Friday, December 13, 2019

Bipolar Order – Duality (2019)

Bipolar Order

Mateusz Chorazewicz - saxophone
Jakub Zolubak - guitar
Lukasz Ostrowski-Kunert - bass
Maciej Wojcieszuk - drums

Duality

ALLEGRO 039

By Adam Baruch



This is the debut album by Polish Jazz quartet Bipolar Order, which comprises of saxophonist Mateusz Chorazewicz, guitarist Jakub Zolubak, bassist Lukasz Ostrowski-Kunert and drummer Maciej Wojcieszuk. The album presents seven original compositions, four by Chorazewicz and three by Zolubak.

The music floats between mainstream Jazz and Jazz-Rock Fusion, with solid melodic compositions, mostly melancholic and slowly developing, with some Folkloristic influences and even some Free Form moments. There is a significant difference between the more Jazz oriented compositions by Chorazewicz and the Fusion oriented compositions by Zolubak, which is also evident in the continuous conflict between saxophone parts / improvisations and those by the guitar, with the saxophone clinging to Jazz tradition and the guitar pushing towards Fusion. The bass guitar also influences the overall sound, adding to the Fusion feel, which eventually wins the competition. But to be fair, the music is well structured and often way more complex than the "usual" Fusion outings, and as such definitely worth listening to.

It's a pity that the guitarist is overwhelmingly influenced by Fusion heroes, rather than searching for a more individual approach to the instrument, but the future is surely still ahead of him. The saxophone parts are all quite original and beyond reproach, which saves the day. Perhaps the quartet needs to find a stylistic compromise, which will unify the music and focus the musical direction of the future recordings, perhaps something in the direction of the title track, which is by far the most interesting on the album.

Having said all that, the album is still quite impressive considering it’s a debut and taking into account the excellent compositions it presents. It should be of interest to many listeners, especially those who still have not lost hope in the possibility that Fusion can produce interesting music today. All in all well done!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Szymon Sutor - Jazz Septet & String Orchestra (2019)

Szymon Sutor

Szymon Sutor - composer, conductor
Adam Pierończyk - tenor & soprano saxophones
Maciej Grzywacz - guitar
Cezary Paciorek - accordion
Gaba Janusz - voice
Dominik Kisiel - piano
Michał Bąk - double bass
Patryk Dobosz - drums
with string orchestra

Jazz Septet & String Orchestra

SUTOR MUSIC 2019

By Krzysztof Komorek

Kompozytor, aranżer, dyrygent, pianista. Tak sam opisuje siebie Szymon Sutor. "Jazz Septet & String Orchestra" jest pierwszym albumem, który firmuje swoim nazwiskiem. Jednak trudno mówić, że jest debiutantem absolutnym. Liczne kompozycje do spektakli teatralnych i filmów, nagrody – między innymi dwukrotnie podczas Międzynarodowego Konkursu Kompozytorskiego im. Krzysztofa Komedy – zaangażowanie w wiele, zróżnicowanych projektów muzycznych, współpraca ze znakomitościami świata jazzu, klasyki i muzyki rozrywkowej, świadczą o pokaźnym doświadczeniu, jakie już udało mu się zdobyć. 

Słuchacza może zaskoczyć skala przedsięwzięcia wybrana na debiutancki album. Jednak poznawszy biografię artysty,  można było takiej właśnie decyzji się domyślić. Duże formy stanowią ewidentnie pasję Sutora. Wspomniane już prace dla teatru, cztero-częściowa msza "Missa de Beata Maria Virgine", współautorstwo wykonanej premierowo podczas szczytu klimatycznego ONZ 2018 w Katowicach kompozycji "The Lost Seasons" inspirowanej "Czterema porami roku" Vivaldiego, wreszcie prowadzenie własnej orkiestry rozrywkowej, stanowią najważniejsze składniki jego artystycznego curriculum vitae. 

Właśnie połączeniem jazzu, klasyki i muzyki rozrywkowej cechuje się debiutancki album Szymona Sutora. Jazzowy septet w doborowym składzie wspaniale równoważy się z 24-osobową orkiestrą smyczkową. Stricte jazzowe fragmenty przeplatają się z muzyką, która znakomicie sprawdziła by się w charakterze ilustracyjnym. Wśród smyczków znaleźć można znakomitych solistów (Tomasz Chyła). Z kolei septetem dowodzi Adam Pierończyk, który – według zamieszczonych na płycie podziękowań – był dobrym duchem całego projektu przez cały czas jego powstawania. 

