Guitarist DAVID DORŮŽKA releases his long-awaited new album SILENTLY DAWNING.
Phenomenal, widely-respected jazz guitarist David Dorůžka (b. 1980) has been part of the Czech jazz scene for 14 years, but his talent and renown have long since grown beyond the borders of the Czech Republic (thanks to his long-term stays in the USA and France). In March, 2008, four years after the debut of his first album Hidden Paths (2004 Anděl award for jazz album of the year) he will release Silently Dawning, his much-anticipated sophomore album. All but one of the 10 compositions have lyrics: some are settings of poems by Emily Dickinson or Jiří Orten, some have lyrics by Josefine Lindstrand, a young Swedish vocalist and one of Dorůžka’s longtime collaborators, who performs this trilingual repertoire on the album. Two Poles, drummer Łukasz Żyta and bassist Michał Barański complete the ensemble. The music is set in the context of contemporary European jazz, intimate, honest and deep. The album was recorded at Svarov studio with the help of recording engineer Lukáš Martinek, and mastered by the renowned Bob Katz at Digital Domain studio in the USA.
Silently Dawning track list (all music by David Dorůžka):
1. The Things That Never Can Come Back (on a poem by E. Dickinson)
2. November (lyrics by J. Lindstrand)
3. The Heart Has Narrow Banks (on a poem by E. Dickinson)
4. Percussion Interlude (improvisation)
5. Noc a den (on a poem by J. Orten)
6. I Felt My Life (on a poem by E. Dickinson)
7. Tears (lyrics by J. Lindstrand)
8. Before Spring Comes
9. Voice and Guitar Introduction (improvisation)
10. Forever Lost (lyrics by J. Lindstrand)
11. Hope Is The Thing With Feathers (on a poem by E. Dickinson)
12. Pohádka (on a poem by J. Orten)
Silently Dawning was released March 31, 2008 on Czech independent jazz label Animal Music, operated by Petr Ostrouchov, a former member of the band Sto zvířat, composer of film music (Želary), lawyer and jazz fan. (Animal Music has released three albums to date: Organic Quartet’s Never Enough, the Jaromír Honzák Quartet’s A Question To All Your Answers, and the Libor Šmoldas Trio’s On the Playground. Silently Dawning is being released simultaneously with Ondřej Pivec’s new album Overseason, and albums by Vertigo Quintet and Petr Zelenka are also planned for 2008.) Graphic design of the album is by Zuzana Lednická of Studio Najbrt and contains photographs by Magda Slezarová; the booklet contains trilingual Czech-English-Swedish translations of all the lyrics. Distribution in the Czech and Slovak Republics is by SONY BMG MUSIC, and the album will be available worldwide from www.cdbaby.com.
David Dorůžka Biography:
DAVID DORŮŽKA has devoted himself to playing the guitar since the age of 10 and was playing with leading performers of the Czech jazz scene by the age of 14. He was a member of the group Eye of the Hurricane and the Jaromír Honzák Trio and won the 1995 Talent of the Year award of the Czech Jazz Society. He has played on albums by Karel Růžička Jr. (You Know What I Mean, 1997) and Jaromír Honzák (Earth Life, with drummer Jorge Rossy, 1998); both albums received the Jazz Album of the Year award of the Czech Academy of Popular Music. Dorůžka lived in Boston, MA from 1999–2002, studying composition and improvisation at the Berklee College of Music, where his teachers included Joe Lovano, Mick Goodrick and George Garzone. At Berklee Dorůžka won a number of awards, including the Wayne Shorter Award and the Jimi Hendrix Award (twice). In 2000 Pat Metheny selected him to be the only guitarist to attend the prestigious Christian McBride master class at Aspen, Colorado, where his teachers included McBride, as well as Herbie Hancock, Brian Blade and Joshua Redman. In the summer of 2002 Dorůžka played a European tour under Django Bates as part of the Swinging Europe project, where he also met singer Josefine Lindstrand. After finishing his studies at Berklee Dorůžka moved to New York, where he lived in 2002 and 2003, recording his debut album Hidden Paths, which won the 2004 Jazz & Blues Album of the Year award of the Academy of Popular Music. Since the end of 2003 he has been living in Europe, primarily