Polish Jazz Festival takes over Tel Aviv

One of the most fascinating facets of jazz is its ability to acquire nuances in different parts of the world without losing its gender identity.

While the core of the discipline remains largely African American, and anyone looking to advance in the field of jazz simply has to gain a deep understanding of the basics of rhythms, once they have the grammar and syntax. of the musical. language on your system, you can take off as you like. In business, this is called “finding your own voice.”

Adam Pieronczyk has had a good idea of ​​where he’s coming from and where he might be heading, for some time now. The 51-year-old Polish reedman is one of the prominent names on the list for the second edition of the Polish Jazz Festival, which will take place at Terminal 4 in Tel Aviv, from November 17 to 19, with the action live complemented. for some online projections of jazz venues in Poland.

The festival started last year only in virtual format, under the auspices of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Poland, the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv and the Israel Jazz Society, with Barak Weiss as artistic director.

The same team is fully on board this year as well, with Weiss lining up an impressive array of local community leaders, including pianist Anat Fort and saxophonist Daniel Zamir, who, in pre-crown times, kept busy at the Festival. world jazz and club circuit.

POLISH SAXAPHONIST Adam Pieronczyk is headlining the festival this week. (credit: IGNACY MUTASZEWSKI)

Local jazz fans will be delighted to have the opportunity to take part in a three-day festival and will no doubt be particularly intrigued by Pieronczyk’s inclusion on the show. The saxophone is a recognized powerhouse of the European jazz scene, and as a boundless exponent of the wilder side of jazz tracks, although it certainly isn’t averse to some ballads either.

The saxophonist, composer, conductor and producer has amassed an extensive discography of 25 albums, beginning with Temathe – Water Conversations, released when he was just 25 years old.

Their latest album, I’ll Color Around It, is a quartet getaway that ranges from pure jazz to all manner of stylistic dynamics, including abstract sonic tapestries and spicy rock games.

Betwixt, Pieronczyk created an eclectic catalog featuring duet projects with renowned compatriot pianist Leszek Modzer and three releases alongside internationally acclaimed Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous.

He also quickly progressed along his professional learning curve thanks to the bunks of chaperones like the famous Polish avant-garde trumpeter Tomasz Stanko.

“I was lucky enough to work with him a lot,” says Pieronczyk.

It was also inspired by the work of the iconic Polish pianist and composer Krzysztof Komeda, who would have turned 90 this year and is honored on the festival program.

THEN AGAIN, growing up in communist Poland didn’t make it easy for the budding artist to wrap his young ears around the work of the titans of the world scene.

That was compounded by the fact that he lived in distant Elblag, near the Baltic Sea, almost 300 kilometers north of Warsaw. It wasn’t exactly the center of any cultural world.

“I worked with a lot of great guys, but on the other hand, it wasn’t always possible, especially in a small town, to get Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea or John Coltrane or Charlie Parker records. Any.”

On the east side of the Iron Curtain, jazz was sometimes enthusiastically promoted by the Communist authorities, who wanted to show Americans that they could excel in the Americans’ own art form. So without a word of warning, it would suddenly become taboo, and playing jazz could land you in a prison cell or exile in Siberia or some other equally inhospitable environment.

Fortunately for Pieronczyk, he was still young when the Soviet Union began to crumble, but it was still nearly impossible to hear America’s fountain music. There were all sorts of pirated recordings artfully transferred to unlikely formats, including X-rays, but Pieronczyk mostly listened to records by local artists, which, he notes, “were pretty good.”

Still, the young man had an advantage in the majority.

“I come from a family of musicians,” he explains. “My father is a clarinet, saxophonist and teacher. My parents, of course, pressured me to play an instrument. “

Like many children around the world, he began to play the piano, but could not muster the “sitzfleisch” necessary to follow it.

“I played the piano for a couple of years, but I quickly started hating it,” he laughs. “I had to practice while my friends played soccer.”

But that was by no means the end of the young man’s interest in forging an active role on the music scene. “It was not so bad for me to give up the piano. I was always surrounded by music. I listened to a lot of pop music in the 80s, which was very interesting, and I was a DJ. “

His active initial bet was about to skyrocket.

“Breakdancing came along and I really got into it,” he laughs. “I really loved it”.

The form of street dance became popular in California and New York in the 1970s, but, like most Western cultural developments, it took a while to pass to the other side of the Iron Curtain.

It wasn’t long before Pieronczyk found his true and enduring means of artistic expression, despite opposition from parents. “When I was 16 or 17, I thought about playing another instrument and, thanks to my dad, there was a saxophone at home. I thought it looked great, but my parents said they weren’t going to spend any more money on music lessons for me after I quit the piano. “

But the teenager could not be denied. Rather than dissuade him, his parents’ skepticism spurred him on. “That was what I called positive-negative motivation. I was a little upset, but in my psyche I said that I was going to show it to him. I really fell in love with the saxophone. “

Over time, he won over his parents and, in fact, showed them that he was serious about making advances with the instrument. Nobody stopped him. “I started practicing eight to ten hours a day. My dream came true. I appreciate it much more. If I had continued with the piano, maybe by now I would be a little bored with the piano. “

Pieronczyk is anything but boring with the saxophone: he plays tenor and soprano, as well as an Arabic reed instrument called the zoucra, although he expresses a preference for the higher register saxophone. Over the years, he has expanded and improved his production, taking on additional cultural baggage from his forays around the world, which include being the artistic director of the Jazz au Chellah Festival in Rabat, Morocco.

He’s also no stranger to electronically powered textures, which, he says, are inspired by the ’80s pop music of his youth, but he tends to keep up with it fueled by his muses. “I am fortunate to be able to earn a living playing the music that I want to play: the melodic style, the rhythmic style, the harmonic style and also what I call open music or improvised music.”

PIERONCZYK OPENS the festival proceedings on November 17 at 8pm, alongside the equally unrestricted Fort in what promises to be an intriguing journey into the unknown.

Then at 10:30 pm, the reedman will lead a trio excursion to some of his own letters.

With other slots taking a Brazilian approach to Chopin’s work, and various other culturally flavored readings by the Polish pianist and composer from the Romantic era, the Polish Jazz Festival should keep the audience’s ears well tuned and ready.


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