This is the music of Kielce region, characterised by meandering melodies, encompassing a broad spectrum of sound and colour, as full as full can be of joy, and yet shot through with yearning and remorse.
Featured alongside us on the album is the brightest jewel in this crown, none other than Stanisław Witkowski, our maestro and teacher, a man whose memory seems to know no bounds, a multi-instrumentalist, and leading light of the once famous Witkowski Brothers Band, a group synonymous in their day with weddings, balls and dances east of Kielce, near and around localities of Łagów and Opatów.
Their repertoire included various traditional rhythms, the chłop, for example, a sort of fling, also simply known as śpiwa, ‘song’. They also played polkas, and other dances prevalent during that era, the good old tango, popular both in cities and in the country, and of course, waltzes and foxtrots. Our musical journey, Dansing, is an echo of those golden years.
Under the name Tęgie Chłopy, we’ve been playing this repertoire for some years now wherever people wear their dancing shoes, in various towns and cities, and in the local villages, a big band with a big sound, and a wind-section to raise the roof.
While remaining part of a tradition, our music is full on, in your face, pulsating and bullishly contemporary. Straight from the heart, never shy, this is swing and groove played with the youthful fervour of our time.
Stanisław Witkowski – alto saxophone, clarinet, vocals
Maniucha Bikont – tuba, vocals
Maciej Filipczuk – fiddle
Ewa Grochowska – fiddle, vocals
Mateusz Kowalski – accordion
Michał Maziarz – fiddle
Dorota Murzynowska – baraban drum
Szczepan Pospieszalski – trumpet
Marcin Żytomirski – fiddle
Michał Żak – clarinet
Guest artist: Władysław Bąk – vocals, accordion
Illustration: Andrzej Bieńkowski – fragments of various works from the cycle “Music Sold for a Price”, and other drawings and sketches from under the bed.
Best Polish Folk Album of last 25 Years – voted in 2019 by listeners of Polish Radio Centre for Folk Culture
Polish Radio Folk Phonogram of the Year 2015: 2nd prize
Wirtualne Gęśle – an online contest for the best folk album of the year 2015:1st prize
I was delighted on hearing this record by Tęgie Chłopy to find once more a music being reborn from the wedding feasts and fire-stations of Kielce region! Foxtrots, traditional dances oberek and chłop, nostalgic tangos and waltzes, all played (and sung) by a big band and its wind section. Wonderful playing, and music from a much-neglected part of the country, tunes played in earnest for the dance, but not without a good smattering of humour. Andrzej Bieńkowski
The vibrancy of the group is phenomenal, and not only in a musical sense. Through the playing of its members, we are soon convinced that this music is not an exhibit in a museum of folk culture, and that its power is linked to purely aesthetic values, heavily charged with emotion. This positive charge enables the music to be continually recreated and rediscovered, and leads, in a social context, to the re-establishment of the music. Marcin Pospieszalski