playing with his trio and in a quartet with Josefine Lindstrand. In 2006 and 2007 he lived in Paris, where he performed with musicians such as Karl Jannuska and Géraldine Laurent. He also played on Jaromír Honzak’s fourth album A Question To All Your Answers (2007). Dorůžka has performed in the USA, Canada, Marocco and most European countries, (including Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Greece, Poland, the Ukraine, Slovakia, and Hungary), as well as many prestigious festivals (including Montreal, Monterey, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Copenhagen, Bydgoszcz and Cheltenham). He has worked with such internationally known musicians as Christian McBride, George Mraz, Jorge Rossy, Django Bates, Tiger Okoshi, Perico Sambeat, Albert Sanz, Rodney Green, Orrin Evans, Kenwood Dennard, Phil Wilson, Greg Hopkins and Don Grusin. He has also performed with Iva Bittová and Ida Kelarová, and as a guest of Jaroslav Dušek and Martin Zbrožka’s Vizita Theater. Silently Dawning, his new release featuring Josefine Lindstrand, Michał Barański and Łukasz Żyta is his second album of original compositions.
David Dorůžka Discography:
David Dorůžka: Silently Dawning (Animal Music, 2008)
Jaromír Honzák Quartet: A Question To All Your Answers (Animal Music, 2007)
David Dorůžka: Hidden Paths (Cube-Metier, 2004)
Jaromír Honzák: Earth Life (Cube-Metier, 1998)
Karel Růžička: You Know What I Mean (Arta Records, 1997
Silently Dawning Band Biographies:
JOSEFINE LINDSTRAND (b. 1981) comes from Örebro, Sweden. She began to study voice, piano and saxophone at the age of 16 and worked with a big band. In 2002 she played a European tour with Django Bates’ European Jazz Youth Orchestra. Bates later offered her work with his group, Human Chain, with which she has since sung all over Europe. She also sang on Bates’ newest CD You Live and Learn… (Apparently), and they perform together as a duo, as well as in various ensembles. Lindstrand has also worked with Vince Mendoza and his Metropole Orchestra. She studied at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen and now lives in Stockholm, performing with three different groups in Denmark and Sweden. She released the album Annars är det tyst with Sekten, a group she co-founded in 2004, winning the Danish Music Award in the the vocal jazz category. She also won the 2007 Ted Gärdestad scholarship for her composition work. She taught at the 2004 Summer Jazz Workshop in Prague. She was invited to perform in Uri Cain’s Othello Syndrome in Rome. She works with Japanese singer Maia Hirasawa. She is currently finishing her first album of original material, There Will Be Stars.
ŁUKASZ ŻYTA (b. 1975) graduated from the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, where he studied drums. He has won a number of competitions, including the Hoeilaart Festival in Belgium, the Krakow and Wrocław festivals in Poland, and First Prize at the Jazz Drummers’ Meeting in Grodzisk Mazowiecki. He has worked with such stars of the Polish jazz scene as Piotr Baron, Janusz Muniak, Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, Tomasz Szukalski, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Henryk Miśkiewicz, Jaroslaw Śmietana, Piotr Wojtasik, Wojciech Karolak, Joachim Mencel, Michał Tokaj, Andrzej Cudzich and Darek Oleszkiewicz. He has also worked with leading jazz singers Ewa Bem, Urszula Dudziak, Grażyna Auguścik and Iza Zając, and is presently performing with Aga Zaryan, with whom he recorded the album Umiera piekno. He has also played with such international stars as Bennie Maupin, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Lee Konitz, Dino Saluzzi, David Murray, David Friedman, Bobby Watson and Brad Terry. His activities in the Czech Republic include a long partnership with Jaromír Honzák, with whom he has recorded two albums (Present Past, A Question To All Your Answers). He also played on the Libor Šmoldas Trio album On the Playground. In addition to his intense schedule of Polish club dates, festival dates and recordings (he has already played on 20 albums!) he has also played in Sweden, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.
