Climbing to the top of the mountain, quite literally, with Philadelphia bassist and composer Nicholas Krolak

Nicholas Krolak’s new album “Voice = Power” combines his passion for both the world of jazz and the outdoors.

“My life as a climber takes me to wild, untamed, natural places that my life as a musician would never take me,” said Nicholas Krolak on a hot and humid afternoon in June. The Philly bassist and composer should, perhaps, only have his just-released new album on his mind – the follow-up to 2018’s post-be bop “Chicory Root,” that is “Voice = Power.” 

But, with COVID-19 still holding back musicians from playing live gigs on actual stages, climbing – an opportunity to be alone with his thoughts, alone with nature, alone with the gardens of earthly delights – is as unique a feeling to him as the unearthly delights of making post-everything music with “Voice = Power.”

“Touring generally brings me to cities, media markets, and venues, the usual,” he said. “Climbing takes me to places that few know of, far away from all noise. The joy climbing brings me is the same as the joy music brings me. It is the opportunity to focus so intensely that I am able to lose myself, to truly be in the moment.”

That melding of nature, nurture, jazz and vibe – the freedom of it all – is exactly the point of being an artist where Krolak is concerned. And as much as he finds “the usual” of media markets and the business of music tedious, is how glorious and spectral that he finds music itself – jazz and beyond. That is what he most wishes to keep safe from boredom and boardrooms. 

“My inspiration is to combine it all as I see similarities between the jazz world and the outdoors community,” said Krolak. “They’re both trying to protect this thing that is sacred to them… protect it from the interests of consumerism, against the short-sightedness of cashing in.”

As an upright bassist of local renown, Krolak is usually focused on the moody post-bop of his debut, the earthen “Chicory Root.” With “Voice = Power,” however – also the title of his jazz interview podcast – there is freedom, ambiance, flutter, wow, sustainability and abstraction. Oh, and very real beauty.

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