|Photo Credit: Krystian Data|
Polish-born, London-based guitarist MACIEK PYSZ is one busy man. With simultaneous involvement in no fewer than five musical outfits, including his own trio and two of his own different quartets, he is as productive as he is talented. He has an album coming out in the spring with fellow guitarist GIANLUCA CORONA and an imminent tour with his new “drumless” quartet. Interview by Leah Williams:
LondonJazz News: You’re a completely self-taught guitarist. What was it that inspired you to get started?
Maciek Pysz: I started at the age of 10 and it was mainly because my cousin started taking lessons and I wanted to try and learn an instrument as well. As soon as I picked it up, it was instant love. It was the sound of it, the wood, the fact that it’s so portable and I was fascinated with the possibilities of being able to express emotions which are beyond words through playing the guitar. There is something magical about it!
LJN: Do you find that learning by yourself has helped or hindered you when it comes to developing your technique and style?
MP:It’s hard to comment as I never went to a music school but my impression is that people from music schools often sound kind of the same – although that’s not true for everyone, of course. For sure, I felt free to experiment and explore and there wasn’t anyone telling me I shouldn’t do this or that.
LJN: You cite musical inspirations as coming from a wide range of styles – such as Tango, Flamenco, Latin, Jazz, Brazilian and Classical music – but which one do you most predominantly listen to or relate to?
MP:It’s hard for me to speak about styles as for me music is music. I would say that I lean mainly towards instrumental music, often guitar music naturally! Lots of things I listen to could be categorised as jazz but again I am not the one who decides what goes on which shelf. My favourite way of playing and sound is what you can hear on most albums by the German record label ECM. So I would say my favourite style is the ECM style! There are so many from this label I could name but, for example, some of my favourites are classic ones like Keith Jarrett My Song or Ralph Towner Solstice and, from more recent ones, Wolfgang Muthspiel Driftwood, Marcin Wasilewski Trio Faithful, and Zsofia Boros Local Objects. Really, the list just goes on!
LJN: You grew up in Poland but moved to London in 2003 – how do you feel this move has informed or influenced your music?
MP:I think that any experience enriches our lives and it comes out in the music. Moving to a new country has definitely been a path of growth for me. The many experiences I have had while living in London have all shaped my personality, especially as I moved here at quite a young age.
LJN: You seem to have played at a fair few festivals over the years all around the world. Which is your favourite one?
MP:I recently played at a great festival in Poland, called Palm Jazz Festival. I also remember very well playing at Ceuta Jazz Festival but my favourite place to perform is always the South of France. I’ve really enjoyed playing at La Colle sur Loup Jazz Festival over the years. These festivals all have amazing atmospheres which makes it such a pleasure to play there and all the musicians I had the chance to play with have been very inspiring. It’s always great to share the stage with top class musicians.
LJN: Where does your strong connection to France come from?
MP:I lived in Paris for a year and since 2012 I regularly spend a couple of months a year in the South of France. I think it’s the culture. I love their food, fashion, architecture and the way of life. I feel very European and I find myself feeling at home in France as it’s much more similar to where I come from than the UK. I also love the weather in the South of France. Most importantly, I love their music and way of playing. Most of my favourite guitarists are French. They have their own way of playing music and jazz which I strongly relate to.
LJN: You play with a lot of different musical outfits, your own trio and now quartet in addition to the Julian Costello quartet and as part of the duo with Gianluca Corona, do you find this variety helps to inform and develop your music?
MP:Definitely! I love working in various music situations. I used to mainly play with my own band but having all these other projects has brought new ideas and inspiration to my own music. I really enjoy being part of a project rather than just the leader.
LJN: You actually have a new album coming out shortly with Gianluca Corona, I believe?
MP:Yes, I met Gianluca in London in 2012 and we had an instant connection. We discovered we both love the music of Al Di Meola, Paco De Lucia, John McLaughlin and many other great players who are not really in the strict jazz tradition. The album will be called “London Stories”, it’s out on 21st April on 33 Jazz Records. It’s just an honest album, two friends playing the music they love together. There is no glossy production, we just sat and played as we would at home or at a gig. Just two guitars, two guys.
LJN: Tell us about your new project – the drumless quartet. What inspired you to start this and what are your plans for the future with this set-up?
MP: It actually started as a trio with me on guitar, John Turville on piano and Adam Spiers on cello, which then expanded to include Yuri Goloubev on double bass. I often found that, although working with great drummers, the presence of the drums makes the whole dynamic of the music go to a level which doesn’t necessarily serve my music very well. I started to look for more space and a different sound and this line-up definitely allows me to experiment with more of a classical sound with four instruments that can play the melody and various lines. There is a lot of passion and energy in the music. I hope to take people on an unforgettable musical journey. It’s going to be very exciting!
To see the full dates of Maciek’s UK tour with his new quartet see below:
01/03 – PIZZA EXPRESS JAZZ CLUB – MACIEK PYSZ QUARTET – London
02/03 – JAZZ COVENTRY – MACIEK PYSZ QUARTET – Coventry
07/03 – ST IVES JAZZ CLUB – MACIEK PYSZ QUARTET – St Ives
08/03 – SWING UNLIMITED – MACIEK PYSZ QUARTET – Bournemouth
09/03 – ASHBURTON LIVE – MACIEK PYSZ QUARTET – Ashburton
10/03 – BIRMINGHAM JAZZ – MACIEK PYSZ QUARTET – Birmingham
11/03 – CREATIVE INNOVATION CENTRE – MACIEK PYSZ QUARTET – Taunton
Maciek Pysz’s website