Sunday, August 9, 2020

Pimpono Ensemble - Survival Kit (2020)

Pimpono Ensemble

Jędrzej Łagodziński - tenor saxophone
Michał Biel - baritone saxophone
Rafał Różalski - double bass
Szymon Gąsiorek - drums, OP-Z, vocal
and others

Survival Kit


By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by the Pimpono Ensemble, a Copenhagen based group of Polish, Danish and Norwegian musicians, led by Polish drummer/composer Szymon Gąsiorek (a.k.a. Pimpon), which also includes trumpeter Jonas Due, saxophonists Jędrzej Łagodziński and Michał Biel, tuba player Rasmus Svale, and bassists Jonatan Uranes and Rafał Różalski. A couple of guests take part in the proceedings. The album presents ten original compositions, all by the leader.

The music follows some of the ideas put forward on the brilliant debut album, presenting highly original music, which mixes Jazz sophistication with Rock energy and Avant-Garde improvisations, creating a big, impressive sound and a continuous surge of creativity. Although this lineup of the ensemble (a septet) is smaller than the one performing on the debut (a nonet) there seems to be no less power of expression and utilizing of the available instruments to create a kaleidoscope of sounds, and a rich tapestry of soundscapes, which is extremely effective

As I have already stated in my review of the debut album, this music is first and foremost a reflection of the unique compositional skills of Gąsiorek, which is often as bold and forward thinking as what Frank Zappa was doing with his ensembles decades ago. Luckily the composer is able to find musicians, who are able to follow his ideas and put them into reality, which considering the complexity and diversity of this music is nothing short of miraculous.

I must admit that in retrospect this album impresses me even more than the shocking debut released four years earlier. The music is more concise, coherent and mature, and honestly has almost no parallels among what is currently being created within the Jazz idiom worldwide, pointing towards what Jazz is able to accomplish based on its tradition but firmly and boldly pushing the boundaries.

Overall this is one of those albums that immediately deliver a merciless punch in your solar plexus and you remain stunned for quite a while. Sadly it will most probably not be properly appreciated by the audiences, as happens with the best music time after time, but who gives a damn? This is unequivocally a masterpiece and anybody missing listening to this music is a fool!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Singer Jazz Festival 2020 !!!

Jazzowe ogniwo warszawskiego Festiwalu Kultury Żydowskiej od ponad dziesięciu lat przyciąga koneserów tego gatunku muzyki. W tym roku wystąpią zarówno legendarni artyści, jak i młodzi twórcy, poszukujący nowych brzmień i sprawnie łączący różne gatunki muzyki pod wspólnym jazzowym mianownikiem. Większość koncertów dostępnych będzie także w transmisjach online.

Singer Jazz Festival otworzy w poniedziałek 24 sierpnia Włodek Pawlik Trio koncertem "Od Gershwina do Weilla". Słynnemu pianiście towarzyszyć będą: Paweł Pańta (kontrabas) i Cezary Konrad (perkusja). Ten koncert to spotkanie klasycznych kompozycji z mistrzowską interpretacją. W wydarzeniu tym będzie można uczestniczyć zarówno na żywo w Synagodze im. Nożyków, jak i w wersji online.

Innym ważnym gościem festiwalu będzie Francesco Bruno, również znany już i bardzo ceniony w Polsce. Włoski gitarzysta i kompozytor wystąpi kilkakrotnie - z własną grupą oraz z kilkoma polskimi składami. Jego pierwszy koncert "Blue Sky Above The Dreamers" odbędzie się 27 sierpnia w Synagodze im. Nożyków. Gitarzyście towarzyszyć będą: Pierpaolo Principato (piano), Alessandro Marzi (perkusja) i Fabrizio Cucco (gitara basowa). Również ten koncert udostępniony będzie kanałami wirtualnymi. Francesco Bruno wystąpi dwukrotnie w Hard Rock Cafe: 28 sierpnia z trio Jachna/Kądziela/Gwadera i z Jerzy Małek Trio oraz 29 sierpnia na Scenie Letniej Teatru Żydowskiego z grupą Szymon Łukowski Trio. Osoby zainteresowane osobą i twórczością tego włoskiego muzyka mogą uczestniczyć w spotkaniu, które odbędzie suę 29 sierpnia w Teatrze Żydowskim na ulicy Senatorskiej.

