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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

MUSIC REVIEW: Mazurka Madness South of the Tower

The pros play at Lily Pads 
By Regina DeAngelo

EDITOR’S NOTE: Music at Lily Pads has been presenting fine musical performances in Peace Dale, Rhode Island since 2009 in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County. For ticket information and the full schedule, go to their website

Last Sunday, a group of handsome Polish guys came to town with flutes, shawms, clarinets and violins, and charmed our women.

They assembled on a stage at Lily Pads and perfomed the kind of rock 'n roll your ancestors danced to about 300 years ago. 

The group, called the Janusz Prusinowski Trio, is more than just three guys (there were five, actually), playing more than just Polish traditional village music; but five masters banging out wild mazurkas that cross time and ethicity to rock houses across the planet.

The Janus Prusinowski trio have played in Warsaw taverns, Chicago world-music festivals, the Kennedy Center, Yoshi's, the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles; and, last week, at our little Lily Pads in Peace Dale.

"Mazurka, or, Mazurek," said Mr Prusinowski from behind his violin on stage last Sunday, "starts from the idea, from poetry. And from the idea… to movement… to dance. Sometimes we call it Polish blues… or Polish jazz."

For those who haven't heard a mazurka live, take any Eastern European traditional village song, maybe a klezmer tune, and add hot peppers and a storm. Then you have a mazurka.

The audience got mazurkas. They got shepherd's melodies; heart-squeezing ballads sung a capella; a waltz; a wedding song called Hops; and the "walking dances" we call Polonaises.

And the band brought the crowd to their feet, twice. First with a Polonaise during which a dashing bassist stepped down from the stage, took the hand of a lady in the front row, and led the audience in a walking dance around the room. And second, at the close of the concert, with a standing ovation.

Almost as rocking as the music were the instruments: a trumpet, a flute, violins, a bass and a shawm; a hand-held drum that looked like a bodhran/tambourine, called a baraban; and a golden, triple-keyboard accordion called cimbaly.

The Janus Prusinowski Trio is but one of a lineup that blows away the music snob who thinks good music means driving to Providence or New Haven. This season at Lily Pads might make you cancel your subscriptions. October 12 brings the "blazingly tight" Brazilian Bluegrassers Matuto, October 26 Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons with Christopher Paul Stelling and Dan Blakeslee and on November 9 Quebecois roots "sonic marvels" Genticorum. Yes, here in rural South County, RI.