Originally from Ukraine/Poland and now based in London, Alina Bzhezhinska is coming to WOMADelaide for her first and only Australian shows. Her 2018 release titled Inspiration pays 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. With the album focused so heavily on musical influence, Alina sat down for a chat about the artists and albums that inspired her musical journey.
Alice Coltrane - Journey in Satchidananda
The main focus of the record, Alina's music celebrates the extraordinary music of Alice Coltrane, with the album featuring four compositions written by the late musician. "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”.
Dorothy Ashby - Afro-Harping
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" said Alina.
Lonnie Liston Smith - Expansions
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." With Alina doing plenty of listening and the talent to match, the next Coltrane might just have been discovered.
Chet Baker & Paul Desmond - Together
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."
Kamal Williams - 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".
SAT 2:00pm | SUN 4:00pm | MON (TTW) 5:15PM
There is no denying that Alina and her quartet featuring Tony Kofi (Saxophones), Larry Bartley (Double Bass) and Adelaide's own Joel Prime (Drums / Percussion) are unstoppable. Whether it's the reimagining of the Coltrane's music in their own style or the innovative compositions created by the quartet themselves, the band are on an upwards trajectory and they're not stopping.