Warto pamiętać o niezwykle ekspresyjnym i wyrazistym saksofoniście oraz kompozytorze litewskim - Liudasie Mockūnasie. Jego twórczość łączy jazz i muzykę klasyczną, bo artysta jest wielbicielem obu tych obszarów. Na warszawskim festiwalu stworzy niezwykły projekt muzyczny z Mikołajem Trzaską. Wystąpią z nimi Paweł Szpura (perkusja) i Jacek Mazurkiewicz (kontrabas). Koncert odbędzie się 29 sierpnia w klubie Pardon ToTu

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Tomasz Pawlicki - Baśniowe Gry (Trial) (2019)

Tomasz Pawlicki

Tomasz Pawlicki - flute, piano, double bass, percussion, voice
Filip Lipski - violin
Wojciech Jachna - trumpet
Zbigniew Kozber - guitar
Łukasz Rafiński - flugelhorn
Jacek Buhl - drums
and others

Baśniowe Gry (Trial)


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut solo album by Polish flautist / multi-instrumentalist / composer Tomasz Pawlicki, recorded with the help of seven additional Polish instrumentalists from various genres, including trumpeter Wojciech Jachna, drummer Jacek Buhl and others, each appearing on between one and four of the tracks. The album presents twelve original compositions, all by Pawlicki.

The music is a minimalist, chamber Jazz-Classical Fusion presented by the relatively short pieces, which although unrelated melodically, can be easily conceived as parts of a suite like coherent whole. Since Pawlicki is usually associated with the Polish Avant-Garde Jazz scene, this music seems at times somewhat "tame", but it is in fact a logical continuation of his work with the Ecstasy Project ensemble or the trio with Rafał Gorzycki and Jakub Ziołek.

Both the compositions and the performances are brilliant all the way through and although this music is targeted towards the more refined audiences, it can be enjoyed by a relatively wide range of listeners from the Avant-Garde contemporary Classical Music and/or Jazz echelons to any member of the open-minded and curious public. The subtle use of electronics adds another interesting layer to the music, without changing the overall chamber effect.

I have enjoyed immensely listening to this unusual, ambitious and beautiful music, with the solo violin piece played by Filip Lipski being my favorite piece on this album. But all the music offers a highly aesthetic experience and deserves to be heard by as many people as possible. Definitely well done!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Consonance Trio - Orient Express (2020)

The Consonance Trio

Max Fedorov - piano
Piotr Chociej - bass
Wojciech Bronakowski - drums

Orient Express

QUALITY 5906728485011

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by The Consonance Trio, which consists of Ukrainian (resident in Poland) pianist Max Fedorov and Polish bassist Piotr Chociej and drummer Wojciech Bronakowski. The album presents nine compositions, one in two (studio and live) versions. The live version features bassist Karol Sypytkowski, who was the trio's founding member and died tragically and unexpectedly and was replaced by Chociej. The compositions are not credited on the album's artwork and therefore are assumed to be by the trio members. The music was recorded at the Monochrom Studio and offers a great sound quality.

The music is all melodic mainstream Jazz on the verge of Smooth Jazz, based on very simple melodic themes, which serve as basis for the piano improvisations, which dominate the album, with some occasional soloing by the rhythm section members. It offers very little, if any, intellectual challenge and is pretty derivative and repetitive. Fedorov plays very percussively and at times the piano seems to be almost suffering from the barrage of notes. Chociej is much more refined and calm, offering steady bottom lines, which harmonically keep the music together. Bronakowski tries to initiate some "exotic" rhythmic patterns ("oriental"?) but these efforts fail to go anywhere near the target.

Overall, in spite of the obvious technical skills by the trio members, the music is rather soulless and pretentious, and after a while really annoying. Of course this is only me, but there is little chance I'd ever play this album again.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Szmańda/Nubiola/Mazurkiewicz - Ten Plagues (2020)


Luis Nubiola - alto saxophone
Jacek Mazurkiewicz - double bass
Krzysztof Szmańda - drums
Philip South - percussion (1,2)

Ten Plagues


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by a trio consisting of Cuban (resident in Poland) saxophonist Luis Nubiola and Polish bassist Jacek Mazurkiewicz and drummer Krzysztof Szmańda. Percussionist Philip South guests on a couple of tracks. The album present five original pieces co-credited to the participating musicians. The very short total playing time (under half an hour) makes this an EP rather than a full album.

Nubiola, who is usually associated with Cuban/Latin Jazz, fits perfectly with the two veteran improvisers, creating an interesting series of spontaneous free pieces, which sound natural. His wonderfully worm saxophone tone is a nice twist, and manages to create just the right kind of interplay with the rhythm section.

