Q&A with Marcin Masecki

Published Friday 9 August by Callum

Marta Bielawska-Borowiak of Goniec.com talks to Marcin Masecki, Polish jazz and classical pianist, who will perform as part of the Polish Jazz Series on Friday 16 August.

(Interview kindly translated by Ashka from B Side Events)

When was the first time you fell in love with music?

My father, a musician, taught me music from the age of three. The first time I realised that music meant something more to me was during a trip to Disneyland, where I heard a pianist in a western bar and I immediately wanted to become him.

And why jazz?

I feel in love with jazz and improvised music just then. I was studying classical music at the time.

What is more important for a jazz musician - talent or years of practice and hard work invested into self-development?

It’s impossible to answer this question. For any musician, talent and work complement each other. One does not exist without the other.

When you compose and create music, does it suddenly appear? Do you need stimulus? Or does the creative process have to mature overtime?

Ideas often come to me when I fall asleep. Sometimes it is uncomfortable, because I would like to close the day, and I have to keep getting up to make notes in the score. I often come up with ideas on the move when I run or walk. Deadlines work well too. 

This is not your first connection with London. In 2007, you started working on recording Kunst der Fuge by Johann Sebastian Bach in this city. That project evolved spectacularly. How do you remember this?

It was a beautiful adventure with an enigmatic piece of work. I was looking for a key for a long time. I was recording individual fugues in London, on the Wurlitzer electric piano from the 1960s. Finally, I decided to register an old piano using a recorder. Initially I wanted to skip the record label, collect funds from listeners and finally send them the album by post. Later I decided to go with the independent Warsaw based label Lado ABC. That’s how my album found its way to the shops. And all the shareholders received the CDs anyway.

This time you will play as part of the Polish Jazz London Series, for the first time in London with your Trio. This is to bring Polish jazz to the local Polish community, and more. What emotions do you have in connection with this project?

We are not coming to London with the mission of bringing Polish jazz closer to Polish Londoners. We play for everyone. Our music has many influences. We grew up on American jazz. But not exclusively. In our music you can hear Ethiopian folklore, Italian pop and Polish oberek. And our bass player plays a double-bass balalaika, Russian instrument.

What is experimenting and improvisation in music for you?

The relationship with the audience and other musicians with whom I share the stage is the biggest experiment and permanent improvisation. It requires courage and constant care.

What was your most important project? The one that brings the best memories?

One of the projects closest to me so far is the brass band "Polonezy". It was a band of nine, for which I wrote a series of polonaises. It was established in 2010. I was very proud of it and had great hopes for it. I hoped that by combining the jazz, folk and classical traditions we will be able to reach a wide audience. It turned out, however, that this music was too difficult. It didn’t fit into any drawer. Some experiments just don’t work out. 

What are your musical plans for the near future?

I have two ongoing projects. The Trio and Jazzband Młynarski-Masecki. With the latter we are releasing an album in October. I want to release an album with the Trio at the beginning of 2020. I am also an artistic resident at the Szczecin Philharmonic, and I run a series of monthly concerts dedicated to the birth of famous composers at the Warsaw Studio Theatre. In parallel I have been writing music for two films. For 2020 I am planning a series of concerts with the Baroque orchestra Capella Cracoviensis. That’s what it looks like for now.

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About Marcin Masecki: Polish pianist, composer and arranger, oscilating between jazz, classical and experimental music. He has been associated with thousands of projects. He composed music for the film "Cold War" by Paweł Pawlikowski, who won the Cannes festival in 2018. In 1998 he recorded ‘Tribute to Marek & Wacek’ album with Andrzej Jagodziński. He worked among others with such artists as: Tomasz Stańko, George Garzone, Hal Crook, Dave Samuels, Michał Urbaniak, Wojciech Waglewski, and Reni Jusis.

The premiere performance of Marcin Masecki’s Jazz Trio in London will take place on Friday 16 August at St John’s Music Hall, St John's Church, High Rd, Leytonstone, London, E11 1HH. Tickets are priced at £16.58.

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