I could find the chance to make an interview with Adam Bałdych after their duo concert with Yaron Herman in Ankara, Turkey . We talked about the new album from ACT, "The New Tradition", which will be released on May 30th, his musical progress in time and his ideas about jazz, music and the label ACT.
F.E: As far as I have seen in your biography there are just two years between the time you became an important classical music violin player and interested in playing jazz. Considering that violin is not a mainstream instrument in jazz, I found it interesting that you found jazz as the most suitable genre for you at the age of just 13. How did you meet jazz and what is the special thing in jazz that hits you?
A.B: I was in my 5th year of music school when I found out jazz. There are still many stories about teachers who were afraid to accompany me during the exams. They never knew where we can go with the Bach, because I was always improvising some parts (laughter). This shows that I was always in need of improvisation so when I first got a chance to listen and see improvising jazz musicians I realized that this is what I was looking for. I felt in love in music when I found out I'm able to tell my own story through it but I needed improvisation to really do it!
F.E: What kind of music do you listen at home? Who are your favorite musicians?
A.B: I listen all kind of music. Classical, jazz, pop, indie rock. I'm collecting LP's and love to listen to them. Last weeks I listen a lot to Middle Age choir music - especially Thomas Tallis music. In the meantime Nick Drake, Keith Jarrett and Komeda Quintet with Stańko. I have a whole bunch of favourite artists.
F.E: Could you give some jazz violin players' names to me who influenced you in the beginning? Or else are there other musicians playing other instruments on your 'influences list'?
A.B: I started with music of Stephane Grapelli. He was always one of my gurus, even though I never wanted to play his style. I was also influenced by Polish violinists: Michal Urbaniak, Zbigniew Seifert and Maciej Strzelczyk. I'm a big fan of Didier Lockwood as well.
F.E: Your debut in ACT, Imaginary Room came with a very wide collaboration and a bright line-up. How did you feel about playing with such names in your first album in one of the most prominent jazz labels in Europe?
A.B: It was an honour to have those amazing artists on my album playing my music. Everyone there is an outstanding musician. That was also a challenge for me. ACT music proved that they believed in me and I did my best to prove I will use this chance to do my best. I'm very proud to have this album recorded, now the new one is on the way so it's really going on!
F.E: What do you think about the label ACT? How does it feel to be a part of them?
A.B: It is a bunch of great people who really love jazz! They give me space to release my music concept and they help me to make it visible. Siggi Loch is a person who knows exactly how to put together right people. I'm really happy to be part of ACT Family and hope they are too (laughter).
F.E: In Imaginary Quartet -your long term band with which I think you are still performing from time to time-, I can see that you are inspired a lot from your hometown Poland and I have got a classical music taste in my mind when I listened to the album. In my opinion your previous albums are very well under impression of rock more than jazz. In other words, the works sound harder before ACT. Both works with Baltic Gang (your debut in ACT), Iiro Rantala (two very successful albums) and your last duo album with Yaron Herman showed me that you get softer in sound with each album. Do you think so? Do you have a tendency to be more dignified in your style within each album?
A.B: I started as a young person who wanted to show his teachers and older musicians that I have my own way of understanding music. I listened to rock music at that time and I was impressed by guitar players. Big part of my technique was created by using guitar systems on my violin. But as I was more and more mature while creating my music, I started to understand, that you don't need to be loud to say something really firmly. In the world full of noise, loud advertisements, screams, the only cure is silence. I try to express high emotions not on the level of dynamic but of the level of details and colours of my sound.
F.E: Could you please give a little bit detail about last duo album "New Tradition" in which you worked with Yaron Herman? How was is to play with him? What is new and different for you in that album?
A.B: We had a great time in the studio. I tried to keep the spirit of the moment so we used mostly the first takes we made. Yaron and I, we see music in a similar way, we are different people, but we know how to inspire each other and how to communicate, that makes this cooperation interesting for us. This album is different from the last one because it's more intimate and mature. It's a concept album that tries to refer to my tradition, European classical music, Polish Folk and Polish Jazz. I try to understand who I am, where I am coming from and where I'm going to. In the same time I just try to play all this music by showing the exact moment in my life, the way I see world and life and by sharing my emotions with people.
F.E: It seems that you have many compositions in this album as well as some other arrangements. What are the importance of the pieces and their compositors for you which you decided to arrange? How do you compose and what are the sources of inspiration?
A.B: I used music of middle ages and renaissance composers as Hildegard Von Bingen and Thomas Tallis. I found a real beauty in this music. It's simple but it says so much in the same time. This is the way I try to go with my art. Sometimes few beautiful and smart sentences are worth more than hundreds of words. I also used music of Polish Jazz artists - Krzysztof Komeda and Zbigniew Seifert. I compared it with my own compositions which I made while I was inspired by the concept of this album. So all together is one flow.
F.E: Please answer this next question of mine both as a listener and a musician lived in New York for a while. What are the differences between jazz played in Europe and United States for you nowadays?
A.B: There are many things to say about it. In my opinion New York Jazz scene continues tradition of mainstream jazz. The rythm and bluesy background is still the most important thing. European jazz is more sophisticated and more based on classical music. More interesting is the sound, colour and harmony. Of course this are just few simple examples.
F.E: What is the next step in your career?
Thanks for answering these questions Adam. I hope this new album creates new paths for new ideas.