Forbidden tricks

He's truly one of a kind. A cliché? Perhaps. But is it accurate? Absolutely! Nigel Kennedy is a master of the four elements. He wields each of them perfectly providing the audience with an unforgettable experience. Catch him in Poznań on 29 April, where he and his band will showcase the Spiritual Connection programme as part of the upcoming edition of Ikony Jazzu.

Photo of Nigel Kennedy playing the violin. The photo is in a green circle and the circle is on black background. - grafika artykułu
photograph from the press

Anyone who has encountered Kennedy, be it live or through recordings, knows his music defies categorisations. It transcends boundaries, refusing to be confined to traditional genres or predictable well-trodden paths. While blending classical with jazz, rock and pop is hardly ground-breaking, it's the way Kennedy does it that sets him apart. He excels as a storyteller, weaving narratives that are truly unique.

So who is he? An outstanding violinist, mentored by Yehudi Menuhin and a graduate of The Juilliard School in New York. His collaborations with Stéphane Grappelli (a jazz violinist, composer and actor who recorded with Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Paul Simon, Pink Floyd and more) helped him reach a wider audience. As various sources suggest, "he has created the image of punk". In 1989, EMI released his rendition of Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, recorded three years earlier in London's St. John's Church in Hackney. Completed just nine months before its release with added freeform improvisations, the album became a phenomenon. With over 2 million copies sold worldwide, it topped classical charts and secured a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling classical recording in history. Addressing the audience at the Royal Albert Hall a year later, Kennedy remarked: "I thank everyone who bought this album, because it gives us a chance to do something with music that should be prohibited."

Kennedy's repertoire is extensive, which comes as no surprise, given how effortlessly he switches between genres. He goes from Bach and Vivaldi to Jimi Hendrix and The Doors without missing a beat. And his stage persona? Unforgettable. Certainly, he is bound to raise some eyebrows. After all, how does a violinist dare turn his back on the audience? But that's just part of the package: mohawk, clunky boots, crude jokes, and those trance-like moves. That's Kennedy for you. And millions of people wouldn't have it any other way.

Spiritual Connection is a throwback programme featuring works by Johann Sebastian Bach, compositions by Krzysztof Komeda and Ryūichi Sakamoto arranged by Kennedy, and some of the violinist's own creations. Kennedy will be accompanied by a band featuring Beata Urbanek-Kalinowska on cello, Rolf Bussalb on guitar, Piotr Kułakowski on double bass, and Sławomir Berny on percussion.

While doing research about this event, I have stumbled upon a definition of the term "spiritual connection" online. Although it did not directly relate to the album, it felt like an invitation. In rough translation, the definition describes spiritual connection as "the ability to intuitively understand something that stirs our souls and gives life meaning." So, maybe it's worth looking into whether Kennedy's music has the power that he himself believes it does?

Marta Szostak

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

  • Nigel Kennedy, Spiritual Connection
  • Teatr Wielki, 29 April, 8pm, tickets: PLN 230-300

© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2024