Wacław Zimpel has risen to prominence as one of Poland’s most adventurous multi-instrumentalists, composers and producers following a long love affair with jazz yet equally inspired by electronics, minimalism and global roots – a prolific collaborator, Zimpel blurs extreme boundaries as far as to eradicate them altogether in tirelessly seeking new musical languages.
Based in Warsaw, born and raised in Poznań. His earliest musical memories are of his father playing the piano, taking up the violin at the age of six and classical clarinet training. Riffing on his beloved rare alto clarinet, casting aside the frustrations of formal music lessons for a salvation in jazz and the burning desire to improvise led to a world-class mastery of other woodwinds including khaen (proto-harmonica from Laos). Expert manipulation of urban-ritual electronics and loops anchored to a human perspective and folk-trance tradition, Zimpel prioritises of depth and understanding whichever his chosen context.
Most recent solo highlight has to be 2020’s ‘Massive Oscillations’, the result of a nine-day residency at the Willem Twee studio in Den Bosch, mixed with the help of collaborator James Holden, and released via Amsterdam’s Ongehoord records. In keeping with his restless improvisational spirit, Zimpel jettisoned previous ideas and setabout using the studio’s array of oscillators, generators, sequencers, tape recorders and filters (alongside his beloved clarinet) to capitalize on opportunities the facility offered him. Having tuned the oscillators by ear for ‘Sine Tapes’ and title track ‘Massive Oscillations‘, whilst attempting to work out melodies on his clarinet,Zimpel found he’d inadvertently arrived at a lower frequency than intended. By a happy accident, he realized he’d subconsciously been tuning in to the bells of St Jan’s Cathedral, which is located close to the studio. “It was this kind of magical coincidence that really helped shape the recording“, he recalls.
Released the same year as ‘Massive Oscillations’ ‘Ebbing in the tide’ was recorded in one take in Margate UK, exploring advanced processing techniques - developed specially for him by Holden - transforming a single clarinet line into an other-worldly choir of Krautrock and woodwinds.
2016’s critically acclaimed ‘Lines’ described by The Quietus as “a spectacular statement”, and additional collaborations venture deeper into contemporary electronic performance including a project with James Holden and one with Shackleton. These both projects became Zimpel's mian collaborations in last years.
Zimpel’s back catalogue has made an indelible mark with dozens of albums as band leader. His ongoing Saagara project has seen him successfully bring together the disparate disciplines of western jazz and Carnatic ragas across an eponymous debut and its follow-up, ‘2' with a third album thankfully in the works. Add to this his collaborations with contemporary/free jazz players Ken Vandermark, Hamid Drake, Joe PcPhee, famed composer & Grammy award winner Evan Ziporyn, electronic music producers Forest Swords (by arrangement w/BBC Radio 3) and Rabih Beaini, drum legend Trilok Gurtu and the master of gnawa music Maallem Mokhtar Gania and a growing resume of theatre, film and choreography works.