Jarosław Bester – accordion Dawid Lubowicz – violine, mandoline / Maciej Adamczak – double bass Ryszard Pałka – drums, vibraphone 

A quarter of a century after they premiered, Bester Quartet remains one of the most important Polish bands, impressing with their ingenuity, sound, references to many sources. This is also confirmed by the latest album of the band – Hustle and Bustle, which is excellent as usual.

This is the twelfth album of Bester Quartet (formerly known as Cracow Klezmer Band), it contains eight new compositions by Jarosław Bester, written especially for the band’s 25th anniversary. Sophisticated, daring improvisations, unique atmosphere, brilliant balance between genres and absolutely dazzling performance! In a word, everything that the outstanding accordionist, composer, arranger, founder and leader of the band Jarosław Bester has been offering us for a quarter of a century tailored by the artistry, virtuosity and profound sensitivity of the musicians who form part of the group.

The secrets of the cobblestones

There was a time when only cold wind blew in the streets of Krakow’s Kazimierz, as cold as the cobblestones once walked by its inhabitants. The cobblestones, which probably remembered them… and which seemed to recall them. This is how I felt when I walked the streets of Kazimierz for the first time in the 1990s. Little did I know then that this journey would in the near future change the story of my life. It would transform my professional path –classical music compositions would be replaced by deceptively simple folk music, especially Jewish music. The scheme called Cracow Klezmer Band, because that’s what Bester Quartet was originally called, is my own musical vision. From the start of the band’s existence – that is, since 1997 – it has focused not so much on reproducing traditional themes, but above all on making original compositions, based on delicate sound which in its structure reaches – in my opinion – the deepest recesses of the soul. Another important element of the scheme – which provides it with originality and uniqueness – was performance which carried an emotional charge expressed through individual improvisations. This “recipe” for making music collaboratively was reflected in an appropriate interpretation of the proposed artistic visions by music critics, but above all by excellent reception from audiences around the world.

The fact that it was in 2000, the bimillennial year, that the band debuted with the album whose name, De Profundis, referring to Psalm 130, is symbolic. Coincidence or rather destiny… It was at that time that everything really began: the Grand Prix at “Nowa Tradycja” folk music competition organized by Polish Radio, the first performance of the quartet at Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow and the aforementioned phonographic debut at prestigious Tzadik label of John Zorn. And finally… the group of young musicians embarked on a fascinating journey around the world, covering countless kilometres by land, sea and air each year. Over the years, the constantly growing concert and phonographic achievements attracted many great artists to collaborate with the band. Amongst them were excellent vocalists such as Grażyna Auguścik, Dorota Miśkiewicz, Jorgos Skolias, as well as great instrumentalists – John Zorn, Tomasz Stańko, Don Byron.

In its long history, the quartet has also come up against setbacks. Like in ordinary life, there have been moments of doubt and exhaustion. As you know, music hates democracy, it loves development. So it happened, and the year 2010 began a new stage in the band’s history. New musicians appeared, and with them new schemes and enthusiasm to get involved in new musical forms. Finally, in 2019, the current line-up was formed. Bester Quartet gained a refreshed sound and once again undertook a specific journey on the route of musical exploration and fascination

The band’s jubilee celebration is a unique opportunity to present the latest compositions, written especially for this time with the skills and deep sensitivity of the musicians making up current Bester Quartet. The compositions on the Hustle and Bustle album were created under the impact of various sensations, experiences and memories ranging across a quarter of a century of our creative work, forming a kind of trail of cities around the world where we had the opportunity to play our music. The exception on the route is Loreto – as we have never given concerts there. A small town on the Adriatic Sea, visited en masse by tourists worshiping the statue of Our Lady of Loreto. It was near Loreto that the characteristic sound of my accordion was born. Castelfidardo located nearby, is known to all accordionists by its numerous factories and producers of accordions.

Let me invite you to join us on a musical journey from the snowy wilderness of Lapland, through the deserted streets of Drohobycz, the windy and mysterious corners of Scotland, the sunny hills of Jerusalem, the blue skies of Loreto to the very centre of the world of music – New York.

Jarosław Bester