News 10th Polska Jazz Festival – greats of Polish jazz at Opus again

The tenth edition of Polska Jazz, a festival co-organised by BMC and the Polish Institute in Budapest, is now in its tenth year, bringing the best of Polish jazz – rooted in its strong tradition but also open to innovation – to the Opus Jazz Club and the BMC Concert Hall. The series of concerts from 9 to 12 November offers a wide range of inspirations and musical approaches: some of the invited bands draw inspiration from poetry, others from the music of Bach or the art of their great predecessors, and they adapt this heritage to their own contemporary vision. Three of the four concerts will welcome returning guests to the stage of Opus.

It is not only Polska Jazz Festival that celebrates its anniversary: it is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Ballads and Romances, and to mark the occasion we can take an unusual approach to the everlasting work of Adam Mickiewicz (1798–1855), one of Poland's greatest Romantic poets and public figures. To mark the anniversary, the Polish Adam Mickiewicz Institute has asked the distinguished young composer and music director Nikola Kołodziejczyk to reinterpret the poet's genius in the form of a jazz suite. For the Budapest premiere on 9 November, Kołodziejczyk has assembled a unique ensemble of performers who will bring Polish musical traditions, including folk music, to life. While the singers sometimes use a tone typical of folk singing, the music as a whole is in the jazz style: Mickiewicz's poetry is thus expressed in a contemporary language.

The festival will continue on the evening of 10 November with Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik, who has been a major presence on the jazz scene in his country since the late 1980s, and whose playing has been described as a “true revelation”. Since then, he has toured Europe's most prestigious festivals and clubs, and regularly works with musicians from abroad, especially from the USA. His playing is also well known to Hungarian audiences, as he has performed at previous BMC festivals as a guest of the Szabó Dániel Trio and Kornél Fekete-Kovács, and in 2013 he was welcomed to the stage of the Opus Jazz Club with his own quartet. This time Wojtasik is coming to Budapest with a quintet of renowned Polish artists. The sound of his ensemble is essentially inspired by the jazz of the sixties, but the folk influence and the modern structure of his trumpet compositions add surprising twists to their music.

Joanna Duda has already been introduced to Opus audiences as pianist of the Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet, and will return to Budapest on 11 November with her own trio, founded in 2017. The ensemble was originally intended to expand the solo expeditions of the pianist-composer, who is also active as a visual artist, but the acoustic-electronic collaboration quickly grew into a project in its own right. In any case, Joanna continues to use her instrument in her characteristic way: sometimes she creates percussive effects, sometimes she draws suggestive melodies, sometimes she plays stubbornly repetitive motifs. Deeply emotional and intellectual, the trio's music reveals seemingly contradictory musical qualities, devices and characters, which the musicians draw from classical etudes and Bach pieces, among others.

Last time, saxophonist Maciej Obara performed on the stage of Opus for the premiere of his ECM album, and now, in the closing concert of Polska Jazz on 12 November, he will pay tribute to the legendary Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko (born 80 years ago) with his Euforila programme and an ensemble specially assembled for the occasion. The members of the Maciej Obara Special Sextet, the cream of contemporary jazz, draw inspiration directly from their personal and artistic encounters with Stańko, who played a key role in the musical development and career of each of them. Obara's compositions complement Stańko's works in the repertoire. “The compositions I wrote embrace what I valued Tomasz for, they directly correspond with his free-jazz expression, which did not exclude the immense lyricism of his music,” concludes Obara.

The festival will be accompanied by a photo exhibition in the gallery of the Opus Jazz Club between 10 and 12 November. With the exhibition Immortal Tomasz Stańko, Jarosław Wierzbicki artist-photographer – the author of cover and booklet photos used by recording artists from Poland and abroad, winner of the Jazz World Photo and MK Jazz Foto competitions, and a regular collaborator of Jazz Forum and Jazz Press magazines – wishes to commemorate the legendary trumpeter. “I have photographed concerts of bands of Tomasz Stańko for the last few years of his life, gradually gaining confidence that I was able to capture the essence of his artistry and his way of being. I was delighted with music but I always remembered that he was a man who – like myself – took incredibly difficult life's lessons. And he won! The photos from which I composed the Immortal Tomasz Stanko exhibition come from the short but memorable performance at the ZAIKS 100th Anniversary Gala at the Wielki Theater – National Opera in Warsaw (March 19, 2018), Warsaw concerts at the 12on14 Club (October 22, 2016) and Roma Theater (November 13, 2017) and the very last one he ever played – at the Alchemia Club in Krakow (February 14, 2018).This is my real farewell to Tomasz.”

The Year of Polish Romanticism marks the bicentenary of the publication of Adam Mickiewicz’s “Ballads and Romances”. To celebrate this anniversary, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute is carrying out projects around the world, showcasing contemporary interpretations of Polish Romanticism and its contribution to world heritage.

BMC – Opus Jazz Club
1093 Budapest, Mátyás utca 8.

9 November 2022 Wednesday 7 PM Nikola Kołodziejczyk: Ballads and Romances
10 November 2022 Thursday 8 PM Piotr Wojtasik Quintet: To Whom It May Concern
11 November 2022 Friday 8 PM Joanna Duda Trio
12 November 2022 Saturday 8 PM Maciej Obara Special Sextet: Euforila

Tickets for the four concerts of 10th Polska Jazz Festival are available at

Sponsors: Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Polish Institute in Budapest