Monday, May 31, 2010

Daniel Popiałkiewicz Trio - The Hope For Tomorrow (2010)




















OK, I believe if Daniel Popiałkiewicz reads this note, he will understand that I would rather not buy his record were it not be for rhythm section that accompanies him here in persons of Maciej Garbowski on double-bass and Krzysztof Gradziuk on drums (2/3 of excellent RGG Trio). I simply never heard of him but as far as those two guys are concerned I believe they form one of the best sections in Poland along with Sławomir Kurkiewicz and Michał Miskiewicz or Oleś Brothers. This is simply the creme of creme of young Polish jazz and Popialkiewicz is fortunate, no, very fortunate to have them by his side in this recording because everything starts to fly and levitate once these two sorcerers start to conjure spells on their respective instruments.
But one should also be just to Popiałkiewicz who, although this is his debut recording, proves that his talent matches the talents of his more recognized collaborators. And to no wonder for those who follow his career more carefully since they all graduated from the same Jazz Faculty at Katowice Music Academy, which is something like Polish equivalent of famous Berklee College of Music in USA, a signature of excellent education for best young players in this country. Additionally he won several jazz contests in Poland. His technique is impeccable, his compositional talent exceptional (he composed all songs on this CD except All The Things You Are), his inclination is towards jazz, rock and improvisation. But the most important thing is that his approach towards jazz is fresh and creative. His dialogues with Gradziuk and Garbowski absorb and engulf the listener like quicksands leaving him with impressions that this record shall be rehearsed many times over in order to understand it thoroughly and be able to enjoy its pleasures to maximum degree. Certainly we shall hear about this young virtuoso in future - I agree with foreword of Jarek Śmietana to this album (arguably the most famous jazz guitarist in Poland) who was so kind to give his word of recommendation to this new and interesting personality in Polish jazz.
Here you can find a sample of music from this album:
http://www.myspace.com/danielpopialkiewicz

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Leszek Kułakowski Ensemble Piccolo - Code Numbers (2010)






















The streak of excellent albums continues with the new recording from Leszek Kułakowski and his Ensemble piccolo consisting of Krzysztof Gradziuk (part of well-known RGG trio) on drums and Piotr Kułakowski (his son) on double bass. Leszek Kułakowski is teacher in Music Academy at Słupsk and Gdańsk. His inclination is clearly towards jazz but at the same time he prefers free and open structures which give a lot of room for improvisation. His music is very emotional, individual and reflects not only his (and his partners) unique personality but also a place where he lives which is Pomerania, windy and beautiful country situated on the banks of Baltic Sea.

As far as album title is concerned Code Numbers  refer to Kułakowski observation that more and more our identity is fixed on different codes which we use living in cyber space surrounded by all kinds of electronic equipment. Since music is also manifesting itself in mathematical quotation Kułakowski states that it can resonate to these numerological aspect of our life. Let us remind that it is not such a new idea since Platon and Pythagoreans thousand years ago also looked in numbers and mathematics in search for the ultimate truth and even God. This is something similar in Kułakowski music both intellectual but also incredibly beautiful exactly as music of spheres might sound. 

In my opinion it is one the most interesting and original CD of this year balancing in harmony both free and mainstream sides of modern jazz. Highly recommendable! If you like to listen to the music from this album please visit the artist's web page where you can easily find its samples:     

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Piotr Wyleżoł Quintet - Live (2010)





















