Tag Archives: Polish music

The Independent Spirit of Highlander Music

Trebunie-Tutki i Quintet Urmuli – Duch Gór – The Spirit of the Mountains

Trebunie-Tutki i Quintet Urmuli – Duch Gór – The Spirit of the Mountains (Unzipped Fly Records, 2016)

“The Spirit of the Mountains” is an encounter of ancient musical traditions, envisioned by two ensembles highly acclaimed in their respective homelands: Trebunie-Tutki from Zakopane, Poland and Urmuli Quintet from Tbilisi, Georgia.

Using traditional shepherd instruments and polyphonic songs, the musicians tell stories of the highwayman way of life, love and death, and also bring back to life the spirits of their ancestors, the legendary heroes of the mountains.

Highlanders from Podhale, Poland, and Georgians from Kazbek have for centuries been free and independent shepherds, outlaws, and valiant warriors, running away from any authority and led by an internal instinct and a sense of justice, pride and honor. Their music and powerful male singing define this culture.

The artists featured include Krzysztof Trebunia-Tutka on vocals, violin, highlander bagpipe, highlander flutes, whistling, steep bells, wooden horn, double flute; Anna Trebunia-Wyrostek on vocals, highlander cello, highlander vocal glissando; Jan Trebunia-Tutka on viola and vocals; Andrzej Polak on violin and vocals; Kuba “Bobas” Wilk on acoustic bass; Nugzar Kavtaradze on vocals, panduri (lute), duduk; Shalva Abramashvili on vocals and chuniri (fiddle); David Ratiani on vocals, bass chonguri (lute); Tamaz Mamaladze on vocals, bass panduri, gudastviri (Georgian bagpipe); and Gela Tabashidze on vocals and salamuri (flute).


The Best of Kroke Indeed

Kroke – Kroke 25, The Best of

If you haven’t heard about Kroke yet, this is one of the finest instrumental ensembles in the European music scene. The award-winning Polish trio includes virtuoso instrumentalists who deliver an exquisite mix of modern Polish music, klezmer, contemporary jazz and chamber classical music.

The trio is highly popular in Europe, from Poland and Germany to Spain, performing their passionate and evocative music to world music, jazz and classical music fans alike.

Kroke – Kroke 25, The Best of (Universal Music Polska, 2017)

This two-CD compilation includes superb material released from 1996 to 2015, released on various labels: Germany’s Oriente Musik and two Polish major label divisions: Warner Music Poland and Universal Music Polska.

Kroke’s sound revolves around the masterful performances of composer and multi-instrumentalist Tomasz Kukurba, accordion player Jerzy Bawoł and bassist Tomasz Lato. Kukurba’s violin and viola dance around the highly expressive accordion and bass, and sometime soars into fantastic, mesmerizing explorations.

Throughout the years, Kroke’s sound evolved and Tomasz Kukurba added more instruments to the mix. One track includes a captivating electric viola performance.

The lineup includes Tomasz Kukurba on violin, viola, electric viola, flutes, hand and mouth percussion, vocals, whistles, piano; Tomasz Lato on acoustic bass; and Jerzy Bawoł on accordion.

Guests include Dariusz Grela on vocals, Tomasz Grochot on percussion, Anna Maria Jopek on vocals, and Sławek Berny on udu.

The CD booklet includes detailed information about each track in Polish and English.

The Best of Kroke is an outstanding introduction to a formidable trio that has been making deeply satisfying, genre-defying instrumental music for many years.

Buy Kroke 25, The Best of

More about Kroke.


Bass Folk

Chłopcy Kontra Basia – Oj Tak!

Chłopcy Kontra Basia – Oj Tak! (Riverboat Records, 2014)

Polish folk music meets jazz bass on Oj Tak! (Oh Yes!), a 2014 album released by Cracow-based Chłopcy Kontra Basia. The innovative sound revolves around the traditional-style vocals of Basia Derlak and the jazz-style lead double bass of Marcin Nenko, supported by percussion. The songs are inspired by Polish folk tales and musical forms such as mazurek, oberek and kujawiak as well as other Eastern European folk traditions.

Chłopcy Kontra Basia

The group was discovered by Riverboat Records during its Battle of the Bands online competition, where artists submitted a track to be considered for a quarterly award.

