Pianist Uri Caine captivates at EJN

EJN-7

Year in, year out the Europe Jazz Network (EJN) conference moves from one country to another in the 'Old World', and the choice of Wroclaw in Poland seems more than progressive in 2016. Jazztopad, one of the city's marquee cultural events has become increasingly universal in its outlook, running a number of exchange programmes with artists from Korea and India, as well as America and Europe.

Fittingly, the choice of Panamanian pianist and UNESCO artist for Peace Danilo Perez as keynote speaker underlines the 'beyond borders' ethos of the EJN, which is very welcome at a time when the words 'European' and 'Union' do not appear to be in total harmony. 'Listen Up' is the theme of the conference, and that applies to how we lend an ear to jazz as well as how the various actors in the jazz industry, from programmers and festival directors to booking agents and producers, all of them EJN delegates, engage with communities.

In the main concert hall of the imposing Narodowe Forum Muzyki Perez makes a quite rousing address that convincingly demonstrates the role that jazz has played as a force for good, both in his country of origin and other territories in which he has performed. Giving concrete examples of individual and collective empowerment, often by way of improvisation as 'music therapy' for the disenfranchised, Perez manages to counter the misgivings of even the most diehard of cynics and sets the tone for two days of panel discussions that take the idea of listening into related areas like audience development, the spaces where people engage with music and inter-event collaboration.

Perhaps more importantly, Perez is a vibrant presence throughout the event, attending sessions, chatting with delegates, and generally exuding a joie de vivre that did not stop him talking frankly about unsavoury events such as the US invasion of Panama in 1989 or more uplifting issues such as Wayne Shorter asking him to create 'water chords' when he joined the celebrated saxophonist's quartet.

Discussions aside, the EJN conference throws the spotlight on the jazz scene of the host country, and this year Poland impresses through its stylistic diversity as well as originality. Every night three to four bands perform showcases in one of the smaller NFM auditoriums, and the highlights come thick and fast. In terms of sheer shock value, the pick of the bunch is pianist Marcin Masecki, whose wily deconstruction of ragtime has the audience rocking in their seats such is the sheer exuberance and verve with which the music is performed. Hammering away on a six-octave upright that looked as if it had come straight from a Harlem rent party, Masecki, by way of judicious liberties with time and space, shows just how 'modernistic', to quote his source of inspiration, James P. Johnson, this early incarnation of jazz could be. What further enhances the set is the accompaniment of drummer Jerzy Rogiewicz, whose use of brushes on a pared-down kit emphasises the maximum creativity that can be drawn from a minimalist set-up. It is focused energy rather than brash noise.

EJN-4

The piano trio, rather than piano-drums duo, is a more common vehicle elsewhere, and the exponents give a wide range of results. Karnas Formula is actually a quartet, fronted by singer Grzegorz Karnas, that works better when he opts out. Karnas has a good voice and impressive technique, but the juvenile nature of many of his lyrics and the histrionics of his phrasing mean that the music gains more from his absence, especially when drummer Sebastian Frankiewciz starts to stretch out. Aga Derlak's trio shows substantial maturity beyond its tender years and could develop into a contender in the field. However, the group that wows the audience, in no uncertain terms, is that of Marcin Wasilewski. The former Tomasz Stanko rhythm section has taken its natural chemistry to a high level, and though subtlety is one of its strengths, so too is groove. A rollercoaster version of Herbie Hancock's fusion classic 'Actual Proof', in which double bassist Stawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz nail the constant twists and turns of the piece with immensely soulful authority, proves a fitting climax to a great set.

EJN-5

While alto saxophonist Maciej Obara's quartet, clarinet trio Lem and solo clarinetist Waclaw Zimpel also acquit themselves well, the other highpoint of the programme is the collaboration between American pianist Uri Caine and Polish string quartet Lutoslawski. Though his profile is not commensurate with his talent, Caine remains a composer and improviser of great ambition and his ability to blur boundaries, not just between scored and solo parts but between the role of leadership and accompaniment, is striking. The string players appear to take the initiative as much as read written material that crackles with rhythmic electricity and glows with harmonic ingenuity. They are a great example of Euro-American synergy, having first worked together at the Jazztopad festival several years ago. It is a beautiful homecoming, an appetiser for the next edition in November.

