The Polish improvised music scene

Paulina Owczarek
From its very inception, Krakow Jazz Autumn has not only featured stars of the international improvisation scene and provided a stage for the most interesting phenomena in this genre from around the world, but has also served as a forum at which particularly promising artists on the Polish scene have an opportunity to show what they’re capable of.

This was the case when Vandermark’s Resonance project first burst onto the scene. The group initially contained Mikołaj Trzaska and later, Wacław Zimpel as well, and these musicians also feature in the group that is returning to Krakow Jazz Autumn as one of the primary attractions, glowing with the success it has garnered all over the world.

And on Saturday evening 23 November, a day before the grand finale at the Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology – which features Resonance as the star act – there will be an opportunity to hear the Warsaw-based duo of Paweł Postaremczak and Paweł Szpura at Alchemia. This group will be turning to the sax-percussion duo approach to the grand free jazz tradition stamped with the initials of the legendary John Coltrane and Rashid Ali.

Just after their concert, quite possibly one of the most intriguing bands on today’s improvised music scene – Wrocław’s Imprographic – will be stepping onto the stage. The group’s lineup features the more and more highly rated trumpeter and conceptualist Piotr Damasiewicz, Gerard Lebik, who is probably the most interesting tenor saxophonist on our scene, Max Mucha on double bass and the famous Portuguese percussionist Gabriel Ferrandini.

Before November’s big events, when the festival stage will mainly be occupied by small groups selected from Mats Gustafsson’s Nu Ensemble, you are also encouraged to attend concerts by two duos that have extremely surprising instrumental lineups and musical conceptions that are unusual by any standards.

First of all, Paulina Owczarek, a baritone saxophonist familiar to Kraków’s concertgoers, will be playing in a duo with another baritonist who is active in Gdańsk, Tomek Gadecki. They will be followed a day later by a Kraków-Warsaw combo comprised of Rafał Mazur on acoustic bass guitar and Dominik Strycharski on recorders and electronics.