I to solówki saksofonów wyróżniają się na ogół z jazzowych fragmentów całego albumu. Najciekawiej brzmi tu "Ceper", gdzie interesująco przeplata się gra właśnie saksofonu, perkusji i fortepianu. Oszczędnie, ale równie świetnie wplatają się w muzyczną narrację wokalizy. Pewnym wyjątkiem jest bonusowy "Monday". Delikatna ballada, niemal w całości oddana we władanie fortepianowi, który przez długie fragmenty prezentuje się solowo, niekiedy tylko dopuszczając delikatny szmer smyczków w tle. Bardzo interesujący debiut w oryginalnej, dość mało eksploatowanej w naszym kraju jazzowo-symfonicznej formule. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Beat Freaks – Stay Calm (2019)

The Beat Freaks

Michał Starkiewicz - guitar
Tomasz Licak - saxophone
Paweł Grzesiuk - bass
Radek Wośko - drums

Stay Calm

PRIVATE EDITION 5707471065136

By Adam Baruch


This is the second album by Polish ensemble The Beat Freaks comprising of guitarist Michal Starkiewicz, saxophonist Tomasz Licak, bassist Pawel Grzesiuk and drummer Radek Wosko. The album presents thirteen original compositions, eight of which were composed by Starkiewicz, two by Licak, one by Wosko and two were co-composed by all four members of the quartet. The album was recorded at the excellent Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki.

The quartet's debut album recorded three years earlier (2016) left me with mixed feelings and I am happy to say that this one is a significant improvement, especially as far as the compositions are concerned, as well as the guitar playing, which works this time without a hitch. Also the superb recording quality improves the overall coherence of the music, with less harshness and excellent separation, making every little nuance audible.

The music is all melody based, Fusion oriented contemporary Jazz and offers some excellent guitar / saxophone interplay supported by a steady and solid rhythm section. Licak is the primary soloist, but Starkiewicz follows suit time after time with a nicely balanced guitar tone, which manages to shake off most of its Fusion mannerisms that prevailed earlier on, and offers heartfelt guitar soli. Their unisono parts, which then develop into a saxophone / guitar conversations is the central feature of this album. Overall this is an album which can be enjoyed by a wide Jazz / Fusion audience, especially guitar enthusiasts, who should be able find many interesting licks here. Definitely worth investigation!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Klara Cloud & The Vultures – Vauna (2019)

Klara Cloud & The Vultures

Sylwia Klara Zasempa - vocals
Barosz Dworak - violin
Mateusz Gaweda - piano
Adam Tadel - bass
Piotr Budniak - drums
Sebastian Kuchczynski - drums

Vauna

CHALLENGE 73476

By Adam Baruch



This is the debut album by young Polish Jazz ensemble Klara Cloud & The Vultures which comprises of vocalist Sylwia Klara Zasempa, violinist Bartosz Dworak, pianist Mateusz Gaweda, bassist Adam Tadel and drummers Piotr Budniak and Sebastian Kuchczynski. Legendary guitarist Apostolis Anthimos guests on one track. The album presents ten tracks, eight of which are original compositions mostly by Zasempa and some created with the help of the entire ensemble (the two instrumental tracks) and finally two are traditional. Most of the lyrics are also by Zasempa. The subject matter of the album refers to Nature, wildlife and harmonious coexistence. The music was recorded at the excellent Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki, with the usual superb sound quality.

The music offers a fascinating concept, combing Jazz-World Music Fusion with Free Jazz, which is quite striking. Although Polish Jazz often sources Slavic music, typical Polish melancholy and Polish Folklore, amalgamating it usually with original mainstream Jazz, but rather rarely so with more adventurous forms, which makes this music immediately outstanding. This does not mean that the music loses contact with melody per se, but the improvisations offer a wide range of freedom, both rhythmically and harmonically, which are not usually found within the Jazz-World Fusion idiom.

Dworak and Gaweda, who are amongst the most celebrated young Polish Jazz players, have plenty of opportunity to show their chops on this album, standing up to the expectations in full. The reinforced rhythm section, with the polyrhythmic double drums (in stereo) and solid bass pulsations, pushes the music steadily forward and serves as an anchor for the listener to keep his bearings. The guitar solo by Anthimos on the final track is simply divine.

Of course the vocals are the epicenter of this music and Zasempa stands up to the challenge with flying colors. She keeps to the basics, avoiding unnecessary theatrics and meanderings, and invests directly in the delivery of the lyrics, often improvising in the process. She does not use vocalese extensively, preferring to "play with the words" rather than with the sounds, but when she does, it works perfectly and hopefully will be used more in future projects. Zasempa is a "total" musician, being obviously the leader, the composer, the lyricist and the main soloist – Woman power incarnate.