– Kevin Le Gendre
– Photos by Slawek Przerwa  

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Julian Lage brings Appalachian jazz apocalypse to Pizza Express

Julian Lage brings Appalachian jazz apoc…

Perhaps it's a canny coincidence that's there's a tune on...

Read More.....
Marlene Verplanck 1933-2018

Marlene Verplanck 1933-2018

  On stage, Marlene Verplanck stood quite still, diminutive and always...

Read More.....
Sons of Kemet burn at New York’s Winter Jazzfest

Sons of Kemet burn at New York’s Winter …

Winter Jazzfest is a big deal in New York City...

Read More.....
Alexander Hawkins/Elaine Mitchener Quartet captivate at Kings Place

Alexander Hawkins/Elaine Mitchener Quart…

The conventions of a jazz performance are so well established...

Read More.....
Baptiste Curates Capital Coltrane Day

Baptiste Curates Capital Coltrane Day

Award-winning saxophonist and Jazzwise 2017 end-of-year-chart podium-maker Denys Baptiste curates...

Read More.....
Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan, Andy Sheppard, Nigel Kennedy and Roller Trio added to Cheltenham Jazz Festival line-up

Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan, Andy Sheppar…

Things are hotting up for this year's 22nd edition of...

Read More.....
Cloudmakers Five make it rain with new album and tour

Cloudmakers Five make it rain with new a…

Vibrant vibes-led group Cloudmakers – the long-running trio featuring vibes...

Read More.....
Scottish saxophonist Helena Kay wins Peter Whittingham Award

Scottish saxophonist Helena Kay wins Pet…

Emerging Scottish saxophonist/bandleader Helena Kay (pictured) has been announced as...

Read More.....
Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy talks about Classic Album Sunday sessions at Jazz Café

Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy talks about Class…

Camden Town's revamped Jazz Cafe presents series of album playbacks...

Read More.....
Pharoah Sanders Flips Lids Alongside Vilnius Fest's International Cast (Mama Jazz Report Pt.2)

Pharoah Sanders Flips Lids Alongside Vil…

Vilnius Mama Jazz is the younger sibling of the three-decades-old Vilnius...

Read More.....
Impulse! Records signs Sons Of Kemet and Shabaka & The Ancestors

Impulse! Records signs Sons Of Kemet and…

British saxophonist and bandleader Shabaka Hutchings and two of the...

Read More.....
Roswell Rudd 17/11/35 – 21/12/17

Roswell Rudd 17/11/35 – 21/12/17

Trombonist Roswell Rudd, who lost his battle with cancer at...

Read More.....
Gilles Peterson presents new generation of UK jazz on We Out Here

Gilles Peterson presents new generation …

The current wave of young UK jazz is showcased on...

Read More.....
Liudas Mockūnas Leads Lithuanian Charge At Vilnius' Mother Of All Jazz Fest (Mama Jazz Report Pt.1)

Liudas Mockūnas Leads Lithuanian Charge …

The absolute highlight of the Vilnius Mama Jazz festival was a...

Read More.....
Jazzwise wishes you all Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Jazzwise wishes you all Merry Christmas …

Jazzwise daily news will return January 2018. Wishing all our readers...

Read More.....
John Critchinson 1934 – 2017

John Critchinson 1934 – 2017

If popularity could be measured in monetary terms, then John...

Read More.....
Kurt Elling and Tommy Smith make midwinter magic with the SNJO

Kurt Elling and Tommy Smith make midwint…

There's a case for Christmas concerts staged in venerable Scottish...

Read More.....
Binker & Moses Captivate With Calypso-Influenced Improv At Helsinki's We Jazz

Binker & Moses Captivate With Calyps…

As Finland celebrates its centenary as an independent state this...

