After four years of performing and recording with the Turtle Island Quartet (world’s most famous jazz string quartet) Mateusz Smoczynski returns to the US with his own project. The tour will promote his latest release “Metamorphoses” featuring his original compositions. The music on the album reflects a wide variety of inspirations such as: classical music, jazz, Polish and American folk.
Mateusz Smoczyński – the best jazz violinist of 2017 by Jazz Forum, European Magazine. Winner of the 2nd International Zbigniew Seifert Jazz Violin Competition. Since 2017 he teaches jazz violin at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. Mateusz has performed at chief jazz stages and festivals nearly all over the world, and cooperated with the artists of the order of Branford Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Gil Goldstein, Richie Beirach, Glen Moore, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Tomasz Stańko, Urszula Dudziak, Władysław “Adzik” Sendecki, Leszek Możdżer, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Natalia Kukulska, Anna Maria Jopek and Sebastian Karpiel Bułecka. Together with Joachim Kuhn, Janusz Stefanski and Bronislaw Suchanek, he took part in the premiere of legendary jazz violinist Zbigniew Seifert’s Jazz Concerto for Violin, Symphony Orchestra and Rhythm Section. In 2012–16 Mateusz Smoczyński was the first violin in the American Turtle Island Quartet (winner of two Grammy awards). In 2013, the band were invited to participate in the recording of Grammy-nominated After Blue album of Tierney Sutton.
The idea to have Zbigniew Seifert Foundation record and release Mateusz Smoczyński’s solo CD was quite obvious, as he won the 2nd Zbigniew Seifert International Jazz Violin Competition in 2016, and the foundation does not limit itself just to awarding the prize but cooperates closely with the competition winners, organising their concerts and supporting them in recording activity. This, however, is not the only reason why we offered Mateusz the recording of a solo recital.
Mateusz Smoczyński is a musician as comprehensive as eminent, participating in numerous ambitious projects admired by music critics. To mention the American Turtle Island Quartet he was a part of in 2012–16, the brilliant Atom String Quartet, his signature bands Mateusz Smoczyński Quintet and the New Trio, and last but not least cooperations with Zakopower and Natalia Kukulska. Now time has come to present another artistic incarnation of the talented violinist, composer, and arranger.
A solo recital built mostly of own composition is a daring and important step in Mateusz’s career. The artist again proves that he knows no musical boundaries he would not be able to break. This even despite the fact that such a solo project is both emotionally and physically draining. Finding the balance between technical mastery, lyricism removed far from banality, and skilful juggling of various styles; as well as between focus on detail and imparting the comprehensive idea of the whole offers more than just a challenge. Filling the time and space with but a single instrument (or, indeed, two, as Smoczyński recently discovered the baritone violin) requires an exceptional preparation, craft, and musicality: aspects that Mateusz has certainly mastered.
There are three musical fascinations that Mateusz Smoczyński admits to in numerous interviews. They are Zbigniew Seifert, John Coltrane, and Karol Szymanowski. The music recorded on this CD adds Niccolò Paganini, Eugène Ysaÿe, György Ligeti, and Krzysztof Penderecki to his realm of influences. Compositions by Mark Summer and Jan Smoczyński, Mateusz’s brother and faithful brotherly soul in music, complementing the recording, follow a somewhat different style.
This is what the author himself says of his latest project: “The thought that guided me throughout this album was the idea to record a classicising rather than jazz record, yet still leaving room for improvisation. I’ve always been impressed by longer forms, characteristic of classical music. I never dared to stand up to them before as a composer. I have, however, long intended to release a solo CD, and it became a pretext to making my ambitions coming alive and testing my composing skill. One of the effects of that effort is Sonata in four movements, the main piece on the recording. Composing music that goes beyond jazz themes is a novelty for me, and this precisely is my ‘metamorphosis’. Nonetheless, to avoid solo album monotony, I have attempted to disrupt it with pieces that verge on other music genres.”
Zbigniew Seifert’s “Solo Violin” was recorded over 40 years ago and remains an important constituent of jazz music, and a milestone in the solo jazz violin. We hope that Mateusz Smoczyński’s album will also inspire young artists endeavouring to find their musical language in the difficult art of solo performances.
President of the Zbigniew Seifert Foundation