The very first moment I saw this record on www.serpent.pl, web page of internet CD shop where I most often buy my records of Polish jazz, I was sure that this record shall bring some excellent music. And so it is indeed! And it could not be different because on this record meet two exceptional personalities Piotr Wyleżoł on piano and Adam Pierończyk on tenor & soprano sax. Piotr Wyleżoł up to this point recorded three albums all in trio format and through them he gained the reputation of one of the Polish top jazz piano players among such young lions as Marcin Wasilewski, Przemysław Raminiak or Paweł Kaczmarczyk. Apart from being extremely talented piano player Piotr Wyleżoł is also a gifted composer. And the tunes are clearly very strong side of the this Live album.
The program begins with Sound-check  which is intended to remind the people who listen to the album that it is live enterprise. It is followed by Nicholas Patu - a very strong entry where quintet is led by masculine sound of Pierończyk sax impressively counterpointed by Wyleżoł Rhodes and David Dorouzka electric guitar. This colorful picture is completed by full throttle propulsion supplied by mighty drums of Krzysztof Dziedzic and Adam Kowalewski on double bass. The tune comes from the newest issue of Piotr Wyleżoł Trio, album Children's Episode  printed by Spanish Fresh Sound New Talent label this year.
Children's Episode, title track is the next tune on the album which skillfully changes the tempo from fast to slow and more importantly the mood to more inward-looking, reflective and sentimental. Those two tunes are enough to prove that the music of this band is powerful enough to move both mind and emotions of any listener but it is just a beginning.
The third tune, Dr Holmes, coming from Piotr Wyleżoł second album titled simply Piano Trio is the natural vamp which has such a strong groove as it simply forces you to dance, scream and shout! Brilliant tune!
Next Snake begins with long solo of Adam Kowalewski on bass which gave me creeps on my back and slowly other instruments begin to appear in the tune that is hauntingly beautiful, full of pain, anxiety and sadness (the alternative version of this song constitutes the last bonus track of this album). 
Was This The Last Time? begins by stormy solo of drummer Krzysztof Dziedzic where each shot is well placed and has enough energy to bring down an elephant on its knees. While elefant is resting on it knees Pierończyk's sax enters improvising freely through silence reminding that Adam is so  strongly attached to free jazz. Further Kowalewski bass joins, then  music becomes denser with Wyleżoł's Rhodes entrance and finally Dorouzka guitar emerges which in unison with Pierończyk sax ends the tune in one rthytmic scream.
The disc ends with Els Gates (The Cats), the song I encourage to listen to at the end of this post. All in all this is awesome music!



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jarek Bothur Quartet - Lilla Chezquiz (2010)

This is a debut disc but nonetheless it deserves to be placed among the best of this year since the quality of music and individuality of the musicians justifies it thoroughly. The disc accompanies April issue of Jazz Forum magazine which also contains an interesting interview with Jarek Bothur (tenor saxophone) and Kuba Płużek (piano) who along with Max Mucha (bass) and Grzegorz Masłowski (drums) complete the quartet. All these musicians are studying now at Jazz Faculty of Music Academy in Katowice. Jarek Bothur, the leader of the band and composer of whole material on the disc (except of Circular Motion by Phil Markovitz) is the oldest of four being 28 while other players are 20, 20 and 25 (Masłowski). They won many band and individual jazz contests in Poland but what is most important that regardless their young age they show maturity and craft that places them easily between most interesting and distinct bands of Polish mainstream jazz.
That is at least my opinion and I am little surprised I am saying such things so willingly but their music is such nice surprise, fresh and creative that I cannot but recognize them as one of the biggest hopes of Polish young jazz mainstream. I feel soon they shall go in footsteps of such renown Polish mainstream bands as Michał Wasilewski Trio, RGG or Piotr Wyleżol Trio/Quintet. These bands are creme de creme of Polish jazz, all bound to its classical form but very forward thinking, dedicated to improvisation and also to the best tradition of Polish jazz impersonated in  musicians such as Krzysztof Komeda, Tomasz Stańko, Zbigniew Seifert or Mieczysław Kosz. I see no reason why 4 young lads aforementioned cannot be counted among them soon. No reason except perhaps that the competition in Poland is so high and that it is so difficult to sustain yourself being professional jazz musician nowadays. If some good label can sign them soon as ACT did with Paweł Kaczmarczyk they surely would not be disappointed by the artistic and hopefully sales results as well.
For the time being waiting impatiently for their concerts and next recordings please listen to exemplary music from this album:

  

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pink Freud - Monster Of Jazz (2010)




