Read More.....
Sunny Murray 1937 – 2017

Sunny Murray 1937 – 2017

  Drummer Sunny Murray, who passed away on 7 December, will...

Read More.....
Fifth edition of Jazz FM Awards to take place on International Jazz Day in 2018

Fifth edition of Jazz FM Awards to take …

The Jazz FM Awards will return in 2018 at Shoreditch...

Read More.....
Theo Croker Cracks Corker At Jazz Jantar, Gdańsk

Theo Croker Cracks Corker At Jazz Jantar…

Jazz Jantar is one of the less well-known Polish festivals...

Read More.....
Diplomatic Don: Kurt Elling Crosses Borders In St. Petersburg

Diplomatic Don: Kurt Elling Crosses Bord…

Being an American jazz singer in St. Petersburg is a...

Read More.....
Columbia/Legacy’s Bootleg Series continues with Vol.6 Miles Davis & John Coltrane - The Final Tour

Columbia/Legacy’s Bootleg Series continu…

The widely acclaimed Miles Davis Bootleg Series issues its sixth...

Read More.....
Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans Goes Dutch at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans Goes Dutch at P…

Award-winning Dutch trumpeter Eric Vloeimans (above) is set to play...

Read More.....
Headliners Huff-N-Puff As Tomeka Reid Shines At Jazztopad

Headliners Huff-N-Puff As Tomeka Reid Sh…

  This 14th edition of the nine-day Jazztopad festival in Wroclaw...

Read More.....
Braxton Cracks On With Harp-Heavy OTO Residency

Braxton Cracks On With Harp-Heavy OTO Re…

Celebrated saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton brings his semi-scripted gamut...

Read More.....
Vula Viel, Nérija and Sloth Racket engage at Elgar Room

Vula Viel, Nérija and Sloth Racket engag…

The Royal Albert Hall's highly accommodating venue-within-a-venue the Elgar Room...

Read More.....
Ben Riley 17/07/33 – 18/11/17

Ben Riley 17/07/33 – 18/11/17

This year's Thelonious Monk centenary events have rightly focused on...

Read More.....
George Avakian 15/3/1919 – 22/11/2017

George Avakian 15/3/1919 – 22/11/2017

  There never was a jazz record producer more important than...

Read More.....
Haino Hands On The Benjamins

Haino Hands On The Benjamins

Japanese ultra-shaman Keiji Haino has hooked up with US sludge-metal...

Read More.....
Bill Frisell, Franco D'Andrea feat. Han Bennink and the Italian new wave signal JAZZMI's ambition

Bill Frisell, Franco D'Andrea feat. Han …

 Milan's new jazz festival is inspired by London and it's...

Read More.....
Sun Ra Arkestra, Maceo Parker and Interchange Dectet gather for Gateshead 2018

Sun Ra Arkestra, Maceo Parker and Interc…

The line-up for next year's Gateshead International Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....
Donny McCaslin, Dinosaur and Jason Moran added to Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2018 programme

Donny McCaslin, Dinosaur and Jason Moran…

The first names have been announced for the 22nd edition...

Read More.....
Mike Stern trips back to top form at Ronnie Scott’s

Mike Stern trips back to top form at Ron…

"Awesome!'' "That's great!" "Thank you so much". Mike Stern's bonhomie...

Read More.....
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society sound sinister and sublime at Kings Place

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society sound…

  There are very few composers now writing world class material...

Read More.....
The Thing Ring The Changes At Rich Mix

The Thing Ring The Changes At Rich Mix

To prise apart the increasingly converging din of his two...

Read More.....

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Friday avant-metal jazz feeling with Atheist https://t.co/O5fn4J0t8k @KirkdaleBooks @avantgardejazz @GrimKim… https://t.co/a363gCETtP
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Seeing Yo La Tengo light up Twitter-Town reminds of this, their boogie-vicious version of Sun Ra's anti-atomic ass-… https://t.co/NtXueLYelK
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter

 

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA