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Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski -
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Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski

Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski

Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski

Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski (born 1936 in Kalisz) is a Polish composer and tenor saxophonist most linked to jazz. Wróblewski cames from the generation that, in the Stalinist era, discovered jazz on clandestine radios when it was considered degenerate, immoral, and subversive. Wroblewski debuted at the first Sopot Jazz Festival in 1956 with Krzysztof Komeda's Sextet. Wroblewski was quickly spotted by George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival Read more on
Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski (born 1936 in Kalisz) is a Polish composer and tenor saxophonist most linked to jazz. Wróblewski cames from the generation that, in the Stalinist era, discovered jazz on clandestine radios when it was considered degenerate, immoral, and subversive. Wroblewski debuted at the first Sopot Jazz Festival in 1956 with Krzysztof Komeda's Sextet. Wroblewski was quickly spotted by George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, to represent Poland in the International Youth Band conducted by Marshall Brown at the 1958 Festival. He was the first musician from behind the Iron Curtain to perform in the group.

The Band s performance with a guest appearance by Louis Armstrong was memorialized in the American cult classic documentary "Jazz on a Summer s Day and partially recorded for Columbia (CL-1246). As a result, Ptaszyn toured the US (Boston, New York, Los Angeles), Holland, and Belgium, where he gave several concerts at the American Theatre at Expo 58 in Brussels, along with Sarah Vaughan, Teddy Wilson, and Sidney Bechet, among others. After coming back to Poland, he became the leader of the Jazz Believers band (1958-59; other members included Komeda and Kurylewicz), and incorporated jazz motifs heard in America into their compositions. During the same year, Wroblewski recorded his first album for the Polish Recording Company and debuted at Warsaw s famous Jazz Jamboree Festival.

In 1960, he formed the Jazz Outsiders quintet. In the late 1950 s and early 60s, Ptaszyn toured extensively with his groups in Europe, Africa and Asia. In 1962 Wroblewski joined the top Polish band at that time ; the Andrzej Kurylewicz Quintet which recorded first Polish Jazz LP ever - "Go Right". In 1963, the Kurylewicz Quintet was invited to the Juan les Pins Festival in France but its leader was not given a passport.

The rest of the group, which since then existed as the Polish Jazz Quartet, left for France: Wroblewski ; tenor sax, Wojciech Karolak ; piano, Andrzej Dabrowski ; drums, and Roman Gucio Dylag ; double-bass. Following the Juan les Pins Festival, the group gave concerts at the Blue Note in Paris and toured West Germany for several months. The formation came back to Poland in 1964 at their best, and in the same year released the noteworthy album in the Polish Jazz Series (Polish Jazz Quartet), and had another success at the Bled Festival in Yugoslavia. In the 1970s Wroblewski returned to playing saxophone in smaller bands.

From 1973 to 1977, together with Wojciech Karolak (on Hammond organs), he led "Mainstream", a leading Polish straight-ahead jazz band. The group recorded two LP albums, performed in Germany, Hungary, and the USSR, toured Holland, and recorded for Polish Radio. In 1977, on the basis of Mainstream, Ptaszyn Wroblewski's Quartet was formed (Marek Blizinski; guitar, Vitold Rek, later replaced by Zbyszek Wegehaupt; double-bass, and Andrzej Dabrowski; drums). The quartet often collaborated with vocalist Ewa Bem.

The formation was very active, recording two LPs, performing in Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and India (Calcutta Jazz Fest and in Bombay), and touring Holland twice. A high point for the original Ptaszyn Wroblewski Quartet was its 1981 US tour with spectacular appearances at New York s Village Vanguard and the NAJE Convention in St. Louis. But the accomplishments of his small bands, have become obscured by his much closer association with free Jazz and "Studio Jazzowe Polskiego Radia".

