No dead-ends here
Labrynt, a jazz band comprised of three musicians of Polish descent and one American, is making part of its U.S. debut right here in Salem. They have toured Poland and France already. The lone American member is Tom Bergeron, a Western Oregon University music professor. Bergeron hesitates to classify the music that Labrynt plays as strictly “jazz.”

“What we do is unlike what most people think of as ‘jazz,’” he said. “It’s composed music with lots of improvisation.”

And because one of the Polish band members has lived for the past 20 years in France, the band’s influences differ greatly.

“These guys grew up behind the Iron Curtain,” Bergeron said. “The bassist defected shortly before the Berlin wall came down — when it was hard to hear American recordings. They learned what they could about jazz, but there’s a whole Polish improvised music tradition that draws on jazz, classical music, folk music, rock and who knows what else.”

The band cuts through cultural differences and language barriers with music.

“When we first played together, it was completely free, nothing written, just free improvisation,” Bergeron said. “We found that across all that cultural distance we understood each other and liked working together.”

Bergeron does speak French, however, which makes some communication easier.

The band’s Salem performance will showcase their unique sound.

“We play all original music,” Bergeron said. “It’s pretty high energy, but it also covers a wide range of textures and emotions.”

Teal Creak, Bergeron’s production company, has produced the band’s third CD, which is available online at  

The performance, says Bergeron, will be an unusual opportunity for Salem audiences to hear creative musicians from Eastern Europe who are “totally excited about coming to the U.S. for the first time.”