Leading harpist in the world todayclick to share
Undoubtedly one of the leading harpists in the world today, Alina Bzhezhinska is a one-woman powerhouse, on a mission to bring the harp to the fore of contemporary sound. A jazz harpist, composer, band leader and a founder of the digital platform HipHarpCollective, she’s also trying to remarket the harp in 2021.
Alina Bzhezhinska has performed at Balmoral Castle for HM the Queen’s 80th birthday, was commissioned by Thai royalty to arrange the music written by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and more recently could be found creating with UK jazz frontrunner Kamaal Williams on his second studio album, Wu Hen.
Having studied Classical Harp at the F. Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, obtained a Masters in Arts in Poland, a spot at the University of Arizona to study jazz ensued. Relocating to the UK in 2002, Bzhezhinska went on to become the resident harp tutor at the prestigious Royal Conservatory of Scotland for seven years.
Deciding to launch her own career in jazz, a move to London followed. In November 2017, Bzhezhinska stormed the scene when her quartet appeared at the Barbican during the EFG London Jazz Festival alongside Denys Baptiste and Pharoah Sanders – and were subsequently nominated for Best Live Experience of the Year at the 2018 Jazz FM Awards.
In 2018 Bzhezhinska produced her critically acclaimed debut album, Inspiration (released via Ubuntu Music), featuring award winning saxophonist Tony Kofi. This project was supported by PRS Women Make Music Award. Going on to represent the UK with her quartet at the WOMADelaide Festival in Australia, live performances for BBC Radio 3 and Worldwide FM followed along with appearances at Edinburgh International Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Royal Albert Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. She’s opened for Gregory Porter and Omar, while collaborators include Ursula Rucker, Niki King and Django Bates.
On hearing her playing, nu jazz supremo Kamaal Williams recruited Bzhezhinska to the studio where the bones of ‘Hold On’ feat. Lauren Faith, released as a single in the summer of 2020, were to form. As well as joining Grammy award winner Miguel Atwood Ferguson on album opener ‘Street Dreams’, they developed their creative collaboration further, Williams, Bzhezhinska and Shabaka Hutchings delivering an intimate gig, livestreamed during lockdown from artist Hassan Hajjaj’s shop in Shoreditch, London.
Working with hip-hop and grime producer Diamondz on two remixes, ‘For Carrol’ and ‘Annoying Semitones’, further demonstrated a new direction was aligning. Creatively inspired, Bzhezhinska’s started a new formation, HipHarpCollective, and along with it, has recorded a new album slated for release in 2022, featuring innovative works and rising stars, including rapper Lady Sanity.
“HipHarp draws from a variety of influences,” explain Bzhezhinska, “Drawing from the likes of Dorothy Ashby’s ‘Afro-harping’, Alice Coltrane & Joel Henderson’s free form jazz experimentation; as well as 90s Triphop and Afrobeat…”
Despite been in its infancy, AlinaHipHarp Quartet has already performed live streams for Jazz Connective and Periscope Musciques Innovates.