The lineup on Oj Tak! includes Basia Derlak on vocals and clarinet; Marcin Nenko on bass; Tomasz Waldowski on drums, fujara and pinao. Guest: Mariusz Obijalski on Wurlitzer keyboard.

Buy Oj Tak!


Artist Profiles: Janusz Prusinowski Kompania

Janusz Prusinowski Kompania

Janusz Prusinowski Kompania (formerly: Janusz Prusinowski Trio) is a Polish folk music ensemble. The group follows the traditions of village masters they learned from: Jan Lewandowski, Kazimierz Meto, Józef Zaraś, Piotr and Jan Gaca, Tadeusz Kubiak and many others. At the same time, Janusz Prusinowski Kompania incorporates modern elements, including improvisation.

The ensemble combines tours and concerts with music and dance workshops, both in Poland and abroad.

Janusz and his team are founders and promoters of the Wszystkie Mazurki Świata (Mazurcas of the world) festival, in Warsaw, of which Janusz is the artistic director. The festival provides an opportunity for encounters between the old rural masters and the new generations of musicians interested in traditional music.

Janusz Prusinowski in 2019 at the Jeronju International Sori festival in South Korea – Photo by Angel Romero

Janusz Prusinowski was awarded with the Gloria Artis medal and the Annual Award of the Ministry of Culture, that acknowledges a life’s work, and more than 20 years of commitment with the revival, visibility and esteem of the legacy of Polish traditional music.

The album Po śladach includes primordial “obereks”, wild dances accompanied by ditties (short poems), improvised mazurkas and additional poetical pieces.

Janusz Prusinowski Kompania in 2019 at the Jeonju International Sori festival in South Korea – Photo by Angel Romero


Mazurki ‎(Wydawnictwo Słuchaj Uchem, 2008)
Serce ‎(2010)
Knee-Deep in Heaven – Po Kolana W Niebie ‎(Oriente Musik, 2013)
Kołysała mama smoka, with Kaja (Słuchaj Uchem, 2013)
Po Sladach – In the Footsteps (Buda Musique, 2019)


Artist Profiles: Przemyslaw Goc

Przemyslaw Goc, Ainu

Przemyslaw Goc, better known as Ainu, is a leading artist in the domain of ethnic-world music in Poland with an artistic output consisting of CDs, music videos, over 1500 concerts in Poland & other European countries and a self-made multimedia website.

Przemyslaw Goc was born in 1967. He started off in the blues scene, but as a sound engineer in the Poznan radio station he got so many musical impulses that he started with the realization of electronic suites and etudes. In 1988 Goc presented his first compositions “anatomy of sin” which is a good example of his musically fresh contribution to the electronic music scene in Poland.

Since 1997 he has experimented with music from all over the world, combining electronic synthesizers and rhythm samplers with sounds of nature and ethnic instruments like flutes, pan-pipe, quena and vocalizations, creating an unusual atmosphere. Also during his concerts full of colorful lights, smokes and unique sounds. He has over 1000 concerts experience in Poland and 17 European countries for different audience also for handicapped people.

The year 2000 was a turn in his art creation. He changed his art name from “titilo” to Ainu (meaning the first man in the world history who has made pictures in caves).

Przemyslaw Goc is also a creator of new music instruments, unknown before, like a harp cast in bronze in an eagle shape or metal pan-flutes in Ainu’ tune.

His passion is also photography. He took part in many exhibitions; granted in 1997 in Poznan for “Faces”.

Ainu makes all by himself: recording, manufacturing and distribution of CDs, designing his advertising materials, CD covers, making multimedia presentations and videoclips.


Inside (1992)
Titilo (1995)
Welele (1998)
Earth 2000 (2000)
Ainu (2002)
Multi Culti Kanti (2005)
Save Tibet (2008)
RaRoTonga (2010)
7 Days in Georgia (2011)
QaraQorum (2013)


Artist Profiles: Jerzy Bawol

Jerzy Bawol – Photo by Angel Romero

Born in Cracow in 1969, Jerzy Bawol started playing the accordion in elementary school at the age of nine and gave his first concert at the age of twelve. During his time at the High School and the Music Academy of Cracow, where he studied classical accordion, he was touring Poland, Germany and France with solo concerts.

After finishing the Academy in 1992, he worked moreover as a studio musician and with the Cracow opera, focusing on contemporary music.

