February 19 at 2 PM EST / 11 AM PST
Duration: 60-70 min
Live streaming and video recording available at
Jazztopad Festival, in partnership with Polish Cultural Institute New York presents The Great Improvisation series online live streamed from the National Forum of Music (NFM) in Wrocław, Poland. The series presents various faces of jazz – from bold avant-garde and daring improvisation through to the mainstream. The ideal acoustics of the NFM halls provide a perfect environment for both young Polish bands as well as established artists. The series has presented such musicians as Wynton Marsalis, Bobo Stenson, Gregory Porter, Tomasz Stańko, Kuba Więcek, Brad Mehldau, and Dianne Reeves.
Friday, February 19, 2021 at 2 PM (EST), 11 AM (PST), Janusz Prusinowski Kompania is a group of musicians who follow in traditions of village masters they have learned from – but they are also an avant-garde band with their own characteristic sound and language of improvisation. They combine music with dance, and the archaic with the modern. Free live streaming at Center for World Music, Center for Traditional Music and Dance and Polish Music Center USC Thornton School of Music.
Janusz Prusinowski Kompania is a group of musicians who follow in traditions of village masters they have learned from: Jan Lewandowski, Kazimierz Meto, Józef Zaraś, Piotr and Jan Gaca, Tadeusz Kubiak and many others – but they are also an avant-garde band with their own characteristic sound and language of improvisation. They combine music with dance and the archaic with the modern. Their tours and concerts incorporate educational activity, both in Poland and abroad.
Kompania’s unique style is the result of their attempt to find new ways of interpreting the most important elements of village music from central Poland. It brings together mazurkas – sung, played, danced to, improvised live – and modern man. What new quality can be given to archaic and seemingly simple melodies and rhythms without resorting to trendy sample mixing? Where is the source of multi-layered rhythm, which is never even yet always perfectly precise? Where do these extraordinary melodies, challenging the equal temperament, come from? It turns out that traditional music of Polish villages can be a reference point for a variety of genres: reminiscent of Chopin in its melodic pattern and the use of rubato, sharing a love of improvisation with blues and jazz, evocative of contemporary music in its tone, and possessing the expressiveness of rock music. It is able to connect the East and the West, the North and the South, engaging in a dialogue with musical traditions of near and remote countries.
Dance makes music visible, tangible and meaningful – thus, dancers are a natural addition to mazurkas. Apart from concerts, Kompania’s music can be heard at the parties of village and urban Dance Clubs. The band also runs various music and dance workshops. It can be proudly admitted that many novices started their adventure with Polish music, learning to play the fiddle, the drum, or to dance thanks to Janusz Prusinowski Kompania.
Between 2008 and 2012 the band performed in most of European countries, Asia, Canada, the USA (including Carnegie Hall and Chicago Symphony Center) – and of course Poland. Besides playing concerts with traditional Polish music the band prepared a special program of performances “The village roots of Frédéric Chopin’s music” with pianist Janusz Olejniczak. In 2012 Kompania began a unique project “Kujawy” with three masters of Polish music: Tadeusz Kubiak, Tomasz Stańko, Janusz Olejniczak, and a group of singers led by Ewa Grochowska. The group also performed with Michał Urbaniak, Artur Dutkiewicz and Alim Qasimov. In October 2012 Janusz Prusinowski Kompania performed at the prestigious world music fair – WOMEX 2012 in Thessaloniki. In 2013 they spent a full month in the US with close to 30 concerts, performing at The Kennedy Center in Washington and at the European Jazz Festival in Los Angeles and the Richmond Folk Music Festival. Having seduced American audiences with mazurkas, they reached for Germany, France, Benelux, Great Britain, Croatia and a couple of other countries, everywhere leaving the dedicated lovers of wild Polish melodies behind. They’ve also returned to Womex (Cardiff 2013) with the „Wild Music of the Heart of Poland” project, created to present Polish traditional music, performed by young groups, to the international audience.
In 2014 Kompania, together with the eminent Polish singers (Ewa Grochowska, Justyna Piernik, Maniucha Bikont, Kaja Prusinowska, Adam Strug) and the group of the Turkish vocalist Muazez Ozacar, prepared a special concert to celebrate the Turkish Year – “Exploring the Connections”. Its premiere in Izmir was recorded and released on DVD. Musicians and dancers of Janusz Prusinowski Kompania were also involved in various events related to Oskar Kolberg’s Year, whose archives of the Polish village music remain their constant inspiration. The group has initiated and coordinates the Kolberg Academy, educational projects for children and the “Schools of Tradition” teaching about village music and dance.
In 2008 the band released “Mazurkas”, an album which received rave reviews. This was followed in 2010 by their second album “Heart”, awarded the Folk Record of the Year by the Polish Radio. In 2013 Kompania recorded the album entitled “Knee-deep in Heaven”, co-released by the prestigious German label Oriente. In December 2018 the band presented their newest album „In the Footsteps”, in cooperation with well-known label Buda Musique. In 2019 we had a great tour in Japan, plus in South Korea.
Janusz Prusinowski – leader of the band – in 2014 was awarded with Bronze Medal for Merit to Culture Gloria Artis. In 2015 he received the annual prize of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage and was nominated by the Regional Council of Mazovia for the C.K Norwid prize in the Music category.
The Great Improvisation online series is presented by Jazztopad Festival and National Forum of Music, in partnership with Polish Cultural Institute New York, and in collaboration with Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Center for World Music, Polish Music Center USC Thornton School of Music and Center for Traditional Music and Dance.
All concerts will also live stream on the websites and social media channels of National Forum of Music, Jazztopad Festival, Polish Cultural Institute New York and Europe Jazz Network.