Polish Cultural Institute Presents Pianists...
Adam Makowicz vs. Leszek Mozdzer
Going Head to Head at Carnegie Hall - Saturday, September 25, 2004
New York City, July 28, 2004 - The Polish Cultural Institute presents two of the greatest keyboard talents on the Polish music scene today: Adam Makowicz and Leszek Mozdzer, going head to head for the first time at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, September 25, 2004 at 2:30pm and 8:00pm. These classically trained jazz pianists will perform their interpretations of Chopin and jazz standards, solo and as a duo. The concert will be recorded for future release on EMI Poland.
Adam Makowicz studied classical music at the Chopin Conservatory of Music in Krakow, and his parents and teachers expected him to become a classical pianist. However, his life was changed forever in the mid-1950's when he discovered jazz while listening to Voice of America Radio. At a time when jazz was barely tolerated by the Polish government (officially deemed decadent") Makowicz chose a new life of freedom and improvisation. And it came at high price. He was forced to leave his home and school and spent two years homeless in Krakow until he discovered a small jazz club hidden in a cellar where he could play and sleep in exchange for doing chores.
Ultimately the sacrifices made pursuing his love of jazz paid off when legendary record producer John Hammond invited Makowicz to New York in 1977 for a 10-week engagement and to record a solo album for CBS. By this time, Makowicz had over 25 records under his belt, was performing worldwide, and was voted #1 jazz pianist in Europe by Jazz Forum readers six years in a row. He settled in New York in 1978, and later became an American citizen.
In 1981, The Polish government imposed martial law in an attempt to crush the growing Solidarity movement. In response, President Reagan initiated the creation of a special television program, Let Poland Be Poland," which was beamed to 55 countries around the world, and included a performance by Makowicz along with many artists and public figures. As a result, Makowicz was banned from Poland until it gained its freedom in 1989. Since then, Makowicz has returned to his homeland every year, popularizing the music of American composers both in solo recitals and with symphony orchestras. The Wall Street Journal boasted, Adam Makowicz has been praised by Benny Goodman, compared with Art Tatum, Erroll Garner and Teddy Wilson, honored by jazz publications and toasted all over Europe as a genius. Mr. Makowicz's fiery style, firm chording and rapid Tatumesque right hand phrasing make him more than deserving of the accolades he has received."
Leszek Mozdzer is one of the greatest keyboard talents on the Polish music scene today. Born in 1971, he has been playing the piano since he was five, and his father gave him one of Makowiczs recordings for his sixth birthday. He developed an interest in jazz during high school, and in 1991 he joined the Milosc band. During the six years Mozdzer led Milosc, it became the most popular jazz group in Poland. He recorded six albums with the group - two with trumpeter Lester Bowie. In 1996, Mozdzer graduated from the Stanislaw Moniuszko Conservatory in Gdansk.
Mozdzer received many accolades, including the Krzysztof Komeda Prize 1992 from the Polish Culture Foundation, the First Prize of the International Jazz Improvisation Competition in Katowice in 1994, the Mateusz Swiecicki Prize from Polish Radio 3, the Mayor of Gdansks medal for outstanding artistic achievements, and the Fryderyk Prize for Jazz Musician of 1998, as well as many citations in the magazine Jazz Forum. Mozdzer has recorded 30 CDs, including four under his own name, the best known of which is Chopin Impressions. He has also collaborated with such jazz greats as Arthur Blythe, Buster Williams, Billy Harper, Joe Lovano and Archie Shepp. Today Mozdzer performs all over the world, and at the prestigious Piano Festival in Chartres, his jazz interpretations of Chopins pieces received a standing ovation. Since 1992 he has been a regular collaborator with Zbigniew Preisner, Poland's leading film music composer, taking part in the recording of many of the composers film scores. Although Mozdzer has idolized Makowicz for many years, the two just met this past spring when the Polish Cultural Institute brought Mozdzer to New York from Poland to begin rehearsals for this concert.
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