Mikrokolektyw last played the U.S. at the 2009 Chicago World Music Festival, but in a drastically altered form. Half of the experimental duo remained in Poland, struggling with a crippling fear of air travel.

The first time both Artur Majewski and Kuba Suchar attempted a stateside tour was on Sept. 11, 2001. They were rerouted to Frankfurt on that day and never made it to New York. Suchar has been coping with a flying phobia ever since.

“He did some treatment, and he was OK,” reports Majewski shortly after landing in New York this time around.

This tour represents a kind of spiritual homecoming for Mikrokolektyw (pronounced like “microcollective). Growing up in Wroclaw, Poland, the pair was obsessed with American jazz — including Philly legends Sun Ra Arkestra and John Coltrane. “It all started with two Louie Armstrong cassettes I got from my uncle,” says Majewski. “Let me tell you, that was pretty hard to get in Poland in the ’80s.”

 

More recently, the band has formed a powerful bond with the legendary experimental group Chicago Underground Duo, who had initially encouraged Mikrokolektyw to get together. “When we met them, we — like them — were using a lot of analogue [synth] and other vintage stuff. We had both come to that point very independently, so we really connected,” says Majewski. “But I think some [critics], if they see trumpet and drums with African rhythms, they just automatically say Chicago Underground Duo, and that’s too simplistic.”

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