Seifert Jazz Days, which has opened the festival on Monday evening, is an event commemorating one of Poland's most important jazz musicians - Zbigniew Seifert (1946-1979). The profile of the Krakow-born brilliant violinist and saxophonist remained in the shadow of other jazz masters for too long, and his work was almost forgotten. In the several decades that have passed since the artist's untimely death, recordings featuring him have been reached by few, and for new generations of musicians and listeners Seifert has often remained an almost anonymous figure. This state of affairs has changed, thanks to the International Jazz Violin Competition, organized since 2014. Zbigniew Seifert International Jazz Violin Competition held in a biennial cycle, the event has begun to restore interest in Seifert's work and figure among young musicians from around the world. The Seifert Jazz Days, organized for the first time in 2021, take the patron's legacy beyond the strictly violinist circle, reaching a wide audience of improvised music, jazz and related genres with the violinist's work. By inviting musicians from different countries to collaborate, they create an opportunity to cultivate the memory of the Krakow artist's achievements also outside Poland.
This year's Seifert Jazz Days, at the same time the entire Kraków Jazz Week festival, opened with a concert by one of Europe's leading saxophonists, Maciej Obara. The artist has been leading an international quartet for a decade, which has become a space for the leader to showcase unfettered creative invention. In recent years, the Maciej Obara Quartet, which also features Dominik Wania - piano, Ole Morten Vågan - double bass and Gard Nilssen - percussion, has mainly performed original material. However, especially for the Krakow festival, the saxophonist leaned on the oeuvre of Zbigniew Seifert. And although Seifert began his jazz career as a saxophonist, this was not what became the key thread for Obara.
- Seifert was a very good saxophonist, but he was greatly influenced by the work of John Coltrane, says Maciej Obara. - In those days, hundreds of musicians played this way. What made us think of him today as an absolutely unique artist was his stepping out of the post-Coltrane way into broader musical territory. He combined his fascination with Trane's work with the background of a classically trained violinist, thereby proving his flexibility and versatility, which, together with his incredible technical skills, made him a wildly original artist.
The guiding idea in arranging the program with Seifert's music became to show precisely all the contexts in which he worked as a composer and violinist. Hence, in addition to pieces from "The Man of Light," Maciej Obara reached for "Serenade," which he performed with the Oregon group, or one of the most beautiful pieces in Seifert's oeuvre, "Song for Christopher."
During the energetic, thrilling concert, the musicians showed the extremely rich diversity of Zbigniew Seifert's compositions, but also the exceptional coherence of what this extraordinary artist created.
Photo: Michal Lepecki