The music is completely improvised, but has a strict melodic sub context, which makes it easily accessible to a wide range of listeners. It is also quite minimalist and subdued, which creates a delicate, emotional mood. All three musicians play wonderfully, being veterans of the trade, and the intimate setting enables their individual contributions to be heard clearly. Overall this sounds like a friendly experiment, which hopefully will lead to a bona fide full album soon. In the meantime we can enjoy this short foreteller and wait for the next one.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Podpora/Kohyt - Nights Are Numbered (2020)


Katarzyna Podpora - prepared piano, accordion, violin, moog theremin, objects
Max Kohyt - piano, double bass, bass clairnet, ukulele, electronics

Nights Are Numbered


By Andrzej Nowak

Warszawski Bocian dostarcza ostatnimi czasy nowości płytowe dość regularnie i nic w tym zakresie nie zmieniła rzeczywistość pandemiczna. Kolejną przygodę z improwizacją, na ogół dość swobodną, ponownie w wersji krajowej, proponują nam: Katarzyna Podpora - piano preparacje, akordeon, skrzypce, moog theremin, obiekty oraz Max Kohyt - fortepian, kontrabas, klarnet basowy, ukulele, elektronika. 

Muzycy określają swoje dwa utwory (łącznie mniej niż 37 minut) mianem kompozycji, choć zdaje się, że składają się one głównie z wątków… improwizowanych. Jakkolwiek ilość dźwięków, jakie produkują w tzw. jednostce czasu, sugeruje, iż nagranie nie powstało w czasie rzeczywistym, albowiem bardzo często słyszymy dźwięki trzech, a nawet czterech instrumentów, tudzież wątków dramaturgicznych snutych w tym samym momencie. Jeśli zaś nagranie jednak powstało na żywo, jedynym wytłumaczeniem naszego dysonansu poznawczego może być fakt, iż każdy z muzyków posiada więcej niż dwie kończyny górne lub nad wyraz sprawne kończyny dolne, zdolne grać na instrumentach. Efekt wszakże jest dalece frapujący, a swoboda kreacji i budowania dramaturgicznego napięcia zdecydowanie stanowią atut zarówno duetu, jak i każdego instrumentalisty z osobna.

Pierwsza opowieść toczy się wokół fortepianowych preparacji. Muzycy zaczynają w estetyce bardzo minimalistycznej, z czasem przebywa jednak dźwięków, rośnie ilość użytych instrumentów i spiętrzeń dramaturgicznych. Wyważone "chamber", które lubi tajemniczość i suspens, zaczyna w toku budowania opowieści pokazywać pazurki i szukać zaczepki. Filigranowa fauna swobodnej improwizacji nabiera masy, choć muzycy, tak teraz, jak w trakcie całego nagrania, bardziej lubią dźwiękowe niuanse i szczegóły od ekspresyjnych salw emocji. Feeria słonych i matowych fonii podawanych wszakże z rozwagą, nie bez dobrych korelacji z dźwiękami, które wybrzmiały chwilę wcześniej. 

Druga strona winyla odstawia nieco masywne fortepiany i bardziej koncentruje się na budowaniu aury elektroakustycznej. Znów wszystko czynione jest tu ze smakiem, pewną kobiecą wrażliwością, z daleko od epatowania dźwiękami prostej syntetyki. Pojawią się brzmienia strunowe, do gry na moment wchodzi akordeon, nie brakuje dźwięków post-perkusjonalnych, a także akcentów akustycznej plądrofonii. W końcowej części nagrania swoje trzy grosze dokłada kontrabas wyposażony w nadpobudliwy smyczek. Ostatnia zaś prosta należy już wyłącznie do mooga, który buduje końcowe resume.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Marcin Wądołowski - Chamber Avenue (2020)

Marcin Wądołowski

Marcin Wądołowski - guitar
Piotr Lemańczyk - double bass
Marta Różańska - oboe
with Neo Quartet

Chamber Avenue

DUX 1539

By Adam Baruch

This is the sixth album by Polish guitarist/composer Marcin Wądołowski, which continues his new path of bringing together Jazz and Chamber Classical Music influences. He is accompanied by his faithful cohort and extraordinary bassist Piotr Lemańczyk, oboist Marta Różańska and the Neoquartet string quartet. The album presents nine pieces, five of which are original compositions by Wądołowski and four are Classical pieces, two each by Frederic Chopin and Jacques Berthier, all arranged by Wądołowski. Same as its predecessor, the duo album with Lemańczyk "Preludes For Guitar And Double Bass", this album was beautifully recorded by Piotr Łukaszewski and considering the fact that this is a live recording, the result is simply phenomenal.

During the decade that passed since the recording of his debut album, Wądołowski took his followers on a wonderful and highly unusual ride, which crossed such distinct genres as Rock, Blues, Fusion and Jazz, finally arriving at the footsteps of Classical Music. This process of searching reflects just one of Wądołowski's many qualities, all plainly visible/audible on this album: fabulous guitarist, wonderful composer and a person of refined music aesthetics.

