POLISH JAZZ CONCERT

The Polish Jazz Concert presented by the Polish Music Center at USC on March 29 will showcase music written by Polish composers Bronisław Kaper (1902-1983) and Henryk Wars (aka Henry Vars, 1902-1977) after they had emigrated to Hollywood, as well as modern works by Jan Jarczyk (b. 1947). Led by pianist Jan Jarczyk, performers for this enchanting evening of jazz will include the Jan Jarczyk Trio (with bassist Dave Robaire and percussionist Efa Etorama) and the Stella Cho Quartet—violinists Hwi-Eun Kim and Jiyoung Park, violist Jason Karlyn and cellist Stella Cho.

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As the first Polish composer to earn the Academy Award for the music in Lili (1953) that featured an all-time hit, Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo, Kaper (pictured at right) wrote scores for over 150 films and a great number of memorable songs. Some of them, including You’re All I Need (from the 1935 MGM feature Escapade), Gloria (from the 1960 MGM feature Butterfield 8), Blue Venetian Waters (from the 1937 Marx Brothers comedy A Day at the Races), While My Lady Sleeps (from The Chocolate Soldier, 1941), and On the Green Dolphin Street (from Lana Turner’s 1947 classic, Green Dolphin Street), will be heard at the PMC concert.

The March 29 program will also include several hits by Henryk Wars (pictured at left), including Już nie zapomnisz mnie [You’ll Never Forget Me] originally sung by Aleksander Żabczyński in a 1938 classic, Zapomniana melodia [A Forgotten Melody], and continue with Sleep My Child, a touching lullaby written in 1947 and dedicated to orphaned children all over the world. The three other Wars songs, all dating from the early 1950s, Never Say You’ll Never Fall in Love, More or Less, and I Remember, were originally introduced to the American public by such noted performers as Dennis Day, Margaret Whiting, Doris Day, and Mel Tormé.

All of the above classics will be presented in new arrangements for jazz trio and string quartet, composed especially for this concert by Jan Jarczyk, pianist, composer, and arranger and professor of music at McGill University’s Shulich School of Music in Montreal, Canada. With over twelve CD recordings, Jarczyk has performed worldwide and received numerous awards, including the Grand Prix in Lyon, France in 1974, and the SOCAN award for Best Jazz Composition during the Montreal Jazz Festival in 1999. Jan Jarczyk’s musical accomplishments were recognized by the Polish government with the Silver Cross of Merit in 2011 and with the 2011 Grammy Award nomination.

The March 29 Polish Music Concert will also feature several original compositions by Jarczyk, including There is Always Time, Round, Round and Round, Conversation Tune, and Little String Quartet No. 1, among others. With this selection of works by one of numerous contemporary Polish composers who embraced the genre, we can satisfactorily conclude that Polish jazz not only thrives but also serves as a guiding light for jazz musicians around the world. The following quote from Michael Keefe, a noted American critic, sums it up well:

While America waits for the next big thing in jazz, they should turn to the east, to Poland, a country that has been making consistently great music for 40 plus years. It is criminal that American jazz fans are so completely unaware of this music. If you are expecting some sort of abrasive free blowing or watered down post-bop, you are in for a big surprise. This music encompasses every genre of jazz, even genres that don't exist. Regardless of the style, this music is never, never pretentious and has more soul, whether it's Slavic soul or whatever, than what is passing for jazz in the States. The Polish version of jazz is as pure as music can be. It is not blending different types of music, i.e., jazz, ethnic folk, classical to create some kind of hybrid; it is a totally seamless combination of sounds based on the love of creative music and the joy that the music bestows on the listeners. In a nation with such a turbulent recent past, it is hard to imagine that these extraordinary musicians devoted themselves to this music for any reason other than love of jazz. […] Polish jazz could make “jazz” popular music again in America, if only Americans had the chance to hear it. (From the liner notes of The Best of Polish Jazz – 2 CDs, 2005)

 

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SATURDAY, MARCH 29, 2014 | 8:00 P.M.
Polish Jazz Concert

with the Jan Jarczyk Trio & Stella Cho Quartet
University of Southern California - Alfred Newman Recital Hall (AHF)
3616 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles, CA
(See AHF on campus map)

Admission: FREE, Parking: $10
Enter USC Gate #3 at McCarthy Way & Figueroa St (Parking Structure X)
Info: 213. 821.1356 | polmusic@thornton.usc.edu

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