Friday, February 26, 2010

Piotr Wyleżoł - Piano Trio (2006)

Polish jazz pianists tend to have difficult names unfortunately: Lesław Możdżer, Paweł Kaczmarczyk and now Piotr Wyleżoł. I believe these names may be nightmare for foreigners to spell but it's worthy to try as music they play seems to come from heaven. Of all those three Piotr is closest to jazz tradition and mainstream, his music is elegant, spacious and melodic. His inspiration comes from Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock or Keith Jarrett. And what can be more economic and yet more preciuos to the heart of every jazzman or jazzwoman but classical jazz trio with piano, double bass and drums? Rhetoric question of course but nonetheless it is really difficult to attain in this classical set the level where such music sounds still fresh and inspiring. And this is a case with Piotr Wyleżoł Trio and all their albums so that's why I strongly recommend this record to all fans of jazz tradition. Piotr is accompanied on this album by first class sidemen in persons of excellent double bass player Michał Barański and one of the polish best drummers Łukasz Żyta.
As a sample of the music you may encounter on this album I propose piece titled Double Exposure. In photography a multiple exposure is when two or more individual exposures are made to create a single photograph.This term reflects perfectly the idea of this piece where Bill Evans and Thelonius Monk styles meet together and melt together proving that nothing is impossible if there true heart, dedication and skill. As you perhaps recall this piece was composed by Herb Nichols  who is one of the most overlooked geniuses of jazz piano. Parahraphing this I may sum up this post calling Piotr Wyleżoł as the most overlooked jazz pianist in Poland, hopefully not for long...


Friday, February 19, 2010

Contemporary Noise Quintet - Pig Inside The Gentleman (2006)

With this record Contemporary Nosie Quintet made quite an impact on polish scene because there were before them almost no recordings in such style. This style may be described as blend of jazz, improvised and film music. It reminds me of such bands I heard recently as french-japanese United Future Organization, british Nostalgia 77 or american Hypnotic Brass Orchestra. 

The band was created by Kapsa brothers who are very well known on polish rock scene as they created one of the most important young rock bands of recents years called Something Like Elvis. It was big surprise when at the height of popularity of this band they decided to finish it and start new one dedicated to jazz. Beacause of the success of their previous creation they had not no diffculty in inviting to the band  excellent jazz musicians. They were joined by saxofonist Tomek Glazik who played in top jazz avant-garde band Sing Sing Penelope (I wrote about them in this blog), trumpeter Wojtek Jachna (also Sing Sing Penelope) and bassist Paweł Urowski (who last year recorded excellent album titled Dziki Jazz - Wild Jazz). Guests taking part in this recording are no less prominent as they comprised young but very talented guitarist Kamil Pater, trombonist Marcin Muras and double bass player Radosław Manthey.

One may only admire creativity of all these guys moving freely between different styles being able to reconcile punk  agressivness with jazz sense of space and improvisation. What is even more admirable that Kapsa brothers set up their own record company called Electric Eye which issued this album and is developing quite well. Additionaly recording was made in their own studio in Szubin and one must appreciate its high level as nonetheless loud character of music, its sense of space and granularity is more than satisfactory.


By Maciej Nowotny

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pink Freud - Alchemia (2007)
























Pink Freud consists of Wojtek Mazolewski (b), Tomasz Ziętek (tr) and Kuba Staruszkiewicz (dr) who on this live recording in famous Alchemia jazz club in Cracow are accompanied by Tomek Duda (s) and Marcin Masecki (p). If you look for what is best but unknown in polish jazz you should run for this album.The music first repelled me, I was astonished by its intesity and density. So I decided not to buy it. But it remained in my mind and haunted me day by day so in the end I returned to the shop and bought it. Since then I cannot help but return to it and listen to it over and over again. It works like sirens call on me! 

Why I was repelled is that this music is inspired as much by jazz as by funsion and punk rock. I also rather disliked previous discs of Pink Freud that were even more rock-like, progressive and ironic. I like irony very much in life as well as in music but if there is too much of it I found myself bored because I feel like artists play game with me, having nothing to say on their own. But with this record these musicians go wholeheartedly jazz which in my opinion shows that they became mature and treat listerners seriously. In effect we are served the dish cooked with excellent ingredients: top rate, young musicians, vamp compositions but with a lot space for improvisation, live recording in legendary location. And it tastes good, really gooood!

I attach video of Police Jazz composition of Wojtek Mazolewski giving the glimpse of how the play and what is the atmosphere on their concerts:



And interpretion of Nirvana's Come As You Are in the style characteric for their previous recordings:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Simple Acoustic Trio - Habanera (2000)

Simple Acoustic Trio

Marcin Wasilewski - piano
Sławomir Kurkiewicz - double-bass
Michał Miśkiewicz - drums

Habanera (2000)



About Simple Acoustic Trio I do not have to write extensively because it is the rare case in polish jazz of artists that are equally well recognized in Poland as abroad. They started to play with Tomasz Stańko while in their teens and thus coached by him reached over the years the level of musicianship that may be described only as stellar. Internationally they become known first as Simple Acoustic Trio which was also the title of their first record for ECM but since their second album for this company titled January and issued a year ago they changed name to Marcin Wasilewski Trio. Marcin Wasilewski is pianist and composer of most music on their albums, Sławomir Kurkiewicz plays on double bass while Michał Miśkiewicz on drums.

