Chopin Salon #29 - Adam Makowicz All Souls Jazz and Chopin Productions

Video - Adam Makowicz


A great Polish pianist comes back to Chicago - "... Makowicz's pianism – ornate, lyrical, soulful – remains as attractive as ever, as he proved before a capacity audience Wednesday night at the Chopin Theatre". - Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune 9/9/11

"A rare return by a towering Polish pianist"  - Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune 8/31/11.


Wed 9/7/11 - Polish Canadian pianist and composer Adam Makowicz performs jazz and classical piano pieces as well as his own compostions.  As is our custom, emerging Polish Canadian pianist Katarzyna Musial will perform a short recital during the evening.  And in the tradition of Chopin Salons, the night concludes with a complimentary reception and discussion with the artists.


Tix $35 - 773.457.7267 or 773.278.1500

09/07/11 - 09/07/11


A great Polish pianist comes back to Chicago - Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune 9/9/11 -  "The world has changed radically since the celebrated Polish pianist Adam Makowicz last played Chicago, in 1990. But Makowicz's pianism – ornate, lyrical, soulful – remains as attractive as ever, as he proved before a capacity audience Wednesday night at the Chopin Theatre.

In many ways, this was an ideal performance space for the return of Makowicz (pronounced ma-KOH-vitch). Chicago's vast Polish community regularly convenes at the Chopin Theatre for cultural and social events, and the Polish language was spoken abundantly at this event, while camera crews from Polish TV wove through the crowd gathering in the lobby.

Yet there was another reason the Chopin Theatre served Makowicz so well: With the grand piano placed center stage and the audience on all sides of him, Makowicz was performing not beneath a traditional proscenium nor in a rambunctious club but, rather, in a small theater-in-the-round. This intimate space evoked the salons in which another Polish master – Frederic Chopin – performed in an earlier era. For a solo piano recital, there is no better way to be heard.

All the more because so much of Makowicz's repertoire hovers around music of Chopin. To hear a superb Polish pianist re-conceive Chopin through jazz was to rediscover links between Poland's greatest composer and America's singular musical art form.

The similarities between Chopin's extended chords and the harmonic innovations of jazz were made apparent in Makowicz's transformations of Chopin's preludes, Op. 28, during the evening's first set. Imperceptibly, Makowicz segued from Chopin originals to jazz harmony and back, making it almost impossible in some passages to determine where Chopin ended and American musical vernacular began. Only when Makowicz subtly introduced swing rhythm – or retreated from it – were the distinctions between the two genres palpably clear.

Many pianists, of course, have offered jazz improvisations on music of Chopin, which easily lends itself to this treatment (perhaps because Chopin's piano originals already sound so improvisational). But few complete the metamorphosis as profoundly as Makowicz.

Perhaps that's because the pianist's light touch and singing tone work so well in both idioms. Or perhaps it's because Makowicz grew up studying Chopin and understands its inner workings so thoroughly. From there, it's a small – but significant – leap to develop the jazz implications of a music written in the early 19th century, long before the word "jazz" even had been coined.

Of course, Makowicz, as always, performed the classic American song repertory, and here he sounded as conversant with George Gershwin and Cole Porter as he had been with Chopin. Though Makowicz barely touched the sustaining pedal in Porter's "Begin the Beguine," the pianist spun long, silken lines in his right hand, while his left produced a surging swing counterpoint.

In Gershwin's "Summertime," Makowicz unveiled intriguing re-harmonizations and lushly romantic textures. In Porter's "Just One of the Those Things," he pianist proved that his digital technique remains fleet and unerring.

Granted, none of this challenged conventional notions of mainstream jazz pianism – there were no hints of post-1960s experimentation in anything Makowicz played. And, truth to tell, these renditions clearly were carefully conceived in advance, not wholly invented in the moment.

But within a jazz solo-piano tradition established by the likes of Art Tatum, Dave McKenna, Dick Hyman and the like, Makowicz stands not only as a master but as a distinct voice, thanks partly to his Polish heritage and his embrace of Chopin. Even now, he sounds like no one else in jazz".


"A rare return by a towering Polish pianist - Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune 8/31/11.  "The last time the great Polish pianist Adam Makowicz played Chicago, he recalls, personal computers were new, the Internet was marginal and his native country had just been liberated from Communism.

That was back in 1990, and Makowicz made a much-anticipated appearance at the Jazz Showcase, when it was still in the Blackstone Hotel. I was there, and Makowicz's ability to merge a formidable technique with a sweetly Chopinesque lyricism produced an indelible evening.

Which makes you wonder why it has taken Makowicz more than two decades to return to a city steeped in jazz and long home to a large Polish population. Certainly Chicago seems ripe for Makowicz's art".

"In the 1990s, when Poland became a free country, I started to play there and in Europe quite extensively," explains Makowicz, who had emigrated to the U.S. in the late 1970s and hadn't been allowed to re-enter Poland when martial law was declared there in 1981.

The opportunity to perform again in his homeland and its environs after his Chicago engagement proved irresistible to Makowicz.

"And so I played less in the United States," he says. "In 2005, I got married to a Canadian woman and spent a lot of time in Toronto. … "And the people in the U.S. forgot me, because when you're not here, you don't exist."

Makowicz now divides his time among Toronto, New York and Europe.

So Makowicz's solo performance Sept. 7 at the Chopin Theatre represents a long-awaited Chicago return that likely will draw a broad range of listeners: jazz connoisseurs, pianophiles, Polish Chicagoans and anyone curious to hear how this distinctive artist has developed during a generation away.

Makowicz, 70, is the first to acknowledge that the world in general, and music in particular, has changed radically during those years.

"Today, people are connected (electronically) with the whole world," he says. "Music changed because we have opportunities to listen to music (from anywhere) right away. So we are influenced by all kinds of classical music, jazz, of course, and other kinds. If we like it, we extract it, and we put it into our own improvisations, these new elements, to make it more exciting."

How these global sounds have influenced Makowicz's pianism won't be known until he steps to the piano at the Chopin Theatre next week. But considering the huge stylistic leap he took as a classical piano student in Poland, when he realized "swing was so beautiful" and remade himself into a leading jazz pianist, Makowicz certainly has the wherewithal to have rejuvenated his art once more".

Chopin Salon events are supported in part by Wspolnota Polska, Zywiec Beer, Kasia Deli and Oakmill Bakery .  To have your own Salon event please contact us at 773-278-1500.

All Souls Jazz and Chopin Productions

Adam Makowicz

Tags: Music, Polish, , 2011