The quartet’s line-up includes big names of Polish jazz musicians who have lived away from Poland for many years. At present the group features the following musicians: Andrzej Olejniczak (Spain) – saxophone, Jan Jarczyk (Canada) – piano, Darek Oleszkiewicz (USA) – double bass, Janusz M. Stefański (Germany) – drums.
Their music project „Chopin & Jazz” – Chopin’s compositions arranged for a jazz quartet and used as a vehicle for improvisation – was a unique contribution in international celebrations of The Chopin Year and has been appreciated worldwide.
Susan Weinert – guitar
Andrzej Olejniczak – saxophone
Martin Weinert – double bass
A German guitarist Susan Weinert is widely acclaimed as one of the most outstanding guitarists of the Eruopean jazz stage. Over 3000 concerts played, original style, virtuoso technique, unique sound and exceptional, innovative compositions evoking enthusiasm among fans worldwide. Although often invited to collaborate as a soloist with other world-renowned musicians, the artist consistently strives to create her own music. 11 albums including her own compositions are a testimony of her creativeness and zest for work.
She has been in a long term friendship with Andrzej Olejniczak with whom she also shares the common language of music. The crystal clear tone of his saxophone beautifully interweaves with the individual sound microcosm of her works, in a unique way enriching the sound of string instruments (artist’s husband, Martin Weinert, plays the double bass). This first class line-up performs Susan Weinert’s compositions allowing them to create an unusual and beautiful mood.
Krzesimir Dębski – violin
Andrzej Olejniczak – tenor and soprano saxophone
Janusz Skowron – keyboard instruments
Krzysztof Ścierański – bass guitar
Krzysztof Przybyłowicz – drums
String Connection is the most important Polish jazz band of the ’80s. The group has become a living legend, and has gone down in history as one of the most interesting combos of the „young power” period. The group enjoyed great popularity comparable with the one of Polish rock stars. They were also our music „export product”.
The group was formed in 1981 by three former musicians of a group Warsztat – violinist Krzesimir Dębski, drummer Krzysztof Przybyłowicz and bass guitarist – Zbigniew Wrombel – who invited a pianist Janusz Skowron to work with them. About a year later the most well-known line-up of the band was formed, claiming to be the supergroup: K. Dębski, J. Skowron, K. Przybyłowicz, a sax player Andrzej Olejniczak (former Extra Ball and Sun Ship), and a bass player Krzysztof Ścierański (former Laboratorium and Air Condition). The changes of the line-up that came later on (e.g. Andrzej Jagodziński – pianist, or Zbigniew Lewandowski – drummer who played with the group) never jeopardised the strong position of the band, which regularly toured all important jazz festivals in Poland (Jazz Jamboree, Jazz nad Odrą Festival) and abroad (Norymberg, West Berlin, Leverkusen, Hamburg, Paris, Getxo, Brussels, the Hague, Konsberg, Helsinki, Prague, Bratyslava, Le Mans, Debreczyn). They played concerts in the USA and Canada, as well as two big tours in the Soviet Union. They recorded nine albums, two of them in the West. The „Jazz Forum” magazine voted them the best group of the year twice, in 1983 and 1984.
Although the band stopped performing at the end of the 1980s, every few years they got reactivated, usually in the complete line-up, and played concerts. In 2012 they released an album with new works. Except for Dębski’s compositions there were also pieces by Olejniczak (El Juguete) and Ścierański (Obsession).
Cycle Man (1999), Andrzej Olejniczak’s first fully independent album released in Spain, received a very positive reception from local jazz fans. His album Live At Altxerri (2004) was critically acclaimed by the „Jazz Forum” magazine.
„At first you may get the impression that when playing interpretations of standards the ensemble behaves in a „standard” way (and Olejniczak remains faithful to the Coltrane line of playing), whereas his true face is revealed only in the leader’s compositions. The last recording denies this „theory”, albeit not until we hear Call It a Dream that we know what Olejniczak has to offer us: beautiful, clear soprano tune, brilliant technique, melodic sense, filled with lyricism, unusual emotionalism. (…) Not even for a second do we have to deal with a typical „Spanishness”, at the same time the leader, beyond the shadow of a doubt, communicates the type of music he plays: this ideal blend of jazz with ethnic fineness constitutes the main asset of this album”.
