The Jan Jarczyk & Friends Polish Jazz concert on 29 March, 2014 at the Alfred Newman Recital Hall was a unique and eclectic mix of classical jazz and string quartet music. String quartet is not typically associated with jazz, either classical or contemporary, but it worked quite well in these compositions by Bronisław Kaper, Henryk Wars, and Jan Jarczyk. Jazz in Poland has been firmly established since late 1920s, when it became very popular and fashionable—and it remains so to this day. Henryk Wars and Bronisław Kaper, both born in Poland in 1902, eventually settled in Los Angeles and began successful careers in the music and film industries.

Mr. Jarczyk, who resides in Montreal, was joined on stage by two very talented local musicians: bassist Dave Robaire and percussionist Efa Etoroma Jr. Most of the evening’s selections also included the Stella Cho String Quartet—four outstanding young Master’s Degree USC students, including violinists Hwi-Eun Kim and Ji Young Park, violist Jason Karlyn, and cellist Stella Cho. Despite the fact that Mr. Jarczyk arrived in Los Angeles just days before the concert, the transitions between the jazz trio and the string quartet were smooth and well-rehearsed.
The program featured some of Henry Wars’ classics, such as You’ll Never Forget Me andNever Say You’ll Never Fall in Love, as well as some of the better-known tunes by Bronisław Kaper: Blue Venetian Waters and While My Lady Sleeps. I particularly enjoyed the sweet, soothing sound of cello solos performed by Stella Cho in these compositions.


Jan Jarczyk, celebrating his 66th birthday this year, closed the concert with some of his own works, such as There is Always Time and Round, Round and Round. His performance proved that the Polish jazz is as pure as jazz can be. Combining typical jazz elements, i.e. piano, bass, and percussion with classical instrumentation of a string quartet introduced Slavic soul into the concert. Listening to the string quartet somehow reminded me of classical Polish music since there were a number of musical elements typically found in Polish compositions.
My only regret to the wonderful evening was that despite vigorous applause, Jan Jarczyk and his ensemble did not come out for an encore! There was, however, an opportunity to meet the performers during a reception that followed this delightfully relaxing, soothing, yet energizing performance. Thanks to the Polish Music Center at USC for making this concert possible!

Andrew Kozlowski
[photo credits: Charles Bragg]

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