The original compositions are all superb examples of Wądołowski's skill to create gems encapsulating melody, harmony and song weaving talent. His arrangements of the music composed by others follow suit, making the entire album sound brilliantly coherent and enjoyable, without compromising an iota of quality.

The performances are, as expected, also perfect, and fondly reminiscent of the a.m. duo album. Lemanczyk, one of the absolutely top Polish bassists, is a virtuoso in every cell of his body and every touch of his fingers on the strings generates pure magic. Wądołowski also plays wonderfully, with great sensitivity, feeling and emotion, and his improvisations, which still show a shadow of the Blues from time to time, are absolutely heartwarming.

Overall this is a brilliant album, full of excellent music and sublime performances, which should deeply move every true music connoisseur on this globe, regardless of their genre affiliations. Great taste and professionalism like this are rare and should be cherished. Hats off!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Emil Miszk & The Sonic Syndicate - Artificial Stupidity (2020)

Emil Miszk & The Sonic Syndicate

Emil Miszk - trumpet
Kuba Więcek - alto saxophone
Piotr Chęcki - tenor saxophone
Paweł Niewiadomski - trombone
Szymon Burnos - piano
Michał Zienkowski - guitar
Konrad Żołnierek - bass
Sławek Koryzno - drums

Artificial Stupidity


By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish Jazz trumpeter / composer / bandleader Emil Miszk and his octet called Sonic Syndicate, which also includes saxophonists Piotr Chęcki and Kuba Więcek, trombonist Paweł Niewiadomski, pianist Szymon Burnos, guitarist Michal Zienkowski, bassist Konrad Żołnierek and drummer Sławomir Koryzno, same lineup as on the debut. The album presents six original compositions, which strangely are not credited on the album's artwork and are therefore assumed to be all by the leader. The total playing time of the album is just below thirty-five minutes, which is closer to an EP than a full album.

The brilliant debut album released a couple of years earlier created enormously high expectations from the sophomore release, which are almost impossible to be fulfilled. Considering the fact that the music on this album is significantly different from that on its predecessor, any attempt to compare the two is practically fruitless. Combined with loosing the element of surprise, the resulting effect is somewhat less exciting.

Nevertheless this is still brilliant music, beautifully performed by some of the best young generation Polish Jazz musicians. The compositions are complex and combine several melodic and rhythmic themes within each of the pieces. They are all carefully designed, ordered and planned, cerebral and refined, oriented towards the "big sound" the octet is able to create, at times offering up-to-date Big Band mannerisms.

There is no doubt that Miszk and his Sonic Syndicate offer some of the cleverest music on the Polish Jazz scene, which can eventually lead to some level of estrangement with the audience. This album, as already mentioned, has a short playing time, but is so intensive and demanding that perhaps any additional material might have been simply over the top. Miszk obviously gives up almost completely his role as an instrumentalist and is completely absorbed by his role of a composer and arranger.

Overall this is a dazzling piece of music, which concentrates on highly complex, sophisticated compositions, which are difficult to follow but highly rewarding to advanced Jazz listeners. The (almost) orchestral arrangements are devilishly tricky and must have been a real challenge to perform and record, which makes me wonder if this music is possible to be played live. In any case Miszk is surely an Artist to be watched closely, as he obviously is just worming up.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Anomalia - Anomalia (2020)


Kacper Krupa - tenor saxophone
Krzysztof Kuśmierek - soprano saxophone
Patryk Rynkiewicz - trumpet
Adam Kurek - trombone
Fryderyk Szulgit - guitar
Piotr Cienkowski - double bass
Stanisław Aleksandrowicz - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the Polish Jazz septet Anomalia comprising of saxophonists Krzysztof Kuśmierek and Kacper Krupa, trumpeter Patryk Rynkiewicz, trombonist Adam Kurek, guitarist Fryderyk Szulgit, bassist Piotr Cienkowski and drummer Stanisław Aleksandrowicz hailing from the Poznań music scene. Krupa, Cienkowski and Aleksandrowicz are members of the Kwaśny Deszcz trio. The album presents six original compositions, two by Krupa and one each by Rynkiewicz, Szulgit, Krupa and Kuśmierek, although the album's artwork also credits the entire group as co-composers.

