Warsaw Village Band
Infinity (Barbes Records; April 7th)
Poland’s Warsaw Village Band has become one of the most significant folk bands in eastern Europe. The group’s latest CD, Infinity, shows outstanding musicianship and creativity, bridging old and new. The mesmerizing mix includes Polish folk, bits of electronica, jazz vocal stylings, funk, klezmer, Gypsy influences and global beats. What catches your attention from the very beginning is the dazzling fiddle work and the wide-ranging vocals that range from polyphonic singing to African American jazz and soul.
While past recordings focused on the music of the elder folk musicians, Infinity embraces modern culture. “People nowadays have forgotten that pop music comes from the past,” says Warsaw Village Band songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Wojtek Krzak. “There would be no Rihanna, no Destiny’s Child without rock and roll. John Mayall and Elvis Presley wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for Black musicians from the Mississippi Delta. So, how can we really say where tradition ends and pop or classical music begins?”
The band is interested in the endless links in the chain of human culture stretching from forgotten ancestors to the youngest generation. “As a new father, I was thinking about this connection between the generations of the past and the future,” Krzak recalls, “and suddenly I knew it was a great moment to record an album called ‘ Infinity.’ To present the music of the past in a modern way for the next generation.”
The guest musicians on the album include Carpathian violinist and singer Jan Trebunia Tutka; singer and violist Tomek Kukurba of Klezmer trio Kroke; and Polish rapper and DJ, Sebastian Filiks (DJ Feel-X).
On Infinity, Wojtek Krzak explores the versatility of the ancient and modern bowed instruments. In addition to the fiddle, Krzak uses the Swedish nykelharpa, and a smaller 7/8 violin that came from the 17th-century. Poland had ties with the Near East, as the 16th-century kingdom of Poland once extended all the way to the Black Sea’s shores and was one of the Silk Road’s last stops. Through the trade routes, Poles first discovered what became the suka, a bowed instrument played with edge of the fingernails related to the Indian sarangi. Wojtek uses the suka and dulcimer to create a “Slavic raga.” “These songs are all deeply inspired by tradition, but aren’t traditional Polish,” Krzak reflects. “This is the main difference between our previous albums and Infinity. They were about the past we had lost. But now, our music is about the future.”
Infinity demonstrates the vitality and power of Warsaw Village Band.
Buy the CD:
- In North America: Infinity