FOLKER! Das deutsche Musikmagazin

Jürgen Brehme

Lautari Azaran (Samograj SAMCD 01) Polish quartet taking Balkan, Armenian and original material as roots for tight and muscular jazzish workouts on violin, flutes, clarinet, piano and drums (the latter an addition since their trio CD reviewed in fR256). The tunes are stated with understanding, not simply a melodic starting point for a blow. www.lautari.art.pl; distributor: www.multikulti.com

Lautari is a group, whose music is best characterised by the term ethno jazz. It is an unusual and fascinating journey following many delights and inspirations. It begins somewhere amongst Romanian Gypsies' music, proceeds along Carpathian bow, and continues in the Middle East and on the Ashkenazi Jews' trail. Each of these threads is taken up by the trio members who derive from them their own beautiful sounds.

Tomasz Janas,
Gazeta Wyborcza Poznań 4.02.2006

Drawing from various musical styles, including jazz and Klezmer music, the group has already worked out its own distinct style, which fits in the so-called ethno jazz trend. Lautari superbly combines lively violin sounds with the magic of clarinet, jazzing piano and frenzy tones of flute, which creates almost unlimited number of possibilities of building an atmosphere.

Ewa Kern-Jędrychowska,
Nowy Dziennik, 17.11.2005 (Nowy Jork)

For those who seek jazzy sounds and modern improvisations in folk music, Lautari is the most remarkable choice. An obviously important thing here is the professional technique of the performers, their serious attitude towards the themes, and-first and foremost-their good taste. Their music is very good for listening both on CD and live.

Grzegorz Nowy, Gadki z Chatki nr 44

Lautari is one of the biggest hopes of the Polish musical stage. The fact that they remain unknown to the general public proves once again how sick the situation of Polish music is. The group plays music of a completely new, original and wondrous quality. Their music is inspired by various traditions - Romanian, Macedonian, Polish and Gypsy - that fuse into a brilliant, subtle and refined whole. The instruments add to the uniqueness of the group's music. Lautari is an instrumental trio: we hear violin, piano, and birbina - Lithuanian clarinet. This form, created by Maciej Filipczuk, the leader of the group, changes their music into emotional, though not sentimental, journey.

Tomasz Janas
Gazeta Wyborcza Poznań 4/10/2002

An excellent record and definitely the best production of all the records put forth for the competition. The music, inspired by diverse, even distant, traditions of Central and Eastern Europe, is transformed by the group into a spontaneous, quasi-improvised performance. The combination of folk instruments with klezmer-style jazz-like piano shifts the compositions of the trio into an entirely new, unprecedented dimension. Unrestrained musical expressions can refer to the traditional folk manner of music performance as well as to the refined aesthetics of jazz improvisation. Paradoxically, the diversity of interacting influences does not create any sense of chaos or excess in Lautari's music. The musicians improvise with discipline and moderation, aiming at underlining the integral ideas of the music rather than displaying their undisputed technical mastery. A discovery.

Jacek Hawryluk
The review of "Muzica Lautareasca Nova" record within the contest
"Folkowy Fonogram Roku 2002"
("The Folk Recording of the Year 2002")

It was worth coming to Studio S1 if only to listen to three groups: Lautari, Sarakina and Goscie z Nizin. They each presented a high level of performance combined with well-studied, mature output and refined expression. In their music I found the most important features: a degree of expressiveness unusual for folk music, originality and spontaneity, depth of experience, carefully chosen instrumentation, excellent vocal technique, folk improvisation, style, and ornamentation, and, wherever needed, tempo rubato. What thrilled me most was the Lautari Folk Band concert. I was extremely interested as soon as I saw the instruments - piano, violin and birbina. During their performance Lautari combined great respect for tradition with a natural ability to modify it; the effect was extraordinary. I was enchanted by their multi-leveled realization of rhythm, a unique sense of rubato, and an inner pulse. The style and expression of the violinist were excellent, on the one hand close to traditional thinking and on the other showing an expression of individuality.

Piotr Matwiejczuk
Czas Kultury 2/2001

For me the most extraordinary group were Lautari - simply a revelation. Their music pulsed with calmness, fineness, harmony, orderliness, even magic. I was under the impression that each sound was indispensable and that deleting any of them would spoil the entire concert. This is a project with tradition: a fusion of Chopin, klezmer and medieval bard.

