Dębski with his project Grooveoberek. And of course the festival welcomes guests from abroad. Kraków hosts the passionate alto saxophonists Rosario Giuliani from Italy, the Austrian Simsa Fünf intertwining jazz with chamber, film and folk music, the bassist Mike Parker from New York, the Italian pianist Roberto Magris, the British vocalist with a voice of an angel Wayne Ellington and his guitar virtuoso compatriot Keith Thompson, the Spanish flautist María Toro and the AMC Trio from Slovakia.
And we can’t wait to hear the results of fantastic transnational collaborations: the guitarist Szymon Mika joins forces with the Israeli percussionist Ziv Ravitz, while the leading pianist of the European jazz school Vladislav “Adzik” Sendecki appears alongside the German percussionist Jürgen Spiegel in their project Two in the Mirror. The traditional Jazz Band Ball Orchestra performs with the American pianist and vocalist Stanley Breckenridge and the vocalist Paulina Auguścik takes us to the dazzling land of Brazilian music with Paulinho Garcia.
Nights and days
On 7 July, the centre of Kraków will feel like the cradle of jazz. The New Orleans Sunday opens with a series of concert: cafés around the Main Market Square and in front of Galeria Krakowska shopping centre host the Jazz Band Ball Orchestra, Boba Band, Old Metropolitan Band, Swing & Sway and Hot Swing. After the traditional parade through the Main Market Square, the JBBO – accompanying us throughout the day – is joined by Wayne Ellington, Jan “Ptaszyn” Wróblewski, Wojciech Karolak and Przemek Dyakowski.
And it’s time to take a deep breath after the first wave of attractions, because we’ll be diving even deeper into music! On 13 July, during Jazz Night, waves of music fill the city until dawn. Participating musicians include the Sophia Grand Club quintet from Rzeszów, authors of the album 4 am, performing at Piwnica pod Baranami (more about the nighttime events here).
Fascinating, worthwhile, essential
An important point on the festival map will be the Manggha Museum, hosting three special concerts. On 9 July, soul and funk meets jazz as part of the project The Spy Killers created by the American saxophonist Bill Evans. The multi-Grammy winner trumpeter Terence Blanchard and his ensemble The E-Collective present their blend of jazz fusion, hip-hop, blues and R&B on 17 July. The festival closes on 28 July with the EGM Trio of virtuosos: percussionist Peter Erskine, bassist Eddie Gomez and pianist Dado Moroni.
Fans of keyboards should tune their ears to the Solo Piano Week (4-10 July): during the opening at the Academy of Music we will hear Vladislav Sendecki and Mateusz Pałka; we then move to the Piec Art club to hear recitals by Roberto Magris, Bogdan Hołownia, Paweł Kaczmarczyk, Kuba Płużek, Dominik Wania and Piotr Orzechowski.
Concerts held at Alchemia and Jazz Club u Muniaka will be equally fascinating even if less crowded with performers. The Kazimierz club hosts Mikołaj Trzaska’s trio, while brothers Marcin and Bartłomiej Oleś present their programme Komeda Ahead with the German vibraphonist Christopher Dell. At the club at Floriańska Street, Roberto Magris and Przemek Dyakowski with their ensemble pay homage to the club’s founder and pioneer of free jazz in Europe.
We say goodbye to this year’s festival at the courtyard of the Pod Baranami Palace accompanied by the legendary Laboratorium and their guests. After devouring such a huge dose of jazz, perhaps it’s time to head to the seaside, get comfortable on the beach, reach for a drink with a paper umbrella and ponder on the sounds we heard in July? Make sure to stock up! (Bartosz Suchecki, ”Karnet”)
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