Bassist MICHAŁ BARAŃSKI (b. 1984) is a graduate of the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, and the duo Michał Barański– Łukasz Żyta is a long-standing rhythm section which is in very high demand. He has performed in such venues as the Knitting Factory (New York), Jazz Bakery (Los Angeles) and the Berklee Performance Center (Boston). He has played three US concert tours with Triology and clarinetist Brad Terry. He works with musicians such as Bennie Maupin, Eddie Henderson, Nigel Kennedy, Tomasz Stańko, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Aga Zaryan, Piotr Baron, Michał Tokaj, Maciej Sikała, Grzegorz Nagórski, Janusz Muniak, Jaroslaw Śmietana, Joachim Mencel, Mieczysław Szcześniak, Anna Serafińska, Dorota Miśkiewicz and Natalia Niemen. He has won a number of competition and festival awards, as well as awards for his recordings, including Assymetry with the Zbigniew Namysłowski Quintet (2007 Fryderyk award for Jazz Album of the Year) and Live with the KBD Trio (2006 Jazz Oscar for Album of the Year).
Ondřej Konrad’s Interview With David Dorůžka:
Your first album Hidden Paths was recorded in the USA, and the pieces on it were written during your studies there.
I also wrote two of the pieces on Silently Dawning while I was still in the US: “Forever Lost” and “Tears,” which also appeared on my first album in another version. But the great majority of the rest of the pieces on the new CD came out of my stay in Paris in 2006–07. I had already had the idea for the album a long time before, however.
You first mentioned singer Josefine Lindstrand after meeting her during the 2002 Swinging Europe project of avant-garde pianist and composer Django Bates. Did you talk about working together even back then?
The Swinging Europe tour was the first impulse. It was a fantastic project— 19 musicians from every possible European country, 3 weeks on tour playing in a different place every night, and we traveled together in one bus the whole time. The long summer tour was followed by a shorter one in the fall with concerts in France and Holland. I had some new pieces and I thought that they would sound nice if the melody were sung by a human voice. One free afternoon Josefine and I tried them out in the hotel just to see, and she sightread everything perfectly right off the bat. And the pieces definitely weren’t easy. After I came back to Prague I recommended her as a teacher at the Prague Summer Jazz Workshop. She came in 2004 for the first time, and at the opening teachers’ concert we wanted to play something just as a duo. We got together an hour before it started and each of us brought one piece. I had “Tears,” which had no lyrics at the time. Josefine sang the theme without words at the rehearsal, and then she said, “That’s pretty, but it would be nice if it had some lyrics.” She sat down at the table and in half an hour she wrote the Swedish lyrics that we then used for the concert. And that was the start of our work together.
Most of the vocal pieces are settings of poems by Emily Dickinson in English, and by Jiří Orten in Czech. The latter was certainly your choice, but who came up with the idea of doing Dickinson?
That was my idea. I don’t remember when and where I read Emily Dickinson’s poems for the first time. But when I was thinking about what kind of poetry I wanted to set and how the music should sound, I remembered what shines out from her verse. It isn’t wordy poetry; nearly all of her works are miniatures, and that’s exactly what I needed and wanted at the time.
Singing in Czech must have been difficult for Josefine. Was she worried about it?
Yes, it certainly was difficult. But I wanted to have some Czech poetry on the album too. Moreover, the pieces that are sung in Czech on the CD are musically quite different from the others. In any case, Orten’s poems are printed in the booklet for those who can’t understand the Czech. And at least Josefine seems to have a world premiere as probably the only Swedish jazz vocalist to sing in Czech!
Does it seem to you that the influence of Swedish or Scandinavian music in general can be heard in her singing? I’d say constantly. The Scandinavian countries have a wonderful and completely unique vocal tradition and culture. And there are an awful lot of good singers there. The uniqueness of their singing comes primarily from their folk music. Also, music education is very highly developed all throughout Scandinavia. That certainly plays a major role. There is a whole line of vocal personalities from the Scandinavian countries — Susanna Wallumrød, Sinikka Langeland, Lena Willemark, etc. Every one of those singers is completely different, but they have something similar in the way they sing. I think it’s because of their roots in folk music and the method of teaching from early childhood. Also, Scandinavian jazz singers sing English really well, which is because of the close relationship between the Nordic languages and English.
