Kroke, the Polish world music band that is highly popular abroad, in countries like Germany and Spain, has released a superb album titled Traveller. As the name indicates, the recording reflects the experiences the band members accumulated during more than two decades of touring.
I saw Kroke live a few years ago in Norway and the three virtuoso musicians put together a wonderful show. On Traveller, Kroke’s is equally great. The ensemble showcases its multi-faceted musical essence with a mix of Polish folk, Balkan, French, Spanish and Pat Metheny-style contemporary jazz.
Although Traveller is essentially an instrumental album that highlights masterful viola, accordion and bass work, multi-instrumentalist Tomasz Kukurba delights the listener with falsetto wordless vocals and charming whistling on one track.
The songs titles in English, Polish, Spanish and French indicate the expansive world view of this excellent Polish trio.
The lineup includes Tomasz Kukurba on viola, vocals, violin, whistling, flutes, darbuka, cajón, percussion and mouth percussion; Jerzy Bawol on accordion; and Tomasz Lato on double bass. Guest musician Slawek Berny appears on percussion and drums.
Traveller is an exquisitely-crafted album that crosses musical boundaries and uncharted worlds, and celebrates the international travel experiences of Kroke.
Tomasz Kukurba was born in Cracow, Poland in 1969. He started playing the violin in elementary school. At the age of ten he sang in the Cracow Philharmonic Choir and toured Germany and France, performing the works of Krisztof Penderecki.
During his time in high school, at the age of fourteen, he started to play the viola, which became his main instrument. Kukurba worked with the avant-garde jazz ensemble Mixtura. Like the other members of Polish band Kroke he studied classical music at the Music Academy of Cracow.
He was member of the Academy’s String Quartet and various other chamber orchestras, playing primarily the music of Penderecki, and joined, along with Tomasz Lato, the Sinfonietta Cracovia and an experimental jazz group.
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
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
Meridian 68 is a beautifully-crafted production by Polish-Ukrainian band Dagadana. The ensemble is well-known for its fusion of Ukrainian and Polish folk music traditions with jazz, electronic music and global music.
On Meridian 68 Dagadana goes back to folk roots. Dagadana collected traditional songs from many regions of Poland, including Kurpie and Wielkopolska, along with Ukrainian and Lemko (an ethnic group found in Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia) folk music. Additionally, there is a song in Chinese recorded in collaboration with Chinese band North Lab, featuring Hassibagen from Mongolia and Aiys Song from China.
All the members of Dagadana are virtuoso instrumentalists and vocalists. The band recreates the traditional material and gives it new life with superb vocal and instrumental arrangements that add jazz techniques, electronic atmospheres and world music elements such as percussion and Mongolian musical instruments.
Dagadana named its fourth album Meridian 68 as a tribute to its experience in Beijing. The 68th Meridian is precisely halfway between Czestochowa (southern Poland) and Beijing, the places where the band recorded the songs.
The lineup on Meridian 68 includes Daga Gregorowicz on vocals and electronics; Dana Vynnytska on vocals and keyboards; Mikołaj Pospieszalski on vocals, double bass, electric bass, and violin; and Bartosz Mikołaj Nazaruk on drums and percussion.
Guests include Aiys Song on cello; Hassibagen on vocals and morin khuur (horsehead fiddle); regular collaborator Frank Parker Jr. on percussion; Marcin Pospieszalski on violin; Szczepan Pospieszalski on trumpet and cornet; and Lidia Pospieszalska on frame drum.
The CD version of Meridian 68 comes in a stunning hard cover book with extensive liner notes including lyrics, credits and illustrations by Ukrainian artist Olya Kravchenko.
Meridian 68 is an outstanding album of contemporary Polish and Ukrainian folk music made by one of the finest world music bands in Eastern Europe.
Polish band Tęgie Chłopy recreates the traditional dance and wedding music sound of the Kielce region in south central Poland. The ensemble’s sound revolves around a wind section of clarinet, saxophone, tuba and trumpet, fiddles and a call and response technique between musicians and singers.
Dansing is also a tribute to a highly influential musician, clarinetist Stanislaw Witkowski. He participates in the album, bringing together several generations of musicians.
To put together Dansing, the musicians spent time with Stanislaw Witkowski and traveled hundreds of kilometers across the region, seeking other traditional musicians and singers. The result is a set of wedding and dance songs from east of Kielce, near Lagow and Opatow, as well as peasant songs, polkas and once trendy rural-urban tangos, waltzes, and foxtrots.
The hard cover CD booklet contains a fascinating 46-page book with biographical information, credits, photographs and illustrations.
The lineup includes Stanislaw Witkowski on clarinet, alto saxophone; Maniucha Bikont on tuba, vocals; Maciej Filipczuk on violin; Ewa Grochowska on violin, vocals; Mateusz Kowalski on accordion; Michał Maziarz on violin; Dorota Murzynowska on baraban; Szczepan Pospieszalski on trumpet; Marcin Żytomirski on violin; Michał Zak on clarinet. Guest: Wladyslaw Bak on accordion, vocals.
Dansing brings back the cherished dance music of the Polish heartland.