Polish guitarist and composer Jakub Klimiuk will perform with his quintet at Jazz Cafe POSK on Saturday 25 June. This new project combines modern jazz with the influences of Scandinavian improvised music, Eastern European folk and contemporary classical music. Interview by Tomasz Furmanek (*):
LondonJazz News: Tell us about your new project “Jakub Klimiuk Quintet”…
Jakub Klimiuk: The quintet is a project focused on exploring my original compositions, experimenting with musical forms and combining distant, as it might seem, inspirations. I’ve been planning to create a band for a long time; I’ve been composing for several years, collecting ideas for my own project. The quintet’s music is a mix of scripted forms and free improvisation. We derive our inspirations from different musical worlds, including hip-hop and rock but the compositions are also deeply rooted in the jazz tradition. The sound of modern, New-York jazz and also ECM records can be recognised in our music.
LJN: Who else is in the quintet?
JK: I have the great pleasure to play with brilliant musicians who, although at the beginning of their careers, have developed their own styles and collaborated with artists / in projects such as Martin Speake, Tom Challenger or NYJO. We met at Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Each of us has a strong individuality, but we were immediately connected by common inspirations. The combination of different characters has a huge impact on our overall sound, it inspires me and drives my creativity. Our double bass player Harry Pearce, drummer Adam Merrell and saxophonist Simeon May have been creating joint projects for many years, playing together in a trio performing improvised music that goes beyond the framework of jazz. The youngest member of the band, Cody Moss, is an outstanding pianist who finds himself in every style, from stride to modern jazz.
LJN: How and when did jazz come into your life?
JK: Ever since I started my adventure with the electric guitar, preceded by the classical guitar, one of my most important inspirations has been blues. It was a natural step to become interested in jazz, which is after all derived from blues. You could say that my beginning was very typical; at the age of 13-14 I heard classic Miles Davis recordings. I was extremely interested in the complex harmony that I didn’t understand at the time, and the freedom associated with improvisation. One of the first jazz concerts I went to was a concert by John Scofield, playing material from the album “Überjam Deux”. Scofield’s music turned out to be the perfect bridge between jazz and blues; it inspired me to further explore the secrets of jazz. My fascination with jazz made me decide to study at the Academy of Music in Gdańsk, where I finished my undergraduate studies in the jazz guitar class.
LJN: Who are your current musical inspirations and influences?
JK: Although trad jazz or bebop are an important element of my musical identity, among my greatest inspirations are contemporary musicians and composers, such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Aaron Parks, Jonathan Kreisberg, and Robert Glasper, whose music got me interested in hip-hop. The sophisticated compositions and unique style of brilliant guitar player Rafał Sarnecki, who I first met during the International Jazz Workshop in Puławy years ago, has also been very influential. One of my favourite composers and musicians is the Dutch guitarist Reinier Baas, who is exceptionally distinguished by his style and approach to the instrument. Currently, I often reach for recordings of musicians related to the Scandinavian and German scene, in particular the double bass player Petter Eldh.
LJN: What brought you to London?
JK: I moved to London permanently in September last year for my MA studies at Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The London music scene has always been fascinating to me. The mix of cultures, different styles and musical genres inspires me, and the really high level of musicianship motivates me to develop my skills. London has a variety of music scenes compared to other European cities, which is why I decided to come here and am looking forward to my ongoing time here. Later this year, I plan to record an album with a quintet, and am also starting a project in a trio, which, apart from original material, will also focus on playing arrangements of standards.
LJN: Why did you name your debut mini-album “Reluctance”?
JK: The title “Reluctance” is largely related to the lockdown period, during which composing helped me deal with the surrounding pandemic reality a lot. The feeling of reluctance relates to both my opposition to worrying social changes, the advancing radicalisation in the political world, and my own concerns about moving to the UK in such a troubled time. Pandemic considerations translated into the nature of the composition. I decided to use dissonances in harmony or themes, and to juxtapose parts of the pieces on the basis of contrast.
TF: What will you play at Jazz Cafe POSK on 25 June?
JK: We’ll play material from the recently released mini-album as well as new, unreleased tunes. Part of the gig will be a tribute to Geri Allen and Abdullah Ibrahim. We’ll perform my reworkings of tunes written by those artists, which will combine the character of the original compositions with my own approach. Our music is based largely on free improvisation, so each concert is unique and significantly different from the previous one. I’d like to invite every jazz enthusiast!
(*) Tomasz Furmanek is Artistic Manager at Jazz Cafe Posk