Aga Zaryan

Aga Zaryan, born Agnieszka Skrzypek on January 17, 1976, is an internationally renowned jazz singer of the new generation. Although she is young in jazz terms, her tone of voice and delivery are reminiscent of classical jazz for a modern audience. She is part of an international new wave of Polish jazz musicians. Her distinctive style and intimate singing approach are well-known. She has a light, warm voice and a slightly matted tone. Her performances recall the work of female jazz singers like Shirley Horn, Carmen McRae, and Joni Mitchell. Aga Zaryan, a Polish artist, was signed to Blue Note Records this year to join Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Dianne Reeves. Zaryan has achieved success in combining ambitious artistic goals and popular appeal. She has recorded six albums, all of them earning multi-platinum, gold or platinum status. She was awarded the Fryderyk Award, the most prestigious prize in the Polish recording industry, in 2008. Gazeta Wyborcza (one of Poland’s most popular newspapers) nominated her for the title Woman of The Year 2008. Aga was also named Jazz Vocalist Of The Year by the European Jazz Forum Magazine’s annual Jazz Top readers’ poll in 2007, 2009, and 2010. She has a busy performance and recording schedule. Zaryan was born in Warsaw (Poland). Zaryan traveled extensively throughout Europe from a young age with her parents (her father was a classical pianist and her mother an English teacher and author). She spent part of her childhood in Manchester, UK, while her primary school education was in Warsaw, Poland. Zaryan and her parents were passionate about classical music. Zaryan was exposed to contemporary music from an early age. She returned to Poland in the UK to play tennis competitively and won the Warsaw Tennis Championship at age 14. While still in her teens she discovered a love for theatre and music. Zaryan became a jazz singer after hearing the music of Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald. Zaryan studied voice at Fryderyk Chopin Public Secondary School for Music and then attended the Post-Secondary jazz Studies Program. She graduated with high honors. Zaryan received scholarships to international Jazz workshops at the Stanford Jazz Workshop in the United States and Jazz Camp West in the United States. She was able to improve her vocal skills. Zaryan’s 2002 debut album My Lullaby was released. It was recorded with Tomasz Zzukalski, Darek Olekskiewicz and Michal Tokaj. The collection of jazz standards was sung by Zaryan with the support of a jazz quartet, in original and personal interpretations. It earned her praise as one of Poland’s top vocal talents. Zaryan opened for Branford Marsalis at the JVC Jazz Festival, Warsaw in 2006. This was a chance to showcase her skills as a jazz singer and performer. Zaryan has performed at clubs and festivals throughout Europe, USA, Germany and Israel. Picking Up the Pieces was released in 2006, and it was the first album to be recorded. It featured a stellar international lineup of musicians including Larry Koonse (guitar), Munyungo Jones (percussion), Nolan Shaheed(cornet), and Dariusz Olekskiewicz (2-string bass). Picking up the Pieces is a collection of 11 songs that tell the stories of women. They illustrate their emotional and spiritual experiences. It was a bestseller that reached platinum status and received positive reviews from critics. Picking Up The Pieces established Aga Zaryan as a leading jazz vocalist in Poland and an international artist. Zaryan, along with her American band, was visiting the United States in 2007 for a series concert tour. She performed at jazz venues like Joe’s Pub in New York City or Blues Alley in Washington D.C. The public was enthusiastic about the concerts, and critics from all over the world were impressed by Aga’s talent. Beauty Is Dying was Aga Zaryan’s first album in which she sang in Polish. It was recorded in the summer 2007. She is supported by a jazz trio and a 17-piece string band with harp, oboe, and a 17-piece orchestra. The album features nine Polish poems, which depict scenes from Warsaw during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. These works were selected by Zaryan and sung to original music composed by Michal Tokaj. It is described as being lyrical, pulsing with emotion, with Zaryan’s singing perfectly matched by the delicate string section and laid back jazz trio. “A river of people-a sea of listeners” is the translation. “Rzeka Ludzi-Morze Glow” (trans.) A one-of-a kind concert was held at Warsaw Uprising Museum Liberty Park on August 4, where Aga Zaryan performed “Beauty is Dying” along with all the musicians who participated in the recording. The concert was broadcast live by Polish Public TV and Radio. Traffic was jammed for hours in the vicinity of the venue due to the steady stream of people who converged on it. Over seven thousand people listened to Zaryan’s performance while sitting still for the culmination. As a sociological phenomenon, the concert attracted four generations of people, including their great-grandchildren, who were first-hand witnesses to the events. The performance of Beauty Is Dying was then followed by appearances at prestigious venues and concert halls throughout Europe. Zaryan received the highest honors in the Polish music industry, the Fryderyk Award. This award was for her song “Beauty is Dying”. “Live at Palladium” The double-CD/DVD album contains a recording from one of Zaryan’s concerts at Warsaw’s Palladium Club. She was joined by musicians who flew in to the event from Los Angeles. Aga chose a more unusual and delicately-sounding combination for this project, which included guitar, double bass and percussion. Darryl Jackson played various percussion instruments, while Darek Oleszkiewicz was the bassist. Larry Koonse was the guitarist. The repertoire consisted mainly of songs from “Picking Up” and “My Lullaby”, with some new arrangements created over the course the tour. This album captures the extraordinary mood of these concerts and showcases Zaryan’s effortless performance. Many of the pieces can be sung in duets to the accompaniment of only double bass. It was praised as the best jazz album and achieved triple platinum status. Her latest album, “Looking Walking Being”, will be released by Blue Note in March 2010. From Wikipedia

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