Overall this is a beautiful piece of music, excellently put together and executed, original, ambitious and intelligent. Definitely one of the most interesting Polish Jazz releases of 2019. It is also the fifth album by young Polish Jazz musicians to be released on the prestigious Dutch Challenge label, which proves that this music is being recognized beyond the local market and steadily captures the position it truly deserves. Well done Lady and Gentlemen!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Festiwal Jazz & Literatura 2019


Osiem koncertów oraz dwa wydarzenia: literackie i edukacyjno-artystyczne. 7 września, jako zapowiedź V edycji festiwalu Jazz & Literatura, w Muzeum Zamkowym w Pszczynie wystąpił wybitny argentyński pianista i kompozytor Julio Mazziotti. Faktyczna inauguracja festiwalu - recital fortepianowy legendy jazzu, mistrza improwizacji Adama Makowicza - odbyła się 6 października w postindustrialnej przestrzeni chorzowskiej Sztygarki. W Chorzowskim Centrum Kultury zagrało Kasia Pietrzko Trio, porywające Dock In Absolute z Wielkiego Księstwa Luksemburga i polsko-japoński kwartet Tomasza Dąbrowskiego Ad Hoc Ninjazz wystąpili w Miejskim Domu Kultury Batory. Literacki akcent pojawił się w nietuzinkowych tekstach zespołu MÓW (Starochorzowski Dom Kultury) oraz w autorskich piosenkach duetu Bolewski & Tubis (Park Tradycji w Siemianowicach Śląskich). Organizatorzy przygotowali literacką niespodziankę we współpracy z Wolnością Czytania 2019, a także przedstawili wernisaż "Niezwykłe historie z Polski i Japonii" dzięki uprzejmości Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha z Krakowa.

Festiwal Jazz & Literatura jest wspólną inicjatywą Miejskiego Domu Kultury Batory reprezentowanego przez Dyrektora Sylwestra Paprockiego oraz Agencji New Talents’ Resources Marzena Anioł i powstał w porozumieniu z Miastem Chorzów. Współorganizatorami tegorocznej edycji byli: Miasto Chorzów, Muzeum Zamkowe w Pszczynie – Instytucja Kultury Samorządu Województwa Śląskiego, Chorzowskie Centrum Kultury, Kompleks Sztygarka, Starochorzowski Dom Kultury, Siemianowickie Centrum Kultury - Park Tradycji, Wolność Czytania oraz Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha z Krakowa .

Przedstawiamy krótką fotorelacją z wybranych wydarzeń festiwalu.

                                            Julio Mazziotti

                               Adam Makowicz (fot. Jarek Rerych)

                           Adam Makowicz (fot. Jarek Rerych)

                                                 MÓW

                     Tomasz Dąbrowski Ad Hoc (fot. Kinga Brzezicka)

                            Dock In Absolute (fot. Anna Wietecha)

                         Dock In Absolute (fot. Anna Wietecha)

                                         Bolewski & Tubis

                                           Bolewski & Tubis

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Soundcheck – Martin Luther: Suite For Jazz Quartet (2019)

Soundcheck

Maciej Kocinski - saxophone
Krzysztof Dys - piano
Andrzej Swies - bass
Kszysztof Szmanda - drums

Martin Luther: Suite For Jazz Quartet



AUDIO CAVE 2019/012

By Adam Baruch


This is the fifth (although by my count the sixth) album by the excellent Polish Jazz quartet Soundcheck led by saxophonist / composer Maciej Kocinski with pianist Krzysztof Dys, bassist Andrzej Swies and drummer Krzysztof Szmanda. It presents a six-part suite dedicated to the great reformist Martin Luther and one additional bonus tracks, all composed by the leader.

The album marks the return to "active duty" by the quartet, which was almost completely absent from the scene in the last seven years of so, with their last recordings dated 2012 (including also Kocinski's debut solo album recorded and released that same year). Since their formation in 2002 and the release of their debut album on 2005, Soundcheck experienced a meteoric rise to stardom, reaching the status of one of the very best young Polish / European Jazz ensembles, and therefore their disappearance from the scene was as mysterious as it was heartrending. I was glad to see Kocinski's name popping up on two Polish Jazz albums recorded in 2018, and this album under the quartet's moniker is a happy occasion, although the music was recorded back in 2015 and was a part of Kocinski's Ph.D. thesis rather than a planned full fledged release. In the liner notes Kocinski talks about his emotional and intellectual involvement with Luther's ideas and teachings, both those about the religious and the social ideology behind the reformation.

