INTERVIEW: Maciek Pysz on Palm Jazz Festival London (Cafe Posk, 29-30 Sept)

Maciek Pysz
Photo credit: Lisa Miniussi

From 29-30 September, a first London offshoot of Poland’s eight-year old Palm Jazz Festival in Gliwice is happening at Jazz Cafe POSK in London (Hammersmith). The interview, with guitarist MACIEK PYSZ – who has co-organized the series with Palm Jazz Director Krzysztof Kobylinski – is by Sebastian.

LondonJazz News: What have you been up to recently?

Maciek Pysz: I have been away for most of the summer playing in festivals in France and Italy with the French band Inwardness (we also played at this year’s Manchester Jazz Festival) and Italian bandoneon player Daniele di Bonaventura. Daniele and I recorded a duo album in May this year and it will be out on 20 October on Caligola Records. The album launch will take place during this year’s London Jazz Festival on 11 November in Jazz Cafe POSK. This autumn I will be busy touring with saxophone player Julian Costello, promoting his new album Transitions on 33Jazz Records which I also play on.

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LJN: What is this festival all about?

MP: The festival is about bringing musicians from various backgrounds together as well as focussing on world and ethnic music. It’s also about introducing jazz to people who wouldn’t have normally gone to see a jazz concert. A lot of the events which are part of the main festival in Poland are free of charge to encourage good turnouts. The festival itself was started in Gliwice eight years ago by a Polish pianist and composer Krzysztof Kobylinski. It has grown into a major festival in Poland over the years with some great musicians appearing: John Scofield, Avishai Cohen, Randy Brecker, Al DiMeola, Mike Stern, Joey Calderazzo, Trilok Gurtu, Larry Grenadier, Richard Galliano, Terence Blanchard, Yasmin Levy and Branford Marsalis. Since last year, Krzysztof’s idea has been to spread the festival to other places and cities. First in neighbouring towns, and now for the first time, abroad. We are very glad POSK was happy to host the festival. It was an obvious choice as the festival is from Poland so we wanted to keep that connection.

LJN: Who are the musicians involved, and how did you get to know them?

MP: I met Alex Stuart while living in Paris a couple of years ago. He is one of my favourite guitarists of the younger generation. I love his compositions and the way he blends various musical styles, not to mention the fact that he is a phenomenal guitar player as well! We play together in a Paris-based group Banville/Pysz/Stuart and occasionally guest in each other’s projects. It’s a rare opportunity to see this creative musician in London!

Adam Texeira and I met in Paris shortly before he moved to London. We kept in touch and ended up playing together in various bands and situations. We are both part of Julian Costello’s band and Adam will be playing with my quartet this autumn. He is a great drummer and what I particularly like about Adam’s playing is the fact that he plays percussion too and can bring that quality to his drumming.

I met Michele Tacchi while living in Milan and we did some playing together. He is a super talented bassist, very musical and melodic. He plays fretless with his own feel and touch which is very hard since Jaco! I played with Michele in various projects and he always plays amazingly!

LJN: Was it your idea to bring them together?

MP: I really wanted to bring Alex and his music to London, so when Krzysztof Kobylinski approached me about helping him to put together the London edition of his festival, I thought it could be a great opportunity to bring Alex together with some of my favourite London-based players. We actually did a small gig all together a couple of years ago and it worked very well so it was an obvious choice for Alex’s London band.

LJN: What are you playing?

MP: We will be playing a mix of Alex’s and my compositions with some new arrangements and twists! We are appearing on Saturday 30 September which is the second day – the festival takes place over two days.

LJN: Help us pronounce the Polish duo names from the first day – who are they?

On the opening night we will introduce two wonderful musicians from Poland, who are now very well-established in Poland but probably not well-known in London. Piotr Schmidt (Pyotr Shmid) on trumpet and Wojciech Niedziela (Woycieh Kneedziela) on piano. They have just recorded their debut duo album Dark Morning and will be presenting music from the recording on Friday 29 September.

LJN: We have seen guitarists passing on in the past few months. Which is the loss that has affected you most ?

MP: It’s been a very sad year for music and especially since many wonderful guitarists passed away. I think I have been mostly affected by the passing of Larry Coryell and John Abercrombie. I have listened to and admired both of them for a long time and they both influenced me a lot at various stages of my career. I feel they still had so much to say with their music and playing. It’s a shame we had to lose all these wonderful musicians…

Palm Jazz Festival (Poland) website

BOOKING LINK: Piotr Schmidt & Wojciech Niedziela, 29 September POSK

BOOKING LINK: Alex Stuart Quartet featuring Maciek Pysz, 30 September POSK

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