Adam Pieronczyk (b. 1970) - One of Europe's most outstanding and creative jazz saxophonists, as well as "one of the greatest innovators in Polish jazz", according to Gazeta Wyborcza.
The distinguished German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung went even further, calling him “a ray of light on the East-European jazz scene”. He performs in all parts of the world.
Adam Pieronczyk has won numerous awards, and has been named Jazz Forum magazine's "Best Soprano Saxophonist" every year since 2003. He was nominated for Poland's "Fryderyk" award in five categories in 2011, winning the two most important statuettes - "Jazz Musician of The Year" and "Jazz Album of The Year". Currently he also serves as Artistic Director of the Sopot Jazz Festival.
This was all achieved despite the fact that he picked up the saxophone relatively late, as an 18-year-old. Four years after that, he was accepted to study at the prestigious Academy of Music in Essen, Germany. In 1994, he returned to Poland for a concert tour with his first group, Temathe. Two years later he met pianist Leszek Możdżer, who invited him to record the brilliant album “Talk to Jesus” with him. Following that, Pierończyk and Możdżer went on to perform all over the world as just a duo, and released two excellently received live albums, “19-9-1999” and “Live in Sofia”. The second of these was named Jazz Album of The Year by Jazz Forum magazine.
The year 1997 saw the release of Adam Pierończyk's first solo album, “A Few Minutes in Space”. The album included a guest appearance by legendary Polish saxophonist Zbigniew Namysłowski, an early musical idol, and was a symbolic meeting of an elder master with a rising saxophone star. Pierończyk was also awarded Jazz Forum's title of Hope for Polish Jazz, and received a Fryderyk Award nomination in the Best Jazz Artist category.
On “Digivoocoo” Pierończyk proved that he has no intention of simply riding on previous successes. The new album, with the guest participation of Gary Thomas, signifies a bold turn towards the avant-garde, as well as an enchantment with electronics. This experimental endeavor was appreciated by fans and critics alike, and “Digivoocoo” was named Best Album of The Year in 2001 by Jazz Forum. Pierończyk comes to be regarded as the greatest innovator in Polish jazz, and maintains this reputation with his following album.
For the recording of “Amusos”, he invited West African vocalist Mina Agossi, and this marks the first time that an album by Adam Pierończyk includes vocals. A risky move indeed, yet the decision proved to be a right-on. “This is one of the most interesting European jazz albums to come out this year”, raved a critic in Gazeta Wyborcza, while Newsweek acknowledges that “This saxophonist is one of the musicians who will be determining the shape of Polish jazz in the 21st century”.
Despite the obvious associations with a with Latin-American temperament that its title and context would suggest, the music on “Sao Paulo By Bus”, a CD recorded in Brazil in 2005, was sparing and peaceful. “Once again, Pierończyk has proven that he is an original artist with clearly defined tastes; while drawing from the musical cultures of the world, he remains himself.”, writes a reviewer in the weekly Tygodnik Powszechny. The live version of the album ("Live In Berlin"), on the other hand, reveals the free jazz potential of these compositions. The composer shows his wilder side in a set of unbridled improvisation, and earns widespread praise once again.
The following step in Pierończyk's European career was signing on with the prestigious Berlin-based record label Jazzwerkstatt, for which the Polish musician recorded “El Buscador” together with Anthony Cox. This album includes the most ethnic-sounding material of Pierończyk's output thus far, and received a Fryderyk Award nomination for Jazz Album of The Year in 2011.
The album “Gajcy”, on which the saxophonist improvises to poems recited by Borys Szyc, was also very well-received. However, the most abundant shower of awards to fall on Adam Pierończyk resulted from the album “Komeda The Innocent Sorcerer”, on which the artist took on compositions by someone other than himself for the first time. He took an atypical approach to Krzysztof Komeda's music in forgoing use the piano, but this audacious decision was a spectacular success. The material was hailed as the finest Komeda album since Tomasz Stańko's “Litania”. “Adam Pierończyk is an impressive visionary, and this album is a true gem”, wrote a critic for the American magazine Pop Matters with unconcealed esteem. This sentiment is echoed by a reviewer for the portal AllAboutJazz: “There is a sublime lightness to the music, yet at the same time it contains an energy capable of propelling it into a boundless expanse at any moment”. The album was well-appreciated in Poland too, the best confirmation of which were five Fryderyk Award nominations, as well as two statuettes in the most important categories: Jazz Album of The Year and Jazz Musician of The Year.