WM Project adds up to a family of musicians playing modern jazz with strong ties to tradition.
"From a Familiar Place" by WM Project - A February 2018 DownBeat Editors' Pick
"...well-conceived and executed project..." - ****Mark Gilbert, Jazz Journal
"…the pianist and saxophonist have assembled a terrific lineup..." - Bobby Reed, DownBeat
The musical masterminds behind WM Project, pianist Andrzej Winnicki and tenor saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna, go back a long way. In the 90's, they have played together in the fusion group Electric Breakwater ("In the Bush" CD with Mark Egan on bass and Rodney Holmes on drums), and have furthered appreciation of Polish composer and pianist Krzysztof Komeda through their widely acclaimed Komeda Project. KP's "Requiem", featuring bassist Scott Colley, drummer Nasheet Waits and trumpeter Russ Johnson made the list of Top New Albums in The Village Voice Critics Poll in 2009.
Their album "From a Familiar Place" is a personal project for Winnicki and Medyna whose surnames are ingrained in the name: WM Project. The music sums up a long life lived with jazz, but also looks forward to the future. Winnicki's own son, Michael Winnicki, is a highly talented drummer and brings youthful energy to original compositions and classics like Paul Desmond's "Take Five" and Joe Zawinul's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy". In fact, rhythm is the essence of the group, as Medyna explains: "The only thing I care about is groove which we have in both re-worked tunes. We need to stay in tune with the African-American roots of jazz".
These roots of rhythm also include hip-hop that provided inspiration for the grooves used on the tunes. As Winnicki says: "Arrangements for both 'Mercy, Mercy, Mercy' and 'Take Five' started with a groove. Just a drum groove to be exact. I don't actively listen to hip-hop music at all, but it's hard not to be aware of its impact on the culture of today. So consciously or subconsciously I was drawn into the hip-hop beats when looking for the fresh sounding grooves I could use to build my arrangements upon."
Bassist Jeff Dingler and Michael Winnicki form the rhythm section. Elaborating on their connection, Andrzej Winnicki says: "Jeff and Michael have been playing in different projects together since their time at the Mason Gross School of Arts. They understand and complement each other musically really well so the choice of the rhythm section was easy to make."
Looking ahead while also looking back is not a comfort zone of nostalgia, but a challenging source of creativity, as Medyna says: "All of us have a kind of 'familiar place' in our memories, desires or places left on the path of our lives. To me this title must stimulate the listener's individual imagination and the music shall take the listener to such familiar place.