Mat Walerian

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Mat Walerian
Mat Walerian.jpg
Background information
Origin Poland
Genres Jazz
Avant-garde jazz
Free improvisation
Post bop
Free jazz
Third stream
Contemporary classical music
Oriental music
Occupation(s) Bandleader, Saxophonist, Bass clarinetist, Flutist, Composer
Instruments Saxophone, Bass clarinet, Soprano clarinet, Flute
Years active 2005 - present
Associated acts Matthew Shipp, Hamid Drake
Website Official Website

Mat Walerian is jazz saxophonist and woodwind player (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet, flute), composer and bandleader who specializes in improvisation and avant-garde music.

Early life[edit]

Walerian was raised in Torun, Poland, and began playing music at the age of six, starting with piano lessons. Hearing John Coltrane at the age of ten led him to jazz. From the very beginning he was interested in blues harmony, spending time playing blues and boogie miniatures.[1]

While in high school he picked up the saxophone at the age of sixteen and in less than a month was playing in the school’s orchestra. He started with alto and after a year also tried tenor. After transfer to a new high school couple months later he lost rights for using the instruments and as an effect got about two-year break in practice since his new school hadn’t run an orchestra. He managed to buy his own instrument at the age of nineteen and came back to practice. In 2008 (at the age of 24) Walerian started individual studies on classical Japanese music picking up soprano clarinet and flute. One year later (2009) he added also bass clarinet to his repertoire.[2]

At the age of nineteen he tried formal musical education and after passing his exams became student of a public music school but he quit two months later. He was strongly attracted to jazz, but also played in crossover groups melting hardcore and heavy experimental guitar music with free improvisation while in high school. His first project was saxophone/drums duo with characteristic avant psychedelic / funk groove.


His studies were mostly focused on eastern philosophy and Japanese culture.[3] With the exception of a few lessons he is self – taught musician, occasionally taking lessons from acknowledged masters : pianist Matthew Shipp and drummer/percussionist Hamid Drake, lessons which he has cited as being crucial to his development.

He is most active in free jazz / improvised music, but also exploring music that touches on contemporary classical, oriental scales and electronica. His stylistics character places him firmly in the mainstream of modern jazz and improvised music, somewhere around hard free bop with a tribute to the atonal avant-garde heritage. Classical music, jazz classics and the sound of Orient (classical music of Japan and India) have all left a distinctive impression on his creation. Walerian cooperates in diverse musical projects with musician who represent various musical streams; jazz, classical, contemporary, improvised avant-garde music and electronica.[4]

He is the author of such musical projects as The Uppercut, M-theory project, Toxic, Jungle, Sainthunter, White Lotus, Predator Gone Wild, Zen, Mutant Definition, Blackadmin or Demiurge Droppin' Acid. In his projects Walerian mixes classical chamber music, jazz classics and oriental scales along with modern expression of improvised music.[5]

"Mateusz is one of the most talented young jazz musicians on the Polish scene, if not THE most talented. He runs several different projects as a leader, and his musical interests range from the contemporary musica da camera to jazz classics and free jazz, employing oriental scales along with free improvised music. (...) His understanding and synergy with the other members of the trio, his expression and dynamism, richness of sound, technique combined with sensitivity are unbelievable and out of this world. On top if you ask me who does he remind, my answer is he reminds the most Chicagoan sound of... Mateusz Walerian."[6]

"Mateusz Walerian‘s playing is rooted in the early free-jazz, with heavy echoes of bluesy tone. His lines can be jazzy in the spirit of post-bop as well as angular and abstract, he goes for more direct approach on alto, while searching for more sonic shades on bass clarinet. He tends for modest and minimal, selecting carefully the means of his expression ... his playing (is) warm, very melodic, while not being afraid of some tone and timbre explorations. Fresh and inspiring is the contrast between the free-jazz boiling section behind him and his cool, thoughtful lines and very jazz phraseology, moving from blues, bebop, free-bop up to some not too extreme free improv.“[7]

Between 2005 and 2008 he was mainly concentrated on projects characterized by heavy echoes of third stream and chamber music qualities melted along with oriental harmony (and instruments). In this period he was releasing many trio projects consisting various bowed string instruments (European and Asian) presenting minimal music stylistics, most common lineups like : saxophone / harp / cello trio ; saxophone / harp / viola trio ; saxophone / harp / violin trio, saxophone / harp / double bass trio, saxophone / piano / violin trio etc.

His first classic jazz trio (saxophone + rhythm section) appeared in 2010. Since then his work got wilder performance, characterized with rather compound structures and rhythm.

Walerian when asked for describing life in his own words said: “I love nature and experiencing wildlife phenomena”[8]


His most notable collaborators are pianist Matthew Shipp and drummer/percussionist Hamid Drake with whom he has released around ten different projects.

In 2008 he met Hamid Drake for the first time and since then they have put across effective number of projects together, like strongly inspired by the Hendrix legacy powerful trio Sainthunter[9] (Hamid Drake – drums + percussion ; Tim Dahl – electric bass + double bass ; Mat Walerian – saxophone + woodwinds) or White Lotus[10] that implements experiments with oriental and contemporary chamber music.

"The group continues strongly with "Just Drop It In New Orleans", with clear blues and traditional jazz inspirations. Mateusz starts on Bb clarinet and evoking the tradition of the best genuine clarinetists - from Benny Goodman, through Jimmy Giuffre to Europeans : Louis Sclavis, Michel Portal. (...) The Force, Energy and Synergy are again there, and are just breathtaking."[11]

Cooperation with pianist Matthew Shipp was established in 2010. Shipp first appeared as a special guest with Walerian trio in September 2011.

