The Yiddish word Kroke means “Cracow”. The group Kroke is strongly linked to Kazimierz, a Jewish settlement that had been an autonomous Jewish town up to the 19th century and then became the Jewish neighborhood of Cracow. Until 1939, Cracow and especially Kazimierz was one of the most important centers of Jewish cultural life in Europe.
The group was created in 1992 in Cracow on the initiative of three lifelong friends and graduates of the Cracow Academy of Music: Jerzy Bawoł (accordion), Tomasz Kukurba (bratsj) and Tomasz Lato (bass)
Having gone through the successive phases of education in classical music, and then fascination with jazz and progressive music, as Kroke they concentrate on playing and composing with the realm of authentic Jewish music. Each member of Kroke is equally strongly engaged in the creative process of the group.
Though the label “Klezmer” may indicate a certain direction, the music of Kroke is not necessarily linked to any of the styles nowadays connected with this concept. Using traditional material as the foundations on which to build ingenuous arrangements and improvisations, exploiting their previous experience, transmitting the profundity of man?s feelings and nature, Kroke creates new, unique compositions as well as a sound which is thus far unheard in Jewish music.
The release of a first cassette entitled Kroke in 1993 led to numerous invitations to festivals and concerts all over Europe. Beside their regular concerts in Cracow the group started to tour extensively. Among many other successful concerts there were highlights like the E.B.U. Contemporary Folk Festival (Roskilde/Denmark) in June 1996 and the WOMAD Festival (Reading/U.K.) in July 1997. At the same time the group intensified their work on the improvement of their technique and – through study of the sacred books – investigated the tradition and philosophy of the Jewish nation.
The mystical atmosphere of Kazimierz, the unshaken dignity of its six-hundred-year-old tradition, reflection on the sufferings of the past, on the present, on hope and trust in man, as well as common creative work found their outcome in the album titled Trio (Oriente RIENCD04), which was released 1996 in Berlin/Germany.
Kroke are: Tomasz Kukurba – violin; Jerzy Bawol – accordion; and Tomasz Lato – double bass
Now you can plan summertime musical adventures in Poland! The year 2017 abounds in world-class stars appearing at an ever-growing number of fantastic jazz music festivals. The Młyn Jazz Festiwal Wadowice (Wadowice Mill Jazz Festival) certainly stands out, thanks to the project’s momentum, atmosphere, and ambitious top-flight jazz. The festival runs from July 7-9 July, 2017.
On the first day the organizers invite you to an appearance by Herbie Hancock with a band composed of Vinnie Colaiuta, James Genus, Lionel Loueke, and Terrace Martin. The eminent American pianist and composer and jazz guru (as Leszek Możdżer once dubbed him) has appeared many times on Polish musical stages, giving a display of virtuosity, improvisation, and hot sounds.
Through Herbie Hancock’s music we can understand the words of the artist himself, writing in his autobiography: “Jazz consists of life at a given moment. It is about trusting yourself and reacting quickly to what’s happening. If you let it happen, a door opens up before you, a door to a never-ending exploration of music and life.” Jazz lovers in Poland are eagerly awaiting this performance.
Following Herbie Hancock’s show, the good times will continue to roll, thanks to Marta Król and the Paweł Tomaszewski Group, whose concert is scheduled for the same outdoor stage in the evening.
The next day of the festival begins with Polish jazz. Performing first are Stanisław Soyka and the Wojciech Karolak Trio; later, we’ll hear the sensational voice of American jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves. Certainly we can expect not only her hits, but also material from Beautiful Life, winner of the 2015 Grammy award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. For more information, see: diannereeves.com.
On the third day of the Wadowice Mill Jazz Festival, Maria Sadowska will perform material from her 2014 album Jazz na ulicach [Jazz in the streets]. As her reviewers and fans have written, with this record Sadowska captivates her listeners with her musicianship, lyrics, energy, and combination of contrasts.
The finale of the festival promises to feature the styles of fusion, funk, and acid jazz. Appearing on the stage will be the Brand New Heavies, an English combo formed in 1985 in London (see more at: www.thebrandnewheavies.net). We expect, therefore, that this final night of the festival will be really hot, as well as being a potential dance event (if the auditorium permits)!