Musically the album is noticeably more reflective and reserved that the quartet's earlier work, full of lyrical melodic themes, which are slowly developed by the quartet. It is also more constrained and allows less free improvisation, mostly staying on a firm melodic ground. The individual performances by the quartet members, although as brilliant as always, are less extrovert and flashy, displaying mostly concentration and elegance. Make no mistake, these are some of Polish Jazz best players today, but this recording in definitely not intended to show off and speaks strongly to true connoisseurs rather than Jazz adventurers.

Personally I love this music, but considering the rapid progress and the incredible level of contemporary Polish Jazz scene, its density, competitiveness and incredible overflow of superb recordings, this album could be endangered by the tendency to be overlooked. Seven years in such circumstances could be significant and Jazz "critics" / listeners unfamiliar with the quartet's legacy and Artistic scope could probably miss the point, as it happens way too often. Hopefully that will not happen in this case. Glad to see you back, hoping for a real new album to be recorded and released ASAP and wishing you all the best, as always. What a great soundcheck this is ;)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Andrzej Kowalski Quartet – Abstrakt (2019)

Andrzej Kowalski Quartet

Andrzej Kowalski - guitar, piano
Robert Wypasek - saxophones, piano, synth
Jan Wierzbicki - bass
Adam Wajdzik - drums

Abstrakt



EBS GROUP RECORDS

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by young Polish Jazz guitarist/composer Andrzej Kowalski recorded in a quartet setting with saxophonist Robert Wypasek, bassist Jan Wierzbicki and drummer Adam Wajdzik. The album presents nine original compositions, all by Kowalski. It was recorded at the excellent Monochrom Studio and offers a high sound quality.

The music is excellent modern mainstream Fusion, based on solid compositions which incorporate melodic themes and quite unusual rhythmic structures, creating a dynamically diverse atmosphere of tension. The compositions are way more complex than the average Fusion material and certainly more sophisticated and intelligently weaved.

These four young musicians share the responsibility for the music the quartet produces quite equally, which is rather unusual. Although the guitar and the saxophone deliver most of the soloing, as expected, the rhythm section is also constantly busy with laying out the complex pulsations and quirky tempi changes, all clearly audible for the entire duration of the music, as well as soloing impressively.

Overall this is a surprising and unusual debut album, which manages to step outside of the conventional Fusion frameset by adding more freedom, both harmonically and rhythmically, rejuvenating the somewhat stale genre and proving that it is still able to astonish the listener. The level of performances by these young musicians proves again that the Polish Jazz scene enjoys an incredible surge of juvenile blood transfusion into its veins, which keeps it alive and sparkling.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Sabina Meck Sextet feat. Wojciech Myrczek - Słowo Na T - premiera 29.11.2019


Sabina Meck - śpiew
Łukasz Kokoszko - gitara
Przemysław Chmiel - saksofon
Michał Jakubczak - fortepian
Piotr Narajowski - kontrabas
Szymon Madej - perkusja
Gościnnie: Wojciech Myrczek - śpiew


"Słowo Na T" to tytuł trzeciego z kolei albumu wokalistki Sabiny Meck, zawierającego jej kompozycje do własnych tekstów, tym razem polskich. Muzyka na płycie korzysta z elementów charakterystycznych dla jazzu, lecz wychodzi poza jego ramy, nawiązując do innych stylów muzycznych, nierzadko tak odległych od siebie jak rock i muzyka klasyczna. Forma kompozycji zbliżona jest do piosenek. Zamysłem twórczym było zestawienie prostych melodii ze ściśle zaaranżowanymi partiami akompaniamentu, a także pozostawienie przestrzeni do improwizacji, która daje możliwość ukazania indywidualności każdego z muzyków sekstetu.

Sabina Meck (a.k.a. Sabina Myrczek) jest wokalistką, kompozytorką, aranżerką, producentką i autorką tekstów. Ukończyła kompozycję i aranżację w Instytucie Jazzu Akademii Muzycznej im. Karola Szymanowskiego w Katowicach. W 2017 roku otrzymała Stypendium Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego za wybitne osiągnięcia artystyczne. Wiosną 2016 roku, ukazał się debiutancki album solowy Sabiny, zatytułowany "Love is Here" (For-Tune). Na płycie znalazły się autorskie kompozycje wokalistki. Sabina Meck otrzymała nominację do nagrody Fryderyk 2017 w kategorii Fonograficzny Debiut Roku, Muzyka Jazzowa. Laureatka I nagrody w konkursie Blue Note Poznań Competiton (2014) w kategorii wokalnej. 

