When the Iron Curtain fell, a lot changed on both sides of that artificial divide. Not only so-called democracy entered the former communist countries as an export product from 'the West' but also more important exchanges started - cultural exchanges. Whereas in the West it is not cool to be proud of one's heritage, in the former Eastern Block countries people remain proud of whence they came. One of these proud people is Anna Maria Jopek, born in Warsaw, Poland during a time while that country was still under the heavy influence of the Soviet Union. Those politics were eventually destined for the big change of the '80s Solidarity movement and Anna Maria attended the Warsaw Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music. You can say what you want about the former communist regime but music education was high on their agenda. Even today, the conservatory that was founded in 1810 remains an important meeting ground for musicians, dancers and sound engineers. Anna Maria's two sons too are currently studying there.
The parents of Anna Maria, a ballet dancer and a singer, loved Polish folk music as did the young Anna Maria. Though her formal music education at the conservatory started at age 7 and was based on classical music, Anna Maria soon broadened her musical tastes, undoubtedly helped also by the opening of the borders. It is always hard to put a stylistic label on any musical omnivore. Her repertoire covers just about any style imaginable. From a favorite Polish folksong via a warm bossa nova piece to African chant, many different styles are presented and where desired, are filtered through a jazz lens in a unique blend that never bores.
For her latest project Id, Anna Maria secretly desired to work closely with a few of her personal musical heroes as she had done before in her collaboration with Pat Metheny on Upojenie. However, she was afraid to contact them. Who was she, a songstress from Poland to address those big names? Partner and guitarist Marcin Kydrinski however wasn't that shy. He picked up the phone and called Mino Cinelu, Manu Katche (percussion), Christian McBride, Richard Bona (bass), Tord Gustavsen (piano), Oscar Castro-Neves (guitar), Branford Marsalis (saxophones), Dhafer Youssef (vocals, oud), Arve Henriksen (vocals, trumpet), Lessen Molder (piano), Marek Napiorkowski (guitar), Krzysztof Herdzin and Pawel Zarecki (keyboards). He talked to them about Anna Maria's project and the beauty of Poland, the vast flat lands, the unique light above and the rich culture. All of the above accepted the request and the project was a go.
Id is about identity and the respect for keeping one's own. Anna Maria composed 11 songs which all leave generous space for the contributing artist as well as for herself. With many collaborative projects, there is a tendency for either the top-billing artist to lean toward the guest artists or vice versa. Jopek however has the ability to compose, arrange and perform in a perfectly symbiotic way.
This recording is proof that her dream cooperation worked to perfection. This is one of the few projects in recent memory where the cooperation is organic and without a clear outstanding leader. Anna Maria thinks of herself as "coming from the vast meadows of central Poland". Well, those meadows form a wonderful fertile soil to grow new musical highlights. With Id, Anna Maria makes it clear that she belongs right in the middle of her personal group of musical heroes.