We encourage you to take a look at the Festival website, since the list of artists is not yet set in stone; what’s more, the organizers are masters of the art of surprise.
The end of winter in Krakow coincides with the beginning of the annual celebration of jazz music. Since 1996, Piwnica pod Baranami (Cellar under the Rams) has hosted the Summer Jazz Festival.
For twenty years, Summer Jazz Festival has hosted outstanding stars of popular music in Krakow: Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Jean-Luc Ponty, Lenny White, Lee Konitz, Stanley Clarke, Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano, Richard Bona, Eddie Henderson, Nigel Kennedy, Larry Coryell, the Rosenberg Trio, and many other outstanding artists.
From year to year the Festival has expanded its program, presenting, along with daily concerts at Piwnica pod Baranami, concerts at Filharmonia, Opera Krakowska, Radio Kraków, and all of Krakow’s jazz clubs. Today, the Festival is Poland’s biggest jazz festival, and one of the biggest in Europe. Over the past fourteen years all of the elite performers of Polish jazz have appeared many times.
This year the Krakow stage will be graced by the Arturo Sandoval Sextet, Chick Corea Trio, and Ivo Pogorelić.
Arturo Sandoval will be performing in Krakow on February 17. This world-renowned trumpeter and jazz pianist of Cuban origin has won 10 Grammy Awards and is a six-time Billboard Music Award winner; he has also been awarded the Medal of Freedom for his artistic achievements. A student and friend of Dizzy Gillespie, in his youth he was a drummer, later a master of jazz trumpet and flugelhorn, pianist, and composer. Through his Cuban roots and inspirations, Sandoval has ventured into the field of World Music through his work with the group Irakere.
Ivo Pogorelić will be appearing in Krakow on June 9. A native of Belgrade, the artist received his musical education at Moscow Central Music School and the Moscow Conservatory. He is the winner of many prestigious awards, including the Casagrande Competition (Terni, Italy 1978) and the Montreal International Music Competition (1980). He performs with symphony orchestras around the world, including those of Berlin, Vienna, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, New York … His extensive discography includes baroque, classical, romantic, and contemporary works.
Performing on May 8 is world-renowned jazz pianist and composer Chick Corea. For lovers of jazz-inspired fusion, jazz-rock, or bebop, this concert needs no advertising. The work of Chick Corea is known to everyone. His visit to Poland is not only an artistic event but also a media happening.
Polish chamber ensemble Lautari recreates folk music traditions using contemporary music techniques. The album title Vol.67 refers to the significant ethnographic work of Oskar Kolberg. He wrote about Polish folk traditions, including song and dance.
While other artists combine folk music with rock, jazz and electronica, Lautari look at folk music under the prism of contemporary classical music, using avant-garde arrangements and adding freeform improvisation.
The lineup on Vol. 67 Live 2014 includes Maciej Filipczuk on fiddle; Jacek Hałas on prepared piano and accordion; and Michał Żak on clarinet, flute and shawm. Guests: Marcin Pospieszalski and Marcin Lamch on double bass.
Vol. 67 Live 2014 was recorded at Arthur Rubinstein Philharmonic in Lodz, Poland. It comes packaged in hard cover book with extensive notes in Polish and English, vintage photos and illustrations.
Contemporary Polish folk music ensemble Lautari is set to perform on Friday, September 23, 2016 at Subrosa in New York City.
Members of the band Lautari met in 2000 and performed together until 2008, playing modern world jazz rooted in the traditions of Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe and Caucasus. During that time they produced two well-received albums Azaran and Muzica Lautareasca Nova.
Lautari’s latest album, released in the summer of 2015, is Lautari: Vol. 67 Live 2014. At this point, Lautari is reunited after several years to produce their first project fully dedicated to Polish folk music.
Lautari has long been dedicated to restoring the magnificence of Polish folk music: from playing in crudo, to accompanying dancing as their rural predecessors did, to participation in avant-garde music projects.
The group has performed at barn dances, in jazz clubs, and in large concert halls in Poland and abroad. Firmly believing musical notation to be a totally ineffective means of recording folk music, they have made a point of learning their repertoire directly from village musicians.
During this musical research, Lautari have often turned to the work of Oskar Kolberg.
