Interview with Krzysztof Lenczowski: Cello is very special instrument in jazz music: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz cellist and guitarist Krzysztof Lenczowski. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Krzysztof Lenczowski: – I was born in Cracow in Poland. I was interested in music since I remember. In my primary school jazz was very popular, but it wasn’t my first music love. I was obsessed with playing guitar, mostly rock music. At that time I was scout and it was very cool for me to play simple songs during camps. In the same time I played classical music on cello and the opportunity to play in school orchestra was something amazing for me!

JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

KL: – It took me quite long to be in the place that I am right now. I didn’t want to play jazz on cello. I recorded few albums as a jazz guitarist, but also I graduated from Chopin Music University in Warsaw as a classical cellist. The invitation to play in Atom String Quartet changed everything. It was 11 years ago, and since that time I describe myself as a jazz cello player more, than jazz guitarist, or classical cellist.

JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

KL: – My daily routine in “regular” times is touring, being on stage 100 times per year, learning new music as fast as it ‘s possible. But now, since COVID it is completely different. Now it’s time to be focused on the basics. Everyday I practice scales, and jazz standards. Something new for me is, that I have my practice place, kind of studio or music room. I have a lot of session work right now. I’m recording cello tracks to many songs, movies, or computer games. Recording is always best way to improve your skills.

JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

KL: – From my experience it is always good to be prepared as early as it’s possible to play the concert. There is so many things that can happen unexpectedly just before the show, especially in the clubs… I’m trying to stay relaxed and be alone, accompanied only by my band members just before the show. It’s not easy, in the clubs in particular.

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

JBN: – Ism is culled from a variety of lives dates with various performers over the course of a few years. Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?

KL: – Cello is very special instrument in jazz music. I wanted to create comfortable environment for myself as a band’s member.  That’s why I have decided to play with hammond organ and drums. Organ gives me this simple opportunity that if I want to play bass lines pizzicato I can do it. In the same time I can play melody with bow with no worries that my cello will be to quiet. Also organ’s players can change the sound during keeping the note, comparably like on strings instruments. It is important in my way of thinking about compositions, regarding playing together, probably because I am playing mostly in string quartet.

JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

KL: – There are some musicians nowadays, that I admire – Kristian Randalu, Petros Klampanis, Avishai Cohen (bass player), Tigran Hamasyan. I like this direction in music with roots, but also very intellectual with good balance between intellect and emotions. Musicians I work with had a huge effect on me during recording this CD and first time in my life I was no afraid of using it. There are compositions inspired by Zbigniew Namysłowski, famous polish saxophone player, Petros Klampanis, Bodek Janke, or even Apocalyptica.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

KL: – I like to think about myself that I know best what is good for the concert or recording, but usually I’m the band’s part and it has to be a compromise. Sometimes people don’t want to listen difficult music, but still it is good to play some not easy listening piece to make them feel uncomfortable for a while. If you give them good context they will love it! With Atom String Quartet we often play tough Lutosławski or Penderecki music, which makes up the greater part of the concert. However you need to remember that you have to keep connection with the audience. Sometimes you loose it playing simple songs, sometimes hard stuff, and it is always bad thing. It is all about looking for the balance.

JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

KL: – There is plenty of funny or inspiring stories, especially from the road. Many of them refers to Atom String Quartet members’ height. We are all so tall, that we can be easily a basketball team! We get used to that, but in China it was very strange, that people on the street stopped Michael (viola player, who is 210 cm tall) every five minutes, to shake a hand or take a photo just because his height. They even wanted to pass congratulations to his parents about that – it was very funny 🙂

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

KL: – I think people still love old masters, like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong. A similar situation takes place in classical music. The same masterpieces are played in philharmonic halls all over the world! In my opinion playing standards is the way to learn this music, learn the language of jazz. However I’m not sure if it’s good route to include more then one or two in your repertoire. Artists should create its own, original music.

JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

KL: – Music is my one and only way to live. Yes, it’s present in my life in spiritual way, but also as a daily routine or method to earn money. All I have, or who I’m on every level of my life it’s because of music.

JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

KL: – It would be great to have in Poland one or even more very strong jazz labels with worldwide range. We have a lot of great artists, but some of them are well known only in local environments. Here, measure of success is that somebody releases its album on western market. It would be great to change that.

JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

KL: – I like to listen classical jazz from LP’s during the meal with my family or friends. When I bath my daughter we listen chill out and pop music. I’m running always with polish hip hop’s background, but when I’m looking for something inspiring I listen mostly classical, and modern jazz music on CD’s.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

KL: – It is still hard to make people think about cello as a jazz instrument, but maybe even more significant is to convince cellists that there is possibility to choose other than classical way in music. It is important, because many of young cello players want to do something different, the problem seems they don’t know how. Many of them reports to me, that they want to study in my class, and it gives me lots of satisfaction.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

KL: – Certainly I would like to omit living during pandemic! It could be in the past, could be in the future, but for sure I will not stay in present time if I had a chance to do it!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Krzysztof Lenczowski – Wikipedia, wolna encyklopedia

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