22nd Piwnica pod Baranami Summer Jazz Festival in Krakow

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  • Sunday, June 18, 2017 - Saturday, July 29, 2017

Who Will Give More?

The sheer number of concerts alone makes it a true leader among Kraków’s music festivals!

It started in 1996 with a handful concerts… and today the Summer Jazz Festival at Piwnica Pod Baranami features close to 100 live concerts and accompanying events. This year’s festival, now in its 22nd year, kick off on 18 June and lasts until almost the very end of July, with the hottest stars including Ive Mendes (the vocalistl perform at ICE Kraków on 25 June), Branford Marsalis & Kurt Elling and Nigel Kennedy.

With a guitar

The second Jarek Śmietana International Jazz Guitar Competition also forms a part of the festival. The event brings together giants of jazz guitar, Polish masters of the instrument and up-and-coming jazz musicians. Twelve guitarists have been shortlisted, including seven from Poland, two from the US and one each from the UK, Germany and Italy. And there’s plenty to fight for! The organisers have promised three prizes: 10,000USD, 5000USD and 2000USD. There is also a special prize funded by the competition patron’s family: Anna and Alicja Śmietana. Winners will be revealed during the finale gala: on 1 July, the Kraków Philharmonic hosts winners performing alongside some of the greatest stars of jazz guitar Mike Stern, Peter Bernstein and Marek Napiórkowski.

In a parade

The traditional prelude of the July music marathon is the New Orleans Sunday. Lasting throughout the day, this outdoor event is great for lovers of jazz as well as casual passers-by: its key event is the colourful parade through the Old Town, bringing together musicians, actors and celebrities, as well as numerous concerts in nearby cafés. In the evening of 2 July, the large stage by the Town Hall Tower welcomes Karen Edwards, JBBO & Stanley Breckenridge, Przemek Dyakowski and Marian Pawlik Quartet. The leader of the ensemble, double-bassist and co-founder of the acclaimed jazz-rock group Dżamble, receives the Jazz Lamb this year – the traditional festival lifetime achievement award.

Radiant

This year we’ll be seeing stars – and not just in the hot summer sky. On 11 July, the Branford Marsalis Quartet & Kurt Elling perform at the Kraków Opera. The American saxophonist and composer has visited Kraków before; this time he is accompanied by Elling, whose warm voice has earned him the acclaim of one of the greatest jazz vocalists working today. “The Kraków Opera has welcomed Bobby McFerrin and Al Jarreau during previous festivals, so the upcoming performance by Kurt Elling serves as a closure of performances by the great three,” stresses Witold Wnuk, director of the Summer Jazz Festival.

The following day, on 12 July, Auditorium Maximum of the Jagiellonian University welcomes audience favourite Nigel Kennedy with his ensemble. The violinist’s mentors include Yehudi Menuhin, Stéphane Grappelli and Isaac Stern, and he dedicates his latest album My World to them. Kennedy recalls his emotional ties with Poland through his latest project dedicated to the music of Krzysztof Komeda. The concert will also serve as a tribute to the guitarist Jarek Śmietana, a great friend of Kennedy’s who passed away four years ago.

Black and white

For the last six years, the festival has been accompanied by a cycle of solo piano recitals Solo Piano Weekend. On 7 July, the Kraków Philharmonic hosts Bogdan Hołownia, the outstanding pianist (and chess player, as it happens) from Toruń. During the same evening, the Dutch maestro of keyboards Rembrandt Frerichs, twenty years junior to Hołownia, paints landscapes with nocturnes. On 9 July, we will hear a recital by Vladislav “Adzik” Sendecki, world-famous Cracovian who has been living abroad for 35 years but is now a regular visitor to his home city. The black-and-white stage project is completed by Kuba Płużek, one of the best young pianists working today. Youthful fantasy intertwines with experience again at Piec Art between 7 and 9 July, featuring Mateusz Pałka, Piotr “Pianohooligan” Orzechowski and Wojciech Groborz.

In total

So, what else is there? Daily concerts at Piwnica Pod Baranami and Harris Piano Jazz Bar, of course! It’s nigh on impossible to list them all, but it’s worth stressing the strong representation of women. Hanna Banaszak, Ewa Bem, Grażyna Łobaszewska, Karolina Naziemiec, Luca Ciarla, Magda Bożyk and Aga Derlak are bound to attract fans of the finest jazz. Also noteworthy are music projects dedicated to the lives and work of Jarek Śmietana, Janusz Muniak and Henryk Majewski. If you’re a fan of jazz violin, you’re in luck: Kraków once again hosts virtuosos of the instrument including Adam Bałdych and Mateusz Smoczyński. The latter, winner of the 2nd Z. Seifert Violin Competition, performs at Radio Kraków on 18 July. The special concert at the Romana Bobrowska Studio also presents the cellist Stephan Braun, awarded a distinction during the competition. And of course every Tuesday, Piwnica Pod Baranami hosts concerts as part of the Young Alternative Stage.

Finally

But that’s not all musical emotions: on 30 July get ready for a powerful epilogue! During the finale concert at the courtyard of the Pod Baranami Palace we will see Laboratorium. The legendary ensemble recently reissued their album Modern Pentathlon, originally released 40 years ago, and the musicians are enjoying a second flush of youth. The concert features guests Krzesimir Dębski and Rasm Al-Mashan. (Artur Jackowski, "Karnet" magazine)

 

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