His work with Kroke is definitely influenced by his grandfather, who was an acclaimed Klezmer musician.


* Klezmer Acoustic Music Trio (Oriente Musik, 1996)
* Eden (Oriente Musik, 1997)
* Live at The Pit (Oriente Musik, 1998)
* The Sounds of the Vanishing World (Oriente Musik, 1999) – German Record Critics Award in 2000
* Ten Pieces To Save The World (Oriente Musik, 2003)
* East Meets East (EMI classics, 2003)
* Quartet – Live At Home (Oriente Musik 2004)
* Seventh Trip (Oriente Musik 2007)
* Out of Sight (Oriente Musik 2009)
* Feelharmony (EMI Music Poland, 2012)
* Ten (Oriente Musik, 2014)
* Cabaret of Death: Music for a Film (Oriente Musik, 2015)
Traveller (Universal Music Polska, 2017)
Kroke 25, The Best Of (Universal Music Polska, 2018)


Artist Profiles: Lautari

Lautari – Photo by J. Wiedro

Lautari’s music is modern, jazzy in sound rooted in Central European tradition. Folk motives, played on piano, violin, clarinet and flutes, thanks to brave arrangements and great dose of improvisation gather vital character in which tradition encounters modernity. The group was established in October 2000 and is based in Poznan, Poland. They draw inspiration from the music and attitudes of the Gypsy Lautars, masters and virtuosi of improvisation creating “gypsy jazz”, as well as from simple forms of folk applied arts.

The original lineup incluided Maciej Filipczuk – fiddle; Jacek Halas – prepared piano, accordion; Michal Zak – clarinet, flute, shawm, sampler; and Marcin Pospieszalski – double bass.

Their first CD, Musica Lautareasca Nova, involves instrumental compositions inspired by the traditional music of the Polish lowlands, the eastern and southern regions of the Carpathian mountains, the Balkans, and the Black Sea coast. “The sources of our music are musical notations (Kurpie), archival recordings (Greece, Macedonia, the music of Ashkenazi Jews), our own musical compositions and, most important, close and direct contact with village musicians still practicing traditional performance techniques (Poland, Romania, and Ukraine).

The basis of the album is our belief that the most interesting aspects of folk music originate in “borderland” areas where many cultures interpenetrate each other (e.g. Bukovina, Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Dobruja). In such environments musical motifs cross geographical borders and, arriving from distant places, join together to become statements of understanding without losing their original identities.”

The musical structure of Musica Lautareasca Nova is dual. On the one hand it emphasizes unity, homogeneity, and harmony of sound, on the other hand leaves space for individual expression and improvisation.

The second CD, Azaran, is the result of their fascination with the Byzantine music and influences from different lands-Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria-all melted in one pot.

They reformed as a quartet in 2015 for the release of their album, Vol 67, their first project fully dedicated to Polish folk music, which was recorded live at the Lodz Philharmonic. The 2016 lineup included Maciej Filipczuk – violin; Zbigniew Lowzyl – piano; Michal Zak – flutes, clarinet, shawms; and Robert Siwak – drums.


Musica Lautareasca Nova
Azaran (Pracownia Artystyczna Samograj, 2006
Vol. 67 (Wodzirej, 2015)


Artist Profiles: Orkiestra p.w. sw. Mikolaja

Orkiestra p.w. sw. Mikolaja

The Saint Nicholas Orchestra (Orkiestra p.w. sw. Mikolaja) came into existence in 1988. Since then the band has focused on everything associated with folklore, especially whatever has been condemned to be forgotten, and yet can inspire and enrich contemporary culture.

The Orchestra gathers together people who would like to experience an adventure in folklore. The beginnings of the Orchestra were connected with hiking in the Polish mountains, which fifty years ago were still inhabited by Lemko and Boyko Ruthenians (eastern Polish Carpathians). The group’s members wandered through abandoned valleys and saw old terraced fields, orchards gone wild and forgotten paths. Who tilled these fields and trod the paths? How did those people live? What made them happy? What made them sad? The musicians tried to answer these questions by performing music that was once played there.

At first, its repertoire embraced mainly Ruthenian songs but now it comprises also music from the Hutsul region (Ukrainian Carpathians) and Poland – at the moment its main inspiration.