"... Mat and Matt are simply outstanding ... Mateusz' solo without accompaniment is just genial, but the whole track is amazing. Fantastic music, worth getting and listening to it for any price !"[12]

After the quartet setup Shipp proposed Walerian a duo project which was released as M-theory project[13] during wide concert tour in May 2012.[14] Name of the project was changed to The Uppercut : Matt Shipp Mat Walerian duo during Ukrainian tour in December 2013.

"Obviously, M-Theory project of Mateusz has little to do with quantum gravity. It is, however, indeed strongly based on the idea of total unification: Mat and Matt form an artistic unity of unprecedented intensity. This is evidently one of the best Polish jazz recordings of the last 20 years."[15]

"In all the parts Mateusz plays very clear tones, without overblows, yet full of expression and emotion. To some extend the music reminds a little the late experiments of Jimmy Giuffre and Paul Bley - it is, however, clearly contemporary (…) whatever the associations are, however, the over 15 minutes long suite is clearly a masterpiece. (...) After the suite come two short improvisations for alto and piano, “Free Bob Statement 1 and 2”, that illustrate amazing chemical bonds between the two musicians and their mutual understanding and unity."[16]

"Free Bop Statements” are followed by the 4 compositions of Walerian. “It’s Sick Out There” and “Love and Other Specie” are for piano and sax, and are perhaps the most expressive and sentimental of the set. On “Peace and Respect” and “Black Rain” Mateusz is back on bass clarinet. The latter, 16 minutes long, is breathtaking. It is not only virtuoso piece in the technical sense - it is also explosion of emotions and feelings. Mateusz proves that he is one of the best bass clarinetist around, and he shows also his mastery on Bb clarinet and flute. As a whole, this set is a true masterpiece and super important recording not only for Polish jazz!!!"[17]

Later in 2012 Walerian and Matthew Shipp trio (Matthew Shipp - piano, Michael Bisio - double bass, Whit Dickey - drums) appeared as a quartet at the Okuden Music Concert Series Fall 2012.[18]

"Matt and Mat are back in the fall of 2012 with the phenomenal American section of Bisio and Dickey, under the flag of Matt's Quartet ... Walerian plays here only alto, and does it incredibly well... In terms of alto playing, it is one of the most radical, contemporary and important Polish jazz recordings.[19]

Large number of various lineups with both Shipp and Drake followed-up with a very special trio which next to M-theory project turned out to be second most important point in his career. World premiere of defined as a supergroup project Jungle[20] consisting of Matthew Shipp, Hamid Drake and Mat Walerian took place in November 2012 getting stunning reviews.

"Wow. The Jungle Project has had its premiere on 19th November 2012. One hour and forty minutes of pure delight. Obviously, Shipp and Drake belong the best free jazz musicians in their categories in the world. I dare to say that Mateusz too. (...) Jungle is incomparable to anything else. Similarly as "M-Theory", it is an artistic achievement of the highest possible standard. I practically never pray, but in this case I do pray that both of these concert sets will be released on records soon!"[21]

"What is so special about "Jungle"? Well, first of all such a recording of one or one and a half hour long concert, that is a continuous and uniform flow of beauty, intensity and expression is not a frequent thing in the jazz history. (...) It is hard to talk about the culmination of this recordings - they provide an never ending culmination indeed."[22]

"The examples that come to my mind, and this is not an exaggeration in any sense, are : John Coltrane's "The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings", or Miles Davis' "The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965". If we ignore the beauty aspect, and focus on the strength of expression only the appropriate association is to John Coltrane's "Live at Seattle" with John Coltrane on soprano and tenor, Pharoah Sanders on tenor McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, Elvin Jones on drums and Donald Garrett on bass clarinet and bass."[23]

"Jungle is obviously a joint project … it is a project whose name explains the meaning of the music : the joint point of view and the largest inspiration of the members of the trio, that is unconditional and absolute love of nature. The music is though to show impression of wildlife, animals, fauna, flora, all of the natural phenomena. It is a very organic project, in the very biological meaning of this word. Mother Nature, Mother Earth. Already in this description one can feel the spirit of John Coltrane, and indeed the music belongs clearly to the post-Coltrane tradition."[24]

Okuden Music Concert Series[edit]

In 2010 Mat Walerian started curating his own concert series - Okuden Music : sound to the deepest[25], presenting the mainstream of modern jazz and improvised avant-garde music heritage.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ AVANT Volume II, Issue 1/2011 (July–September), ISSN: 2082-6710
  2. ^ AVANT Volume II, Issue 1/2011 (July–September), ISSN: 2082-6710
  3. ^ AVANT Volume II, Issue 1/2011 (July–September), ISSN: 2082-6710
  4. ^ AVANT Volume II, Issue 1/2011 (July–September), ISSN: 2082-6710
  5. ^ AVANT Volume II, Issue 1/2011 (July–September), ISSN: 2082-6710
  6. ^ Maciej Lewenstein "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"
  7. ^ (Free) Jazz Alchemist
  8. ^ mat walerian official website
  9. ^ mat walerian official website
  10. ^ mat walerian official website
  11. ^ Maciej Lewenstein "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"
  12. ^ Maciej Lewenstein "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"
  13. ^ mat walerian official website
  14. ^ mat walerian official website
  15. ^ Maciej Lewenstein "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"
  16. ^ Maciej Lewenstein "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"
  17. ^ Maciej Lewenstein "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"
  18. ^ okuden music website
  19. ^ Maciej Lewenstein "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"
  20. ^ mat walerian official website
  21. ^ Maciej Lewenstein "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"
  22. ^ Maciej Lewenstein "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"
  23. ^ Maciej Lewenstein "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"
  24. ^ Maciej Lewenstein "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"
  25. ^ okuden music website