Originally from Ukraine/Poland and now based in London, harpist Alina Bzhezhinska is will be at Sunday Music next week to perform one and only show with the award winner saxophonist Tony Kofi.
Alina Bzhezhinska stormed the UK jazz scene with the opening performance at the Barbican along legendary saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, the performance that got her a nomination for the JazzFM Award 2018. In June 2018 she released her debut album titled “Inspiration” paying homage to the spirit of Alice and John Coltrane, taking on their compositions as well as using it as a point of departure for new personal directions.
While preparing for her performance next Sunday, she is reflecting on the the artists and albums that inspired her musical journey.
Journey in Satchidananda
“Alice is a true model whose art was an example of endless potential and creative possibilities” said Alina. The Detroit jazz pianist, organist, harpist and singer’s “life journey was dedicated to finding the meaning of human existence and universal consciousness” said Alina. In composing an album so heavily influenced by the celebrated artist, Alina took great appreciation of the words of Alice Coltrane, “In music, I don’t think I have real preferences about the form… when you express your heart, it has to come from you”.
Like Alice Coltrane, Dorothy Ashby was another Detroit-born jazz harpist, hailed as one of “the most unjustly under-loved jazz greats of the 1950s”. From performing with Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick, she adds another dynamic to the music of Alina, as she herself was an inspiration for Alice Coltrane. “Dorothy Ashby may not be the first jazz harpist or the first female jazz harpist, but her feeling for time and ability to construct melodic guitar-like lines mark her as one of the most accomplished modern jazz harpists.”
Lonnie Liston Smith
Alina best summarised Lonnie Liston Smith with a quote from 2009, with the American jazz, soul and funk musician saying about his album Expansions “I was trying to expand the consciousness of humanity”. His music and philosophy for future generations resonated with Alina, with the artist recently saying modern jazz musicians “need to listen more and then maybe the young ones will really come out and start doing something. We’ll find another ‘Trane [John Coltrane], or something”.
Chet Baker and Paul Desmond
Two of the most distinctive jazz players of their generation, Chet Baker and Paul Desmond’s “Together” was exactly that, two master musicians working together with unsurprising strength. Baker’s hallmark, minimalist eloquence matched with Desmond’s cool sax, that he tried to make sound like a dry martini, come together in this album that heavily influenced Alina Bzhezhinska. “This album and especially their interpretation of Concerto de Aranjuez gave me some really new ideas for arranging the music on the album, encouraged me to expand my band and collaborate with different artists.”
Catch the Loop
Kamaal Williams is the second different alias of prolific South London artist Henry Wu. Alina first met Wu “in a gig playing the music of Alice Coltrane alongside the Shabaka Hutchings”. The keyboard player who formed one half of prolific London jazz duo, Yussef Kamaal, has created an album that has been described as retro-futurist jazz fusion. Alina says of the artist “we share a similar understanding of music and its purpose, he is unstoppable – just like I am”.
This album was the direct inspiration for my duet project with Tony Kofi.
“With Ballads Coltrane looks into the warmer side of things, a path he would take with both Johnny Hartman (on John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman) and with Duke Ellington (on Duke Ellington and John Coltrane)”, The Jazz Record review.
“We hear a romantic and humbled Coltrane, says Alina, and it gives me a huge comfort to see this side of his talent and encouraged me to explore this beautiful tunes and get deeper into the sound. Fortunately, Tony Kofi is a perfect match for this exploration and we are very happy to share our journey with Omnibus Theatre audience this May”.