Sandy Brown Jazz

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The monthly Tea Break is a series of short, fun items in What's New Magazine
that also gives jazz musicians an opportunity to update us with what they are doing.


Maciek Pysz (Guitar) - April 2020


Maciek Pysz


Maciek Pysz (pronounced 'Machek Pish' for those outside Poland) is an impressive guitarist. I saw him play earlier in 2020 with saxophonist Julian Costello's Quartet when they were promoting the album Connections: Without Borders, and if anyone still needs convincing, here was uncontraversial evidence of how far we gain from the international exchange of musicians. Hopefully, as soon as the coronavirus outbreak is resolved, this will once again be the norm.

Maciek is based between Krakow, Poland, the country where he was born in 1982, London and Paris. Self-taught, he started playing the guitar when he was ten. Maciek mainly plays Godin acoustic and classical guitars. His sound is very much his own, but if you are looking for influences they are many. You will find reflections of Tango, Flamenco, Latin, Jazz, Brazilian and Classical music, and the musicians who have inspired him include people such as Ralph Towner, Pat Metheny, Bebo Ferra, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Richard Galliano, Paolo Fresu and Michel Petrucciani - to name but a few. 


Here's a video of Maciek with bassist Roberto Amadeo playing Road Song.



In 2003, Maciek moved to London and stayed in the UK until 2014. As a young guitarist he quickly established himself and toured the UK, USA and Europe with his own projects and as a sideman to other musicians. He established the Maciek Pysz Trio in 2008 and recorded his first EP Discoveries the same year. More touring and collaborations followed including a Quartet version of the project with the addition of accordionist/pianist Maurizio Minardi and bass/harmonica player Patrick Bettison. In 2010, he re-established his trio with drummer Asaf Sirkis and bassist Yuri Goloubev. He appeared on TV and performed in the Blue Note Jazz Club in Poznan, Poland in 2011, and in February 2013 he recorded his debut album Insight with his trio at Artesuono Studio in Udine, Italy with acclaimed ECM sound engineer Stefano Amerio. The album was released in May 2013 on 33 Jazz Records and was followed by a tour of the South of France with French drummer Romain Dravet and harmonica player Adam Glasser. Later that year Maciek appeared with his trio at the London Jazz Festival and the Ceuta Jazz Festival.


Listen to the track Insights from the 2013 Trio album.




Maciek Pysz Trio


In the spring of 2014, Maciek completed a 15 date tour of the UK with his Trio, funded by the UK's Jazz Services National Touring Support Scheme. The tour included a concert at London's Pizza Express Jazz Club with a guest appearance by Grammy award-winning, British saxophonist, Tim Garland. That year he made a number of appearances at festivals in the South of France, including La Colle-sur-Loup Jazz Festival with French violinist Francois Arnaud, with whom he continues to work occasionally. Maciek recorded his second studio album A Journey in December 2014, once more at Artesuono Studio in Italy. The album features bandoneon and piano player Daniele Di Bonaventura as well as his long-established trio with Yuri Goloubev and Asaf Sirkis. The trio toured the UK on a 19 date tour supported by Arts Council England, including the album launch at The Forge during the London Jazz Festival.


Maciek Pysz Trio: Yuri Goloubev, Maciek Pysz, Asaf Sirkis.






Listen to Fresh Look from A Journey.





In early 2016, Maciek formed a duo with pianist Ivo Neame to play their own compositions and arrangements of the music by Hermeto Pascoal, and the duo toured in 2016 with performances at major arts centres and an appearance at London Jazz Festival.  In May 2017 Maciek released a new album London Stories with Italian guitarist Gianluca Corona. The album, recorded at the Eastcote Studios in London in 2014 reflects his time based in the UK - from 2014 he moved on to Milan, Paris and the South of France. Today, he shares his time between London, Krakow and Paris.

A collaboration with ECM artist Daniele di Bonaventura which began with the latter’s appearance on A Journey has blossomed into a partnership that has resulted in festival appearances as a duo in Poland and Italy, and the album Coming Home which was released in October 2017 on an Italian label, Caligola Records. 


Here is a video of Daniele (piano) and Maciek (guitar) playing the beautiful Tango from the album Coming Home.



Maciek continues to maintain his strong links with Europe with 'Inwardness', a project based in Nice with Davy Sur on drums and David Amar on vocals and sax which saw its first release, Space Jazz, on a German label Ozella Music in April 2018. Other projects have included a trio project in Paris featuring Alex Stuart on guitar and Antoine Banville on drums and his Maciek Pysz New Quartet. In 2019 he released a solo album A View. The album is not genre-specific, but relaxed and creative, and as you can see from this introductory video, inspired by the location in which the improvised composition osccurred:





Maciek joined me for a Tea Break before the coronavirus outbreak made life difficult for all musicians, including Maciek who was planning gigs between various European countries.



Cześć, Maciek, good to see you. Can I get you a tea or coffee?

Hi Ian, good to see you too. Coffee please. 

Milk and sugar? 

No, thank you, just black please. 

You seem to have been pretty busy travelling around – London and Poland in March, back in the UK with Julian Costello’s Quartet in April, May and June, and gigs here and in Poland with you own Trio and Quartet. How do you find the travelling? 

