Solidarity of Arts – Poland’s biggest jazz show of 2015

This year on the 15th of August Roger Berg Big Band will be one of the artist groups featured in the show Swing+, which is the main event of the festival Solidarity of Arts in Gdansk, Poland.

Dariusz Kula, solidarityofarts.pl

The idea is big – three stages built as one space of a great musical spectacle. A concert presented by many artists who show different pieces of the performance one by one to build one great show. That means creating the experience both for the audience watching it live at the place of the concert and for the ones seeing it on TV during the live transmission, as the cameras will be around all the time to transmit the event in the public TV-channel. All of this happening at the Polish Baltic Philharmonic square, beautifully situated at the riverside, just a couple of blocks away from the seacoast.

Dariusz Kula, solidarityofarts.pl 4Photo by Dariusz Kula, © solidarityofarts.pl

The festival is taking place for the 7th year in a row and previously featured stars like Quincy Jones, Bobby McFerrin, Esperanza Spalding, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Terri Lyne Carrington, Marcus Miller, Leszek Możdżer among others. The director of the show Krzysztof Materna, who is a Polish TV personality, director, actor, producer and comedian, has announced this spring that the topic of the festival’s main show in 2015 will be swing:

Swing+” is the main event of the 2015 Solidarity of Arts festival. It is the first time that a style of jazz (and not a jazz musician) constitutes the title of our event – since 2010 Poland’s biggest outdoor jazz concert of the year. On August 15th we will pay tribute to Swing – the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1946, a style that originated from jazz music of the 1920s. We will also pay tribute to Polish swing hits that will be performed by both legendary Polish vocalists and our esteemed foreign stars, including Grammy Award winners Patti Austin, Kurt Elling and WDR Big Band.

Dariusz Kula, solidarityofarts.pl 3Photo by Dariusz Kula, © solidarityofarts.pl

The conceptual works on this year’s edition of SofA were close in time to the release of the album “Swing Revisited” by Stanislaw Soyka and Roger Berg Big Band, which made it a great opportunity to present this traditional swing material to the public in August. Except for Stanislaw Soyka (read more about the artist and the project here) there is one more prominent Polish jazz singer to appear in front of Roger Berg Big Band – Aga Zaryan.

She has been successful in integrating ambitious artistic goals with popular appeal, recording four albums to date, all of which have earned gold, platinum or multi-platinum status in Poland. In 2008 she was honored with the Polish music industry’s most prestigious prize – the Fryderyk Chopin Award. She was nominated for the title of Woman of The Year 2008 by Gazeta Wyborcza-Wysokie Obcasy, one of Poland’s most influential and widely circulated newspapers. Aga was also named Jazz Vocalist of The Year in the European Jazz Forum Magazine’s yearly Jazz Top readers’ poll in 2007, 2008 and 2009 – agazaryan.com

Aga Zaryan agazaryan.comAga Zaryan, agazaryan.com

During the show you will also see and hear Pasadena Roof Orchestra, New York Voices and the elite of Polish jazz artists: Ewa Bem, Hanna Banaszak, Wojciech Karolak with the band. The admission to the concert is free except for the Golden Circle (tickets 5 PLN), start time: 9 p.m., approximate time of the show: 3 hours. Welcome to Gdansk on the 15 of August 2015!

Dariusz Kula, solidarityofarts.pl 2Photo by Dariusz Kula, © solidarityofarts.pl

Read more about the event at Solidarity of Arts

Swing Revisited – reviews in Sweden

Some of you already know the album “Swing Revisited” created in cooperation with a prominent Polish jazz singer Stanislaw Soyka. Released on the 14 of April 2015 the CD sold gold on the premiere day and has been received very positively in Poland. The singer has been also present with the album in multiple TV and radio programmes, giving many interviews and even serving a taste of the new production. Some of these materials will be featured in the upcoming days on our blog.Swing Revisited album cover

Even though the CD has not been released in other countries so far, we’ve managed to get some reviews on the Swedish side as well. The most recent is the one from Orkester Journalen nr 3 2015 by Per Wikèn.

