Polish Jazz Story
As the political system in Poland after World War II greatly influenced the development of Polish poster design; the affairs of State also strongly shaped the history of Polish jazz. During the Communist era, the political milieu generally affected poster and jazz art in a parallel fashion. However, the fall of Communism, which ended the golden age of Polish poster art, precipitated growth in Polish jazz.
In 1946, the first post-World War II public jazz concert occurred in Krakow.. Shortly thereafter, many other concerts took place and several bands were formed. But with the increase in political & artistic oppression of the Polish People's Republic (the Soviet-supported Communist regime), jazz became one of the State's victims and by 1950 was officially banned. Jazz, nevertheless, did not disappear but went underground.
In the late 1950s, Poland achieved relative political autonomy from the USSR, and jazz became, once again, an acceptable musical form. The groundwork for a vibrant jazz scene was put into place -- new bands were assembled; Dave Brubeck and other foreign musicians visited; official jazz clubs opened and jazz festivals such as the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree were instituted.
The 1960s & 1970s witnessed an increase in artistic freedom resulting in jazz becoming more expressive, sophisticated and experimental. Many extraordinary Polish jazz musicians came onto the scene including Krzysztof Komeda (piano), Jan 'Ptaszyn' Wroblewski (sax), Zbigniew Namyslowski (sax), Tomasz Stanko (trumpet), Michal Urbaniak (violin) and Adam Makowicz (piano). The Jazz Federation, which evolved into the Polish Jazz Association (PSJ), was established and began publishing its own periodical, Jazz Forum. Governmental support of jazz increased - many jazz festivals including the Jazz on Odra River in Wroclaw were encouraged and poster artists were engaged to create posters to promote jazz events as well as to celebrate jazz musicians, with Waldemar Swierzy even designing posters honoring American Jazz Greats.
The 1980s began a period of continuity with an increase in internationalization, diversity and popularity of Polish jazz. Many of the jazz musicians of the 1960s & 1970s continued to perform with many new musicians such as Leszek Mozder (piano) gaining recognition. The further loosening of restraints, followed by the introduction of a free market economy in Poland, resulted in more jazz - more musicians, more recordings, more performances, more clubs, etc.
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