Sunday, July 25, 2010

Artur Dutkiewicz - Hendrix Piano (2010)

It is impossible to imagine jazz without influence on it exerted by Jimmy Hendrix. All so called fusion jazz is heavily indebted in what this guitar giant did in such a short span of his life. This CD however has absolutely nothing in common with fusion and is mainstream jazz interpretation of famous Hendrix tunes. 
Artur Dutkiewicz, leader of the band, born in 1958, is present on Polish jazz scene since 30 years. He played with excellent Tomasz Szukalski Quartet with which he recorded in 1987 album Tina Blues, voted as best album by Jazz Forum that year. 
In 1996 he created band called Electric Jazz Concert which in its music referred to fusion era and in 1999 recorded well-received Lady Walking album.
Simultaneously he started to work within a new formation that come into being called Artur Dutkiewicz Trio where he played mainstream jazz. He managed to secure here a collaboration of fantastic double bass player Darek Oleszkiewicz (who replaced Daniel Biel who left Poland), permanent resident resident of the US, whose recordings with Bennie Maupin, Brad Mehldau or Charles Lloyd speak for itself, and promising, young drummer Sebastian Frankiewicz.
Going back to music if you like classic jazz trio and happen to be a fan of Jimmy Hendrix this album surely will make you very happy. But even if you are neither of those two you shall not regret money spent on this music because it's extremely listenable and persuasive. And to no surprise because this trio has been playing Hendrix music since 2001 and only now they decided to record. Not only they know it by heart but that they also put all their heart in it. Obviously this album is not any breakthrough in interpretation of Hendrix music but as mainstream jazz it may be very rewarding.
Please visit this artist page to listen to the samples of music from this album:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Leszek Możdżer - Kaczmarek by Możdżer (2010)

Leszek Możdżer, arguably the most recognized Polish jazz pianist, is musician I already wrote three presenting his mainstream jazz recordings ("Time"), free jazz ("Asthmatic") and, in last post, classical music face ("Chopin"). But Możdżer's multi-faced personality still contains land unexplored because he is also very active in the field of film music. First he began to collaborate with Zbigniew Preisner, a film music composer, famous for being author to films directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, but his relationship with Jan A. P. Kaczmarek, dating back to 1999, has become as much fruitful resulting in numerous soundtracks for films among which is Oscar winning track for Marc Foster Finding Neverland (2004).
Możdżer play on this record is very emotional. He builds moods with space and light, using very simple means, though music is infinitely refined. Honestly speaking this music has little in common with jazz if we define it as syncopated music. What we hear here is one of the greatest jazz-man making music, a person who clearly outgrown the limits of jazz as genre, but still remaining part of Polish jazz.
Please listen to this wonderful music, I present you Piano Variation from Unfaithful movie:



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Leszek Możdżer - Chopin (1994)

I decided to go back to this CD for two reasons: first 2010 is internationally declared as Chopin year, second that new recording of Leszek Możdżer was issued recently, again piano solo and I wanted to recall Możdżer first solo effort which revealed to be turning point in his career.
The carreer that developed fantastically because this prodigously talented pianist (born in 1971 in Gdańsk) started to play with the band called Miłość in 1991, the most innovative collective in Polish jazz those days, part of yass movement in Poland which revolutionized Polish jazz (more).  
Because yass  presented mostly avantgarde, free, difficult music it made Możdżer well-known and appreciated among rather narrow circles of jazz connoisseurs but with wider audience he became to be recognized for the first time only with this record.
Back in 1994 when I bought it I was totally immersed in classical music and because of that this recording puzzled me, irritated and yet fascinated. It happened so because it was Chopin I did not know: the music was angular, broken, tempos faster, played louder but still Chopin it was melodic, moody and romantic! As most Polish music lovers I knew so many great Chopin interpretations by Zimmerman, Argerich, Pollini or Pogorelich but that was something entirely different: blasphemy - yes, wortlhless - definitely no! Only slowly I became more and more persuaded to this Możdzer's Chopin, especially as I started to understand jazz better, and recognized how masterfully Możdżer transformed Chopin through whole range of jazz stylistics: rag time, swing, bop and free jazz.
The CD is like basket full of gems so let me choose for you the smallest but nonetheless charming Chopin's Etiuda Ges Op. 25 No 9 played in rag time style. Marvellous and so so witty!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Kattorna - Straying To The Moon (2010)
























