Within You Is A World of Spring (Whirlwind Recordings)

Alice Zawadzki

Released October 11, 2019

Jazzwise Top 20 Releases of 2019






“The woods are still when I look in from the outside. The more I listen, the more I can hear them. My blood is spiked with emerald and I become green, glowing, sprouting new shoots from all over my body…”

Diffracting through a greenwood canopy, the poetic words and music of vocalist/violinist/pianist Alice Zawadzki illuminate her unique artistry and the concept behind new album Within You is a World of Spring – the follow-up to acclaimed Whirlwind debut release China Lane. Zawadzki leads an inspiring band of musicians and improvisers in realising her extraordinary, often moving, occasionally droll, original songs: Fred Thomas (piano, drums, percussion, banjo, organ), Rob Luft (guitar), Misha Mullov-Abbado (double bass) and Hyelim Kim (taegum). Integral to the impressive, layered detailing is the Amika String Quartet of Simmy Singh, Laura Senior, Lucy Nolan and Peggy Nolan, and engineer Alex Killpartrick.

“The title represents the journey that many of us can go through”, reveals Zawadzki, whose striking bodily transformation for the front cover was painted by artist Charlotte Mann. “We get to a certain age and begin to understand more about the brutality and turbulence of the world, experiencing heartbreak, social injustice, etc. My songs focus on the idea of remembering, during those times, that there’s a seed inside us which carries the life force to help us blossom again – we can change.”

Urgent portamento strings and intense drumming powerfully energize the title track, its words (‘When I feel done and done, your Spring returns to heal’) inspired by an Emil Aarestrup poem. Working in the ‘Calais Jungle’ proved life-changing for Alice, witnessing the resilience, dignity and goodness of many people there. So ‘God’s Children’ asks us not to forget their plight (‘Do you dare to dream? Are dreams not for all men? Let me ask you again – are dreams not for all God’s children?’) through diaphanous, tumbling phrases and anthemic affirmation. “Tears can act as a conduit between us”, explains Zawadzki, “building the foundation for understanding.” Near-operatic ‘Superior Virtue’ recalls a beautiful, unfulfilled encounter, as violin, guitar and piano textures twinkle, while tongue-in-cheek romance ‘Es Verdad’ jigs with infectious, whimsical abandon.

Fluttering bamboo taegum (Korean flute) evokes Zawadzki’s woodland discovery as ambient swirls cushion her path through a love poem to one who could not cry, yet finally… ‘The tears running down his face are more rare and precious than jewels’. Sumptuously soulful ‘Keeper’ emphasizes the thread of ‘change’ – described as “those moments where the passage of time refracts and bends, where the end is the start and the start is the end” – heightened by blissful blue guitar. Sinewy violin in ‘Twisty Moon’ announces a scintillating imagined overture to a detective movie; and in elegantly traditional style, with Buenos Aires backdrop, ‘O Mio Amore’ speaks of heartbreaking separation across the Atlantic.

“Sometimes I try to court a kind of naivety when writing, at least at the start”, says Zawadzki, “to follow my curiosity or instinct without an agenda of what the piece should end up being. It keeps things fresh. All these musicians are brilliant and unique improvisers, so the spirits of jazz and folk are here, both sonically and in the themes of consciousness, humanity and love.”

This is for the Spring that lies within you… within us all…

Track Listing:

1. Within You Is a World of Spring (Alice Zawadzki) 07:01

2. God’s Children (Alice Zawadzki) 07:05

3. Superior Virtue (Alice Zawadzki) 06:43

4. Es Verdad (Alice Zawadzki) 04:25

5. The Woods (Hyelim Kim / Rob Luft / Alice Zawadzki) 06:26

6. Keeper (Alice Zawadzki) 06:04

7. Twisty Moon (Alice Zawadzki) 07:45

8. O Mio Amore (Alice Zawadzki) 04:37


Alice Zawadzki: vocals, violin, piano

Rob Luft: guitar

Fred Thomas: drums, piano, percussion, tenor banjo

Misha Mullov-Abbado: double bass

Hyelim Kim: taegum

Simmy Singh: violin

Laura Senior: violin

Lucy Nolan: viola

Peggy Nolan: cello

Recorded in November 2019, at Livingstone Studios, Wood Green, London
Additional recording in London by kind permission of Hermione Lyall
and Jean-Pierre Lin
Recording and mixing engineer: Alex Killpartrick
Assistant engineers: Tom Tarcher, Matt Williams
Mastering engineer: Frank Merritt at Carvery Cuts
Produced by Alice Zawadzki, Fred Thomas, Alex Killpartrick
Additional production: Samuel Crowe
Executive Producer: Michael Janisch
Front cover design by Charlotte Mann
Photograph by George Nelson
Graphic design by Monika Jakubowska
Recorded with generous support from PRSF Women Make Music Award 


London-based singer, violinist and pianist Alice Zawadzki gifts us a second album both tender in spirit and defiantly anti-genre, hooking her all-embracing vision to a questing musical curiosity and the freedom inherent in jazz. Ten original, wildly different tunes are buoyed by a band of young London Turks including guitarist Rob Luft and double-bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado, who play, tease and solo their way through the likes of the eponymous opener, in which Zawadzki’s clarion voice tells of regeneration and rebirth; a bittersweet, time-bending ballad, ‘Keeper’, and a long psychedelic instrumental suitably titled ‘Twisty Moon’.

Standouts are many: more poetry recital than spoken word, ‘The Woods’ is a crisp but warmly annunciated ode to feeling at one with nature, augmented by on-the-fly-melodies from Hyelim Kim on the taegum (a large wooden Japanese flute) and textures gleaned from flourishes on prepared piano (variously sparked by the effects of a hand-fan on paper tacked to strings). Zawadzki’s violin-playing is flowing, fluttering, generous, but it’s her jazz-honed vocals that really impress, free-falling through ‘God’s Children’, a song she wrote after working in the refugee camps of Calais, and finding new depth and resonance in the Spanish and Italian lyrics of ‘Es Verdad’ and ‘O Mio Amore’. A cornucopia of delights. 

Jane Cornwell (Jazzwise)

➜ Read our Alice Zawadzki interview: “This pain of Spring often comes from the way we lay ourselves on the line again and again, especially in love”