Subrosa, 63 Gansevoort Street, NYC
Doors for first set at 6:30pm, second set at 9:00pm – $15 per set
Presented in Partnership with The Polish Cultural Institute of New York
“Yiddish culture as it existed in Eastern Europe can never be revived as it was. Luckily, enough of the culture has been preserved in books, on recordings and by older mentors to have allowed us to pick up the thread and be a part of our tradition, even if it has evolved into something new and different.” – Lorin Sklamberg
On September 4, at an outdoor performance at Grzybowski Square in Warsaw, the Klezmatics celebrated their thirtieth anniversary. The fruits of the group’s activity include eleven discs (released from 1989 to 2011), and, among other awards, a Grammy in the category of World Music. The crowd was large, the artists gave us a demonstration of the best music, and the weather was surprising. The concert took place as part of the 13th Singer’s Warsaw Festival.
The Klezmatics gave a concert which can be summarized briefly as an expression of joyful thanksgiving: they captivated the audience, bewitching it with their singing, passion, and sound. The show will remain in our memory as a souvenir of holiday colors and sounds.
In the Klezmatics’ music, old Yiddish melodies come back to life, mingled with the sounds of contemporary musical genres such as rock, jazz, gospel and ethno/folk. In this music, the hybrid of styles and genres serves to affirm that Yiddish music is still part of living tradition and culture. The artists do not skimp on delighting our senses, reaching on stage for more than a dozen different instruments, both traditional and modern, and singing in several languages.
Today, the Klezmatics are already Jewish music classics. They create important arrangements and interpretations of traditional Yiddish songs, changing today’s view of the Jewish and klezmer culture of Eastern Europe. Thus, in a strange way, this music connects longing and nostalgia with a passion for life, love, and joy.
For this work, thanks and great appreciation are due to Lorin Sklamberg (lead vocals, accordion, guitar, piano), Frank London (trumpet, keyboards, vocals), Lisa Gutkin (violin, vocals), Matt Darriau (kaval, clarinet, saxophone, vocals), Paul Morrissett (bass, tsimbl, vocals), and Richie Barshay (percussion instruments).
Yiddish culture returns by way of pre-war films and contemporary performances, workshops of dance and song, Jewish paper cutting, ceramics, and Hebrew calligraphy …
(from the Festival’s website)
Jewish culture in Poland is experiencing a renaissance. Festivals of Jewish music, language, and ancient and modern history are among the finest undertakings of this kind in Poland. This was confirmed by the 13th edition of the Singer’s Warsaw Festival, organized as always by the Shalom Foundation. The creator of the festival is the General Director of the Shalom Foundation, Golda Tencer, an outstanding Polish singer, director, and theater actress.
Collaborating in the organization of the festival were The Ester Rachel and Ida Kamińska Jewish Theater, the Center for Yiddish Culture, and the Edward Dziewoński Teatr Kwadrat (Square Theater). Every year, some of the global music scene’s most prominent artists, their art inspired by and created in the spirit of Jewish culture and religion, come to the Polish capital. Many of these artists have Polish roots, and thus participate with even greater pleasure in this sentimental journey along the road of their lives, one that sometimes runs through countries such as Israel, the United States, Sweden, France, Canada, and many others.
As we read on the organizers’ website, “The Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture has been, for twelve years, bringing back the memory of the pre-war Jewish ‘Warsze’ praised by Singer in numerous short stories and novels […] Our goal is to recreate the pre-war climate around ul. Próżna and Plac Grzybowski, if only for a few days, and show the lost world of the Polish Jews. Here we situate Jewish cafes, restaurants, small shops, and artisans’ workshops. At one of the festivals, an old bookstore made an appearance; at another, the editorial office where Singer worked before the war; every year there is also a wine bar and bakery” (see: www.festiwalsingera.pl/en/cele-i-misja).
Thanks to the Singer’s Warsaw Festival, for a short time every year the streets of the city resound with klezmer music, synagogal singing, traditional Jewish songs, and even jazz (the Singer Jazz Festival, whose artistic director is Adam Baruch, constitutes a separate part of the Festival), as well as remarkable cantorial singing.
