The new and more ambitious concept that I introduced for the festival last year didn't appeal to all listeners' tastes, but to my great delight, those that enjoyed it were the definite majority, and that fact serves as motivation for me and Sopot City Hall to proceed in the direction that's been chosen. I'm hopeful and believe that we will be able to reach an even larger audience, convincing them as to the formula which I've developed, yet I'm also aware of the fact that the creation of a relevant brand, as well as building the trust of an audience, are things that take time. I'd like the main idea of the festival to be - first and foremost - the high quality of the music presented, its authenticity and originality. It's important to me to show that jazz and improvisation nowadays involve not just the United States, Poland and Europe, but virtually every continent in the world as well as numerous, mutually overlapping cultures. For this reason last year, alongside strictly jazz artists, we hosted Hermeto Pascoal from Brazil, Majid Bekkas from Morocco and Anthony Joseph from Trinidad and Tobago, among others. I'd also like to make music-lovers more aware of the way the record market works; of the fact that what reaches us as a rule is not all there is, and indeed constitutes a decided minority amidst the multitude of intriguing musical phenomena in the world. Of course, well-known performers will be appearing, but I want to place a definite emphasis on more independent artists, and show that discovering them for the Sopot Festival's audience was a worthwhile endeavor. Therefore, on each day of the festival, awaiting us is the premiere of one to two groups that had not previously been presented in Poland.
The first day of the festival will be the most experimental and at the same time intimate, since it will take place in the legendary Spatif club. There the American Chris Dahlgren, a many-year member of the great Anthony Braxton's groups, and a young representative of Poland's experimental scene, Wacław Zimpel, will present their own vision of the art of improvisation. An additional, composite element to this evening will be early musical instruments that are not often encountered in this type of music: the hurdy gurdy and viola da gamba.
For the festival's second day, we'll be moving to the main stage of a newly-created culture center, Zatoka Sztuki. This beautiful and modern venue, with its distinctive placement right on the Sopot seaside, is inspiring to artists and audiences alike. Initially heard here will be the trio of Lage Lund, a Norwegian residing in New York for over ten years now, and regarded as one of the finest guitarists there. A second representative of this instrument will be a Parisian with Vietnamese roots, Nguyen Le with the group Saiyuki. This is certainly one of the most interesting guitarists around, and this concert will exemplify an intriguing coupling of the music of Far Eastern masters with various shades of improvisation.
The evening will be topped off by contemporary jazz of the club variety, on the ground floor of Zatoka Szuki, with a trio consisting of two active Polish musicians – Piotr Lemańczyk and Jacek Kochan – who will be joined by leading New York saxophonist Seamus Blake.
We'll start the final day off at Zatoka Sztuki once again, back on the floor above. German trombonist Nils Wogram and Russian pianist Simon Nabatov are a frankly ideal pairing of exceptional personalities who have worked together as a duet for years. In their music, they combine virtuosity, contemporary improvisation and extended compositional forms. The main and final concert on the big stage will be Enrico Rava with his current quintet, Tribe. This musician is the world's most widely recognized Italian jazz-man, as well as being one of the foremost leaders and pioneers of European jazz. In Italy as well as abroad, he enjoys a similar renown and stature to that of Tomasz Stańko in our country.
The festival's entirety will be closed out in the Sfinks 700 club by the cult emissaries of intelligent Polish hip-hop, the group Fisz Emade Tworzywo. Fisz's texts are like good editorials, and since the Waglewski brothers have long drawn inspiration from jazz, and hold it in very high esteem, the idea occurred to me to combine their talent with the energy and individuality of Australian trombone virtuoso Adrian Mears.
Hosting the festival this year will be master of his trade, Artur Orzech.
Other than that, I'm counting on a golden Polish Autumn in Sopot – and of course, on all of you!
Sopot Jazz Festival