A concert by Maciej Obara Quartet, dedicated to the music of jazz legend Zbigniew Seifert, inaugurated Krakow Jazz Week. It is a festival that combines two prestigious events – Seifert Jazz Days and Jazz Juniors – featuring concerts by international stars and outstanding musicians of the young generation.
The festival began on Monday night with Seifert Jazz Days, an event commemorating one of the most important Polish jazz musicians, Zbigniew Seifert (1946-1979). That Cracow-born violin and saxophone genius remained eclipsed for too long by other jazz masters, and his output was nearly forgotten. For several decades that followed the artist’s premature death, his recordings were only known to a narrow circle of fans. To the younger generations of musicians and music-lovers, Seifert’s name frequently meant next to nothing. This situation changed thanks to the Zbigniew Seifert International Jazz Violin Competition (held since 2014), a biennial event that has begun to revive interest in Seifert’s life and oeuvre among young musicians worldwide. Seifert Jazz Days, first organised in 2021, takes its patron’s legacy beyond the professional violin-playing circles to the wide audience interested in jazz, improvised music, and related genres. By inviting musicians from many countries, the latter event creates a context for cultivating the memory of the Cracow violinist also outside Poland.
This year’s Seifert Jazz Days and at the same time the whole Kraków Jazz Week festival opened with a performance by top European saxophonist Maciej Obara. For the last decade Obara has led an international quartet, which he has used as a platform for presenting his unlimited creative invention. In recent years Maciej Obara Quartet (consisting, apart from its leader, of Dominik Wania – piano, Ole Morten Vågan – bass, and Gard Nilssen – drums) has thus mainly performed Obara’s own original pieces. Specially for the Cracow festival, however, the band’s leader has taken up Zbigniew Seifert’s music. Though Seifert began his career in jazz as a sax player, this was not a key incentive for Obara.
‘Seifert was a very good saxophonist,’ Obara explains, ‘but he remained under the overwhelming influence of John Coltrane. In that period, hundreds of musicians played in a similar manner. What makes us see Seifert as absolutely unique today is that he emerged from that post-Coltrane trend into wider musical waters. By combining Trane fascinations with his classical violin background, he proved his flexibility and versatility, which, in conjunction with an incredible technique, made him immensely original as an artist.’
The main idea of the concert programme, made up of Seifert’s music, has been to present all those contexts in which Seifert functioned as a composer and violinist. This is why, apart from pieces from Man of the Light, Maciej Obara chose Serenade, which Seifert played with Oregon, and one of the finest works in the Cracow violinist’s output, Song for Christopher. During the energising and captivating concert, the musicians demonstrated the exceptional diversity of Seifert’s oeuvre, but also the unique cohesion of that extraordinary artist’s music.
Film and Jazz Music Foundation
The Zbigniew Seifert Foundation
CRICOTEKA Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor
The National Centre for Culture Poland
The project has been co-financed from the funds of the Municipality of Cracow and by STOART Polish Association of Performing Artists.
Seifert Jazz Days is an event co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, from the Culture Promotion Fund – a specific-purpose state fund, as part of the ‘Muzyka’ programme implemented by the National Institute of Music and Dance.
The Seifert Jazz Days event has been co-financed by the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation.