Janusz Prusinowski Trio
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Janusz Prusinowski Trio

Warsaw, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland | SELF

Warsaw, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland | SELF
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""Serce" review by Andrew Cronshaw"

2008’s album Mazurki by the Prusinowski trio was the most inspiring to come my way out of Poland that year, and this new one maintains the standard. No reconstructionist attempts to bring back a past era; these musicians are going for what, to past generations and now, makes these tunes and rhythms and ways of playing good.
The music they produce, lurching, rhythm-jumping is vigorous, grainy-textured, even appearing rough on the surface, but in no way is any of the playing anything but extremely skilled; these are contemporarily aware players, with deep love and understanding of central Polish traditional music and its techniques. There are frequent reminders of the wanderings of some Polish dance-forms across Europe, particularly to Sweden; Zawierucha, for example, has that stretched three-beat Swedish polska hesitancy, as does the first part of Namolny Gosc Weselny before it moves into an almost Breton-like 4/4.
For this album, and often live, the trio is a quartet; I assume it was previously a limiting factor that if Janusz Prusinowski was fiddling he couldn’t simultaneously play the small traditional bass, and the other two were generally fully occupied. So Piotr Zgorzelski bows or plucks the bass where it’s needed, with Prusinowski on ecstatic fiddle, ringing hammered dulcimer, Polish accordion and harmonium and main vocals, Michal Zak adding strident shawm, softer-toned wooden flutes and clarinet, and Piotr Piszczatowski thudding big baraban drum and tambourine, with guests on occasional trumpet and double bass.
Except for the final song, the group’s own elegiac setting of an anonymous poem, all of the constantly interesting, rhythmically varied material on the album – mazureks, obereks, kujawieks, wiwaks, polkas and walking dances – that they’ve learned in the course of meeting and playing with surviving older village musicians, some of whom can be seen in the photos on their MySpace site. They don’t mimic these players; they internalise their techniques, apply their own wider musical influences and expertise, and convey the thrill and dance-impulse in an album full of spirit and listenability. - fRoots issue 325, 2010


""Mazurki" review by Andrew Cronshaw"

Mazurki brings us the wonderfully wiggly cross-rhythms – a triple beat but with stresses that can cross it in fours, fives or sevens - of the village mazureks (mazurkas) from Mazovia, Poland’s flat central region, played, with great skill and tremendous lift, by fiddler and occasional cymbalist Janusz Prusinowski, with baraban drum, tambourine and droning 3-string bass from Piotr Piszcatowski, joined by Michal Zak’s wild shawm and flute. Suddenly the similarly wiggly, asymmetric three-beat polskas of Sweden, which are indeed descended from the mazurka, have a direct connection.
     It’s a magnificent album. These guys play with high skill and all the fire and rhythmic energy of the village musicians they’ve learned from. Prusinowski describes his damascene moment. “In an Andrzej Bienkowski film I heard the Józef Kedzierski band. It was a revelation: the authenticity, intensity and ease that I had been looking for throughout the world existed right here, beside me, in my own language”.
     What’s probably that same film, of Kedzierski in 1986, can be seen on YouTube via ethnographer, photographer and painter Bienkowski’s website, www.andrzejbienkowski.blox.pl.
     In his note to the Prusinowski album, Bienkowski writes, “No other dance aroused such euphoria in dancers and got musicians into such a trance”. Like Swedish polska there too, then. And, like polskas, mazureks are played differently in each village. But mazureks have short songs that go with them, and Bienkowski reckons that the variation of these songs because of local dialect and personal expression is reflected in the variations in mazurek melodies. The rhythm, though, is all-important, and in sung mazureks it’s connected with rhythmic rural work as much as with dance. On the CD too there’s singing, from Prusinowski and two female traditional singers, Maria Pezik and Maria Siwiec.
     Far, as Bienkowski points out, from the elegant, waltz-like mazurkas known to the world through Chopin and others, this is music to ignite a new mazurka craze, as polska in Sweden became an obsessive heart to the traditional music revival. It could certainly send a thrill through the ranks of Swedish fiddlers, and lead to Mazovia mazureks creeping into the spelmansstämma buskspel sessions.
     (And, food for the body as well as the mind, there’s unusual added value in the CD pack: multilingual recipe cards for the cream-toffee-topped Easter cake also known as mazurek). - fRoots issue 309, 2009


""Mazurki" and "Serce" review by Eelco Schilder"


The Janusz Prusinowski trio is originally a trio (now a quartet) from Poland grouped around singer, accordionist, dulcimer and harmonium player Janusz Prusinowski. Together with flute and clarinetist Michal Zak and percussionist Piotr Piszczatowski they recorded their first album in 2008 called Mazurki. Together with two female guest vocalists and (at that moment guest bass player) Piotr Zgorzelski (on the new album he is part of the quartet and not a guest any more) they play fourteen wonderful compositions with the Mazurek as a kind of returning theme.
This debut album shows furious dances together with beautiful songs like Chlopolek and the nice female singing in Nie bylo I ni ma. The compositions have something typically Polish, but an international sound as well. Fantastically played, superb dulcimer, wild violin, strong percussions and both dreamy and hysterical flutes. It happened to me before, a Polish band that takes me by surprise with the high quality music and creative, enthusiastic way of playing.
Two years after the release I’m very happy this album came my way, this is a pearl in my collection of Polish (folk) music.
On their new album called Serce, which means heart, the trio is a quartet and their guests are an extra bass player and trumpet player. The album starts more subtle with Serce in which the dancing accordion forms a great pair with the warm male vocals. The percussion and trumpet interrupt at the right moment and make this a intense kind of round-dance. Although there are many similarities between the two album, this new one has a more frivolous nature, it are hypnotizing dances mixed with soft wooden flute solo’s, klezmer influences and so much more. A strong second album by a band that was totally new for me but got my full attention and became one of my favorites from Poland.
- Dutch folk magazine New Folk Sounds


Discography

Mazurki 2008
Serce (Heart) 2010

Photos

Bio

The Trio’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? 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.

In 2008 the band released “Mazurkas”, an album which received rave reviews. This was followed in 2010 by their second album “Heart”. At present the musicians are working with pianists on a new album, which aims to highlight the importance of traditional Polish village music in Frédéric Chopin’s compositions.

Between 2008 and 2012 the band performed several times in France and Italy (e.g. at the Corso Polonia festival in Rome), as well as in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, the USA (including Carnegie Hall and Chicago Symphony Center), Canada (Vancouver Folk Music Festival), Belgium, Portugal, Luxembourg, Holand, Romania, Moldova, Vietnam – and of course Poland. In 2010 the band focused mostly on the village roots of Frédéric Chopin’s music and prepared a special programme of performances with pianists: Janusz Olejniczak, Magdalena Wojciechowska and Nargiz Aliyarova. The group also played concerts with Michal Urbaniak, Artur Dutkiewicz and Alim Qasimov. The Trio’s music can additionally be heard at theatrical performances at the Polish National Theatre and the Polish Radio Theatre.