Orkester Juornalen 3 Swing Revisited

Critic’s review starts in a highly excitied tone, as he is being taken by surprise while listening to the “vocalist of a high caliber”, an artists new to him, who’s coming from the neighbouring Poland. The album recorded in the collaboration with Roger Berg and the Roger Berg Big Band is described as “a string of pearls”, made of the true and immortal hits in a mix of swing, soul, ballads and blues. Author shares his thoughts on different songs, of which he likes the most: Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Fly Me To The Moon and I’m Just A Lucky So And So, the last of these sung with a well relaxed approach. In Hallelujah I Love Her So the vocal sounds as the song is not exactly in the right key, yet the number is “well swinging”. Artists’ voice in general reminds a little bit of Sinatra’s, Tony Benett’s, Mel Thorme’s and Sammy Davis Jr’s sound. The orchestra gives the vocalist an attentive, yet well balanced support of a high quality, exactly as it does to the other big Swedish and Danish artists during the shows, of which it is well known in the region. The writer recalls also that Roger Berg has Buddy Rich as his role model. Per Wikèn ends his review:

A great balance between singer’s and orchestra’s sound gives a final touch to this recording, which is a true pearl.

A couple of weeks earlier we also got an opinion from the jazz expert and journalist at the newspaper Sydsvenskan Alexander Agrell:

Sydsvenskan.se Swing Revisited

 

To get the essentials:

More about Malmö, jazz, retro and singing: Roger Berg’s big band made a recording with a brilliant Polish singer Stanislaw Soyka. “Swing Revisited” contains well known standards mostly from Ellington/Strayhorn and is a pleasing and well swinging story.
Soyka has Tony Benett’s inclinations, midnight-smooth voice and total control over the songs, puls and his frasing.

Another voice came from the host of the radio program Swingtajm Rolf Karlström, Radio Haninge Direkt from Stockholm. In this interview with Roger Berg Rolf finds a comparison for Soyka in the person of Gunnar ”Siljabloo” Nilsson, trying to define artist’s personality and sound.

Rolf Karlström: I think the singer in some tunes sounds a little bit like Gunnar ”Siljabloo” Nilsson…
Roger Berg: Yes, you are definately right here. He has a very individual expression, he is no singer that we have dozens of. He has a warmth and his own personality in singing which are missing among many young artists these days. This guy has been around for some time and has developed his own style, which is appreciated by many. And there are many people who love him for exactly this voice and this style and when they hear him in this environment they say: Wow, that’s cool to finally hear something like that from you!
Rolf Karlström: And he sounds so relaxed when he sings plus he does have a voice!

The program host points also out great musicians in the band, like the soloist in Night And Day, Vincent Nilsson, playing trombone. The whole interview available in the player below (in Swedish):

Another material – an interview in the program Kulturlådan by Frank Andersson, Helsingborgs närradio 99,2 MHz, with more thoughts around the album and even more positive impressions. A full interview with Roger Berg below, available for those of you who are familiar with Swedish.

Another voice came from a music lover and promoter, working for many years with the jazz society Malmö Hot House and a member in Harry Arnold Society, journalist and blogger Peter Kastensson:

Pekasten.wordpress.com Swing Revisited

Translation:

A few bands in Europe can swing as well as Roger Berg with his big band. But who is Stanislaw Soyka? A composer, pianist, who sings both pop and jazz. He has, so to say, made a come back to jazz. I have not heard about him until Roger Berg told me. A gentleman who “smells jazz” from a distance, when one hears his voice, a beautiful voice. There are singers who have “burned” voice or maybe a “whisky burned” voice. That applies to Stanislaw Soyka. Yet maybe I should rather say “vodka burned” voice, taking into account his homeland…

Next he mentions soloists playing in different numbers, like Let The Good Times Roll – guitar solo, Måns Persson, Caravan – alto sax solo, Claus Sörensen, Love You Madly with tenorsax solo Ed Epstein, Satin Doll – piano solo, Mats Nilsson, next Vincent Nilssons with his trombone solo in Night And Day and Take The ”A-Train with Lasse Lundström’s double bass solo. A full text in Swedish available at Peter’s blog.

