Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Zbigniew Seifert – Kilimanjaro

After many years of marginalizing sound of violin in jazz and more popular genres because of its softness and subtlety, production of electric violin made possible to play the violin louder and with as much expression as anybody wants.  Jazz scene of seventies was animated by the presence of many new sounds and one of the apparently active was the sound of violin. In few moments it looked like real violin boom, but in fact it was rather back to normal and numbers of violin players were not even close to quantity of guitarists. The group of jazz violinists in seventies was expansive but loose. Some, like Jean-Luc Ponty or Michał Urbaniak achieved great succeses and played for more than one decade, the others left fewer recordings and disappeared. One of them was Polish violinist Zbigniew Seifert.
He was born in Cracow one year after the war, June 7th 1946 and in his hometown learned to play violin and jazz in Musical High School and then in Cracow Academy of Music. Until he graduate as violinist, he payed on violin exclusively classical music. In sixties it was widely believed that playing jazz distorts sense of musical aesthetics in classical genres. This years he was playing jazz only on alto saxophone with his own quartet he founded in 1964. With this jazz quartet and took part in some European festivals wining first prizes. The second step of his career was playing with Tomasz Stańko Quartet and Quintet – those times probably most eminent group in Polish jazz well known widely in Europe – first as saxophonist and in seventies as violin player.

Zbigniew Seifert – Kilimanjaro (1979)

As a violin jazz virtuoso Zbigniew Seifert became welcomed guest on main jazz festivals. After 1973 artist moved to Germany and focused on expanding his solo career. He played with Hans Koller’s Free Sound and with many others as a freelance, including Phillip Catherine, Wolfgang Dauner, Volker Kriegel, Joachim Kuhn, Albert Mangelsdorff and Charlie Mariano. In 1976 MPS Records released first Seifert’s album Man of the Light. The same year he played with John Lewis in Monterey Jazz Festival and next year he recorded album Violin with Oregon for Vanguard label. Capitol Records published his American albums, in 1977 Zbigniew Seifert and in 1979 Passion. When Zbigniew Seifert died February 15th 1979 in Buffalo hospital during the operation to remove a tumor of the forearm, he was barely 32 years old. Last three years when he was fighting the cancer disease, were the most fruitful period in his life. Altough he didn’t fulfill his ideas he was acclaimed as the great master of jazz violin and one of most creative artists of his generation.
Three months before his last operation, Zbiggy visit Cracow and with group of friends on November 14th, 1978 gave public concert in student’s club “Pod Jaszczurami”. The event was recorded by Polish Radio Cracow. The material from radio archives has been published next year became quiute a sensation. Two separate volumes published by PSJ (Polish Jazz Society) own label (PSJ-101 and PSJ-102) consist of one evening live recordings and an interview with Zbigniew Seifert. These records can be seen as priceless documentation of last period in artist’s life. But these two LPs are something more than sound document, carrying a lot of beautiful, fresh jazz music. With Zbigniew Seifert plays modern guitarist Jarosław Śmietana, probably the best fusion keyboardist in Poland Janusz Grzywacz, double bass player Zbigiew Wegehaupt and drummer Mieczysław Górka. They play compositions by Seifert (Coral, Kilimanjaro) and Coltrane (Impressions) whom Seifert considered as his master. The postbop sound of the group is typical for seventies. Strong, driving section, modern, sometimes modal solos and powerful expression decide it is valuable addition to any jazz collection, especially for those who prize Zbigniew Seifert’s music.

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