Jacek Niedziela Meira has been recognised many times as the best jazz composer and contrabassist by the readers of Jazz Forum magazine. He seems to be a man with many passions in his life.He has got numerous- out of average- family and resourceful wife, who is able to repair house utensils as well as she is his muse caring that her husband has time availability for his compositions. He has been awarded many times including medal for merits for Polish Culture, Special Award of the Ministry of Culture and Grand Prix at the contest organised by the International Jazz Federation In Leverkusen.
Why does art rule your life? Do you agree that one has to be born in a family with artistic roots in order to become a renown musician?
Well, I don’t know if I am a renown musician. In case of jazz, which is not very popular kind of music, what does it mean to be a renown musician, known by 10 or 110 people? (laughter). Refraining to your question, artistic passion and dedication to art of my mother- teacher of singing and painter- proved important to my maturation, yet I know musicians and people involved in various arts who were not supported by artistic background of their families.
Together with my parents I was attending concerts since early childhood. We had a large selection of valuable literature and poetry as well as records- classic, jazz and pop music, for instance records of Skaldowie. Frankly saying, I consider songs of Andrzej Zieliński absolutely great!
You have participated in recording of over 40 longplays including 7 of your own: Wooden Soul Jazz poetries, Scenes from Macondo, History of last year, Touched by Autumn, Basville, Basville 2. Which ones are the closest to your heart?
I gave each of them much of my heart, their variety of style corresponds to plurality of my music interests, namely jazz sung poetry, music for contrabass alone as well as symphonic jazz.
You perform in the most prestigious jazz clubs in Europe and USA together with the most prominent Polish jazzmen. Which of those music experiences do you recall particularly often?
Some of my music endeavours gave financial resources to me and my family, some others- just pleasure and other music experiences resulted in new surnames added to my artistic curriculum.
Talking seriously- everything remains in a person and it is an individual choice how one takes benefit of own experiences. Unfortunately one cannot predict when these factors come to the daylight. Yet analyzing honestly ourselves we can admit with big probability what we owe to this or that person- for example objectivity, laboriousness, methodicalness, respect towards partners and so on.
You are as well an author of poetry books (During Bad Feather, Touched by Autumn) and a book Larches turned grey the red way. Why is nature so much present in your books?
Since ages nature is one of the greatest sources of inspiration- let me mention Tatra motives in the works of Karłowicz or in Tatarak by Iwaszkiewicz.
I must admit that my publisher has suggested me the title. It came out of one of the poetries. The title- Touched by Autumn is linked to the surname of Russian poet Sergiey Jasenin, whose poetry inspired me to compose music. My poetries published one year earlier had the same title and such was my feeling then .
Larches are extraordinary trees to me, I have planted some of them in my life. Old larches have so beautifully spread branches, like the arms of the pope when giving blessing. Young larches enchant with their vernucose bellies on each little branch, their needles growing into brushes confident out of their green that they will not itch but paint.
What was your motivation to start to write novels and poetry as you were already an awarded musician?
These records contain my music inspired by the poetry of Asnyk, Poświatowska, Pawlikowska- Jasnorzewska, Baczyński, Harasymowicz. „Scenes from Makondo” was inspired by books of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Let me mention that my sons (Gabriel- 28 years old and Sergiusz- 4 years old) have names due to my fascination of Marquez and Jesenin (and not Rachmaninov or Prokofiev).
You have been five times nominated to Fryderyk award thanks to Bassville record in category Jazz Record of the Year. Should we presume that the sixth time you will win that award at last?
I don’t think it can happen next time. Polish jazz market is certainly very congested. Apparently, in recent years, Poland has had the highest rate of new titles in jazz records per person in the word and each of musicians newcomers wants to get a share of the market.
How much time and how much involvement did it take to write History of jazz in 100 lectures?
Some 4 years of work, several American books, visit to New Orleans, almost one thousand records listened thoroughly, one hundred of archival DVDs and ten years of experience in conducting lectures about history of jazz.
I continue research in that matter, my selection of American books about jazz grows constantly. It includes also films from the 20, 30 and 40ties, which I search through Internet; these films are relevant to my music collection even when they contain only 3 minutes of music episode during entire film- like recording of Duke Ellington’s big band.
You received nomination to Jazz Oscar by the Association of Music Lovers in the category Journalist/Publisher of the Year. Have you ever considered to become a journalist?
I have considered already to be a sport journalist in primary school. At that time I was juggling with data of sport results, numbers of goals, tabulations of figures, sizes of legendary football players’ shoes. Well, this fascination was dismissed at home as rubbish. Actually I learnt to read when I was 6 years old thanks to reading sport magazines. Well, my literary fascinations can be placed somewhere between Faulkner and Marques and sport magazines .
I sit where your passion to football and cinder- track racing originates?
It has to do with my childhood- in those days my hometown was well placed on the Polish sport map. Time passing I have become as well a historian and a scientist- all these interests go along well. Capricorns are meticulous, diligent and good in statistics. So, to write about sport, it’s just fine.
Beside your talent and hard work what else contributed to your professional success?
Diligence, curiosity, passion to read, genes and the way I was raised up by my parents. Inquisitiveness! I owe it to people I met on my way. Of course not in the meaning of protection as I ardently oppose exchanging favours within a clique. I talk about people who gave me an inspiring example.
You conduct international jazz workshops in Puławy, you lecture at the Music Academy in Wrocław, you are in jury of Polish and international contests as well as father of 4 children. How do you manage to perform all these tasks?
My wife does most housework. While she takes care of children I can write or play at concerts. Did I mention my fifth child?
My books and my social attitude emanate strong fascination towards Africa. Some 10 years ago I thought about some charity action. Someone advised me Carmelite nuns working in Burundi. Their charity action is called Adoption of Heart and a kid I adopted on distance is called Jean Pierre. He lost his parents and with my help he attended the school.
Did you manage to meet him? Is it at all possible?
I have had contact with him through nuns, who were sending me at least twice a year his letters with translation from French and photos. This boy lives in Burundi, where recently security conditions don’t allow save travels, so I am not intending to travel there now.
Yes, it is really an awful situation. Regarding your achievements, last year you received title of full professor from the president Bronisław Komorowski as a recognition of your music achievements. What are your music plans for the future?
I am about to finish the second part of jazz manual for contrabass and bass guitar regarding my specific technique of pizzicato by three fingers. I am putting together a cycle of essays and columns on history of jazz, planned edition- 2016.
I am not forgetting about music. Recently I change somehow my jazz executions adding some folk influences into it. Let us see how it will be received by the audience.
With so versatile professional experience and so many passions, what would you like to share with readers of WHY stories?