This is a very interesting project indeed that is executed with meticulous attention to even smallest details. Let's start with visual side of the album that is simply state-of-art. There is a night, a moon, calm deep water and a man, perhaps somnabulic, which is drawn towards this moon, unaware of depth of water and its danger (no less interesting are other images inside CD envelope). But this picture could only be made by someone who knows a lot about Komeda who himself was somnabulic, who was fascinated and terrified by night, by a state of sleep, all these things were well reflected in his life and music.
The Polish-Danish quintet consists of Dawid Główczewski (alto&soprano saxophone), Grzegorz Rogala (trombone), Łukasz Pawlik (piano), Max Nauta Simonsen (bass) and Krzysztof Szmąńda (drums). All this guys are very young and this is their debut recording but nonetheless it is of top quality. It is enough to say that they started top play together 5 years ago, are all educated in excellent Music Academies and up to this point took part in many jazz contests in Poland and abroad, always recognized, often awarded significant prizes like Łukasz Pawlik at Jazz Nad Odrą Festival. 
But the music is of course the most important and fortunately it is fulfilling every promise I can imagine. It starts with excellent composition Drop It by Danish bassist whose play on this CD is simply overwhelming. This tune is vibrating with massive inner energy and is best possible beginning to this  awesome album. Second comes the only Komeda composed piece on this CD which is of course Kattorna  which gave a name to the band. Hearing so many versions of it I must say that is one is truly groundbreaking, filled with dramatic feeling of desolation and yet exploding with cool energy like underwater volcano. Masterpiece brilliantly executed!
Then come 6 compositions by Łukasz Pawlik: Panta Rhei, Twilight which are typical, mellow, mainstream jazz, fortunately Night Safari comes, strong tune, with excellent interplay between Główczeski alto and aggressive drums of Szmańda. When it comes to Rogala with his trombone we feel creeps on our backs exactly as if during safari we unexpectedly would spot a lion entering from a nearby bushes. Pawlik's piano follows lightly-footed as escape full of grace from lion's den. Throughout this piece Nauta Simonsen bass beats as if heart would beat during some crazy night safari. Marvelous tune.
Next we have Introduction To Haunted House and Haunted House. These tunes are very Komeda-like: down-tempo, cool, brooding, hauntingly beautiful as were famous Ballad For Bernt, Crazy Girl or Sleep Safe And Warm by Krzysztof Komeda.  The Disc ends with Pawlik's tune Straying To The Moon which again has typical for Komeda bluesy, yet warm, character. Again Główczewski alto makes small miracles one note after another announcing to us arriving on the scene one of the most talented saxophonist in recent years. 
Well, it is time to sum up everything which I can do in just is one sentence: if you like mainstream jazz this debut is simply close to masterpiece!

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




More music on http://www.myspace.com/kattorna.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Zbigniew Seifert Quartet - Nora (GAD, 2010) by Maciej Nowotny

This album is sure winner of year 2010 in best Polish jazz historical recording category. The band was created in 1962 in Cracow by Zbigniew Seifert (as) who invited to it following musicians: Jan Jarczyk (p), Janusz Stefański (d) and Jan Gonciarczyk (b). They played together for 8 years to follow, took part in most significant jazz festivals in Poland where they made excellent impression but they appeared only in two songs on album issued in 1969 titled New Faces In Polish Jazz. Damn communist blockheads! So much loss they made to our jazz and culture because of their desire to impose on us what we should like or listen to! So only after more than 40 years later under the private initiative of few people who are in love with Polish jazz we now have a chance to listen the first, standalone album of this magnificent band.

