Kroke & Friends – 25th Anniversary in ICE Krakow!
Kroke & Friends will celebrate their 25th anniversary in ICE Krakow on 16th October. The guest artists include Anna Maria Jopek, Tomasz Stańko, Zohar Fresco and Sławek Berny. Join us!
From the very beginning, the band’s idea was to keep looking for something new, also from within ourselves. We would love – the musicians say – for our music to be classified simply as KROKE MUSIC.
KROKE (in Yiddish: Krakow) was established in 1992 by: Tomasz Kukurba, Jerzy Bawół and Tomasz Lato. These three graduates of the Krakow Academy of Music and artists embarked ‘on a quest’ experimenting with jazz and contemporary music. The band was initially associated with Klezmer music but now plays a mixture of genres. The artists take their inspiration from ethnic music from different parts of the world and enrich their pieces with original improvisations. That is how the original KROKE style was born, floating above borders, time and forms.
KROKE is also one of the first bands to go out to the people with their creative work. They perform in the streets of Krakow or in clubs of Krakow’s Kazimierz district (formerly a Jewish district of the city).
Kate Capshaw, the wife of Steven Spielberg who shot The Schindler’s List in Krakow, came one day to the ‘Ariel’ restaurant, where KROKE often used to play. One evening she took her husband with her to the concert… The famous director was quick to recognise the musicians’ talent and invited KROKE to Jerusalem to perform during the Survivors Reunion gala organised for those of the Schindler’s list who survived. From that incredible moment everything got more and more intense… This was the moment when the band was really born. It was the beginning of a great adventure. Spielberg sent a KROKE recording to Peter Gabriel, who in 1997 invited the band to Great Britain to play during the WOMAD festival. The concert was met with a great enthusiasm as was their debut record Trio. The meeting resulted also in joint recordings at the Real World Studios. Fragments of those recordings were later used by Gabriel on his record Long Walk Home which was a sound-track for the film Rabbit – Proof Fence .
In 1997 KROKE recorded their second album – Eden. This time traditional Klezmer motifs were combined with a contemporary musical sensitivity to gain a new and more intense sound. From that moment on, KROKE became more and more interested in reaching for Sephardi and Arabian motifs. Their quest resulted in the record Sounds Of The Vanishing World – an atmospheric work evidencing KROKE’s evolution and attesting to the musicians capability to create their own style. Their artistic choices were proven right as KROKE received a prestigious award – ‘Preis der Deutsche Schalplattenkritik’ for the year 2000.
In the summer of 2001 KROKE met Nigel Kennedy for the first time. Kennedy started collaboration with the band, which resulted in a joint record East Meets East in 2003. KROKE received a nomination for the BBC Radio 3 award in the ‘World Music’ category, and the collaboration with Nigel Kennedy turned into a series of concerts, which were enthusiastically received by European festival audiences. Another original record by KROKE was released at that time – Ten Pieces To Save The World. This melodious and atmospheric album was a culminating point of the first ten years of the band’s existence and reached second place in the European edition of the World Music Charts. In 2004 KROKE released another concert album – Quartet - Live At Home.
In the following year the band started collaboration with Edyta Geppert and Krzysztof Herdzin on a new project, which resulted in the album Śpiewam życie (I sing my life). The album was awarded the Golden Record certification and KROKE toured Poland and Germany with the Sinfonia Baltica orchestra and the Symphonic KROKE programme – arranged and directed by Bohdan Jarmołowicz.
In 2006, The Secrets of The Life Tree performed by KROKE was included in the sound-track of David Lynch’s film Inland Empire, and in the following year, on the band’s 15th anniversary, another studio album was released - Seventh Trip an energized journey along oriental music trails. The whole following year KROKE were busy with a series of concerts in Poland and abroad and worked on a chamber music project arranged by Krzysztof Herdzin. The project had its premiere in Spain – with the participation of the Sinfonica de Burgos orchestra. It was later performed in Krakow and Saint Petersburg with the accompaniment of the Sinfonietta Cracovia orchestra conducted by Robert Kabara. Sinfonietta Cracovia added to the project an unusual sound, bordering between classical and contemporary music.
The year 2009 brought another break-through for KROKE and proved a turning point for the band’s artistic development – KROKE started to perform more frequently as a trio, without the percussion which gave the band’s performances a more chamber-like character. The Ashkenazi and Balkan sound that had disappeared for some time, could be heard once again in KROKE’s music. Another album was released, Out of Sight as a testimony to the band’s continued musical quest. The record comprises melodies full of energy inspired by the Klezmer tradition, which are combined with pieces bordering on jazz with Tomasz Kukurba’ haunting vocals.
In 2010, KROKE toured with a Norwegian band Tindra and with the Spanish violinist Diego Galaz. The band performed during the Polish Weekend in Southbank Centre in London together with Nigel Kennedy. In January 2011 KROKE, Maja Sikorowska (vocal), Sławek Berny (percussion) recorded together twelve Greek songs filled with emotion and expression. The result was the outstanding album Avra.
The years 2010-2012 involved concert collaboration with Urna Chahar-Tugchi, a Mongolian singer, Krzysztof Herdzin and Anna Maria Jopek, who featured on the album recorded with Sinfonietta Cracovia entitled Feelharmony (which was awarded a Golden Record certificate).
In 2014, the album Ten was released, which received the Golden Record certificate and was nominated for the Fryderyk 2015 awards. Cooperation with Anna Maria Jopek was developing. The artists recorded together the song Psalmia which was released as part of the above mentioned album. They perform together with a joint programme both in Poland and abroad.
A year later an unusual project was created. Kabaret Śmierci (Cabaret of Death) was the result of a collaboration with the Polish film director Andrzej Celiński on his project on protagonists of culture and entertainment in the Nazi concentration camps. It is not, however, an album with just a sound-track. KROKE rearranged the music, added new pieces and recorded the whole material again, creating a music suite for reflection
In 2016, the band released a re-edition of the album Ten and a special Christmas edition Box.
The year 2017 is first and foremost a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the band’s creation. It is also the premiere of a new album Traveller which was released in March. The musicians explain: KROKE has been a traveller for the past 25 years, who not only enjoys his journeys but also learns from them and tries to share this learning with others. We would like to invite you to travel in the space we have created through our twenty five year long musical experience with KROKE by listening to our latest record Traveller.
Klezmers used to improvise. Improvisation has been present in KROKE’s music since its very beginning and is still its most important element. Our improvisation is a sort of a portal through which the worlds of our souls pass and reach all those who are willing to get to know these worlds – the musicians say.
Kroke & Friends - 25th Anniversary
Featuring: Anna Maria Jopek, Tomasz Stańko, Zohar Fresco, Sławek Berny
16 October 2017 at 19:00, ICE Krakow – Auditorium Hall, 17, M. Konopnickiej street
ORGANISER: TOMLA Music Agency
Tickets at 80, 100, 120, 140 PLN can be purchased at:
InfoKrakow – 2, Św. Jana street, tel. 12 354 27 25