Alchemia plays host to Krakow Fall Jazz Festival

It’s that time of year again. As summer slips imperceptibly into the “golden” Polish fall, fans of eclectic but challenging jazz-influenced music have a treat in store for them as the annual Krakow Fall Jazz Festival kicks off with a performance October 2 by Crash Cruise, a project led by Swiss percussionist, Lucas Niggli. This concert and all the others detailed below take place in Alchemia (ul. Estery 5).

As that old hardy perennial “Autumn in New York” goes, “the promise of new love…is often mingled with pain.” And so it was, with the performance last autumn in Alchemia by Lucas Niggli’s Steamboat project. The anarchic combination of clinical precision drumming (sometimes read from music) and goth-industrial Hammond organ and vocals alienated as much as it hypnotized.

Whether Crash Cruise, which is a project formed from Lucas Niggli’s regular trio, Zoom, which features the Dutch trombonist, Nils Wogram on trombone and Philipp Schaufelberger on bass and the Arte Saxophone Quartett will prove to be as compellingly painful remains to be seen.

Next to appear October 4 is Wroclaw’s Kostas New Program, the latest incarnation of vocalist, Kostas Georgakopulos’ Progrram (sic.). Kostas owns a record company called Tone Industria, which specializes in music that melts traditional boundaries, but this is most certainly not a vanity project. The catchily-titled “Autumn: how to use brain to find inner M*” album that Progrram released in 2005 is considered to be one of the most influential alternative albums of recent years. Claustrophobic vocals ride on a swirling wave of grungy robotic funk. Not for the faint-hearted.

Anyone hoping that the Rova Saxophone Quartet who appear October 7 might inject a little old-time riff-laden swing into proceedings are in for a shock. These veterans of the San Francisco new music scene still refuse to compromise 30 years after their formation. Their complex compositions explore modern classical and world music as much as jazz and are performed with such precision and panache that it is often difficult to tell apart written parts from improvised passages.

October 9 the adventurous but accessible German clarinetist, Theo Jorgensmann is accompanied (not for the first time) by the highly experienced Oles Brothers on bass and percussion. Special guest on this occasion is German vibes player, Christopher Dell.

Four days after the October 11 performance by an international quartet headed by German saxophonist, clarinetist and flautist, Frank Gratkowski, there will be a chance to see Japanese saxophonist, Kazutoki Umezu’s KIKI Band. Last time they appeared in Poland, the critics clambered over each other to categorize this avant rock and klezmer-influenced band, so I’ll leave it up to the leader’s web site: “He blows it strong and speedy like a devil.” So know you know!

Ticket prices range between 30-40 zloty (standard), and 25-35 zloty (concessionary)

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