Paweł Luto
Muzykant - mailing list, December 2001

An interview with Maciej Filipczuk, the leader of the Lautari

Gazeta Wyborcza Poznań 2nd April 2003
By Tomasz Janas

Lautari, one of the most interesting Polish folk bands, until recently from Wrocław, will now reside in Poznań. The leader of the group, Maciej Filipczuk, has moved to our city and invited musicians from Poznań to play in Lautari. Today the first concert of the new Lautari in Poznań is being held in the Jesuits' Gallery.

Tomasz Janas: Where does your fascination with traditional music come from?

Maciej Filipczuk: From when I was a teenager and was roaming around various places. At that time many people were discovering Beskid Niski and its nearly lost but still tangible culture of the Lemko people. Tourist songs alternated with the old songs of the Lemks, sung very often by people unaware of their meaning or origin. This music made such an impression on me, however, that I decided to find out more about it.

TJ: You were once a member of Orkiestra św. Mikołaja. You've travelled a long way from Orkiestra to Lautari. How would you describe the difference between the two experiences?

MF: The Orkiestra taught me to see the richness and abundance of traditional culture and its unceasing relevance. It was a time of intensity and commitment to tradition without asking unnecessary questions. Lautari is a radically different story, though we act within the same traditionalist framework. Lautari is a small group, a trio, in which each member takes responsibility for the final shape of the music. There is more work and less enthusiasm in Lautari, but there is also great passion, risk, and an acceptance of musical challenges.

TJ: The creative activity of Lautari draws largely from the tradition of the Carpathians and especially from the Romanian tradition. Why?

MF: The name of the group, signifying an itinerant musician, was taken from the Romanian tradition. Historically, this word referred to a group of Gypsies, originally slaves, whose primary occupation was to play music. In forming this group and choosing this name, I elected to acknowledge this history and to express my absorption with the musical traditions and culture of Romania, which I continue to discover, step by step, during my repeated journeys there.

TJ: Lautari's first recording, Muzica Lautareasca Nova, has been recognized as one of the three best folk recordings of the year. Are you satisfied?

MF: Naturally. I admit that I had doubts as to whether the material was ready to be recorded. Now I know it was ready, and I am excited and looking forward to further work.

TJ: When the recording was released the original line-up of group - that is, the musicians who had taken part in the recording - no longer existed.

MF: Yes, that's true. In fact, we decided to release the recording because of our plans to part. We wanted to preserve what we had achieved during our two years of work together. The reason for parting was mundane - performing this type of music in Poland one must accept that there are a small group of enthusiasts and therefore always only a small number of concerts. Inevitably the result is that one earns an insignificant amount of money. One has to be a bit of a madman and able to subsist on great passion, something with which, perhaps, I was unable entirely to infect my colleagues. Each of us chose his own path - I, for instance, moved from Wrocław to Poznań. I think it was the right moment for such changes. I don't regard it as a failure, but as the closure of a certain stage of development.

TJ: Will the changes in the line-up of the band influence your conception of performing music and the sound of the band as well?

MF: I was fortunate to meet excellent and very active musicians shortly after I came to Poznań, with whom I quickly found common interests. Lautari is now comprised of me, Jacek Hałas, well known in the folk community as a pianist, and Michał Żak, who plays wooden flutes, carinet, and bombards, and who is also the leader of Bal Kuzest and Tredrez, groups performing Breton folk music. As we create we continue to draw on what Lautari created earlier, but, obviously, the creative stances and temperaments of Jacek and Michał influence the music and add new qualities to it.

TJ: Because of a few pop bands, such as Brathanki or Golec u Orkiestra, the term "folk" has acquired bad connotations - Polish audiences associate the term with shallow stage versions of feast songs. The essence of folk music is, however, entirely different from that. Its genuine representatives do not, however, have much opportunity to appear in the media. How do you see this situation? Do you regard yourself as a folk musician?

MF:Thanks to my engagement with Orkiestra św. Mikołaja I feel well connected to the folk movement. It still carries the same values and meanings for me as it did when I started. There is a lot of truth in what you say about the essence of the folk movement. I think, however, that people who are creative, sensitive, and searching, should not waste their time and energy on a struggle over semantics, but should regard the music as the way to mark out new paths. People whose arts refer to traditional art forms express themselves in many, often very different, ways. I see the type of music created by Lautari as an independent, creative force, easy neither for the creators, nor for the audience, who must work if they are to understand it fully.