Over the years Pink Freud gained such a reputation on Polish jazz scene that their every record is impatiently awaited and immediately recognized. New Monster Of Jazz album that came to shops in May is no exception as it again totally surprises all admirers of Pink Freud's music and it proves that their creativity is truly unbounded. 
What is really so unique as far as music on this album is concerned? Opposite to their last album titled Alchemia (reviewed already on this site) which was purely acoustical venture in the field of fusion jazz, this album is using all kinds of electronic, experimental and recording tools to strengthen, enliven and stretch the body of modern version of fusion music in order to what? Yes, the idea is really breathtaking!. In order to contain in its language not only jazz but also rock, punk, nu jazz and other musical genres. This is in fact what Monster Of Jazz is all about: melting in one pot all music streams that musicians are dedicated to and draw out of this pot something new and unprecedented as far as jazz, as far as music is concerned. In this attitude towards jazz they are clearly travelling the razors's edge between courage similar in style to the one that was once displayed by Miles Davis and debauchery of such modern artist as Steven Bernstein and his colleagues from Sex Mob and other bands similar.
Because of such a ambiguity that is innate in this music which is both so creative and simultaneously so close to kitsch, I believe it must cause strong and diversified response from the listeners starting from shock and disgust and ending in awe and admiration. I am clearly on the other end and that is why I shall encourage you with all my heart to listen to this record. Before I present you a small sample of music from this CD let me add that when compared to their above mentioned Alchemia album two new musicians reinforced the band in persons of Adam Baron (flugelhorn, tenorhorn, trombone) and Jerzy Rogiewicz (vibraphone). With this addition the personnel of the band amounted to six people matching the other Polish excellent new and young band Contemporary Noise Sextet, probably the only other one that should be and could be compared to Pink Freud in terms of artistic impact on Polish jazz scene and similarities of its style.



Author: Maciej Nowotny
http://kochamjazz.blox.pl/html

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Undivided - The Passion (2010)


This year may be exceptionally good as far as Polish jazz is concerned because some extraordinary recordings are coming to the market just now and this one is definitely one of them. Undivided is the name of the group of musicians led by Wacław Zimpel, Polish clarinetist and composer of all the music on this album which is accompanied by talents of such remarkable artists as Bobby Few on piano, Mark Tokar on bass and Klaus Kugel on drums. The idea of music is crystal clear: to delve upon centuries old subject of The passion, the pain and death of Our Saviour Jesus. It sounds somewhat too pathetic for jazz enterprise but Zimpel and his colleagues prove that it is not true. Truly a pearl of Polish and European music of year 2010. 
I shall not write more about this record because I can recommend you excellent review of this album on one of my befriended blogs, namely http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/2010/04/unidivide-passion-multikulti-2010.html.
I you like to listen to samples of the music from this album please visit artist's page:
Best Polish free jazz album so far this year! 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Jerzy Milian - Ashkhabad Girl (2009)






















From time to time I feel like it is good to go back to history of Polish jazz although the idea of this blog is rather to keep attention on new recordings. However we all know that jazz would be all less interesting without its constant referring to tradition. The opportunity of going back is given to me by new disc of Jerzy Milian, Polish virtuoso vibraphonist, containing his material from years 1967-1972. 
Who is Milian? He was born in Poznań in 1935 and graduated first in architecture but then gradually moved to music similarly to Komeda who as you perhaps remember graduated from Medical Faculty. In early fifties in Poland jazz in fact barely started from the scratch after all its pre-war beginnings were shattered during WWII. No professional musicians, no eduction, no support from the state which treated jazz as part of capitalistic propaganda. Nonetheless the jazz developed quickly because it became in Poland very popular among public, which in those days treated it mostly as en vogue dance and party music. And this exactly is where Milian started his adventure with jazz creating with time his own orchestra which specialized in popular and dancing tunes. They performed mostly in students' clubs where they were spotted by Krzysztof Komeda, somebody of the importance in Polish jazz to Miles Davis in American, and so the Krzysztof Komeda Sextet was created, one of the most important bands in history of Polish jazz. Since then he was a member of countless jazz projects in Poland, cooperating with the most eminent Polish jazzmen, though always tending to be interested in popular side of jazz. This perhaps was a cause that in early 70ties when jazz lost much of its audience Milian became less creative and eventually almost vanished from the scene.
If you happen to like to know more about this exceptional musician please read very well written note in English on the following blog:
Below small sample of his music, not from this album, but excactly in his style:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EscwIEd0Ouw&feature=player_embedded
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