W 2015 roku, wraz z założonym przez siebie zespołem Soundmeck, zdobyła Grand Prix na festiwalu Grupa Azoty Jazz International Contest w Tarnowie. Jury przyznało Sabinie również indywidualną nagrodę specjalną - Największy Talent Festiwalu. Jesienią tego samego roku, otrzymała II miejsce w IX Konkursie Kompozytorskim im. Krzysztofa Komedy w Słupsku, w kategorii "temat jazzowy", za utwór "A part of me". W kwietniu 2017 roku, nakładem Agencji Muzycznej Polskiego Radia, ukazał się album "Eruption," prowadzonego przez Sabinę zespołu SoundMeck. W listopadzie 2019 roku, pojawi się trzeci album wokalistki, z muzyką autorską, nagrany w formacji Sabina Meck Sextet.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Michał Ciesielski – Share Location (2019)

Michał Ciesielski

Michał Ciesielski - piano

Share Location

SOLITON 986






By Adam Baruch

This is the second album under his name by Polish Jazz pianist/composer Michał Ciesielski and also his second solo piano outing, same as his debut recorded in 2012. The album presents nine original compositions, all by Ciesielski.

The music offers a melodic journey inspired by the places in the composer's life and telling an autobiographical story about his road to maturity. The youthful and full of enthusiasm compositions present on his debut album are replaced by a much more serious and insightful explorations. Although still beautifully melodic, the music is more complex and requires attentive listening in order to be fully appreciated. Polish folkloristic motifs are also strongly present in the music, which seem to be an organic part of many Polish Jazz compositions one way or another.

Same can be said about the piano playing, which is much more concentrated and even minimalist at times, often closer to Classical Music than Jazz. Obviously Ciesielski does not need to prove himself as a talented pianist any more after playing and recording extensively over the years, and this recording enables him to concentrate on his own Artistic expression at its most intimate naked truth.

Overall this is a splendid collection of wonderful compositions, which offer highly melodic themes and lyrical atmospheric vistas, beautifully performed by the composer. The entire album is coherently put together and presents an opportunity to get familiar with the work of one of Poland's promising young composers, who is making a constant progress on his musical path. It is best to leave the music to speak for itself.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Joanna Bejm – Jesteś (2019)

Joanna Bejm

Joanna Bejm - vocals
Rafał Stępień - keyboards
Marcin Skaba - violin
Wojciech Pulcyn - bass
Sebastian Frankiewicz - drums

Jesteś

SOLITON 972


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish vocalist/songwriter Joanna Bejm recorded with a Jazz trio consisting of keyboardist Rafał Stępień, bassist Wojciech Pulcyn and drummer Sebastian Frankiewicz. Violinist Marcin Skaba plays on six tracks and several additional guests participate on selected tracks. The album presents ten original songs, all composed by Bejm or co-composed by her and Skaba. All the lyrics are by Polish poetess Halina Poświatowska, one of Poland's most striking literary figures. As such the album falls comfortably within the Polish Jazz & Poetry idiom.

As someone familiar with Poświatowska's poetry I admit approaching this album with great anticipation mixed with some trepidation, considering the depth and intellectual complexity of the literary layer. I am glad to say that Bejm managed to embrace the poetry with considerable talent and respect, carefully selecting the poems and dressing them in appropriate musical attire. There is always a danger that profound literary work could be trivialized by inappropriate musical treatment, which sadly does happen from time to time, but certainly did not happen in this case.

The music is, as expected, full of typical Polish melancholy and lyrical emotionality, which Polish Jazz warmly embraces on a day to day level, but in particular within the Jazz & Poetry projects. Low key ballads with slow intrinsic motion are like a gentle wind carrying the words like yellow autumn leaves. The deep sadness, which characterizes the poetry, is somewhat softened by the music, making it perhaps more approachable to the listeners.

The instrumental parts are all excellent, as expected from these seasoned veterans. The rhythm section is steady like a rock and sensitive like velvet, Stępień is a superb player both on the acoustic piano and the electric keyboards, always playing only what is truly needed and his piano soli are the cherry on top. The guests add their part amicably and the entire album offers a coherent musical continuity.

Bejm manages the vocal parts with respect and restrain, which of course is ideal in this case. She is an instrument delivering the poems, which are the focus of this album and she cleverly eschews unnecessary theatrics, which would have spoiled the magic. Considering the fact that this is her debut album, she does a remarkable job.

The only small criticism I could think of is the packaging of the album, which sadly does not include the printed version of the poems – an addition that as a Jazz & Poetry buff I consider absolutely necessary. Of course there are copyright issues, etc, but it would have been nice to have them. Overall this is a beautiful piece of Art, an absolute must for all Jazz & Poetry lovers around the world, even those who are not native Polish speakers – the music transcends language barriers. Well done Milady!

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