The International Jazz Juniors Festival and Competition in Cracow is an annual four-day music feast for all jazz lovers. On the three concert evenings, we will hear performances by artists from different parts of the world, including, apart from Adam Pierończyk and other Polish musicians, also the US guitarist and singer Jean-Paul Bourelly, the German trombonist Nils Wogram, the Moroccan multi-instrumentalist Majid Bekkas, the US trumpeter Peter Evans, as well as saxophonists: Seamus Blake from Canada and the Slovene Jure Pukl.

Jazz Juniors Festival boasts 45 years of history and a well-established position on the musical map of Poland. Ever since it has added the promotion of young Polish musicians abroad to its objectives (through, among others, the foundation of a Council of International Partners), the Festival has also gained recognition in the global scene. Apart from the Competition for young musicians, whose finals are held this year on 6th October at Nowa Huta Cultural Centre, we also present concerts featuring world-famous artists.

All the concerts will be held at Cracow’s Cricoteka. The Festival starts on 7th October with the premiere of a programme prepared by its artistic director and artist-in- residence, the Polish saxophonist Adam Pierończyk, accompanied by his guests: US guitarist and singer Jean-Paul Bourelly and the Moroccan instrumentalist and singer Majid Bekkas. Bourelly is considered one of the pioneers of modern jazz, whose jazz-rock and blues fascinations are reflected in his style. Miles Davis’ invitation to appear on his 1988 album Amandla was only one of a great many collaborations with musical celebrities in Bourelly’s career. Majid Bekkas, who plays the guembri, the oud, and the guitar, is a multi-instrumentalist known in both the jazz and world music scenes, whose music draws, among others, on his North African roots. For many years his albums have been released by the prestigious ACT Music label. In the second part of the evening concert, the audience will listen to one of the world’s best trombonists, the German artist Nils Wogram and his Root 70, a quartet without a harmonic instrument, distinguished by its bright and lucid, transparent sound. In 2020 the band celebrated ten years of its work.

On the second festival night, 8th October, US trumpeter Peter Evans will present himself in two different roles. Considered as one of the most creative American jazz artists, he has also greatly contributed to the development of the trumpet technique and to overcoming the stereotypes and limitations related to improvisation on this instrument. In the first part of the evening, we will hear him playing solo, as he has done for years all over the world, surprising the audiences with the sound and possibilities of his trumpet. In the second part, he will be joined by Polish musicians: saxophonist Wojciech Lichtański, pianist Kajetan Borowski, bassist Piotr Narajowski, and drummer Piotr Budniak, twice winner of Jazz Juniors Competition (2nd prize at age 15 with Piotr Budniak Quintet, followed by 3rd prize in 2015 with Piotr Budniak Essential Group). For the needs of this year’s festival, we have brought together a line-up suitable for a jazz event in which improvisation plays a major role. The meeting of gifted young Polish musicians with a US improviser not much older than themselves will likely result in music that is far from obvious, overflowing with creativity and replete with unexpected turns of action.

The last festival evening, 9th October, will be opened by Maciej Kitajewski’s band featuring Slovenian saxophonist Jure Pukl, one of that country’s best recognised jazz artists, but also a scholarship holder at Berklee College of Music, where his teachers included the masterful Joe Lovano, who claimed Pukl plays music ‘that flows like the wind’. At Jazz Juniors Pukl will play with bassist Maciej Kitajewski’s Trio, which consists, apart from the leader, of pianist Franciszek Raczkowski and drummer Szymon Madej. This will be another improvised collaboration for our festival audience to enjoy. Maciej Kitajewski’s Trio has importantly been named Jazz Recording Debut of the Year 2021 in a programme organised by the National Institute of Music and Dance. The second part of the final concert features a solo performance by Canadian tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, hailed by John Scofield as ‘a total saxophonist’. Blake is the winner of Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition (2002). He has played with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock and is currently considered one of the world’s best saxophonists. A solo concert by an artist of such calibre will surely be an intimate but best possible way to come in contact with world-class music.

Film and Jazz Music Foundation

Jazz Juniors 2021 is co-organised by the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre within the task titled ‘Kraków Culture at NHCC as Part of Kraków Jazz Autumn’.

The project has received financial support from the Małopolska Province.

Financed from the funds of the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport as part of the multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017–2022.

Co-financed from the Culture Promotion Fund of the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport as part of the programme ‘Music’ implemented by the National Institute of Music and Dance.