The program on this record is simply breathtaking: it starts with two standards, East Of The Sun (B. Bowman) and Blue In Green (M. Davis) which are both very good, but the second one is truly sensational! Third is title track of the album Nora, composition of Z. Seifert, which proves to be as interesting as its more famous predecessors and they all come from concert given by the band at Jazz Nad Odrą festival on 9th March 1969. 

Next three pieces are Reminiscencje (Reminiscences - Z. Seifert), Złudzenie (Phantom - J. Jarczyk) and Taniec Garbusa (Dance of the humpback - Z. Seifert) and were recorded in Autumn the same year (Warsaw Jazz Jamboree festival 1969) and they show clear progress band made in just half a year. They seem to advance as band in leaps and bounds showing with every important concert more self-assurance, creativity, obviously being on right track to develop their unique style joining in promising melange typical Polish cool jazz with hard bop and and free jazz influences.

Last two tracks are the best proof for such a hypothesis as they contain two tracks Ten Niezastąpiony ( The Irreplaceable - Z. Seifert) and Meandry (Meanders - Z.Seifert, J. Jarczyk), which are the longest, most brooding, dense and therefore attractive pieces on this album. They show how massive was potential of this band. But soon after this concert was given in autumn 1970 on next Jazz Jamboree in Warsaw quartet was disbanded as three of its musicians Seifert, Stefański and Gonciarczyk were invited by Tomasz Stańko to form quintet, his first band after Krzysztof Komeda untimely death in Hollywood, USA. So new history in Polish jazz started, no less significant, perhaps even more, which brought soon breakthrough Music For K recording of Stańko first quintet. It is really a great and unexpected pleasure to listen to this record first and then to Stańko record and see how rapidly Polish jazz developed in those years. Zbigniew Seifert made his own great career in 70ties giving up alto saxophone for violin.

Finally let me pay hommage for people involved in this project from the side of GAD record company which made it possible for us to enjoy this hidden gem. The level of mastering the sound, of edition (great photos) and of fantastic linear notes by Aneta Norek (translated into English and German) is the highest possible. My deepest respect for all people who made this fantastic project possible! (http://www.gadrecords.pl/en/index.html)

Please listen to first recording from this album East Of The Sun (B. Bowman):


Author of text: Maciej Nowotny (http://kochamjazz.blox.pl/html)


Thursday, July 8, 2010

NBS Trio - Komeda (2010)






















I have never heard about NBS Trio up to this moment. And to no surprise because they come from Slovakia, precisely from Banska Bystrzyca, where in 1998 they founded this band and since then issued couple of albums and played many concerts home and abroad, Poland included, in such well respected venues as Warsaw's Tygmont or Cracow's At Muniak. 

But all this would not of course be enough for them to get into my Polish jazz blog had their last recording dedicated to Polish jazz giant Krzysztof Komeda was not such a gem as it reveled to be! One rehearsal after another I cannot stop listening to this record which pays hommage to Komeda in such a straighforward, fresh and unpretentious way that is exactly what Komeda attitude towards life, poeple, jazz was.

Klaudius Kovac (piano), Robert Ragan (bass) and Peter Solarik go through Komeda compositions with utmost elegance (it's good to know that they played together with Scott Hamilton, American giant of classical jazz) but simultaneously they spiced this dish well with modern jazz sensitivity which was Komeda specialite de la maison. All in all this is unbelievably well played jazz proving that Komeda played in Komeda's way is still sounding better than so many newer, strange or even weird interpretations of his immortal works.



By Maciej Nowotny
http://kochamjazz.blox.pl

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Leszek HeFi Wiśniowski - Kinetyka (2010)






















