For many, jazz means new ideas, new sounds, and always doing things for the first time, and the same goes for the “Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic” concert series. On these evenings, surprising, unique combinations of musicians and border-crossing projects can be heard in the Kammermusiksaal of the Berlin Philharmonie. This is one of the many reasons why they have nearly always sold out since their inception in November 2012, and part of what makes them a highlight of Berlin's music scene.
On May 7th, 2014, “Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic” headed East on its musical journey to the jazz stronghold of Poland. Whenever the topic of Polish jazz arises, it’s never long before the name Leszek Możdżer is mentioned. The 1971-born piano virtuoso is revered like a pop star in his homeland, his albums routinely make their way into the Polish charts, beating artists such as Sting or Beyoncé to the top spots along the way.
Możdżer's music is deeply rooted in Polish music tradition while at the same time striving for new horizons. Everything is thrown in, from classical to jazz to pop, all interlaced and in sync with one another. Możdżer’s classical piano education enables him to explore his own worlds of sound with masterful technique. Chopin, the national hero of Polish music, is an ever-present influence but Możdżer also takes cues from modern Polish composers such as Witold Lutosławski, best known for his complex symphonic oeuvres as well as catchy popular “hits”, and Krzysztof Komeda, the founder of an unconventionally lyrical, genuinely Polish jazz sound, and composer for many of Roman Polanski’s films including “Rosemary’s Baby”.
For his “Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic”, Możdżer enlisted the help of Swedish bassist and cellist Lars Danielsson, Israeli percussionist Zohar Fresco - perfoming both as a piano / bass duo or trio - and the Atom String Quartet. Without his friends, the concert evening would only have been half the occasion, virtuosity and musicality went hand in hand. Danielsson and Fresco are soul mates of Możdżer, and they have been collaborating closely for ten years now.
Performing with the Atom String Quartet was a new experience for all three men, they are one of the world’s finest string quartets and are mentioned in the same breath as the American Kronos Quartet. Outstanding classical technique and a stupendous talent for improvisation enable the quartet to use their instruments with a range that has never been heard before.
Together, Leszek Możdżer & Friends, the protagonists in the sold-out Kammermusiksaal, conjured up a celebrated concert evening that once again shows that a mix of jazz, classical and folk music provides important impulses for the future of European jazz and Poland, here with Możdżer on the piano, plays a big part in that.