In 1967 Wroblewski became director of the M-2 Studio Group. Their performance under the name Jazz Studio during the 1968 Warsaw Jazz Jamboree was such a great success that Polish Public Radio gave up the M-2 Studio name, transforming it into the Polish Radio Jazz Studio. The Studio was a unique blend: part venue for free expression by virtuosos and soloists and part workshop for musicians and composers. It would be virtually impossible to find any important Polish Jazz composer or soloist who at one time or another in their career had not been involved with the Studio.

Musicians, composers and soloists had a chance to test their own ideas and have them confronted and discussed in a peer-group setting. The Studio recorded for Polish Radio, produced almost 20 TV programs, released two records, performed at festivals in Kongsberg (Norway), Ahus (Sweden), Pori (Finland), Nuremberg (Germany), Szekesfehervar (Hungary), and at all Warsaw s Jazz Jamboree Festivals. Without the Studio and without its leader, Wroblewski, Polish Jazz would not be the same. What might have been initially a joke, or the result of the willful consumption of too much liquid distillate from Polish potatoes, another forum for Wroblewski's expression in the 1970s was S.P.T.T.

- Stowarzyszenie Popierania Prawdziwej Tworczosci (the Association for Advancement of Real Art) or Chalturnik. "Chalturnik" in Polish means somebody who does not perform its work well, but in contrary - very bad and without to much caring about it. One could describe the music of Chalturnik as a mix of bar mitzvah / weeding band sounds, 1920s happy jazz, and Art Ensemble of Chicago mambo-jumbo philosophy, all filled with cliched Peruvian street group repertoire and as weird as Burt Bacharach's psychedelic soundtrack to 1967 James Bond flick "Casino Royal". Chalturnik was natural extension for Wroblewski's Jazz Studio experiments.

However, the band had a more intimate and relaxed atmosphere and used musical persiflage or banter. Nevertheless, the premise remained the same: to experiment, to confront taboos, to challenge judgments and to take new unorthodox approaches to attitudes never before questioned - but with much more distance and humor. The lineup of Chalturnik included some of the brightest stars from Polish Jazz constellation of 1970s like Z. Namyslowski, J.

Muniak, and T. Szukalski as well as other musicians not normally associated with Polish jazz, among them tuba player Z. Piernik, famous for his interpretation of Krzysztof Penderecki's music. In 1981, after his quartet broke up, Ptaszyn focused on collaborating with the new generation of musicians.

After leading workshop classes with a group of debutants at Chodziez Music Workshop in July 1982, Wroblewski decided to introduce these young musicians to the Polish jazz scene by forming his new band New Presentation, with Jerzy Glod on drums, Jacek Niedziela on double-bass, Wojciech Niedziela on piano, and Robert Majewski on trumpet. The group did not tour abroad because of martial law in Poland, but it took part in two editions of the Jazz Jamboree Festival and recorded an LP for Poljazz before it broke up after two years. Wroblewski considers New Presentation one of the most important groups in his career. In the 1990s Ptaszyn returned to re-developing and fine-tuning his perfect quartet: he worked with young and accomplished jazzmen, including the Simple Acoustic Trio with Marcin Wasilewski, Slawek Kurkiewicz, and Michal Miskiewicz , and with pianist Andrzej Jagodzinski.

In 1996, the new Ptaszyn Wroblewski Quartet was finally formed with the brilliant musicians Marcin Jahr on drums, Jacek Niedziela on double-bass, and Wojciech Niedziela on piano. The quartet, sometimes playing as a sextet (with Henryk Miskiewicz, Henryk and Robert Majewski) has been giving concerts in the same line-up ever since. Today, well into the 21st century, Ptaszyn remains active on Polish Jazz scene, leading the bands and taking parts in varieties of musical projects, including his long time work at Polish radio as Poland's longest running and the most influential Jazz DJ. His close collaboration since 1959 with Willis Conover, resulted in his creation of "Forty-Five Minutes of Jazz", Ptaszyn s weekly broadcast at the Polish Radio that has been on the air since 1970 and served as a first "Jazz University" for many jazz fans in Poland.

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