Interview with Wojtek Mazolewski

From the Polish blog NOWE IDZIE OD MORZA
Wojtek Mazolewski: Dennis González is a Shaman

Wojtek Mazolewski’s cooperation with Dennis González has been going on for several years and is very successful - through concerts they play as well as record releases, both combining Slavic and Mexican sensibilities. That is evident especially in the new album "Shaman", the newest effort by For Tune Records, which is the documentation of one of the first meetings of both musical creators – recorded at the Agnieszka Osiecka studio in Warsaw. The artist, Mazolewski, speaks below about how he met the Mexican-American trumpeter, about why they work so well, and what we can expect from them in the future.

Jakub Knera: How did you meet Dennis González?

Wojtek Mazolewski: Long ago I felt that I would like to expand my search for music by working with people of a different sensibility, with different life experiences, education, and location, just to increase my musical horizons and to experience something new. Dennis was one of the players in my circle of interest. I managed to find him and I e-mailed him - this was before the era of social networking, where you can find anyone - and we became partners.

You wrote, "Hi, I'd like to play with you?"

I had an idea for a specific project, which would integrate two personalities - his compositions and ideas, a note of Mexican-American feel with my Slavic character. In addition, I wanted to offer him a chance for us to brainstorm and work on a few classic Polish jazz songs. My idol of that era is Krzysztof Komeda, whose character and biography are very inspiring, and so we immediately began to arrange some of his compositions.

Please explain how the album "Shaman" includes two compositions by him.

I wanted to showcase some of his music in the context of a different culture and different personalities. It turned out that I hit the jackpot, because Dennis is a great fan of old Polish jazz on vinyl - one of the first Polish works he heard is the album Balladyna by Tomasz Stanko.

So we combined our love for old Polish jazz CDs. But a key aspect of our meeting was this word "magic". When Dennis got here, we started to play the themes we had chosen, and he needed to make some changes in the music. I handed him a pen, which he noticed with surprise was the exact same kind he had at home on his desk in Dallas, with which he’d written his music a few days earlier. I felt a shiver. In the end, I understood that, despite our language barriers, our cultures go very well together. I also realized that Dennis is a shaman.

And now, please decipher the title of your album.

Dennis opened my eyes to a lot of things in terms of shamanic spirituality, in which he is very interested. Since then, we walk a very interesting musical, but also very spiritual, path together.

And so Dennis has come to Poland a third time.

Each of these visits has involved a tour, and a meeting in the studio. There have been two smaller format releases as a result - "Wind Streaks In Syrtis Major" and "Bandoleros en Gdańsk" - which were put out in the U.S. on vinyl last year by 1 Car Garage Records and TreeFall Records. The appearance of the latter coincided with my visit and concert tour with Dennis in the U.S.

Now you've played together a few times – the Mazolewski Trio featuring Dennis Gonzalez, the Double Trio, and now your performances as the Mazolewski / Gonzalez Quintet. Do you treat these various groups as an attempt to develop a linear formula, or as simply different stages and perspectives of your work?

From my perspective, we do our best so that our work realizes its creative potential. At the beginning I had the idea that it was my trio with Dennis guesting. The next time, his trio joined forces with my trio, resulting in a concert at Jazz Jantar as the Double Trio, with Jurek Rogiewicz, Marek Pospieszalski, me, and Yells at Eels. Then due to health concerns Jurek Rogiewicz could not continue the tour in this lineup. This meant that for the moment, the group transformed into Yells at Eels with Wojtek Mazolewski and Marek Pospieszalski. Then, when I went to the United States at the invitation of Dennis, we continued with Yells at Eels, which is Dennis playing with his two sons - Aaron and Stefan. And, in addition I played solo concerts, and duets with him and his sons. It was a period of exploration and highly creative work.

And so we come to this visit of Dennis’s in Poland and your two concerts to promote the album "Shaman".

Our meeting has two purposes. The first is the presentation of the material, which we recorded in the Agnieszka Osiecka studio during his first visit to Poland. Dennis brought two songs; two were mine and two were by Krzysztof Komeda. And what was special is that at the last moment the original lineup of Wojtek Mazolewski Trio and Dennis Gonzalez was joined by Joanna Duda. She played only two songs, but it worked so well that we continued this formation. Now we will play two concerts with this lineup billed as Mazolewski / Gonzalez Quintet to show the equality of our souls and the responsibility for this album. In addition, we will record the next album with the same, original makeup. This work is the type of cooperation that is developing between the both of us. We'll see what happens!

Mazolewski / Gonzalez Quintet perform on Friday, March 15, at Zatoki Sztuki in Sopot. Details in CONCERTS .

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