We are extremely happy to read and hear all these opinions full of enthusiasm, good vibes and appreciation. Thank you everybody for sharing your thoughts and naturally thank you once again everybody, who took part in the project. Great respect and congratulations to you!

Busy summer

Hello Dear Music Lovers!
Many of you are exactly now enjoying your summer holiday or planning to travel soon to recharge your batteries. The summer is full of fantastic open air events and festivals, so luckily you don’t have to take a break from the music you love 🙂 We are very happy to be a part of a couple of these events, which gives us a pretty condensed schedule in August. Hopefully you will find yourself close enough to take part in some of them. Here comes more info about the first one, welcome!Pildammsteatern, Foto Ewa Levau Malmö stad

Picture of Pildammsteatern by Ewa Levau/Malmö stad

August the 5th – Pildammsteatern in Pildammsparken in Malmö. Here in the legendary amfitheater filled with the great musical memories and fantastic spirit we will have the pleasure of playing the yearly concert for Harry Arnold Society presented in the frames of Sommarscen Malmö. During the concert Roger Berg Big Band will back up two grant receivers. This year we will meet a true legend and a very dedicated swing musician and music promoter, Jan Slottenäs, whose intense work brought the swing music, especially Glenn Miller’s music, to many listeners in Scandinavia and even France. The leader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, trombonist, conductor and singer has been awarded with Harry Arnold grant for his overall achievements in the big band jazz music.

Glenn Miller Orchestra Scandinavia stor

Glenn Miller Orchestra Scandinavia http://www.glennmillerorchestra.se/

Sadly it has been announced that Jan’s work with his Glenn Miller project is coming to an end. Due to the heavy economical situation the band found it challenging to continue with the activities, as the Band Manager Sven Olof Slottenäs said to Peter Kastensson, also Harry Arnold Society member*. Then this grant, which is an expression of the great respect for the intense and extremely dedicated work with swing music, is coming in a very important moment. It truly becomes an award for all the years of Jan Slottenäs’ work. Congratulations Janne and keep swingin’, no matter what!

The second person to appear with Roger Berg Big Band on the 5th of August is Simon Petersson. The role of a doublebass player in jazz music cannot be more crucial. The board of the Harry Arnold Society saw a true talent and great craft in Simon’s work. As the Chairman of the society Bo Hirche says, it’s a “smart talent with a fantastic feeling for big band music”*. Don’t miss the opportunity to listen to Simon during the concert in Pildammsteatern, when he will borrow the chair from our regular doublebass player Lasse Lundström (another Harry Arnold grant receiver from the year 2012).

simon peterssonSimon Petersson, doublebass player, from artist’s press materials

During this evening the band will also present a couple of music pieces from Harry Arnold’s book. We are even going to have a vocal touch in the program, as there will be our vocal trio presenting some of the Andrews Sisters’ songs. Please give a warm welcome to the newly formed unit, that is developing the idea of the vocal group and working in the area of harmony singing and backup vocals, as well as solo performances. This evening you will see and hear: Katarina Elmberg Jonsson, Dorota Berg and Sandra Marielle Hansson-Cehic, who is subbing for our Danish singer Christina Ölgaard Thomsen. All the ladies present genuine music fascination and have miscallenous experiences. More about the trio soon on our blog.

Roger Berg Big Band Trio rogerberg.com

So save the date and be there with us: Wednesday the 5th of August 2015, Storbandskalas, Pildammsteatern Malmö, the concert starts at 19.00.

Info: This concert is a part of Sommarscen Malmö 10-years anniversary and presents in the cooperation with Harry Arnold Society. You can find out more about the society’s activities at www.harryarnold.se If you want to support this great music appreciation society and take part in many other events, become a member.  You can also get the magazine “Stand by” with many interesting articles, memories and news. More info at the Harry Arnold Society website.

*Quotations come from the magazine “Stand by” nr 2, 2015 by Harry Arnold Society, translation to English by D. Berg

Swing Revisited

Dear Music Lovers! We are happy to announce that the album “Swing Revisited” by Stanislaw Soyka, a prominent Polish jazz singer, and Roger Berg Big Band R3B sold gold on the day of the premiere. Thank you everybody for keeping the swing music alive!

