A family affair

Polish bass player Ksawery Wojcinski will be performing his eclectic mix of jazz, groove and a little rock together with his two siblings in Tel Aviv.

POLISH BASS player Ksawery Wojcinski (second left) with his two siblings and drummer Krzysztof Szmanda. (photo credit: MACIEJ SYPNIEWSKI)
POLISH BASS player Ksawery Wojcinski (second left) with his two siblings and drummer Krzysztof Szmanda.
(photo credit: MACIEJ SYPNIEWSKI)
Jazz is essentially an off-the-cuff art form. Yes, there are some lovely melodies in the constantly evolving body of work that stretches back a century, but it is the leaps of faith, the forays into the unknown that set the pulse racing, of the artists and audiences alike.
Ksawery Wojcinski is a prime example of the free-flowing ethos that is so central to the jazz philosophy. The 34-year-old Polish bass player will unfurl some of his ethereal skills at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv on July 13 (doors open 7:15 p.m., show begins 9:15 p.m.). Wojcinski will be joined by younger and older siblings – Maurycy on trumpet and Szymon on piano – with Krzysztof Szmanda on drums keeping the quartet ship on course.
The foursome’s performance is one half of a Polish double header which will take place under the aegis of the Jazztopad Festival, from Poland, the Polish Institute and Municipality of Warsaw, as well as the local Jazz Social Community headed by Barak Weiss. The event is also part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Tel Aviv-Warsaw twin city liaison. The other slot in the program features pianist Marcin Masecki together with drummer Jerzy Rogiewicz.
Both shows promise plenty of variety.
Masecki is adept at both jazz and classical piano and the duo gig will be based on a high-energy olde worlde ragtime repertoire.
The Szmanda and Wojcinski sibling gig should also appeal to jazz fans with broad horizons.
Like his brothers, Wojcinski the bassman grew up on a wide-ranging musical diet.
Classical music was in there from the start.
“My father is a classical pianist and he tried teaching me to play when I was about five or six,” Wojcinski recalls. “But my first instrument was probably my own voice,” he adds with a chuckle.
The father-son training sessions didn’t last too long.
“You know it’s not easy for a small boy to learn from his own dad,” says Wójcinski.
“My father is also a professional piano teacher, but it didn’t work out with me. My younger brother also tried out on piano with our father, and that didn’t go well either. But our older brother started as a piano player, and he’s still a piano player,” he laughs.
The abortive ivory-tickling episode was followed by a brief flirtation with violin.
“It was for one week,” he says. “It was too hard for me to keep my arms up.”
That paved the way for a new, and lasting, instrumental direction – with a little unwitting help from his older brother.
“Szymon tried playing bass guitar. He brought the instrument into our house.
But he quit the bass guitar, and I grabbed it,” says Wójcinski. And the rest, more or less, is history.
Wójcinski Sr. suggested the budding bassman transfer to acoustic bass as the local music conservatory did not have classes for bass guitar. It was a wise piece of advice which has stood the test of time.
“That was my choice, to move to upright bass. That was the first time in my life that I made my own decision.”
In fact, Wójcinski’s initial forays into the wild and wooly domains of loosely structured music preceded the electric-acoustic shift.
“When I started on bass guitar I improvised from the beginning. I don’t really know what I was doing, but now I know it was free improvisation. I didn’t know what to play, so I just played notes.”
Wójcinski says his first recollections of music predate his own birth.
“When my mother was pregnant with me she listened a lot to Mozart’s Requiem.
When I listened to it later I really felt I knew it from somewhere, that I really knew it well.”
That classical mindset comes into the Wójcinski brother’s recording and performance mix, as they roam freely across expansive sonic and stylistic tracks, taking in mainstream jazz, groove and even a little rock coloring betwixt the jazzy endeavor.
Their parents’ extensive LP collection, which took in their father’s fondness for classical music, their mother’s pop tastes, and much in between, also helped to form their eclectic musical sensibilities.
“I loved Stevie Wonder and Queen when I was small,” says the bassist. “I really liked [Queen frontman] Freddie Mercury. I was seven when he died. I was really sad about that.”
The jazz fans who mosey on over to Zappa next Thursday will, in all likelihood, not catch Wójcinski strutting around with his double bass in Mercuryesque fashion, but they should get a free-flowing, inventive and creative listening experience.
Wójcinski says that much of their output is instinctive. The brothers played together for a while, in the late 1990s, before they all left home and each went his separate way.
It took them 14 years to get back together, in a musical sense, but they came back to the sibling-based fray all pumped up and ready to go.
“We didn’t know how it work, after such a long time,” Wójcinski recalls. Their anxiety proved baseless.
“We needed a drummer, so we got Krzysztof, and our first rehearsal became our first album – Delusions. It is so fresh and special.
The sound quality isn’t perfect but the music is. I am really proud of that.”
For tickets and more information: *9080 and www.zappa-club.co.il