„To play with a string quartet, to improvise to their accompaniment, without a rhythm section! This dream goes back to times when I studied classical music and, playing the clarinet, performed Mozart’s and Weber’s quintets. Later on I was fascinated by Stan Getz’s Focus and Jan Garbarek’s Luminiscence. Being involved in so many projects, this ideas had always been put off and waited for the right moment, which never seemed to come. However, as the time went by I had this thought that was becoming more clear to expand my work by something that would be a refreshing musical experience, and at the same time a challenge to search for a new conception of how to play.
Working with a string quartet released greater dynamics in me, and also enhanced my technical and rhythmic discipline. Executing this project made me think about my way of playing and it enriched me as a musician”.
„Different Choice” is a first project of this kind in Poland: a combination of the sound of jazz saxophone and a string quartet!
An encounter of two music worlds: an internationally recognized Polish jazzman, composer, and arranger, an outstanding multi-instrumentalist, whose first love is saxophone, and a classical string quartet searching for new paths of artistic development. The clue of this unusual project „Different Choice” is combining the classical discipline characteristic of a string quartet with full of jazz finesse, escaping the rigors of music-making, solo sax phrases.
„I am trully impressed. We haven’t had an album like this before. The saxophone player in me is impressed by Andrzej’s great technique. The second thing is the quality of the recording: proportions, the sound of instruments, the quality and quantity of reverberations, etc. And the third thing, probably the most important, I put it specially in the third place, is the choice of repertoire. Compositions and arrangements, both the jazz ones and the more classical ones – absolutely first class”.
The concert features three main works:
Concerto for Soprano Sax and Symphonic Orchestra by an American composer Mark Kuss. The work consists of three parts which are connected with one another. The first part is a kind of variation. The second part is a fast-paced rondo. The main theme, played at the beginning by the saxophone, is a palindrome. It can be played forward and backward and will sound the same. It contains features of an Irish dance. Sadness permeates the final part of the concerto which is played at a low pace.
Focus Suite by Eddy Sauter – composed in 1961, a first unique attempt to combine jazz saxophone with a „classical” orchestra and its beautiful and modern sound. One of the most original features of this work is that the saxophone part has not been written in the score. There are only suggestions of the composer as to where the solo improvisation should take place and sporadicly written melodies.
Jazz Concerto for Sax and Orchestra by Krzesimir Dębski – written in 2008 for Andrzej Olejniczak with whom the composer played in jazz groups for many years. The work includes jazz themes composed for String Connection.
„Knowing Andrzej’s great performance abilities, and his unconstrained improvisation talent, I have left a lot of free space for his solo cadence”.
This project came into being in 2013 in collaboration with Polish Radio Orchestra directed by Krzesimi Dębski in Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio in Warsaw.
In the 1970s, Andrzej Olejniczak and Władysław „Adzik” Sendecki together with Jarek Śmietana, Jan Cichy, and Benedykt Radecki formed a group called Extra Ball. Later on they started a formation Sunship, which to this day is considered to be one of the most important jazz groups of the ’70s. In 1979 the musicians parted ways; Andrzej Olejniczak joined the line-up of String Connection, and in 1984 left for Spain. Władysław Sendecki first emigrated to Germany in 1981, and then to Switzerland, where he lives till now. He has become a valued session and concert musician. He has collaborated with artists such as Billy Cobham, Michael and Randy Brecker, Marcus Miller, or Jaco Pastorius.
After many years, in 1999, the musicians got together and played a concert in Frankfurt am Main, and decided to renew their musical collaboration. Since then, they have been taking part in different projects, they have been geuests at many festivals, such as Jazz im Palmengarten in Frankfurt, Semana Grande de Bilbao (Andrzej Olejniczak’s project including a jazz quartet and a symphony orchestra), Kraków Jazz Night, Gulf Jazz Festival, Bilbao BBK Ciclo Jazz. Their performance during IV Summer Jazz Academy in Łódź in 2011 was deemed one of the greatest events of that festival.
The concerts of the quartet are based mainly on the own compositions of the two leaders, which present a wide range of sounds: from the contemporary hard bop to free-jazz, with influence of Polish classical and folk music, as well as Spanish music.
„Adzik Sendecki at the piano is a musician whose playing suprises the listeners with its imaginativeness and sophistication. It seems that he could even turn a phone book into a decent jazz standard. Olejniczak playing the saxophone represents musical freedom, which, in each piece, lets him create fantastic well-thought-out sounds and improvisations, delightful in their perfection. This outstanding musician knows how to be humble, and with the instrument resting against his chest listen to his friends playing. It is this ability to listen to one another that tells us about the quality of this line-up.”