The CD and vinyl have been released on the Polish market, however the album is available in digital sales all over the globe. You can get it at Spotify, Google Play, iTunes and in many other online stores. You can read a full note about the record below. Regards and keep swingin’!

Swing Revisited album coverGolden Record Swing Revisited

Stanisław Soyka & the Roger Berg Big Band – ”Swing Revisited”

American swing played with bravado by leading Polish jazzman Stanisław Soyka and the Roger Berg Big Band. In their rendition, recorded at sessions in Malmö and Warsaw, the artists refreshed jazz standards by Duke Ellington and Ray Charles among others.

”Swing Revisited” is an album by Stanisław Soyka, a noted Polish jazz singer, and the Roger Berg Big Band, a Swedish-Danish constellation. Their collaboration stemmed from a spontaneous jam session at the band’s first Warsaw concert. ”I was just overwhelmed by how sensitively they were playing” Soyka recalls. “I couldn’t help it and joined in for three pieces. It was fabulous”.

The album, an unparalleled amalgam of different energies, is a foray into the golden era of swing. Recorded in studios in Sweden and Poland, it is not just another forced updating of classical American songs of the 40s. “Swing Revisited” was recorded along the best „orthodox” lines and with true respect for the swing traditions in order to evoke the old-time masters, because – as the artists emphasize – “you cannot improve on Duke Ellington’s music, you just need to live it your way”.

As Soyka says, “This music has been out of radio stations, dance clubs and concert halls for over 40 years. The big band culture evolved. Orchestras sprang up: Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Gil Evans, Carla Bley and others, which enriched the music so much… at the same time overshadowing the artists from the first half of the century, but… when I played these recordings for some young people who had never heard this kind of music before, their faces were radiant and somewhat amazed. It seems that this kind of music still gives the listener a good vibe”.

Tracklist:

1. Let The Good Times Roll (Louis Jordan / Sam “Lovin” Theard)

2. Caravan (Duke Ellington / Juan Tizol)

3. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore ( Duke Ellington / Bob Russel)

4. Fly Me To The Moon (Bart Howard / Bart Howard)

5. Come Sunday (Duke Ellington / Duke Ellington)

6. Hallelujah, I Love Her So ( Ray Charles / Ray Charles)

7. I’m Just A Lucky So And So (Duke Ellington / Mack David)

8. It Had To Be You (Isham Jones / Gus Kahn)

9. Love You Madly (Duke Ellington / Duke Ellington)

10. My Funny Valentine (Richard Rodgers / Lorentz Hart)

11. Night And Day (Cole Porter / Cole Porter)

12. Satin Doll (Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington / Johnny Mercer)

13. Take The „A” Train (Billy Strayhorn / Billy Strayhorn)

14. When I Fall In Love (Victor Young / Edward Heyman)

BIO:

Stanisław Soyka (www.soyka.pl) – a Polish jazz singer, pianist and composer born in 1959. He started singing at the age of seven, being a member of a church choir along with his father. He studied at the Composition and Arrangement Department of the renowned Academy of Music in Katowice. He made his debut in 1979 at a blues and gospel concert in Warsaw’s Philharmonic Hall, performing songs by Ray Charles, Carole King and the Beatles. Recordings from this event were included in his first album “Don’t You Cry”.

In 1981 Soyka recorded “Blublula”, a collection of captivating renditions of such standards as Ellington’s “I’m Just A Lucky So And So” and John Coltrane’s “Naima”, accompanied by the Wojciech Karolak Trio. The album was named “Jazz Album of 1981” and sold gold. This was when Willis Conover, a legendary jazz critic and broadcaster, upon hearing Soyka at the Jazz Jamboree festival, commented: “This guy is the best-kept secret in Polish music”.

In 1988 Soyka commenced his long and productive collaboration with Janusz Yanina Iwański, the guitarist of the jazz-rock band Tie Break. The duo recorded several albums. “Acoustic” is said to have preceded the unplugged era in music by several years. It was followed by “Neopositive” (1992), which included “Tolerancja”, a song that became a big hit.

During a career that spans more than 35 years, Stanisław Soyka has recorded a number of albums that are milestones in the history of Polish music. He keeps changing, always staying fresh but still instantly recognizable after just a few bars.

