Krakow here I come

Maly Rynek Square, Krakow


I can’t help it., but I’m really quite excited about this one. I’ve been invited to see, to hear and to write about the 2009 Krakow Jazz Festival.

The main events are on from July 16th to 19th. Artists-in-residence are the mighty NDR Big Band from Hamburg .. Guest artists working with the band are Maria Schneider,Joe Lovano,Joao Bosco.

Here’s the full programme.

And on 18th July, in the square in the historic town centre pictured above , I will witness the musical homecoming to Krakow of the NDR Big Band’s pianist since 1996,Wladyslaw Sendicki, a massive musician with his roots in Krakow, and with a real story to tell.


Władysław Sendecki is universally known as Adzik. He was born in the small Polish town of Gorlice, cut hus musical teeth in Krakow. I interviewed him.

As a child Adzik was being groomed to be a classical virtuoso pianist. “I was meant to be Horovitz. I practised 10-12 hours a day. People with passion and idealism were right behind me helping me. They didn’t just give me the lesson, they didn’t just look at the Dienstplan (timetable). They gave so much more, everything I needed.”

He explained to me that: “what makes a Polish artist is a whole soul, a spirit, a message. In Poland the arts have to SAY something. We don’t play music just for fun. There’s always a meaning to what we do. It’s always been like that. Think of Chopin.”

Well, as a teenager he was playing a lot of jazz, and rock and pop. And it was those intense convictions, plus an increasing awareness through music of a free world beyond the Eastern bloc which eventually made him leave Poland , for good, in 1981.

He keeps that idealism and that intensity. Freedom tolerance, openness, human rights, all that was missing for so long are the things he talks about. Azdik’s work is coloured by deep convictions. “I want to feel, to be a world citizen”, he says.

I’ve been listening to his album “Piano” on Provocateur Records. There’s that depth and intensity allied to huge musicianship. Keith Jarrett admirers – this album will take you straight to a world you are very familiar with. And then beyond.


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Sendecki has written Anima Mundi, a “story with pictures” for the NDR Big Band, of which he is an integral part. It is the result of having travelled widely throughout the world and absorbed a range of musical cultures. The suite starts in Africa, travels through Indonesia, passes through the Slavic countries. There are dialogues written in with musicians from different musical heritages. “Composing Anima Mundi was about the idea of tolerance. It’s about people entering into a dialogue, without losing their individual identities.”

Anima Mundi will be the culmination of a marathon gig in the historic Mali Rynek square. “Night of Jazz” has its own website. Here are the details from it of programme for the evening. There are five sets. Starting with Nils Landgren, James Genus and Gary Husband. Then a reunion with his closest teenage musical buddy Andrzej Olejniczak, who has stayed in Poland. Then Brazilian Joao Bosco with the NDR Big Band. Then the elite of current Polish jazz. And then the ten movement Anima Mundi.


Sendecki will play the whole gig. What will be going through his mind? There are certainly some butterflies about the historic animosity towards the Germans, but a belief that the quality and humanity of the music will transcend this: “I just hope people will be warm towards the band.”

“It wont be just a concert.” He says. “Krakow is always in my mind. In my soul. Wherever I am I carry Krakow with me. And I am happy that I can bring back some of what I have picked up along the way to my home town and to the people there.”

And I’ll be excited just to be there.

Categories: miscellaneous

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