Have you heard? Rafal Sarnecki - Climbing Trees
“Sarnecki is a composer with a skillful touch at dramatic tension and pacing within his involved but highly melodic tunes... they're laden with dense arrangements, but the underpinning is a light touch of single-note guitar lines that vibe like a piano.” – Michael J. West, Washington City Paper
Originally from Warsaw, Poland, Rafał Sarnecki is a jazz guitarist and composer currently living in New York. As a leader of his own projects Rafał has toured China, Malaysia, South Korea, Chile, Israel, the East and West Coasts of the U.S. and many European countries. He has shared the stage with top musicians from the U.S. jazz scene including Joel Frahm, Ben Wendel, Ron Blake, Ingrid Jensen, Alex Sipiagin, Willie Jones III and Gary Thomas, to name a few. Rafał’s debut album, Song From a New Place (2008), was nominated for the 2009 Fryderyk Award, the Polish equivalent of a Grammy. Rafał 's second album, The Madman Rambles Again, was released in 2011 by Fresh Sound New Talent. Dave Sumner from All About Jazz selected the album as among the 12 most interesting jazz releases of 2011. In August 2014 Rafał ’s third CD, Cat’s Dream, was released by Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records. In 2015 a group of jazz musicians in Kyiv, Ukraine started a sextet project dedicated to his music, performing compositions from all of his albums. In addition to his career as a bandleader Sarnecki is performs in a variety of New York based groups and projects such as the Lucas Pino No-Net Nonet, Annie Chen Group and David Bertrand Quartet.
As a young child, Polish-born guitarist/composer Rafał Sarnecki suffered from an intense fear of heights and watched with envy as other kids climbed trees. Eventually he gathered the courage to face his fears, ascending branch by branch until he reached the top. That early triumph was the first of several fears that Sarnecki has faced down throughout his life, some of them directly impinging on his passion for music – stage fright, most pointedly, but also a more nebulous trepidation about pushing his music into ever more challenging territory. On his latest album, Climbing Trees, Sarnecki celebrates the ability to overcome one’s most deep-seated anxieties and the exhilaration that can come from those confrontations.
“Once I challenged myself to climb to the top of one tree I felt an urge to climb a higher tree, ” Sarnecki recalls. “The satisfaction from fighting the fear was very strong and addictive. This memory from childhood resembles many situations in my adult life.”
On Climbing Trees (due out July 27, 2018 via Outside In Music), Sarnecki takes his cue from that formative experience, crafting a set of risk-taking original compositions that dare him and his remarkable sextet to scale daunting heights. The stellar group – saxophonist Lucas Pino, vocalist Bogna Kicinska, pianist Glenn Zaleski, bassist Rick Rosato, and drummer Colin Stranhan – not only manages to deftly navigate the composition’s knotty turns but finds exhilarating inspiration in its surprising branchings.