They are insights into the soul, small windows that reveal – each by itself – something about the conceptual world of an extremely exciting, versatile artist. Ganna provides intimate insights, consciously showing off her vulnerable side, which turns out to be a great strength in the context of this colorful album. However, there are still some linguistic hurdles to overcome.
“Dykyi Lys”, the title of the debut CD by Ganna Gryniva, for example, can only be deciphered immediately by those who understand Ukrainian. It means “Wild Fox”. Ganna comes from a small village of 375 inhabitants near the capital Kiev, surrounded by nature as far as the eye and thoughts can go. It was a shock when she arrived Berlin in 2013. Or, as she puts it, “a challenge for someone like me who likes silence. I gradually found quiet, undisturbed places in Berlin, and now I see the city quite differently. I've adapted. The foxes, who roam the streets of Berlin time and again, have done the same. They manage to live here. Yet they are wild animals and will always remain such.”
Wild, adaptable and able to survive, doing what she wants to do and what she can do best, sympathetically stubborn, determined and intelligent – this is Ganna Gryniva, who as the 84th protagonist of the now internationally appreciated talent launch pad of the Jazz thing Next Generation has a kind of special status. Because the singer, composer, pianist, bandleader, side-woman, interdisciplinary performance and free improvisation artist with a focus on life and creation in the German capital does not exclusively seek her own voice with a toolbox of music. She cleverly combines different sensory worlds from jazz and Ukrainian folk to classical and experimental music and dance. And she improvises, preferably with drummer Joe Smith in the duo JOGA, or, as her teacher and mentor Michael Schiefel advised her, with loop station and effects. Eventually Ganna even began to exchange ideas with dancers, such as Linda Berberich at the SURfF Festival in Berlin. And she loves composing. “Turning soaring feelings and thoughts into tangible tones and sounds is what I call magic. For me, improvisation is like real-time composition!”
One of their specialties is to expand lyrics of old folk songs and compose new music for them as in “Witer”. Composing is a form of self-reflection for her, Ganna stated. The artist, who is currently completing her bachelor's degree in improvised singing at the University of Music Franz Liszt in Weimar, likes to use texts written by others. Nadiia Telenchuk, a Ukrainian poet who also lives in Berlin, wrote the verses for “Song For Mons”, while “Rika” comes from her father's pen. She used an excerpt from the well-known poem “Mij Shlyakh” (My Way) by Lesya Ukrainka from 1890 for “Waiting", in which she gives shape to her dream of freedom, equality and fraternity for Ukraine. This is a painfully timeless theme that also comes to life in Lebidonka, where Ganna sings of the Cossacks, those warriors who have dedicated themselves to protecting their homes and loved ones.
Always remain authentic, do not play roles: that is their overriding premise. “The lyrics, the music, the history and the mood have to be in. That's why Ganna chose songs like "Daydreams" and "Sometimes" for the album. It seems that she is constantly looking for new facets that round out her overall picture of things. Work on "Laut!" at the Deutsche Oper began in February 2020; the premiere was postponed to October due to the corona pandemic. Outside the times of crisis, she regularly works with various ensembles and in her own projects, sings in the international Kenneth Dahl Knudsen Modern Lyric Orchestra as well as collaborates with Interlink Music & Dance, Kurt Rosenwinkel and the quintet, which bears her name Ganna. These include tenor saxophonist Musina Ebobissé, who was also number 79 of the Jazz thing Next Generation a year ago, pianist Povel Widestrand, bassist Tom Berkmann and drummer Mathias Ruppnig.
The fox and her pack: They are about to expand their existing territory with “Dykyi Lys”. Because women like Ganna need space to experience their very personal freedom to the fullest.