B Side Events will present two young acts from Poland as part of EFG London Jazz Festival 2020:
On Sunday 15 November Błoto, a unique quartet made up of musicians from EABS sextet.
On Sunday 22 November Jerry & The Pelican System, Polish saxophonist and composer’s Jerzy Mączyński’s alternative musical concept.
Previews by Tomasz Furmanek.
Błoto’s performance will be the international live premiere of their latest album Kwiatostan (Inflorescence) at Jassmine club in Warsaw, where the recording took place, and will be livestreamed as part of EFG London Jazz Festival.
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Marek Pędziwiatr, Błoto‘s keyboardist and pianist and leader of EABS, explains how the Inflorescence recording came about: “Lockdown surprised us at a time when we had many concert plans for both EABS and Błoto. The recording of that album, our second one in 2020, would probably have happened later, but the Covid-19 situation sped it up because we had nothing else to do, brutally speaking. The decision to record this album was made and one week later we entered the studio with our full commitment.”
Błoto‘s formula is different than that of EABS – it is wild and total improvisation: ‘”During our almost tribal meeting, music was created in the moment, without any arrangements or preparations, and the only tip I gave my colleagues before we started playing and recording was to say ‘gentlemen, forget everything you learned about music – let’s play like children, as if there had never been any other music’.”
We can hear many influences in the music of this quartet, established in 2019, and everything, as usual, is based on jazz. Pędziwiatr‘s musical inspirations started with 90s rap and hip hop like Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul and later evolved into a fascination with jazz musicians like American pianist Ahmad Jamal and Polish pianist Wojtek Karolak, which eventually led him to the spiritual jazz of Pharoah Sanders, John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane.
The music on the album is rich in shades, with darker moments that sometimes become aggressive or emanate anxiety. Which leads us to question how these evocations link to the album’s floral title?
Pędziwiatr clarifies: “We could simply have called this album ‘Flowers’, but we like to play with ambiguity and relate our actions to social issues. This is what Inflorescence is about. On the cover the listener will find the definition of this word: a system of branching shoots ending with flowers. In this short definition, we emphasised the word ‘system’ – so these are flowers that are no longer free but trapped in some system, subordinate. And this is what this album is about, the flowers are a reflection of people, their behaviours, various types of different human personalities, various characters, connected within the system. Both on this and on our first album Erosions our conceptual activities revolve somewhere around the social matters and issues related to Mother Earth.”
Błoto quartet line up: Marek Pędziwiatr (Latarnik) – keys & synths Olaf Węgier (Książe Saksonii) – tenor sax Paweł Stachowiak (Wuja HZG B) – bass Marcin Rak (Cancer G) – drums
Highly avant-garde, Jerry & The Pelican System is an alternative musical concept to which musicians from all over the world have been invited. It is headed by Jerzy Mączyński, a Polish saxophonist and composer and Berklee College of Music graduate: “I created this project three and a half years ago; it’s my main conduit for presenting my music. It has an open form in terms of line-up. There is a core quartet but I also bring in other musicians and I perform elsewhere with other groups as well.”
A broadcast of the last concert from Jerry & The Pelican System’s Virtual Tour, which took place in September at CK Zamek in Poznań, will be streamed again on 22 November as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. It will be the UK premiere of their latest concert repertoire.
I asked Mączyński about the musical influences that shaped his style, which seems embedded in the European avant-garde: “It’s hard for me to answer this question fully, because the formation of my musical language is an ongoing process. I started with American jazz, learned from following John Coltrane’s path to more contemporary saxophonists like Canadian tenorist Seamus Blake, with whom I have had classes many times. From here I moved to a more European sound; during my studies I became fascinated with Jan Garbarek and the improvised scene that deviates so far from jazz standards. Peter Brötzmann, German free jazz saxophonist and clarinettist, is a great inspiration, as is Mats Gustafsson, a Swedish free jazz saxophone player. These more recent inspirations are still influencing me now. I decided that I want to play music inspired by the improvisational style that prevails on our continent.”
Mączyński’s debut album was released last year in the prestigious Polish Jazz series: “I created this material without knowing where I would release it. I invested money in recording the music that I prepared while studying in Denmark, and I didn’t look for help anywhere. Later, I sent the music to the Polskie Nagrania label, and then fate led the then director of Warner Music Poland and for a long time the curator of the Polish Jazz series, Piotr Kabaj, to our concert in Warsaw, who was delighted with the material. After the concert, he said that what we recorded fits the direction in which the Polish Jazz series is going, that it fits with what was previously recorded and released in this unique, specific series. I have signed a contract with this label, currently preparing a second album planned for around April/May 2021.”
Jerry & The Pelican System line up: Jerzy Mączyński – saxophone, electronics Marcel Baliński – piano Franciszek Pospieszalski – double bass Wiktoria Jakubowska – drums, electronics
LINKS: B Side events