The sound of freedom

Polish connect

The sound of freedom

One among the many groups which make up Poland’s thriving jazz scene, the vibrant ‘HeFi Jazz Quartet’ was in Bengaluru as part of the Bangalore School of Music’s 15th East West Music & Dance Encounter 2017.

As Polish jazz proudly approaches its centenary year, the quartet gave Bengalureans a taste of what the music is all about, which is greatly influenced by their struggle to perform openly especially in the greater part of the 20th century.

Most people are unaware of the significance of jazz music in Poland. It  represents freedom which is at the heart of Polish art and culture.

The band  features Leszek Hefi Wiśniowski on flutes and saxophones, Dominik Wania on piano, Bartek Staromiejski on drums and Maciej Adamczak on double bass. Leszek chats with Anushree Agarwal about their music, journey so far and their experience in Bengaluru.

How did the quartet come together?
When I decided to start a band, I knew that I needed musicians with excellent skills — musicians who could play mainstream jazz and still have their minds open to new music that is often not accepted by conservatives. My band members are intelligent, brilliant virtuosos with a large awareness of the history of music and the world of art. We all live in Krakow and work at the Academy of Music in Krakow.

Tell us about Polish jazz.
We have a very rich jazz tradition in Poland. We were probably the most jazz-oriented country among the communist countries. But only after the collapse of communism and the opening of borders could we be invited to cooperate in the musical field without any restrictions.  And we also invited artistes from all over the world. This has developed Polish jazz and changed it for good. An evidence of that is our collaboration with Giridhar Udupa and Pramath Kiran. Poland has some of the most popular names in the jazz world, including Tomasz Stanko, with whom our
pianist Dominik Wania has played.

What’s your style of music?
The characteristic of our style is a double coding — very typical for postmodern art. We take from new and old music at the same time and jazz is a language in which we speak. Our music is then based on leader’s flutes. This has many colours and shades and the listener can hear the stories of the world as the flute is regarded to be the oldest instrument on earth.

Tell us about your Indian experience...
It was a 20-hour-long journey. We were quite tired upon arrival but during the ride to the hotel, we began absorbing India. The fatigue turned into a real desire to enjoy the country which, in comparison to boring and predictable Europe, is a multi-coloured, captivating world that is so inspiring for artistes.

How was your experience performing here?
We are really surprised about how well organised the festival was. All the technical arrangements for the concerts were
impeccable.

How did you find the audience in Bengaluru?
The audience here is very focussed on what is being played and it allows us to achieve the highest level of concentration. After the show, some listeners came to us and talked about their impressions and I must say they had extremely
accurate observations.

In addition, we need to say that we sold almost all the records we brought with us to India. We have also been invited to some dinners and that’s really nice since we love Indian cuisine.

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