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I believe that there’s no person who just doesn’t like jazz; there are only people who don’t yet know it. After all, jazz is like life. It has rules and laws, but at its core, it’s about improvisation, about being in the present, and about constantly adapting and responding to what is happening around us and to our environment. Out of all of the musical genres, jazz is the one that’s most alive, fresh, and diverse. And countless different styles of jazz have emerged by now, so everyone can find one that is most to their liking. Jazz is alive and it’s revived with every single moment. Anyone who takes a liking to it will forever be under the spell of its energy, fervor, and freedom. A good jazz concert doesn’t compare to anything else, because it’s a unique and unrepeatable experience. I encourage everyone to get a taste of it!” /Peter Sarik/

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For years, Peter Sarik has considered it one of his most important duties to bring as many fans as possible on board for this stunning musical genre. His first campaign to promote jazz consisted of his 2010 Jazz Request Show concert series, during which the Peter Sarik Trio sought out and fulfilled requests submitted by the audience and performed jazz adaptations of audience members’ favorite songs and musical pieces. Some of the best outcomes were subsequently released on two records, the first of which won the “Jazz Album of the Year” Hungarian Music Award (Fonogram Award) in 2014 and the second of which was nominated for the same award in 2016.

In 2012, a jazz album for children, wrapped inside a storybook, was published with the title “A világ összes kincse” (“All the Treasures of the World”). Soon after, this material was turned into an interactive stage performance.

“Kids are like sponges. They let everything in without criticism; they are curious and open. They don’t care if the music they hear is called jazz or something else; they have no prejudices. We found it important to have them encounter this genre at an early age, to become familiar and friendly with it, in the hopes that a few years later, we can see them again as adult audiences for jazz. Our success was actually twofold: we managed to get not only the kids but also their parents and grandparents into jazz.” /Peter Sarik/

The jazz storybook for children was nominated for the “Children’s Album of the Year” Hungarian Music Award (Fonogram) in 2014.

 

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In 2015, the Peter Sarik Trio received an invitation to appear at the “Beethoven Budán Fesztivál” (“Beethoven in Buda” Festival). The Trio was the first jazz formation ever to play at the festival. They performed jazz adaptations of Beethoven’s symphonies and piano sonatas, to huge success. Consequently, the concert recording was released on CD in 2016.

“It is a truly humbling and enormous task to adapt the works of such an epoch-making composer as Beethoven. As in all cases of re-envisioning music, I found it important to preserve the message and mood of the original compositions. I tried to imagine what the Maestro would do if he were alive today and had a magnificent jazz trio like mine – how would he re-orchestrate his pieces? I believe he would be fearless, distinctive, and inventive today as well. Therefore, that’s the direction that we followed with our adaptations, too. As a result, we will probably surprise the listeners with our daring use of contemporary, popular rhythms and other stylistic qualities of modern jazz and pop music. It’s a fascinating game. And, it’s been proven again and again that genuinely great pieces do not just stand the test of time but in fact come to life when plunged into a contemporary context, and it feels as though they were written today,” explains Peter Sarik.

“What you always wanted to know about jazz but never dared to ask”:
The Peter Sarik Trio’s interactive performance about jazz

How did jazz music come about? What does sex have to do with jazz? What is improvisation?

“90 percent of jazz audiences don’t know what the musicians on stage are actually doing. Many understand that we improvise, but not necessarily what that actually means. Of course, that’s not a problem. Why would they know? The problem is that they don’t dare to ask, and sometimes they even feel ashamed because they think they should know. Well, the time has come for questions! Feel free to ask anything – even the questions you consider most stupid or unsophisticated. We will not find out who asked what.

You finally have a chance to take a peek “behind the scenes,” and next time you go to a jazz concert, you will have a better understanding and a fuller experience.

Let’s do it, let’s meet! We will answer all your questions and show you how everything is done in practice!” –Peter Sarik encourages his audience.

The text above comes from the promotional material for a performance that the Peter Sarik Trio has been doing since 2015. These performances are directed at a “lay” audience less familiar with jazz, as well as anyone who would like to know more about the genre. Every performance is different because the questions—submitted anonymously and in advance—are always different.

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The Trio’s album “Lucky Dog” was released in 2017, featuring 5 exceptional Hungarian jazz musicians, all of whom play in markedly different styles. Simultaneous with the release of the CD, the “I Love Jazz” campaign began, which addresses not-yet-fans of jazz and shows them through the album’s tracks how diverse and wide-ranging the genre really is. The campaign consists of short videos, each of which represents a distinctive mood.

“I love jazz because it’s cool, because it’s instinctive, because it’s romantic, because it’s joyful, and because it’s classical.”
In the final short video, the musicians featured on the album also speak about why they love jazz.

The jazz musician and the audience:

“I find it absolutely essential to nurture a relationship with the audience, both during the concerts and beyond. Unlike many jazz artists—as well as classical musicians—I don’t feel like my music would suffer from my turning to the audience. I don’t believe in being “artsy” and in those artists who put themselves above their audiences. I’m convinced that classical and jazz musicians have lost a great many listeners in the past decades due to this distancing attitude.

I love my audience; I love talking to them and joking with them, and it’s good to feel that the distance between the artist and the audience disappears during our concerts.

I don’t make any compromises in my music just in order to please the audience, but I do pay attention to how I present our music to them, and I try to reach out a helping hand to those listeners for whom this might be the first jazz concert they’ve visited. For me, jazz means freedom, energy, and playfulness, and it’s always better to play together with others than alone!” /Peter Sarik/

 

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