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Main » 2006 » December » 27 » Osjan (Ossian) - Roots
Osjan (Ossian) - Roots

Like the Wawel dragon, this mysterious band emerged from a cave in Cracow.

Osjan is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating bands on the Polish stage. Formed 28 years ago, they still remain part of the underground. They play concerts infrequently and rarely release records.

Osjan's work can be described as an original synthesis of many traditions and music cultures. The group's strength lies in its enormous musical imagination, creativity and genuine message. The musicians have never attached importance to their public image. Osjan is surrounded by a mysterious aura, and facts about the band's activities merge with legend.

The history of Osjan dates back to the 1970s and Crocow's musical circles grouped around the Piwnica pod Baranami club, then the center of Cracow's artists and counterculture. At that time Jacek Ostaszewski, a well-known jazz double bass player, and guitarist Marek Jackowski, both from the band Anawa, decided to start a new project. Soon they were joined by painter and poet Tomasz Hołuj. The group's early rehearsals took place in many different places, most often hotel rooms. The name Osjan was chosen after the band heard it in an Ewa Demarczyk song version of a Bolesław Leśmian poem.
Soon the band's line-up changed, but for 20 years the core of Osjan has been Dimitrios Milo Kurtis, Wojciech Waglewski and Radosław Nowakowski, together with Jacek Ostaszewski. Numerous distinguished musicians have worked with them including the trumpeters Tomasz Stańko and Don Cherry. The band used to regularly perform with Black Horse Cheavers, a Cherokee shaman.

However, it is not the musicians, but the search for their own artistic expression that explains the Osjan phenomenon. In the 1970s, in an atmosphere ruled by banal rock on the one hand and complicated jazz structures on the other, Osjan looked for a different way, for a simplified form of expression: "For example, we would play for half an hour on two or three notes," remembers Ostaszewski. "What fascinated me, not only in the sphere of music, was the search for forms that would allow free expression, not limited to the conventions of jazz, pop or classical music." Osjan was looking for alternative solutions. The group used various elements of traditional Balkan, African, Slavic and Indian music and managed to combine them with free jazz and European classical music. An important influence on shaping the group's musical image were concerts with Don Cherry, as well as inspiration from Zen Buddhism.

Osjan belongs to the small circle of performers who have developed their own original style. The group's compositions, labeled as ethnic music, world music, and so on, reveal the extent of its members' musical quest, as do their performances. For them, playing music together is a form of communication and constant dialogue between themselves and the audience. That is why concerts, when they do happen, are so important to them-there is a dialogue between Waglewski's guitar and Nowakowski's drums, Ostaszewski's flutes and Kurtis's percussion, but the freedom of improvisation does not destroy the overall structure of the concert.
No wonder then that Osjan's rich experience was emvulated by other performers, for example, Maanam (a group formed by Jackowski and Kurtis) in its early days and Voo Voo, another unique Polish rock band, headed by Waglewski.

Osjan's musicians call the time between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s a long "hibernation period," as they were occupied with their own activities-teaching, running workshops and carrying out their own musical, and in the case of Nowakowski, literary, projects. But this did not have a negative influence on the group: "Last year we did a concert tour called Jam Osjan which resulted in a documentary by Andrzej Titkow," says Kurtis. "There were crowds of young people at our concerts in Cracow, Warsaw, Częstochowa and Bydgoszcz. They're the new generation of Osjan fans." The March concerts were recorded and have just been released on an album called Muzyka fruwającej ryby (Music of the Flying Fish), a year after their Roots album, which has already become a classic. None of the big record companies were willing to put out Roots," remembers Kurtis. "Their bosses, who were once alternative musicians themselves and my colleagues too, apparently decided that our music was too obscure for the mass audience and would not sell well." So Kurtis started his own label, Milo Records, and released the album in cooperation with the Selles company. Commenting on Muzyka fruwającej ryby, Kurtis says, "Although this may not sound very objective, I think it is our best record so far."

Osjan is gaining momentum. Concerts scheduled for the fall will probably prove that Osjan deserves its place at the forefront of Polish independent groups.

Jacek Ostaszewski - flety proste, chiński flet bambusowy,koreańska harfa kaya-kum, voc. Wojtek Waglewski - gitara 12 strunowa, sanza, voc.
Radosław Nowakowski - conga, instrumenty perkusyjne
Milo Kurtis - calanu, drumle, instrumenty perkusyjne

Category: Prog/Classic rock/Blues | Views: 1848 | Added by: stavros666999 | Rating: 0.0/0 |

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