If you want to discover more about the thriving Polish jazz scene, Donos Kulturalny, by jazz journalist Krzysztof Komorek, is a great place to start!
Krzysztof joined us for a short interview to share his long and varied experience in covering this music.
He is not only the founder of the Donos Kulturalny blog, but also writes for major magazines, publications and radio including jazzpress.pl (where he is the online editor), JazzPRESS, Kino Jazz and Radio Jazz FM.
As you might have guessed, he’s getting a lot of press requests!
Before we dive into the interview, here’s one simple but very important advice which we’re sure most journalists will agree with:
Be aware that we need some time to listen and write about your music. I have a publication schedule for about 6 weeks ahead. It’s not a good idea sending information that “tomorrow is the release date of my new music”
Also, a reminder for those of you who’ve pitched music to a journalist and not had a response: Krzysztof received around 700 albums in 2020! With that volume of music, there will always be some great albums that can’t be covered.
How/when did you get to writing jazz reviews?
JazzPRESS magazine – which is the top polish jazz publication – had a contest for readers to win concert tickets for the American band Sexmob. I wrote to them that if I win I would write a concert review. I won and my first article was published. Today I’m still writing for JazzPRESS.
How would you describe your personal taste in jazz?
‘Always look for something unexpected’ is my motto. But of course I have my favorite artists (Brad Mehldau), favorite instrument (piano) and very much like chamber productions (solo, duets).
When did you start the Donos Kulturalny blog and how long did it take until international labels / musicians and publicists found it and started sending you their releases?
I launched the blog in 2013 but started regular publications from 2015. Now it’s 15-20 articles every month. It took me almost another two years to build a strong enough position to regularly cooperate with labels. Maybe little less with independent ones. It’s easier to work with small labels.
Majors (Universal, Warner, Sony) – which are very often also distribution companies – are like big corporations. Jazz is maybe 2% of their interest.
They have their ways to promote it and it’s very hard to jump into their mailing list, to persuade them that they need one more niche blog to work with. A perfect introduction was always personal meetings: during showcases, jazzahead! fairs etc.
Anyway, now the initiative of cooperation mostly comes from musicians, independent labels & agencies.
You also review books; how does that differ from writing about album?
I’m a fan of non-fiction books so when I’m writing about such books my imagination is less engaged than when I write about music.
It’s more like rating if my knowledge was enriched during reading.
Music is like poetry. It’s a matter of emotions. But I avoid negative judgement. I don’t want to write about what’s not good. It could just be that some recordings simply can’t find a way to my heart.
How many albums are you sent per week and do you aim to review them all?
There are about 200 recordings each year which polish jazz musician are involved in.
In 2020 I received an additional 500 releases from whole over the world (mostly digital editions). I’m trying to “taste” every single one, at least few tracks, but it’s not possible for me to write about all.
That’s why I also share videos on my Facebook page, have a “cd of the week” section and a weekly playlist on Spotify to recommend new music.
You work both as a publicist and a reviewer. What would you recommend to artists who are putting their promo assets together?
It’s really important to have in press information all the “hard” data. It might seem obvious, but the reality is unfortunately different.
- Musician names
- Release date
- Cover artwork
These are all really worth including.
And be aware that we – journalists – need some time to listen and write about your music. I have a publication schedule for about 6 weeks ahead. It’s not a good idea sending information that “tomorrow is the release date of my new music”.
When you receive a pitch, what’s the first thing you do to check out the music: video, words or full album stream?
Reading the description in the email first, then streaming.
How do you see the role of jazz magazines in building an artist career today?
It’s still important.
Mostly because of the brand, the prestige they have. But today magazines are not only printed or digital editions. They support their positions with web pages, social media etc. They need to adapt to current times. Like we all do.
How would you describe the current Polish jazz scene to someone not familiar with it?
I mentioned earlier that we have about 200 jazz recordings each year where at least one polish musician was involved in.
Stylistically it’s very diverse. Covid of course changed the perspective but we also had a big amount of festivals and regular concerts during the year.
The improvised scene in Poland is very strong. Lots of young polish musicians were studying in Copenhagen and we have very good cooperation with Scandinavian scene.
There are a lot of names worth mentioning. I tried to prepare list but finished with about 50 names and couldn’t decide how to make it shorter.
Best solution: check out Donos Kulturalny if you want to be up to date with Polish jazz. I’m very pleased to share polish music on my channels.
What festivals in Poland would you recommend checking out?
Letnia Akademia Jazzu (Summer Jazz Academy) in Lodz has always interesting and well balanced programme and they really are an “Academy” as they have great workshops for musicians with spontaneous concerts and world class faculty leaders.
Jazztopad has its worldwide renown. And Jazz Jantar in Gdansk is another one of my favourites.
Big thanks for Krzysztof for taking the time to answer our questions!
You can learn more about him and the Donos Kulturalny site via the links below.