They've been delighting us with their music for 28 years! They owe everything to their talents and work, but who knows what their career would have been if it wasn't for names like: Steven Spielberg, Peter Gabriel, Nigel Kennedy, David Lynch ... But in turn ...
From the beginning, the main idea of the band was to constantly look for something new, also in ourselves. We would like to admit the musicians to simply be called KROKE MUSIC.
KROKE (in Yiddish: Kraków) was created in 1992 by three friends: Tomasz Kukurba, Jerzy Bawoł and Tomasz Lato. As graduates of the Krakow Academy of Music, but also seeking artists, they did not shun experiments with jazz and contemporary music. The band, initially associated mainly with klezmer, has not been associated with one genre for many years. Artists draw inspiration from ethnic music around the world, but they always enrich their works with their own improvisations. In this way, KROKE creates its own style, hovering over borders and sometimes forms.
KROKE is also one of the first bands to come out to the audience with their music. Musicians could be found on the streets and clubs of Krakow's Kazimierz, once a Jewish part of the city. They played compositions completely unknown to some, while in others they brought back memories of a world that had long since been forgotten. It was there that for the first time you could hear songs that appeared in 1993 on the band's first self-released cassette.
One day, Kate Capshaw, Steven Spielberg's wife, who made the film Schindler's List in Krakow, came to Ariel, where KROKE often performed. One evening she took her husband to the concert ... The director quickly appreciated KROKE's huge talent and invited the group to Jerusalem to perform during the Survivors Reunion ceremony, organized for survivors from Oskar Schindler's list. Everything has become deeper from this amazing moment. That's when the band was born. We got from these people - some of them were klezmer - a kind of musical blessing - musicians recall today. However, this was just the beginning of a great adventure. Spielberg sent the KROKE tape to Peter Gabriel, who in 1997 invited the band to the UK for the WOMAD Festival. The audience warmly received both the concert itself and the debut album "Trio". This meeting also resulted in joint recordings at Real World Studios. Fragments of the recording were later used by Gabriel on the Long Walk Home album, which is the soundtrack for the movie Rabbit - Proof Fence.
In 1997 the band's second album was released - "Eden". This time, traditional klezmer motifs combined with contemporary musical sensitivity have gained a new, more intense color. Since then, KROKE has more and more readily - but at the same time without cutting off from traditional Klezmer sources - reached for Sephardic and Arab patterns. The result of this search became the album "The Sounds Of The Vanishing World" - a romantic testimony of KROKE's evolution and the musicians' ability to create their own style. The proof of the correctness of the artistic decisions of the band members was the awarding of the prestigious KROKE prize - Preis der Deutsche Schalplattenkritik for 2000.
In the summer of 2001, during performances in Cornwall, the first meeting of KROKE with Nigel Kennedy took place. The artist showed an immediate readiness to cooperate, which culminated in the release of the joint album "East Meets East" in 2003. KROKE was also nominated for the BBC Radio 3 award in the "World music" category, and cooperation with Nigel Kennedy turned into a series of concerts enthusiastically received at European festivals. At that time another author's album was released - "Ten Pieces To Save The World". This melodic, atmospheric album took second place in the European World Music Charts list and crowned 10 years of KROKE's existence. In 2004, the band released another concert album - "Quartet - Live At Home", recorded in the studio S-5 Radio Krakow with the participation of Krakow jazz drummer Tomasz Grochot, who performed with the band for several years. A year later, the group began working with Edyta Geppert and Krzysztof Herdzin on a new project, closing in the album "I Sing Life". The album finally achieved Gold Record status, and the band performed simultaneously in Poland and Germany with the Sinfonia Baltica orchestra and the KROKE program - symphonically in arrangements and conducted by Bohdan Jarmołowicz.
In 2006 the song "The Secrets of The Life Tree" performed by KROKE was on the soundtrack of David Lynch's movie "Inland Empire", and a year later, on the 15th anniversary of the band's creation, KROKE released their next studio album "Seventh Trip" - energetic journey on oriental music routes. The whole subsequent year of activity is a series of concerts in Poland and abroad and work on a chamber project arranged by Krzysztof Herdzin. The premiere of this project took place at the Days of Polish Culture in Krakow with the Sinfonietta Cracovia orchestra conducted by Robert Kabara, which gave the project a unique sound that combines classical and contemporary music. The next editions of the project were heard in Burgos, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Vasteras, Uppsala and many concert halls and concert halls in Poland and abroad with the participation of orchestras, among others Sinfonietta Vasteras, Orquesta Sinfonica de Burgos, AUKSO, NOSPR in Katowice, Elbląg Chamber Orchestra, Archetti, Kaliska Symphony Orkiesrta.
For KROKE, 2009 was another breakthrough and turn on the artistic path - the band performed more and more often as a trio, without drums, thanks to which the concerts took on a more intimate character, and in music long-heard Ashkenazic and Balkan sounds appeared. Janusz Makuch, director of the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, called it "back to the roots", and the band documented their search with the album "Out of Sight", in which songs full of energy and deriving from Klezmer tradition coexist with compositions bordering on jazz and Tomasz's moody vocalizations Kukurba.
In 2010, the band toured together with the Norwegian group Tindra and the Spanish violinist Diego Galaz, and also performed at the Polish Weekend in Southbank Center in London alongside Nigel Kennedy. In January 2011, KROKE, Maja Sikorowska (vocals) and Sławek Berny (percussion instruments) recorded twelve Greek songs full of emotions and impressions. The fruit of this work became the excellent album "Avra".
The years 2010-2012 were also concert concerts with Mongolian singer Urna Chahar-Tugchi, Krzysztof Herdzin, as well as Anna Maria Jopek, who appeared on the album recorded with the Sinfonietta Cracovia orchestra. "Feelharmony" (honored with a gold record).
In 2014, the album "Ten" was released, which immediately received gold status and was nominated for the Fryderyk Music Award 2015. Cooperation with Anna Maria Jopek developed. The artists recorded the song "Psalmia", which appeared on the album. They concert with their project both in Poland and abroad. A year later, an unusual project was created. "Kabaret Śmierci" is the result of cooperation with Polish director Andrzej Celiński on his project dealing with cultural and entertainment protagonists in Nazi concentration camps. However, this is not an album with a soundtrack. The band rewrote the music in a new arrangement, added new songs and recorded the whole thing again, thus creating a reflective suite.
The year 2016 resulted in two releases - a reissue of the album "Ten" (the album was expanded by two songs - the carols "Mizerna Cicha" and "Z narcji Pana") and a special Christmas Box.
The year 2017 is primarily the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the band's existence, as well as the premiere of the new album "Traveler", which was released in March. As the musicians say: Kroke has been a traveler for 25 years who not only enjoys expeditions, but also draws lessons from them and tries to share them with others. So we invite you to travel through the quarter-century experience of KROKE musical spaces listening to our new album "Traveler".
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary celebration, the double album "25 The Best Of" was released with the most important songs from the entire period of the band's activity. Whereas the publishing house Świat Świat also published a richly illustrated book with Kroke archival photos and conversations with artists - "Beyond Sounds" by Joanna Laprus-Mikulska.
In September 2019, a new album of the band "Rejwach" was released, containing works composed for the needs of the theater performance of the same title, which is a stage interpretation of the book by Mikołaj Grynberg. The premiere of the performance directed by Andrzej Krakowski took place in October 2018 at the Jewish Theater in Warsaw. Klezmer mainly improvised.
Improvisation in KROKE's music has been around since the beginning and is its most important element today. Our improvisation is a kind of portal through which the worlds of our souls go straight to those who want to explore these worlds - explain the musicians.