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Polish Festival Jazztopad Expands Further Into America

The fest's fifth U.S. edition will feature the New York and Chicago premieres of a piece by trumpeter Amir ElSaffar—on Sept. 26 and 28, respectively

Amir ElSaffar
Amir ElSaffar (photo: Lukasz Rajcher)

The Polish festival Jazztopad, which turns 16 in November, is extending its reach into the United States, marking its fifth year of events in New York and its first in Chicago, where the Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar will present a new chamber-music piece, Ahwaal (the title translates roughly as “states of consciousness”), on Sept. 28 as part of the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. 

ElSaffar will perform the piece, which was commissioned by Jazztopad, with clarinetist Waclaw Zimpel, bassist Ksawery Wójciński, and the Lutosławski Quartet. 

The festival has previously commissioned works from Brad Mehldau, Wayne Shorter, Charles Lloyd, Nicole Mitchell, and William Parker.

“We’re a fairly small festival with a fairly small budget, so a challenge doing these projects is to build a relationship with artists based on mutual interests,” said Piotr Turkiewicz, the festival’s artistic director, in a press release announcing the festival. “We’re not offering a suitcase full of money. We’re offering something completely different—space, amazing venue, recording facilities, we’re offering the whole experience.” 

The New York edition of the festival runs from Sept. 24-26. On Sept. 24 at Soup & Sound (292 Lefferts Ave., Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn) at 7 p.m., Polish artists Zimpel, Wójciński, and Aga Derlak (piano) will be joined by Uri Caine, James Brandon Lewis, Cat Toren, and others. On Sept. 25 at Dizzy’s Club (10 Columbus Circle, Manhattan) at 7:30 p.m., Derlak will play with her new quintet featuring trumpeter Alonzo Demetrius, tenor saxophonist Luke Norris, bassist Aaron Holthus, and drummer Connor Kent. And on Sept. 26 at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium (61 W. 62nd St., Manhattan) at 7:30 p.m., Zimpel will play a solo set, followed by the U.S. premiere of ElSaffar’s Ahwaal, featuring the same performers as in Chicago. The latter concert is free.


The performance of Ahwaal in Chicago on Sept. 28, at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at 11 p.m. (also free), will be followed by one additional Jazztopad-related set in that city, featuring Zimpel and Wójciński with drummer Mike Reed at Constellation (311 N. Western Ave.) at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 29.

The Polish edition of the festival will take place in Wroclaw, Poland, from Nov. 15-24. Among its highlights will be a new version of Charles Lloyd’s Wild Man Dance, with a freshly composed movement, performed by Lloyd’s band and the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra; a newly commissioned Nicole Mitchell composition to be performed by the Artifacts trio (Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid, and drummer Mike Reed); and new pieces by French cellist Vincent Courtois and his trio with the Lutosławski Quartet, as well as performances by Danilo Pérez’s Global Messengers, Makaya McCraven, the duo of Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith, and The Comet Is Coming.

Go here for further information.