The third edition of the Singer Jazz Festival kicked off on August 26 with an opening concert featuring Wania/Bernstein/Parker/Grey (Poland/USA), comprising Dominik Wania (piano), Marc Bernstein (saxophone), Michael Parker (bass), and Devin Grey (percussion). The following day was marked by the appearance of the Dominik Bukowski Group (Poland/USA), featuring Amir Elsaffar (saxophone), Dominik Bukowski (vibraphone, marimba), Piotr Lemańczyk (bass), and Przemysław Jarosz (percussion).
The official opening of the Singer Jazz Festival took place during a concert by the Sefardix trio (the Oleś Brothers and Jorgos Skolias). This World Music ethno-style group forms a part of the Greek-Jewish tradition, reaching back for Sephardic themes and drawing on multicultural instrumentation. In 2013, Sefardix received the Polish Radio Folk Phonogram of the Year award.
Next was a musical event with the theme “Something’s Coming: Love or War,” created by Lena Piękniewska and Paweł Skorupki, who accompanied the poems of young poets from the Warsaw ghetto. Taking part in this event were Lena Piękniewska, Paweł Skorupka, Krzysztof Dys, Sebastian Frankiewicz, Michał Górczyński, Wojciech Pulcyn, and the Royal String Quartet, with visual effects by Karolina Fender Noińska.
The same evening featured a performance by World Citizen Band (Denmark/Germany/Ecuador/USA), comprising Ramiro Olaciregui (guitar), Kenneth Dahl Knudsen (bass), Alex Terrier (saxophone), Tomasz Dąbrowski (trumpet), and Rodolfo Zuniga (percussion), as well as by the duo Oleś Brothers (bassist Marcin Oleś i percussionist Bartłomiej Oleś), with the participation of Leszek Żądło (Germany).
Appearing at the Singer Jazz Festival on August 30 was the Israeli trio Savannah and the Stringz, known for their daring experiments at the crossroads of music and the performing arts, i.e., cabaret, jazz, and indie-rock all in one: real World Music! They were followed by Ugo Trio (DE), comprising Federico Eterno (saxophone, clarinet), Marco Papa (guitar), and Gioele Pagliaccia (percussion), as well as by the duo Maciej Obara/Dominik Wania with the participation of Leszek Żądło (saxophone).
Playing the next evening was Trio Kuby Stankiewicza: Kuba Stankiewicz (piano), Wojciech Pulcyn (bass), and Sebastian Frankiewicz (percussion instruments). Later, the Singer Jazz Festival hosted the Francesco Bruno Ensemble (Italy). At the end of the day was a concert by Łukasz Borowicki Quartet (Poland/Denmark), with Borowicki (guitar) accompanied by Mads la Cour (flugelhorn), Mariusz Praśniewski (bass), and Karol Domański (percussion), as well as an appearance by Trio Jachna/Wójciński/Szpura with a guest appearance by Leszek Żądło (saxophone)
The next day of the Singer Jazz Festival belonged to the Francesco Bruno Trio (Italy), including Marco Rovinelli (percussion instruments) and Jacopo Ferrazza (bass), and the Małgorzata Hutek Quintet (composed of Małgorzata Hutek, Dominika Kątny on viola, Bogusław Kaczmar on piano, Paweł Wszołek on bass, and Szymon Madej on percussion). The day closed with an appearance by the Nahorny Trio: Włodzimierz Nahorny (piano), Mariusz Bogdanowicz (bass), and Piotr Biskupski (percussion), with guest appearances by Lora Szafran (vocals), Sabina Meck (vocals), Zbigniew Namysłowski (alto saxophone), Wojciech Jachna (trumpet), and Wojciech Myrczek (vocals).
The next-to-last day of the Singer Jazz Festival showed that these final days of music would constitute a transition from cultural World Music towards traditional jazz. An encounter with Warsaw jazz was graced by the Kuba Płużek Quartet: Kuba Płużek (piano), Marek Pospieszalski (saxophone), Dawid Fortuna (percussion), and Jakub Dworak (bass). Immediately following this event was an appearance by the Leszek Żądło European Art Ensemble with the project “Expulsion from Paradise,” followed by Leszek Żądło again, this time performing with the concert band Sphere.
