Sunday, June 19, 2011

I love Cracow and (free) jazz in Autumn!!!

Ken Vandermark and Marek Winiarski (Alchemia 2008) for. Krzysztof Penarski

I was born in Wrocław - probably the merriest city in Poland, I live in Warsaw - the biggest and most metropolitan but I love Cracow - it is bohemian, metaphysical and moody as any good blues or jazz. It is a city where Tomasz Stańko lives, where Krzysztof Komeda first become known to public and where Mieczysław Kosz debuted playing in restaurants and dancing halls. It is therefore city of jazz as in the past as now which is evidenced for example by festival Krakowska Jesień Jazzowa (Cracow Autumn Jazz Festival).

The history of this festival goes back to 2004 when Marek Winiarski - a founder of Not Two Records invited Ken Vandermark to Cracow for series of concerts. Because those concerts took place in Alchemia Club and were very succesfull, owners of this club, Aleksander Wityński and Jacek Żakowski, decided to organize (first in Poland?) festival dedicated solely to free jazz and improvised music. Organized every year since then this festival hosted more than 150 muscians, among them Anthony Braxton, Charles Gayle, Joe McPhee, Peter Brotzmann, who gave more than 100 concerts. If you want to see great photos evidencing many of great artists playing in Cracow during this festival please check website of photographer Krzysztof Penarski.

So if you plan your travel to Poland and you love free jazz, there is no better polace for you Autumn this year as Cracow Autumn Jazz Festival. Here you can find schedule from which you can learn that such great artists as Taylor Ho Bynum, Liudas Mockunas, Ken Vandermark, Paal Nilssen-Love, Rafał Mazur (and many others) will be playing concerts.

The festival is stretched over three consecutive autumn months starting on 20.09.2011 with Kazutoki Umezu KIKI and ending on 28.11.2011 with Band named Conference Hall featuring Gebhard Ullmann, Michael Jefry Stevens, Joe Fonda, George Schuller. So there is plenty of time to plan trip to Cracow and believe me:  in this world there are few things as gracious as lazy stroll along Cracow's famous Planty promenade from Wawel Royal Castle to Old Market when tons of pure gold come down from splendid chestnut trees...

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny (

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