The Roger Berg Big Band (www.rogerberg.com) – Roger Berg started drumming at the age of three. From the very beginning he was inspired by the greats: Gene Krupa (Goodman), Jo Jones (Basie), Louie Bellson (Ellington) and, most admired, Buddy Rich. After many years of pursuing varied projects – playing for musicals, in traditional jazz bands (e.g. Papa Bue’s Viking Jazzband) and drumming for two decades with the Tivoli Big Band (the Tivoli Gardens Orchestra in Copenhagen) – Roger decided to form his own band. Intent on having a full traditional big band, coming as close to the American swing tradition as possible, he created a unit with a solid sound, known today for a myriad of projects. These include gigs in jazz clubs and at festivals, as well as large concerts, music spectacles and galas like the annual Git Gay Galan in Malmö, as well as a performance at the Eurovision Week of 2013 along with Siw Malmkvist and Ann-Louise Hanson, two icons of Swedish pop music, and a series of spectacular big band battles.

R3B (Roger Berg Big Band) is usually accompanied by a highly accomplished female vocal trio. The instrumentation is 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 5 saxophones (who double on clarinet, flute and other reeds), piano, guitar, bass and drums – in other words, a classic big band, worthy of the best days of the swing era.

Big Band Battle 2014

So here we are – the first of this spring’s concerts has just been played in Malmö Konserthus. Last Sunday we met the prominent Carling Big Band with Gunhild Carling and… nearly 1200 listeners!

roger berg big band batle 2014 1

An evening like that is hard to describe in just a few simple words. The project that we’ve been working on for months finally goes on stage. Tough schedule, a lot of preparations, almost 40 musicians to cooperate with, quite a number of tricky music pieces and a meeting with a really BIG audience… All of that makes an event like this a very special and unforgettable experience.

Some people wonder if the “battle” is just a theme or is it a real ingredient of the show? Is it all set up since before or is there a real “fight” and competition happening on stage? Well, to answer this question honestly: both of the bands have one goal – performing in the best and most cheerful way while playing their best numbers and by that – pleasing the audience. They do it in many diferent ways and their repertoire and style differs a lot. However, the “battle” happens for real in many ways. For instance Roger Berg doesn’t know the numbers to be played by Carlings and Carlings don’t know Berg’s agenda. Plus, there are always some spontaneous things to happen, plans to be changed, numbers to be played or replaced… The challenge is real, so is the competition!

At R3B, while preparing for the battles, we think mostly about audience’s expectations and our own ambitions and desires. What should we present? From all the fantastic charts we have – which ones to choose? Which ones to get for the show from the ones we don’t have? How to build a great music experience for our audience, the band we’re playing with (not against!) and ourselves? There’s a lot of thinking, a lot of try outs and play thrus, many hours of youtube watching and digging in the music history. The history we may proudly “dig out” and bring to the contemporary stage. It’s not only a great pleasure and fun – it’s actually a big honor!

roger berg big band battle 2014 2

So, whenever someone comes up to us after the show, writes to us on Facebook or via our website and says that it was a good evening and they had fun, we feel incredibly happy. Not only because they don’t want to get their money back… It’s basically because we can feel that we did the job reasonably well and we get this extra energy to stand up for it once again, and then again and again…

After the Big Band Battle in Malmö on the 13 of april 2014 we feel like the atmosphere of these concerts is absolutely amazing. It’s great to play a battle with so many fantastic musicians and extraordinary personalities on stage. Moreover, the people we have in front of us are real Music Lovers – what an incredible response we got! The next audience we’ll meet on Easter Sunday, the 20th of April, is going to watch the show in Göteborgs Konserthus. If you’re planning to be there – we hope you’ll have a lot of fun!

Footnote: The content of our previous blog had to be moved because of the technical issues. This is why the dates of some posts are not corresponding to the date of the event.

Hello world!

Hello there Music Lovers! We have succesfully moved the blog from the previous location. Now you can enjoy the content on a completely new platform! Hope you will forgive that this process caused some issues in blog’s date register. We hope the new form of the blog with compensate the inconveniences. Enjoy!