The last day of this monumental jazz undertaking featured a performance by the group Orange Train. We listened to Dominik Bukowski (vibraphone), Piotr Lemańczyk (bass), and Tomasz Łosowski (percussion). Appearing immediately afterwards was MusiConspiracy (PL/UK): Zbigniew Chojnacki (accordion), Fabrizzio Brusca (guitar), Michał Kapczuk (bass), and Jacek Kochan (percussion).
Concerts by world-famous cantors are always a great event at the Singer’s Warsaw Festival. Cantorial concerts constitute truly unique encounters of traditional Jewish and Hasidic music. From this year’s stage we listened to the wonderful voices of Benzion Miller, Yaakov Lemmer, and Tzudik Greenwald. The singers were accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, conducted by Yaakov Rotner and accompanied by Menachem Bristowski. As is true every year, the performing cantors pride themselves on a traditional education under the guidance of masters, enormous talent, and international renown. They perform Chazanut singing, works from liturgical, Jewish, and Hasidic music, and traditional Yiddish songs, along with selections from the repertoires of opera and Broadway.
This year’s Singer’s Warsaw Festival ended with an open-air concert by The Klezmatics (US), consisting of Lorin Sklamberg (lead vocals, accordion, guitar, piano), Frank London (trumpet, keyboards, vocals), Lisa Gutkin (violin, vocals), Matt Darriau (kaval, clarinet, saxophone, vocals), Paul Morrissett (bass, tsimbl, vocals), and Richie Barshay (percussion instruments). Their music is valued around the world for its experimental connections with multilingual singing, development of arrangements using many traditional and modern instruments, capitalization on Yiddish culture, and combination of contemporary styles of music. During the concert in Warsaw, The Klezmatics celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of their presence on the world music scene. Every year, the Singer’s Warsaw Festival brings us more and more excellent music.
We asked Nadia Issa, a Polish artist in the art of light who presented her work in the course of Singer’s Warsaw Festival in 2015, what she associates with this festival. Nadia said: “Nostalgia, tradition, music, memory. In the Old Testament, hell (Hebrew: sheol) is understood as a place of silence and forgetfulness. The Singer’s Festival protects us from the ‘sin’ of forgetfulness. In the context of the tragedy of the Second World War, there are memories about the past generation and about tradition, as well as an attempt to save the timeless values in Jewish culture as a debt to our tragically deceased ancestors.”
WOMEX organizers announced today that the World Music Expo will be held in Katowice, in the region of Silesia, in southern Poland. The annual conference is the largest gathering of world music professionals and will take place October 25–29, 2017.
Silesia is a region with its very specific cultural heritage and is located in the heart of Central and Eastern Europe, neighboring the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Three international airports are near Katowice: Katowice Pyrzowice, Krakow, and Ostrava. According to WOMEX organizers, moderate costs in Katowice promise a pleasant stay for WOMEX delegates.
“We are delighted to bring WOMEX into this European region and find new friends there. We believe WOMEX will once again add its part to a positive movement over there: The city of Katowice is an upcoming creative location, recently undergoing a post-industrial flowering where the city becomes a green, cultural hub,” says Alexander Walter, WOMEX Director
Katowice is the only Central European city bearing the title of the UNESCO City of Music. Katowice has recently opened a remarkable Cultural Zone with a highly-acclaimed concert hall, the NOSPR that will also be one of the main venues for WOMEX 2017, as well as state-of-the-art International Congress Centre (ICC). Two popular and critically acclaimed festivals are part of the city’s cultural landscape.
Throughout Poland cultural and world music festivals; folk, jazz, Jewish culture are celebrated and the Polish presence at WOMEX has been growing steadily in the last years. The local partner for WOMEX 2017 in Katowice will be the Polish ICP Group and its subdivision “Poland Concept.” WOMEX 2017 will be produced with the support of the City of Katowice.
The first Jewish Culture Festival was held in Poland in 1988, at which time its main goal was to emphasize the very important role of Jews in the creation of the Polish state, cultural identity, and society. After 28 years, the Festival has become Krakow’s best-known cultural event, as well as one of the most important festivals of contemporary Jewish culture in the world.
Every year, nearly thirty thousand people take part in this event; the ten-day duration of the Festival marks the presence in Krakow’s Kazimierz neighborhood of artists, filmmakers, and musicians from around the world.
