Radio Malbork Interview

Interview recording

Trans Jazz Fair – Radio Malbork – 2016-11-02

Presenter: Patryk Wiatr
Guests: Unobtainum Duo: Marek Jakubowicz, Michał Ruksza

(0:12) Patryk Wiatr – It’s Wednesday, 7 pm, thus, almost “as always”, dear listeners, welcome to another Trans Jazz Fair program on Radio Malbork. The phrase ‘almost as always’ may sound mysterious and unprofessional, but it’s not that important here.. I’m simply so excited at the moment with so many topics to discuss and so many pieces of music to play in our program today. As time is against me, I shall go ahead .

And behind all that commotion and excitement, or perhaps total madness might better reflect the atmosphere here, are these two gentlemen: Marek Jakubowicz and Michał Ruksza, or in other words the Unobtainum duo, who, exactly a year ago, Facebook reminded me of the date a day before yesterday , were here, in our Radio Malbork studio, and gave their first jazz concert in Trans Jazz Fair program. It was in October 2015, and now November 2016 has just started, I’m sitting in the studio and what’s before me? Two, newly released Unobtainum records. One is their official, second album and the other is the recording of the said, unforgettable concert Marek and Michał gave a year ago here. Today, they are my guests. Marek and Michał, welcome to our Radio Malbork studio again.

You are probably the most reliable jazzmen in the world, well maybe Coltrane was a better man of his word, but he does not count as he was in the end proclaimed a saint, so it is obvious he had to be reliable. A year ago you said that it would take you a year to release a record of the live recording made in Radio Malbork, and see, it is exactly a year and a record, or to be precise, two records, shall be released in October this year. Do tell our listeners what was going on in that year, how did you make the record? It’s simply hard to believe that your perfect timing is due to the pressure of the promise given.

(2:13) Marek Jakubowicz – We have worked very hard this year and we have released two albums: Unobtainum, Unobtainum Live. Moreover, we have made some interesting recordings, in these live recordings and a video – so we had a lot of work to do. We hope that the music we have recorded, and that we want to share with our listeners, shall prove to be worth the effort.

(2:32) Patryk – Listen, the plan is as follows… maybe I shouldn’t call it a plan but pure madness – in one hour, of which I’m going to make good use– I’m going to ask you to answer my questions, to present some of the pieces from your studio album, to announce a competition and to end this program having played all of the live record. Let’s waste no time, then. Far Away.

(2:53) A piece from Unobtainum: Far Away.

(7:32) Patryk – This may be my personal impression, but listening to your first record Zendegi Zibast and to what’s in your second album, you can’t resist the feeling that you have gone outside jazz. A number of themes and a number of cultures in your music makes it the music of the world, the music which has no boundaries and I do not mean just the boundaries between the styles in music, but saying this I mean its spiritual and mental context. You tell me, have I exaggerated or is there a grain of truth in it?

(8:05) Michał Ruksza – Of course, there is a grain of truth in what you are saying, Patryk. Jazz is not a determinant of what we do and it does not define the limits we aspire to observe. I think that we are inspired with jazz but we also cherish this freedom of expression which goes beyond jazz as such.

(8:32) Marek – Here, too, as in Zendegi ZIbast, there are new instruments you can hear in the previous record: Toumbak, Ann Chong’s vocal and due to sitar – there are references to the music of the East. Thus, our music changes, the range of instruments changes and the inspiration with them keeps pushing us forward.

(8:56) Patryk – Do tell us, do you think it is feasible that at a certain stage you might totally diverge from jazz in the pursuit for this musical multi-culturalism or will jazz always be rooted in the music you play?

(9:13) Michał – I think that it will always be at the foundations of our music and that the references to jazz and jazz traditions will always be clearly identifiable therein.
(9:28) Marek – Music of the world encompasses a wide range of styles and we draw our inspiration both from its vastness, from jazz and other musical styles and they all nicely link together. Jazz and jazz improvisation, as Michał says, is the basis, something we want to stick to. It is our ‘road sign’ for further musical development.

(9:52) Patryk – I’m happy to hear that. Why don’t we cross the barriers: Unspoken Words.

(09:57) A piece from Unobtainum: Unspoken Words.

(17:25) Patryk – You are a duo, yet Ann Chong Kee Xin’s vocal has become a characteristic feature of your output, to a large extent it is her voice that puts the listeners into some state of mystic euphoria (…). Personally, I can’t imagine the next album without her voice. Not only me, I guess. Why can’t you officially form a trio?

(18:00) Marek – When we give concerts we are just two. Earlier when we were recording Zendegi ZIbast, we invited 14 other musicians, of course Anna Chong Kee Xin was among them. Then when we were recording Unobtainum, Ania’s voice was there, too. In a way this is our style, when we are recording albums, we invite our friends and other musicians, not only from Malaysia but also from Iran … in our next albums other musicians may also join us. But irrespectively of what kind of music we play, whether we play in duo or in trio, or whether there are more musicians with us, we want it to have the same spirit. The message our music is to convey is always the same, and whether it is the journey to Zendegi Zibast or to any other place, we want the spirit of our music to be the same.

Why don’t we give concerts together? We might give such concerts once there is such a project. At present we are in Poland, Ania is in Malaysia. We are in touch, we have been friends for many years, we understand one another well, that’s why music composed by friends is so unique.

(19:09) Patryk – Another piece is called Another Day, you can hear the angelic voice of Ann Chong Kee Xin.

(19:17) A piece from Unobtainum: Another Day.