So fortunately many poeple abroad love the music of this trio but they may not know that they started recording in trio format long before their ECM contract. Actually their first disc for polish record companies was issued in 1995 with the music of Krzysztof Komeda but among those all early albums this one coming from 2000  seems special to me as it may arguably be the best of ALL their recordings up-to-date. In Poland this album became legendary but because it was done for small, polish recording company Not Two and is not so easy available as discs from ECM it is regrettably almost unknown to foreign audiance.

As I mentioned Marcin Wasilewski Trio does not need much marketing so let me direct a spotlight on Not Two company for which they recorded this album as it is excellent example of the role of polish small records brands in renaissance of polish jazz nowadays. Not Two was created by Mariusz Winiarski who by education is matallurgist engineer but his heart since 60ties belongs to jazz. In 1982 he started record shop and in 1990 tothether with his friend they set up one of first private record companies in Poland after the fall of communism in 1989 called GOWI. It became very succesful because many important albums of yass movement, new revolutionary torrent in polish jazz of mid 90ties, were recorded for this company. Like for example the legendary albums of polish group Love (Miłość) featuring great american trumpeter Lester Bowie. However in 1998 Winiarski went solo because he wanted to concentrate more on avant-garde, free and improvised side of jazz. GOWI still exists but is focused more on mainstream jazz while Not Two attained over years even more success than former Winiarski's enterprise. In 2005 in Downbeat magazine rankings of the best recording labels worldwide Not Two Records was listed among top five. Speaking shortly people like Mr Winiarski to the same extent as musicians are responsible for creating the phenomenon we may call Polish Jazz.

As bonus I propose film from YouTube featuring their show in 2008 in Warsaw where this trio plays with the backing from car alarm ;-)


Author: Maciej Nowotny

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Możdżer, Danielsson, Fresco - The Time (2005)

Who is Lars Danielsson I don't have to write, because he is simply widely known in Europe as one of the most creative and succesful double bass players in mainstream jazz. I may only mention his last recording Melange Bleu issued on 2006 which is most interesting affair linking mainstream, new jazz and trip hop moods. Zohar Fresco is least known of the three, native of Israel, but of Turkish origin he is very well acquainted with both western and oriental percussion instruments which makes him invaluable addition to the trio.
As for Leszek Możdżer, he is simply a giant of jazz scene in Poland, that can be only compared to Tomasz Stańko in terms of artistic output and influence. He started as avant-garde pianist in 90ties in famous group Love (Miłość) which eventually triggered yass revolution in Poland changing completely the outlook of modern polish jazz. But today he ventures all possible ways of jazz engaging himself in projects from free and avant-garde to mainstream or even pop or smooth jazz. Such proliferic attitude is revered by many but also despised by some making his voice both distinctive but also controversial.
The music on this album is very communicative, melodic, easy-to-listen. Songs comprise original compositions but also improvisations on medieval song, Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit or Komeda's Svantetic. The music is very coherent, rewarding and delivered with best possible quality. And in Poland it sold like hell reaching in a span of weeks double platinium status. Excellent proposal for all who like beautiful music that has true jazz heart, free and improvising, but still is closer to popular tastes rather than avant-garde.
Just guess what kind of song it is:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Miłość - Asthmatic (1995)

 
In one of my previous posts I wrote about a band called Sing Sing Penelope which creates one of the finest new polish avant garde jazz music. In that post I mentioned another band called Miłość (Love) which many years ago, in mid 90ties, was responsible for creating yass movement in Poland, new torrent in polish jazz, rejunavating, vigorous, free. Since then I felt like it would be appriopriate to recall one of their albums and I chose one titled Asthmatic from many others, equally interesting recordings of this group.

I let myself in writing about this record to free associate because music on this album is so off-beat as to call for such an unorthodox style. Let us then first note the cover of this cd and its title. A picture on the cover is very similar to one on famous King Crimson album In the Court of The King Crimson, legendary rock band, while its title recalls no less famous record of icon of polish jazz Krzysztof Komeda titled Astigmatic. All this is by no means accidental. As one of the founder of the group, Tymon Tymański said:
"Where Komeda in his oversensitivness has seen or not seen something, we cough, grunt, belch but in our own way. It's kinda our own, funny style, we love Komeda as in highest degree polish, original and self-assured artist but if we want to blow this chicken shack away we have to aim at the biggest cock. The whole music was improvised in recording studio. We just started on some keyword spoken like we play song a la Lutosławski (famous polish classical music composer) or a la dancing music or a la blues in F or whatever. The only limitation was that we played in quintet and that we wanted to stick to jazz. But all those who knew jazz will immadietly realize that our music is like reciting the poem of Majakowski, when unprepared."
So historically this album is important because it highlited new young generation of jazzmen coming to the market. But musically what is its style? Free jazz obviously which took its inspiration from Ornette Coleman, Archi Shepp or Albert Ayler. It opened ears of polish audiance to this new kind of jazz that was treating jazz not as purpose or goal but only as point of departure. Because of them polish jazz scene is now so much open to experiment, improvisation and creativity. Please listen to one jewel from this masterpiece:



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