The themes of the 26th JCF were the Diaspora and the Sabbath, as symbols of historical and contemporary Jewish identity. The implementation of each edition of the Jewish Culture Festival is supervised by the Festival Office, operating under the auspices of the Association of the Jewish Culture Festival (cf. http://www.jewishfestival.pl/pl/).
The Jewish Culture Festival has become a permanent and very important part of Krakow’s cultural life, in addition to its significant contribution to the spread of knowledge about Jewish culture and tradition, not only in Poland but internationally. The organizers devote particular attention to the cultural significance of music; this is strongly supported by the Jewish religious tradition, in which oral transmission is particularly important. But Krakow’s Jewish Culture Festival also represents a bold transcendence of the boundaries of tradition, codes, and signs, which, expressed in the language of music, equates to “world music.”
Today, not only in Poland but also throughout Europe, very important voices are being raised on the topic of the cultural integration of multiple, often historically conflicting, religious circles. In terms of politics and, especially, economics, this problem, far from disappearing, is actually (as shown by the events currently taking place in Europe) growing. However, World Music shows another side of cultural dialogue, one referring to spontaneous cognitive and artistic desires. This is shown and proven not only by the numerous festival concerts, but also by academic lectures such as “The Musical Meeting of Judaism and Islam” by Prof. Edwin Seroussi of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. More on this topic, on the example of the musicians of the 26th Jewish Culture Festival, is presented below.
In 2016, Krakow hosted musicians from around the world, with a significant portion coming from Israel but as well from the United States, Hungary, Germany, Russia, and Turkey.
The first day of the Festival opened with an evening session in the rhythm of mizrahi, a genre that combines Arabic, European and African music. Khen Elmaleh and David Pearl, creators of the best mizrahi events in Tel Aviv today, played their sets. The second day of the Festival featured an international evening concert of cantors, “By the Rivers of Babylon …,” with the participation of cantor Benzion Miller, one of the most famous Jewish cantors in the world (from the synagogue of the Jewish Center in Hillside, New York, and from 1981 Temple Beth El, Borough Park, Brooklyn, New York, USA), who, in Poland with Alberto Mizrahi and the Ben Baruch Choir, inaugurated the 8th Jewish Culture Festival in 1998 in the courtyard of Collegium Maius of Jagiellonian University.
Also taking part in this year’s concert was the world-famous lyric tenor cantor Yaakov Lemmer, followed by Avraham Kirshenbaum, lyric tenor and hazzan of the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem, one of the most outstanding heirs of the legacy of the Levites. This concert was marked as well by the participation of the Jerusalem Great Synagogue Choir, one of the best choirs performing liturgical music; of the composer Maestro Eli Jaffe, a member of the Royal Academy of Music in London and honorary conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra; and of pianist Menachem Bristowski. A Polish accent was provided by the participation in the concert of Krakow’s city orchestra, Sinfonietta Cracovia (PL).
The third day of the Festival featured an encounter with Jewish music from Austria-Hungary: Glass House Orchestra is the latest project by Frank London, undertaken on the initiative of the Balassi Institute Hungarian Cultural Center in New York. The group, comprising eight respected musicians from different countries, adopts elements of the extremely complex Jewish musical tradition. The result is – as ensured by the organizers of the Festival – truly cosmic.
Also worthy of our attention are The Brothers Nazaroff. As the Festival organizers write on the event’s website: “In the mid-twentieth century, Yiddish music in America was played mainly in the form of lullabies, elegies and Americanized folk songs. It was OK, but a little boring. In 1954 Nathan ‘Prince’ Nazaroff appeared with the album Jewish Freilach Songs (Freilach means happy in Yiddish) which was boisterous and joyful.”
By the end of the 26th Festival of Jewish Culture, numerous chamber, club, traditional music, and outdoor concerts had been held. The festival closed with a concert by Totemo, an Israeli music producer and singer. Her music is a combination of futuristic beats and precise sounds, enriched with melancholy lyrics, in a downtempo rhythm.
Given the scope of our review, we are unable to mention all of the artists participating in this Krakow festival of World Music, so we encourage you to take a look at the following websites: