If you think the harp is for the angels, then Alina Bzhezhinska and her quartet will set you right. She brings a new perspective to this supposedly dainty instrument, taking the groundbreaking work of Alice Coltrane in the 1960s as a stepping-off point for her own flighty improvisations and sonic adventures. Capable of high-octane lapel-grabbing statements, she can also create extraordinary lyricism and soul within her own compositions, and this versatility and curiosity has marked her out as a pioneer in the field of Jazz Harp. Now there’s two words you don’t often hear in the same sentence, but let’s get used to them, because this young woman is here to stay, constantly challenging the notion of boundaries in music, roughing up the harp with tones and textures that would ruffle many an angel wing. Bless her.
Presented by Music Network
Alina Bzhezhinska, harp
Tony Kofi, saxophones
Larry Bartley, double bass
Joel Prime, drums / percussion
Alina Bzhezhinska is one of the most exciting and dynamic harpists based in the UK. Her imaginative programmes have established her reputation as a harpist of exceptional accomplishment. She has had the honour of playing at European Parliament, at the Queen’s 80th-birthday celebrations at Balmoral Castle and at the King of Thailand’s birthday celebrations in Bangkok.
Alina studied at the F. Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, Poland (Masters in Arts), and The University of Arizona, USA (Masters in Music Performance). She has performed with many major European orchestras including the Young World Symphony Orchestra, the National Opera in Warsaw and the Scottish Opera.
Continuing her career in London, Bzhezhinska has become one of the most innovative international jazz harpists. She has collaborated and recorded with leading jazz musicians: such as Django Bates, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Shabaka Hutchings. Alina’s London appearances include Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Royal Albert Hall, Ronnie Scott’s as well as LIVE performances on BBC Radio 3 and World Wide FM. Her duo with award-winning jazz vocalist Niki King performed as a support act for Gregory Porter.
She also performed at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Glasgow Jazz Festival and the World Harp Congress in Sydney, Australia.
Alina Bzhezhinska Quartet appeared at the London Jazz Festival 2017 in a triple bill performance along with Coltrane’ s specialist Denys Baptist and the legendary saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. This project was nominated for JazzFM Award for best Live experience of the year.
Bzhezhinska has recorded a solo album called “Harp Recital” and appeared at recordings of American harp ensemble Harp Fusion and Wisniewski / Stevenson jazz group “New Focus”. Her jazz quartet album INSPIRATION was released to a high critical acclaim by Ubuntu Music in June 2018.
Alina is a harp tutor at Goldsmiths University, London.
Tony Kofi is a British Jazz multi-instrumentalist born of Ghanaian parents, a player of the Alto, Baritone, Soprano, Tenor saxophones and flute. Having ‘cut his teeth’ in the “Jazz Warriors” of the early 90’s, award-winning saxophonist Tony Kofi has gone on to establish himself as a musician, teacher and composer of some authority.
As well as performing and recording with Gary Crosby’s “NuTroop” and “Jazz Jamaica”, Tony’s playing has also been a feature of many bands and artists he has worked/recorded with include “US-3” The World Saxophone Quartet, Courtney Pine, Donald Byrd, Eddie Henderson, The David Murray Big Band, Sam Rivers Rivbe Big band, Andrew Hill Big Band, Abdullah Ibrahim, Macy Gray, Julian Joseph Big band, Harry Connick JR, Byron Wallen’s Indigo, Jamaaladeen Tacuma’s Coltrane Configurations and Ornette Coleman.
His fluent and fiery hard-bop style makes him constantly in demand. He currently leads his own Tony Kofi Quartet, Tony Kofi Sphinx Trio, Future Passed Trio and is also the co-founder with Jonathan Gee of the Monk Liberation Front, a group that is dedicated to the music of Thelonious Monk.
Tony’s latest project sees him performing with Alex Webb’s Café Society Swing, Arnie Somogyi’s Jump Monk, Larry Bartley’s JustUS Quartet, Adrian Reid Quartet, a double leaders project with Alan Barnes called Aggregation, Orphy Robinson’s Bobby Hutcherson songbook project, Alina Bzhezhinska Quartet, Jo Harrop’s Fever, Portrait of Cannonball (Music dedicated to Cannonball Adderley) Tony Kofi and the Organisation, a recent project which he co leads on the Baritone Saxophone.
Larry Bartley has become one of the most sought after bass players on the London jazz scene. He studied at Goldsmith College from 1988 – 1991 with Howard Riley and Laurence Couty giving him a wide and open outlook to the music scene. Larry Bartley’s presence can be felt through his identifiable sound and through his deep commitment to music.
Larry Bartley has worked with bands led by Courtney Pine, Jean Toussaint, Denys Baptiste, Cleveland Watkiss, Byron Wallen, Steve Williamson, Julian Joseph, Andy Sheppard, Soweto Kinch, Juliet Roberts, Alex Wilson and Robert Mitchell as well as backing visiting musicians such as Stanley Turrentine and Steve Grossman. Larry Bartley has also on the stage of the Royal Opera House with dancer Sharon Wrey’s.
Larry Bartley’s playing is featured on many recordings by some of London’s best-known jazz players.
Rhythm injects life and spirit into every music expression: Afrobeat, bebop, funk, swing, rock, orchestral. To understand the core of rhythm is to stand astride all these styles with confidence and flair. This is what Joel Prime does – and what sets him apart as a percussionist of rare touch.
Fellow musicians and educational mentors are always quick to recognise Joel’s mix of talent, dedication and precision. In 2005, he was awarded most outstanding percussionist at Generations in Jazz by James Morrison. In 2008, he received a prestigious performance award from Downbeat magazine (USA) as a member of the 2008 Adelaide University Big Band 1. Later that year, Joel received the Helpmann Academy Award for Jazz Drums, for graduating at the top of his class at the Elder Conservatorium in 2006 and 2007, then received the 2010 Helpmann Academy Award for most outstanding Honours graduate.
Such kudos has led Joel to become a prominent figure at leading festivals and events. He has led percussion workshops and performed at Glastonbury Festival, Wilderness Festival, Senigallia Jamboree, WOMADelaide, Adelaide Festival of Arts, Adelaide International Guitar Festival, Adelaide Fringe Festival and The Adelaide Cabaret Festival. And his burgeoning skill set continues to be recognized by the drumming elite. Joel is currently endorsed by Pearl Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Vic Firth and Remo drumheads – and in 2011 he won the award for Australia’s Best Up and Coming Drummer (Open age category) at Australia’s Ultimate Drummers Weekend – judged by a panel including Stanton Moore, Jason Bittner, Gordon Rytmeister, Graham Morgan, Grant Collins and Scott Pelligrom.
Recognised by peers and professionals, artists and audiences, Joel Prime is a talent of his time.