16th Krakow Jazz Autumn, November, 24–28th (2021)

“Don’t try to understand, just listen,” answered the great Krakow composer Bogusław Schaeffer when asked once how contemporary music should be understood. Reams has been written on how avant-garde, demanding and elitist contemporary improvised music is. The slogan of the 16th Krakow Jazz Autumn is both simple and inclusive: just listen!

Audiences love solo concerts but they can be the most difficult thing of all for the performer, in the same way that theatre monodramas relentlessly test the stage skills of the artist. Ken Vandermark opened his list of solo recordings with the album Furniture Music in 2003 and returned to this formula multiple times (among others, on the album Mark In The Water, released by the Krakow-based label Not Two). The saxophonist and clarinetist opens this year’s festival on 31 October 2021 with a solo performance. Free jazz? There will certainly be plenty of that, but Vandermark also likes to occasionally play solos in the style of Lester Young and other old tenor masters of the 1940s.

Big is beautiful. After all, music is a social activity, and a large orchestra is a micro-community in itself, both colourful and heterogeneous. Outstanding musicians from all over Europe, from Spain to Norway, led by the English double bassist, Barry Guy will perform the premiere of his composition all this this here in Krakow. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” While Samuel Beckett’s words have been a watchword for generations of improvisers, Guy uses them literally in his composition along with poems by Barr Ó Seaghdh’s and haiku from the Edo period. Since the beginning of KJJ, the basis of the large ensemble residency at the festival has been the small ensemble performances at Alchemia Club and during the four days from 24 to 27 November, Barry Guy’s musicians will turn lead into gold in front of you. The finale of the residency features the premiere of all this this here on 28 November at the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre.

Right before the concert at NCK, there will be the premiere of a unique project, “Wandering the Sound(scape): Citimprovisation – The Sounds in Between” by improviser and philosopher Rafał Mazur. Field recordings from Seoul and Krakow will constitute a from of sound score for improvisers from these two cities and will be led by Sunjae Lee and Mazur himself. In the video documenting the project, the urban soundscape will organically combine with the practice of free improvisation and the art of careful listening.

This project is co-produced by Korean Cultural Center in Poland.

This year’s festival is an intimate performance by a giant of the saxophone world, Irish and Japanese poetry and the multi-colourfulness of a large ensemble all immersed in and playing with the city’s audio-sphere. Each of the three central points of this year’s programme opens, as it were, doors through which the, “unrehearsed” audience can enter. There is only one password and that is an easy one to remember: just listen.

BLUE SHROUD BAND – improvised concerts of small ensembles

24-27.11.2021, 8:00 p.m.

Alchemia Club

“Wandering the Sound (scape): Citimprovisation – The Sounds in Between”

28.11.2021, 6 p.m.

Nowohuckie Centrum Kultury

The premiere of a Polish-Korean audiovisual project commissioned by the Korean Cultural Center in Poland (Centrum Kultury Koreańskiej).

BLUE SHROUD BAND final concert of the residence – performance of the composition “all this this here”.

28.11.2021, 8:00 p.m.

Nowohuckie Centrum Kultury

BLUE SHROUD BAND – artistic residence:

Barry Guy – double bass and conducting (Great Britain)

  • Savina Yannatou – voice (Greece)
  • Agusti Fernandez – piano (Spain)
  • Ben Dwyer – guitar (Ireland)
  • Percy Pursglove – trumpet (Great Britain)
  • Maya Homburger – violin (Switzerland)
  • Fanny Paccoud – viola (France)
  • Marc Unternährer – tube (Switzerland)
  • Torben Snekkestad – soprano / tenor / trumpet saxophone (Norway)
  • Michael Niesemann – alto saxophone (Germany)
  • Per “Texas” Johansson – tenor saxophone / clarinet (Sweden)
  • Julius Gabriel – baritone saxophone (Germany)
  • Lucas Niggli – drums (Switzerland)
  • Ramon Lopez – drums (Spain)

“Wandering the Sound (scape): Citimprovisation – The Sounds in Between”


  • Rafał Mazur – acoustic bass guitar
  • Paulina Owczarek – alt saxophone
  • Michał Dymny – electric gitar
  • Tomek Chołoniewski – percussion


  • Sunjae Lee – saxophone
  • Eunyoung Kim – piano
  • Junyoung Song – drums
  • Taekjoon Kim – flute