The music is based on rough melody themes and then improvised at length featuring individual extended soloing by the septet members. The approach moves between heavy septet sound, with powerful horn section playing riffs and more delicate fragments where the soloists are accompanied more sparsely by the rhythm section. It includes many diverse approaches, which include hypnotic repetition, almost Rocky riffing, group improvisation, unisono brass parts, and other tricks of the trade. If not for the Free Form improvisation the album often sounds like Brass Rock, which is one of my favorite idioms.

As a result the music, which is naturally quite complex, loses some of its compositional focus, which might have enhanced the overall result. It is worth to remember the "less is more" formula, especially in larger ensembles, where the co-existence of many instruments needs extra careful attention to detail in order to avoid confusion. Having said that, the music is certainly very interesting and unique enough to raise eyebrows, offering very individual approach to multi-layered "big Sound", which at its best is nothing short of being spectacular.

It is a joyful event to see or rather hear these young musicians exploring uncharted territory and threading through their individual ideas, rather than copying and recycling familiar messages ad nauseam. Obviously they are just starting a long journey of creativity, but judging by these early steps, they are on the right path. There is a lot of honesty, searching and adventure in this music, which deserves to be praised.

This album is a proud representation of the young Polish Jazz Avant-Garde scene, which keeps surprising by its resourcefulness and ambition, and although a bit soft around the edges, it is a most enjoyable listening experience, showcasing a lot of potential. It is definitely an excellent debut effort - well done Gentlemen!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Bastarda - Nigunim (2020)


Paweł Szamburski - clarinet
Michał Górczyński - contrabass clarinet
Tomasz Pokrzywiński - cello
with Choir "Grochów" (9)



By Jędrzej Janicki

Jedno jest pewne - trio Bastarda jeńców nie bierze. Na debiutanckiej płycie tego zespołu (zatytułowanej "Promitat Eterno") znalazły się kompozycje średniowiecznego kompozytora Piotra z Grudziądza. Druga płyta Bastardy, "Ars Moriendi", poświęcona była tematyce śmierci w ujęciu średniowiecznych i wczesnorenesansowych pieśni. Tym razem Paweł Szamburski (klarnet), Tomasz Pokrzywiński (wiolonczela) i Michał Górczyński (klarnet kontrabasowy) postanowili zająć się tradycyjnymi pieśniami żydowskimi znanymi jako nigunim - rytmicznymi melodiami śpiewanymi bez słów. Sposób pojmowania world music dla muzyków Bastardy nie polega jednak na wyciąganiu z lochów historii mniej lub bardziej udanych melodyjek. To, co panowie tworzą, to prawdziwe misterium, w którym tradycyjne melodie i struktury w brawurowy sposób mieszają się z wrażliwością całej trójki artystów. 

Otwierający płytę "Emes" to posępny utwór posiadający w sobie bardzo wiele z ilustracyjnego charakteru. "Mame", zwłaszcza w drugiej części, ma już o wiele bardziej melodyjny charakter, jednak w kompozycji tej nadal pobrzmiewają szaleńcze i złowieszcze nuty. Przepięknie wybrzmiewa z kolei "Achar", który w pewnym swoim fragmencie przełamany zostaje marszowym wręcz spiętrzeniem dźwięków, które wywołać może doprawdy dojmujące zaniepokojenie u odbiorcy.

Utwór "Modziter" wprowadza chwilę ukojenia i ciut inną atmosferę - to wyraźny flirt z muzyką klezmerską, nieco lżejszą, lecz nadal bardzo mocno osadzoną w tradycji. Bastarda najlepsze zostawiła sobie jednak na sam koniec. "Ledovid" to prawdziwa perełka. Sama pieśń jest z jednej strony podniosła, a z drugiej wyjątkowo rzewna. Ta pozorna sprzeczność swoją syntezę znajduje w przepięknym finale, który staje się ostatecznym dowodem na to, że właśnie wysłuchaliśmy czegoś niezwykłego. 

Płyta "Nigunim" wywołuje bardzo specyficzną i niespotykaną reakcję estetyczną. Z jednej strony w sposób absolutnie szczery doceniamy piękno tych zapomnianych kompozycji, z drugiej - odczuwamy delikatny niepokój. "Nigunim" uwodzi nas i czaruje, lecz tworzy pewną barierę, której nie jesteśmy w stanie swobodnie przeskoczyć. Wszystko to jednak potęguje i tak niemałą siłę oddziaływania tego nagrania. Ciągle wydaje mi się, że jeszcze tak wiele pozostaje do odkrycia w tych niezwykłych utworach. Czasami mam wrażenie, że znam je od lat, a czasami brzmią dla mnie wręcz zupełnie obco. Tak czy inaczej, muzykom z Bastardy należą się najszczersze gratulacje - "Nigunim" to prawdziwie fascynujące dzieło. 

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