13th Enter Enea Festival, Nad Jeziorem Strzeszyńskim, Poznań, Tuesday, June 6, 2023
After the first Monday evening of the festival, Leszek Możdżer began the second evening’s programme at the very pleasant outdoor stage Nad Jeziorem Strzeszyński near Poznań with two solo improvisations, in order to tune the audience to the legendary, world-famous pianist Adam Makowicz, who was born in 1940 in Těšín Silesia on the Czechoslovak side of the border. When he was six years old, his parents returned to their Polish homeland, where Adam began learning the piano at the age of ten. After a rich jazz career, he now lives in Toronto.
Adam has also played two solo improvisations of jazz standards. Then the two accomplished pianists let it all hang out together on two concert Steinway pianos placed unusually side by side, the third Steinway on stage not for reserve but for the next band. Immortal hits such as Straight No Chaser, Night in Tunisia swept both extraordinary musicians into wonderful improvised dialogues. A truly beautiful opening to a jazz evening!
Michal Kratochvíl: Tuesday’s programme opened with a concert for two pianos Makowicz vs. Możdżer. Adam Makowicz is undoubtedly an iconic figure of Polish jazz piano. Możdżer received his first Makowicz album when he was eight years old, and it started him on his adventurous journey with jazz. Leszek first played 2 compositions solo so that he could alternate with Adam, who also played solo first, and eventually the two met at two pianos and some brilliantly interpreted standards. They were great together!
Makowicz vs. Możdżer, Enter Enea Festival, Poznań, 6.6.2023
Cécile McLorin Salvant, considered to be the best contemporary vocalist on the jazz scene, greatly exceeded our expectations not only with her distinctive outfit, hairstyle and endearing demeanor, but especially with her amazing vocals, which were elevated and accentuated by her wonderful bandmates: court pianist Sullivan Fortner, Japanese bassist Yasushi Nakamura, drummer Savannah Harris and Ghanaian-born percussionist Weedie Braimah. Cécile delighted us with her current project Mélusine, presented quite convincingly thanks to her extraordinary musical abilities and almost theatrical means of expression. A clear highlight of the whole festival! The ovation of more than a thousand enthusiastic spectators was unending. The encore Ghost Song was sung by Cécile, partly with pianist Sullivan, in a farewell performance that was superb, see video sample below.
Michal Kratochvíl: The American singer and composer of Haitian origin Cécile McLorin Salvant, a three-time Grammy Award winner, is considered the best singer on the contemporary jazz scene. Of course, every festival would like the best to play there, so I took this marketing promo text with a slight exaggeration. However, after seeing my first Cécile concert, I can confirm these words to the letter. The band itself was decently hyped, but when Cécile’s delivery was defiantly, theatrically and vocally perfectly complemented, all doubt was over. The phenomenal ending of the first song with only the sound of percussion and her vocals took my breath away. Throughout the concert she sang in English, French and maybe even Occitan. The performance was first class built on the interaction between Cécile and the band members, especially during the duets. She cut one with Sullivan and another in Obligation with Yasushi, who also performed the song beautifully on bass. It was probably the strongest moment of the concert, also considering the content of this song and how Cécile’s beautiful voice carried through the venue at dusk. Pirate Jenny again gave way to a more theatrical form of performance, and to close the show came Fenestra from her latest album Mélusine. The percussion kicked off a whirlwind in parallel with the drums, complementing each other in a soloing session that then segued into whistling with Sullivan. The encore catered for a vocal duet with Sullivan, who proved that he is not only a great pianist. Ghost Song was just a great choice for the end and a vocal concert par excellence! And we got a well-deserved standing ovation!
Cécile McLorin Salvant, Enter Enea Festival Poznań, 6.6.2023
The third number of the evening, THE LAKE HAS A MASTER PLAN, was a tribute to free jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. Pianist Rafał Zapała’s interesting experiment with the quadraphonic sound of a splashing lake and a circular projection into the depths of a nearby lake was going very well until 3 Polish singers Malwina Paszek – vocals, lyra, Oliwia Abravesh – vocals, electronics and Ulyana Tobera – vocals started to mix into the raw free jazz. Gradually, I got used to such an unusual combination of free jazz quartet Rafał Zapała – piano, philicorda el. piano, retro synths, Kacper Krupa – saxophone, Piotr Cienkowski – double bass, Stanisław Aleksandrowicz – drums with three female singers and found harmony, so I must also appreciate this concert. For a better idea I recommend the video sample below.
Michal Kratochvíl: At the end of the programme we have heard the premiere of compositions commissioned by the festival and dedicated to the Strzeszyn Lake, written by Rafał Zapała. The unique aspect of the Enter Enea festival is its natural environment, the proximity of the lake. In his project THE LAKE HAS A MASTER PLAN (Pharoah Sanders tribute), the author took advantage of the acoustic qualities of this exceptional situation. He recorded the lake and used it as a sound layer for the concert. The quadraphonic sound of these effects and projections with images of the lake or underwater recordings only added to the atmosphere of this exceptional project. Free jazz passages were interspersed with folkloric motifs that most evoked the female singers. In the middle of the concert, even the pianist played with the quadraphonic sound and let it fly around the venue, and at the end came an unadulterated meditation.
Rafał Zapała, Enter Enea Festival, Poznań, 6.6.2023