FEATURE/INTERVIEW: Maciek Pysz (New album: Coming Home and Spring guitar duo tour)

Maciek Pysz
Photo Credit: Lisa Miniussi
Guitarist MACIEK PYSZ is keeping intensely and productively busy musically, with a new solo CD on the horizon and an imminent tour with Gianluca Corona. Even before these, however, he’s already achieved a career highpoint with his latest album, Coming Home, recorded in collaboration with Daniele di Bonaventura. Maciek provides some background and context on his career, and the distinguished new recording, in conversation with Andrew Cartmel.

Polish guitarist and composer Maciek Pysz was never in any doubt that he would devote his life to music. Self taught on guitar, he began playing at the age of 11, getting into jazz a few years later. A London resident for many years, he now lives in Paris. A prolific recording artist drawing on a rich diversity of influences, Maciek Pysz is particularly attracted to the ECM aesthetic. Indeed, his latest CD Coming Home (Caligola Records 2232) evokes the beautifully austere and elegant ECM sound world. Hardly surprising when you realise it’s a collaboration with Daniele di Bonaventura on piano and bandoneon. Bonaventura is an ECM artist, and the album was recorded by Stefano Amerio, the renowned ECM engineer.

Coming Home is a great recording, with tremendous presence and a huge, warm sound. Every vibration of every guitar string shimmers through the air. The purity of sound and poised emotion of Maciek Pysz’s acoustic guitar playing, with its often melancholy grace, calls to mind the Brazilian masters of the instrument. But the rich resonance of his electric guitar reaches much further afield, expanding the musical reference points of the album, which consists entirely of original music.

While Lights, a Pysz composition, evokes classic samba, the influence of Bill Evans — and also of older musical sources, such as Bach — seems clear on pieces such as Tango, by di Bonaventura. Paquito, another di Bonaventura tune, has a lilting insistence which borders on the funky. His I Gazzillori is relaxed and joyful, a good natured dance. More & More by Pysz is delicate and pretty and searchingly melodic, its tenderness almost giving it a lullaby quality. Here, and elsewhere, it’s hard to believe there are just two players crafting this lovely music.

LondonJazz News: Listening to your new CD Coming Home I sometimes seem to hear echoes of such great guitarists as Luis Bonfa, Antonio Carlos Jobim or Bill Frisell. I wonder which guitarists are your favourite?

Maciek Pysz: Thank you. I know all of those players well and have listened and still listen to their music, but I wouldn’t say any one of them was directly an influence on my playing. My favourite guitar player is a French guitarist called Sylvain Luc. Recently I am listening to a lot of Julian Lage. I am also influenced by Bireli Lagrene and Eivind Aarset. Ralph Towner is a major influence as well as Italian guitarist Bebo Ferra, Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, and also Philip Catherine [who frequently played with Chet Baker late in Chet’s career].

LJN: Daniele plays either piano or bandoneon on the CD. I wondered how you decided which tracks would work best with either of these instruments?

MP: It sort of happened naturally. For Daniele’s compositions, he pretty much decided based on which instrument he composed the tune. For my compositions, I thought about it before the session and Daniele thought the songs matched the instrument I had in mind for him to play, so it all worked perfectly. Working with Daniele must be one of the most organic and natural collaborations I ever had, it’s just very nice, spontaneous and instinctive.

Maciek Pysz
Photo Credit: Lisa Miniussi

LJN : Can you tell us a little more about your jazz influences?

MP: I got into jazz in my late teens. I love the improvisational aspect of it and interaction between players and how they can influence each other during playing. From musicians early on it was Miles Davis, I still love his music and playing and used to listen to it a lot. I was also a big fan of Chick Corea for a long time. I still am, but just listen to him a bit less these days. There was also Michele Petrucciani, Bill Evans the pianist, Jan Garbarek, Keith Jarrett, Enrico Pieranuzzi… Pat Metheny. I am also influenced by a lot of music on the German label ECM. It would take a while to list everybody. I listen to a lot of music every day. An important influence is also French accordion player Richard Galliano.

Maciek Pysz’s new solo album is due for release later this year. Meanwhile, he is gearing up for his tour with fellow guitarist Gianluca Corona. The two musicians previously collaborated on an album of duets entitled London Stories (33Jazz262). Their tour begins at the Bulls Head in London in a couple of weeks and continues through the spring and early summer.

Tour dates:

16/05/2018 - BULL’S HEAD + Guitar Workshop- London
24/05/2018 - BONINGTON THEATRE + Meet The Artist- Arnold
25/05/2018 - HERMON CHAPEL + Meet The Artist - Oswestry
26/05/2018 - OLIVER'S JAZZ BAR - London
20/06/2018 - SWING UNLIMITED - Bournemouth
22/06/2018 - POUNDISFORD LODGE - Taunton
27/06 - SPEAKEASY - Torquay

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