Your roots are digging deeper into the traditions of European culture. Did the years you spent in the US contribute to that? I think they did. I lived in the US for four years, and it was a very important experience for me. There, for the first time, I realized, at least a little, who I really am, where I come from, what is important and what is less important for me. And at times I felt a real sort of longing for home, a longing for the things that belong to me, for my culture. It seems that it’s something that you can fully realize only when you are far from home for a longer time. When I live here in Prague I almost never have feelings similar to those I have during my long-term confrontations with a completely different environment. I think that my music took a more precise direction during my stay in America. And I think that is one of the most important things for any artist.
You’ve been playing with drummer Łukasz Żyta for a longer time now. When did bassist Michał Barański make his appearance?
Michał is currently perhaps Łukasz’s most frequent band mate. They are probably the busiest rhythm section in Poland. I had heard about Michał long before we played together in the summer of 2006 at the music workshops in Leszno, where we were both teaching. And then we started to play together in the band of Aga Zaryan, the outstanding Polish singer, (who is, by the way, another personality who I hope becomes well-known in the Czech Republic). There is a marvelous musical communication that goes on between Michał and Łukasz, so it was logical to invite him to play. And just like Josefine and Łukasz, Michał has no problem getting around in any kind of musical context.
Silently Dawning, the title of the CD, doesn’t appear as such in any of the lyrics, but the words “silence” and “dawn” do. And an atmosphere of daybreak and the moment just before it are evident in the music as a whole.
The last line of the poem “Noc a den” — “Look! Is dawn not breaking?” — inspired the title “It is silently dawning” as an answer to the question that Jiří Orten poses. But this answer shines, I hope, from the music itself as well. Most of the music is rather quiet, which hopefully makes the loud parts stand out more. And the music as a whole has rather darker shades, into which some ray of light flashes from time to time.
You evidently have a lot of things thought out and written down in advance. Of course you count on the creativity of the players and singer, but the material is the foundation. When and how did the album start to come together in your head as a whole?
The texts of the poems were key to the shape of the album as a whole. The moment when I had chosen all of the poems that I wanted to set is the moment when the whole structure began to come together. Just like with Hidden Paths I didn’t want to record just a “bunch of tunes,” which is what a lot of jazz albums seem like to me. I wanted the album to have some kind of story. I also wrote most of the pieces with the musicians that were going to play them in mind from the start. I am fascinated by the combination of improvisation and composition, how to connect completely free improvisation with reasonably precise interpretation of the written material. This is something I would like to investigate in even greater depth in the future.
The instrumental track “Before Spring Comes” seems to be the most jazz-oriented piece on the whole album, but “Pohádka,” for example, is rather more like contemporary serious music. Could you characterize Silently Dawning for us in a nutshell?
Certainly, but just as we play, for example, “November” almost like a rock band, “I Felt My Life” is closer to folk, and “Noc a den” sounds a little like a folk song. But if a typical classical musician saw the sheet music for “Pohádka” he probably wouldn’t know exactly what to make of it, whereas a jazz musician with a somewhat broader outlook probably would. But I think that even in spite of these different influences the album sounds pretty compact. At the time when I was writing the music I was listening to a whole range of things — Schubert, Shostakovich, Giya Kancheli, Trygve Seim, Christian Wallumrød, Tomasz Stańko, Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, Egbert Gismonti, and many other things. I was very impressed by new releases from ECM Records (the Norwegians Seim and Wallumrød) which blur the boundaries between jazz, folk and contemporary concert music (I don’t really like the term “serious music”), as well as between improvisation and composition. Silence and space are very important to me in music, as well as concentration of musical expression. So all of that is to be found on this album, but I don’t know any way to describe the music in more detail. There are so many sources of inspiration, and even more musical paths that you can take.