(23:50) Patryk – that was Another Day from the last record of Unobtainum. Let me add that you will hear this piece again in the instrumental version in the live recording made here in Radio Malbork. And again my guests here are: Marek Jakubowicz and Michał Ruksza.

Ann Chong Kee Xin and Arsam Babaei, who plays the instruments whose names are unpronounceable to me, and with whom you recorded your second album – can you tell us something more about these musicians and can you reveal this secret – what language does Ann Chong sing in?

(24:25) Marek – Both Arsam and Ania recorded their instrumental and vocal parts for Zendegi Zibast. We used these recordings when coming up with the next album. Arsam plays some mysterious instrument called kamancheh – this is something like our violin, yet you play it differently ..

(24:45) Patryk – I was just going to ask as I had no idea what it was…

(24:48) Marek – Well it looks a bit like a nut shell with strings added to it or otherwise you could say it’s like a violin which you hold vertically when playing. And taking about Ania Chong – the surprise was that when we were recording respective pieces for a record, they were simply instrumental so we asked Ania to vocalise them. The record is vocalised, yet by a singer who speaks Chinese, so it also sounds different. That’s the reason why it is so exceptional and slightly spiritual because the way Ania sings and how she expresses herself is exceptional.

(25:27) Patry – Do let us know how you met, I do not mean you two, I mean how you met all these musicians that sound so exotic in Poland.

(25:39) Michał – Well, the source of origin of such meetings is the Internet. Marek was the initiator here, he addressed the musicians asking for assistance in recording some parts for us. We got so involved that finally we all met in Lubrza and worked together on the record.

(26:11) Patryk – I must tell you that listening to her language, to her voice I feel as if I were in the very centre of some fantasy world. Whereas, as regards your purely instrumental pieces, I feel I do not want to go to another world. I simply feel good here. Let me go.

(26:53) A piece from Unobtainum: Let Me Go

(33:18) Patryk – Let’s come back to reality – and let me ask this purely technical question, which shall, I guess, attract attention of the listeners like a magnet: where can we buy your latest record – namely the studio album and the live record, are they released as a set or as two separate records?

(33:35) Michał – They are two separate records, of course, but they are closely related with one another. In our live record you can listen to 4 pieces which are also in the studio album – Marek: apart from Heart – Michał – apart from Heart;) 3 of the same pieces and one different are also on the studio album, but the two records are two separate releases …
(34:05) Marek – They are apparently two separate records, but they both were recorded in more or less the same time, so we view them as a continuation or supplementation of the album. Coming back to your question how to get these records – you are welcome to come to our concerts. The records are not within official distribution in stores, outside the Internet – but on the Internet, you can listen to both of them. If someone would like to have a traditional record and our autographs, they are welcome to come to our concerts.

(34:38) Patryk – Why aren’t the records in official distribution? Is this your choice or are there any limitations affecting this state of affairs?

(34:46) Marek – This is our fully conscious decision. First of all, our music is available on the Internet and from the very beginning we wanted it to be available free of charge. Of course, there are record collectors. Thus, if someone writes us an e-mail, they, of course, can get such a record from us, but we are trying to free our work from any limitations with respect to our music and its distribution. We haven’t signed any contract with any recording studio and we have no intention to do that. As we keep repeating, we want to pursue our own way.

(35:35) Patryk – I see. Guys – I still have dozens of topics to raise and at least a hundred questions to ask you. I won’t be able to do it, so let’s leave it here. . It shall motivate me to invite you soon to come to Malbork again and stage an open concert. If I succeed in talking you into playing at another radio concert, it will be a great satisfaction for me. Is there any chance of it?

(35:53) Marek – Anything is still possible…

(35:55) Patryk – Michał and Marek – in a moment the listeners of Trans Jazz Fair will have a chance to listen to your full concert played in Radio Malbork, but before this moment, let me announce a competition for an answer to the question you two can ask here, right at this moment.

(36:09) Michał – Ok – we are just consulting the question, which shall be so difficult that it is almost impossible to answer Well, here it is. How many pieces are there on our Unobtainum record.

(36:23) Patryk – For those interested in humanities, poor at maths, this indeed maybe a problematic question. The one who first shall give a correct answer on our Trans Jazz Fair Facebook website is the winner and shall win both the studio and the live record. There also two additional awards but these will be the studio records only. I must admit that I gave away all the records with your radio concert in just two days since getting them from you. So I must admit that they are in high demand.

Thank you for agreeing to come to this interview. Thank you for your reliability and great music, which I hope you continue to make for many years. At the minimum.

(37:09) Marek, Michał – We also hope so…

(37:11) Patryk – Thank you very much. At the end of this program, you are welcome to invite the listeners to listen to your live concert recorded in Radio Malbork.

(37:20) Michał – Dear listeners, we have great pleasure in inviting you to listen to our record, the musical material recorded here in Radio Malbork. We are very happy to present this material to you, now, we may say it has adopted a form of a CD. Thus, you are more than welcome to listen to it.

(37:43) Patryk – This pleasure is mine, too. And thank you all for your attention. And my guests were: Marek Jakubowicz and Michał Ruksza, therefore the Unobtainum duo. Not to waste our precious time – just briefly – thank you all for your attention, do join us again, as usually next Wednesday. That’s all from me, and as for you, dear listeners, do listen and see for yourselves what gems get recorded in Radio Malbork. We owe this success mainly to four persons, of course Michał and Marek as well as Rafal Baca and Michał Sejbert – our radio recording engineers. Thank you again. Till next Wednesday. And now, just listen.

Unobtainum Live concert recorded in October 2015
(38:23) Moonlight
(43:42) Another Day
(48:57) Unobtainum
(58:20) Heart