Polish jazzman wins a Grammy

For the first time in the history of the Grammy Awards, this very prestigious music prize went to a Polish jazzman. The pianist Włodek Pawlik’s album Night in Calisia has won the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Grammy.

His album combines jazz with symphony music. Pawlik wrote the music for the album on commission from Adam Klock, a conductor and Director of the Kalisz Philharmonic. The album commemorates the 1850th anniversary of the city of Kalisz that was celebrated in 2010. It was released in Poland in November 2012 and in the US in August 2013. The album is performed by the Włodek Pawlik Trio (Pawlik - piano, Paweł Pańta - double bass, Cezary Konrad - percussion), the US trumpeter Randy Brecker, and Kalisz Philharmonic symphony orchestra. In an interview for the monthly Jazz Forum, Pawlik said that a mysterious tale is hidden in the recorded pieces that one can discover by reading their titles. These allude to a journey taken by merchants on Amber Road during Roman times. According to Roman books, a settlement named Calisia was situated along this route.

Włodek Pawlik with Grammy Award

A Grammy awarded to a Pole caused a sensation, because jazz is the domain of American players. Still, Polish jazzmen have proven on many occasions that they can compose world-class music. Krzysztof Komeda, a pioneer of modern Polish jazz, wrote music for such well-known movies as Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and Cul-de-sac. Polish jazz music has received international recognition also thanks to Tomasz Stańko, a Polish trumpeter who once played with Komeda. For instance, Suspended Night, an album by Stanko’s quartet from 2004 was the first European album to become as best-selling instrumental jazz record in the US. While the compositions by Michał Urbaniak and the vocal art of the jazz singer Urszula Dudziak gained recognition among foremost US musicians. In 1985, Urbaniak’s performance was recorded on Miles Davis’s album Tutu.