I love it to be honest! I think I got used to it over the years and now when I'm in one place for too long I feel like I want to be on the move. I am mainly travelling around Europe these days which is fun and I try to take trains as much as possible. Not only it's environmentally friendly, it also allows me to bring all my equipment without having to worry about airlines' policies for flying with instruments, etc. 


Is it easier that you are a guitarist and don’t have a larger instrument to carry? I know someone who plays baritone sax in a big band who says few other sax players want to carry the instrument on the underground!

Well, yes and no. Very often I have to bring two guitars and my own acoustic AER amp, as I want to have a specific sound. That, plus a suitcase (or two!), is not that light. If it's just one guitar of course that's pretty comfortable but very often I have to carry a lot more gear than just one guitar. 


That's quite a lot of gear! You have lived in London and Krakow and your other base is in Paris. Have you found a lot of difference in the three cities for playing jazz? Are the audiences different?

I think they all have their own feeling in terms of the kind of jazz that is played there and even in the way musicians play. The nice thing is that in all of those places there is a nice sense of a musician's community. I didn't notice that much difference in terms of the audiences, they all seem equally nice and enthusiastic. They all share the love of jazz. 


Piec Art Jazz Club



That sense of community with musicians is a valuable thing. If our readers were to go to Krakow, which jazz clubs should they visit? I seem to remember there was one I went to on the main square some years ago.

That might have been Harris Jazz Club, which is on the main square. There is also U Muniaka, on Florianska Street. I like Piec Art the most, on Szewska street, as it's the nicest looking club out of all of them and it has a lovely piano as well. 


Do you have a particular venue where you play in Paris or Krakow?

In Paris I played quite often at the Baiser Sale and Sunset/Sunside and in Krakow it's Piec Art Jazz Club. 



Piec Art Jazz Club, Krakow.







How are things going with the album you released last year? A View came out on the Caligola Records label and it is a solo guitar album, although you do use different guitars. What inspired you to record this album?

I have been very busy since the release date so I didn't actually promote it yet as much as I did my previous albums. I always wanted to record a solo guitar album. There are many solo guitar records I love, especially by Ralph Towner and Sylvain Luc. I felt it's part of the process of maturing as an artist and musician. I used different guitars and overdubbed guitar parts on some of the tunes. Some tunes are just solo guitar. It was a great experience having this empty canvas and being able to paint musically whatever was in my head. Recording in Italy, at Stefano Amerio's (ECM) studio, definitely helped the album come out the way it did, he gets such a great sound. As the title suggests, I used views as my inspiration. I decided to go away from home to compose the music and ended up in the lovely Italian city of Trieste with beautiful views of the sea. 


Maciek plays the track Coastline from the album.





The music is very relaxing, and it doesn’t seem to fit a particular genre, was that intentional or just the way it evolved?

I never plan what the music will be like, what genre, what time signature, etc. I just let things happen organically. I was in a particularly beautiful and relaxing place while writing the music, the Barcola area of Trieste, Italy. Going there to write was the only intentional thing during this process which I am sure has had an impact on the way the music sounds. 


Dorset Apple Cake


What snack do you usually have with your coffee in Poland? I can offer you some biscuits – I have chocolate digestives or custard creams, and I think I have some Dorset Apple Cake left over in the cake tin?

Yes, we often have cakes. I think I'll go for the Dorset Apple Cake.

Dorset Apple Cake


As well as playing with saxophonist Julian Costello you have recorded quite a bit with Daniele Di Bonaventura, Yuri Goloubev and Asaf Sirkis over the years, the relationship with them must be well established now?

Yes, they are all good friends and wonderful musicians. I hope to record more with them in the future. 




Listen to Maciek playing a solo on the captivating track Sunflowers with Julian Costello Quartet.





If you could invite a past musician, someone who has inspired you, to join you for a gig, who would you choose? and what would you ask them during your tea break?

I think it would be Miles Davis. He was such a character, I would love to have to opportunity to play and talk with him. I would probably ask him  what he is practicing at the moment :) 


Who else have you heard recently in Poland or Paris that we should listen out for? 

In Paris there is a really good accordion player Laurent Derache who I play with. In Poland I recently met with a great young pianist Mateusz Palka. They are both worth checking out! 


Listen to the Mateusz Trio (Mateusz Palka - piano; Piotr Poludniak - double bass; Patryk Dobosz - drums) playing
I Love You
from their album Sansa.




You have quite a busy schedule booked for the months ahead. How about beyond that – do you have anything else you are planning or would like to do?

Yes, things look busy, I hope it will stay this way! I would love to record another album with my trio or quartet at some point. I think I will be focusing on my own projects in the coming months. 


I shall be watching out for those, and I think other people should too. Thanks for dropping by, Maciek. Can I get you another coffee before you head off for your next gig? How about choosing a piece of music while I put the kettle on?

Thanks, I'd love another coffee. How about Ralph Towner's version of My Foolish Heart


Excellent choice. It must be one of Ralph's favourites as he has recorded it several times. There are a few videos of him playing it on YouTube going back to 2012, but let's listen to this one from Leipzig from a couple of years ago. I'll put the kettle on and see what's left of the Dorset Apple Cake.





Click here for Maciek's website.


Maciek Pysz



Utah Teapot


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