The instruments played are: the violin, dulcimer, mandolin, mandola, cello, dutar, flutes, bass drum, congas, percussion instruments, guitars – 8 persons.

The Orchestra has played over 200 concerts and took part in 10 TV program. In 1994 the band played at the festival of European Broadcasting Union as the representatives of the Polish radio. Stylistically, the group departs from traditional patterns by applying foreign or non-traditional instruments such a dutar or guitars.

The arrangements are “unplugged” and they incorporate stylistic elements from many musical cultures. The words and melodies are authentic and collected from written and aural archival records.

In Poland, the Saint Nicholas Orchestra’s music is recognized by audiences as strongly transformed folk music, inspired by authentic and original folk sources. Foreign listeners, however, sometimes understand the group’s music as a quite genuine continuation of living folk tradition because it plays acoustic instruments and tries to preserve the folk vitality and liveliness of the original in its arrangements and performances.


Z Wysokiego Pola (Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Sklodowskiej W Lublinie, 1994)
Kraina Bojnów (Orange World Records, 1998)
Z Dawna Dawnego (Nicolaus, 2000)
Jeden Koncert (Nicolaus, 2002)
O Milosci Przy Grabieniu Siana (Nicolaus, 2004)
Huculskie Muzyki (Nicolaus, 2006)
Nowa Muzyka (Ferment, 2007)
Lem-Agination (Warsaw Impact, 2007)
Drugi Koncert (Konador, 2010)
Mody I Kody (Dalmafon, 2016)


Artist Profiles: Tomasz Lato

Tomasz Lato – Photo by Angel Romero

Bassist Tomasz Lato was born in Cracow in 1968. Both his parents were musicians, and so he started playing the piano as a child. At the age of fourteen he changed to the acoustic bass. His wide range of musical interests led him to various ensembles.

During his time at High School and his studies at the Music Academy of Cracow he played in Jazz Groups, worked as a musical director in theater and broadcast productions, joined the Philharmonic Orchestra, the “Capella Cracoviense”, the “Sinfonietta Cracovia” and the “Heidelberg Chamber Orchestra”. Beside all that activities he is a requested studio musician, also for pop music productions and soundtracks.

He is a member of acclaimed Polish group Kroke.


* Klezmer Acoustic Music Trio (Oriente Musik, 1996)
* Eden (Oriente Musik, 1997)
* Live at The Pit (Oriente Musik, 1998)
* The Sounds of the Vanishing World (Oriente Musik, 1999) – German Record Critics Award in 2000
* Ten Pieces To Save The World (Oriente Musik, 2003)
* East Meets East (EMI classics, 2003)
* Quartet – Live At Home (Oriente Musik 2004)
* Seventh Trip (Oriente Musik 2007)
* Out of Sight (Oriente Musik 2009)
* Feelharmony (EMI Music Poland, 2012)
* Ten (Oriente Musik, 2014)
* Cabaret of Death: Music for a Film (Oriente Musik, 2015)
Traveller (Universal Music Polska, 2017)
Kroke 25, The Best Of (Universal Music Polska, 2018)


Artist Profiles: Transkapela


After the success of its first album Sounds & Shadows, which was rewarded with a title of the best Polish folk record 2005 year in the Polish Radio record competition as the Folk Phonogram of the Year Award, Transkapela released the Over the Village record, a continuation of the musical imagination about the times of Klezmers from the Carpathians. Musicians of Transkapela, once again reaches to the roots of the Carpathian music, searches once more for the trace of the village klezmers and musicians splendor, who separately and together played on village weddings, religious holidays and festivities.

This time, it is a sort of metaphysical story about the Carpathian village. Village, like in the old days, inhabited by Bukovina highlanders, Hutsuls, Jews, Gypsies, Polish, Romanians, Hungarians and many more from the abundance of the Transcarpathian cultures.

Transkapela was:

Ewa Wasilewska on violin, mazanki – little fiddle
Maciej Filipczuk on violin, fiddle with trumpet, guitar, zongura
Robert Wasilewski on hammered dulcimer, viola, shepherd’s pipes, jew’s harp, guitar zongura
Piotr Pniewski on cello, double bass, drum, gardon www.transkapela.com


Sounds & Shadows (Konador, 2005)
Klezmer Carpathian Music (ARC Music, 2007)