My yesterday's visit to music shop was very rewarding. The shelf that contains Polish Jazz was full of new and intriguing items of which I shall mention only few: Aga Zarayan's, Polish talented jazz singer and her new album for legendary Blue Note label titled Looking Walking Being; Piotr Wyleżoł, pianist playing in tradition of Bill Evans and Keith Jarret, and his album Children's Episodes for good Spanish label Fresh Sound New Talent and avantgarde and indiejazz issue Goose Talk by Mikołaj Trzaska accompanied by Christian Bauer and Peter Brotzmann. Of all those excellent recordings of this week I nonetheless choose another one titled Kinetyka by Leszek HeFi Wiśniowski.
This is mainstream jazz played in creative and intriguing manner. The leader of the band is Leszek Wiśniowski, for whom this is second album after first titled Lechoechoplexita. He is second flutist I write about on this blog, after Krzysztof Popek, however second to no one in Poland. On this CD he was able to gather excellent band with such stars as violinist Krzesimir Dębski, pianist Paweł Kaczmarczyk (whose album Complexity In Simplicity for ACT label was probably the best polish jazz record last year), Tomasz Kupiec on bass, Bartek Staromiejski on drums, Dominik Bieńczycki on violin and Pramath Kiran on percussion.
The music itself on this album is really extraordinary, although it's mainstream but it is full of tension, anxiety, distress. Exactly like the title of the album suggests there are present in this music so many conflicting directions but yet the personality of the Wiśniowski, his flute and saxes, miraculously give the artistic unity to  this creative chaos. The strongest side of the album are numerous dialogues between Wiśniowski on flute, Kaczmarczyk on electric piano and Dębski on violin. I can not recollect anything similar to those in Polish jazz, it is simple astonishing to listen to them!
Last but not least all this music is so close to the best tradition of Polish jazz and such its masters as violinist Zbigniew Seifert or legendary Labolatorium group, one of the most imporant groups of Polish fusion jazz. This is probably going to be one of the best jazz recordings in Poland in 2010. 
The music from this fantastic album can be heard at the following link:
http://www.hefi.pl/mp3.htm
Thanks to Mr Leszef Hefi Wiśniowski kindness I received two clips containing fragments of concert with music from above described album. I want to turn your attention especially to Prestigitator, truly a gem! It is really a pleasure to update post with music of such high quality:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utPJSj-C6X8&feature=player_embedded
or
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cm4WW00WvLE&feature=player_embedded

Monday, July 5, 2010

Marcin Oleś & Bartłomiej Brat Oleś - Other Voices, Other Scenes (2010)



















I respect a lot what Oleś Brothers achieved in recent years. This album is intended to commemoarte 10th anniversary of their artistic activity on Polish jazz scene. So looking back over those 10 years one must admit that Marcin Oleś (bass) and his brother Bartłomiej (drums) formed one of the best rhythm sections in Poland.  If you are interested in what I think about them you can look at my note on this blog dedicated to their excellent Walk Songs  issued 4 years ago.  
This record contains theater and film music composed by them over last couple of years. The album contains two CDs and a lot of music but surprisingly instead of satisfaction and joy it brings monotony and boredom. I truly regret to say so but I believe good feedback is essential to success in every part of life, music included.
Surely the rhythms played on this album are often very attractive, the moods consistent and I strongly believe that this music may be simply excellent emplacement to theater and film shows but it unfortunately does not stand alone enough solid to sustain listener's attention for longer than just couple of minutes. So perhaps Oleś brothers accomplished great success in writing and performing good music for film and theater but music itself is unsatisfactory on this album. And with such artists as Oleś brothers music should always come first. No compromises should be made! We all remember Miles Davis sound tracks to Ascenseur pour l'echafaud, A Tribute To Jack Johnson or Siesta. Although films are long forgotten music has preserved. This should be direction Oleś brothers should take since their talent certainly justifies even boldest plans. Still I am waiting impatiently for their next record, treating this one as more or (rather) less fortunate interlude.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Marek Hendrykowski - Komeda (2009)























I am spending this weekend with this book. I am returning to Komeda over and over again since so many years. My love towards jazz has started years back with Roman Polański film Knife In Water which would be unimaginable without Krzysztof Komeda brilliant music. Without Komeda we would never have Polish jazz as it now is: avant-garde, cool and self-conscious, its identity truly unique and recognized throughout Europe and world. 
Unlike other Polish jazzmen, even most famous of them, there are many books and articles about Komeda. Surprisingly yet his life is still somewhat obscure and his music also eludes the definite analysis. Perhaps the reason is that his music and personality is still alive (although in 2009 it was 40th anniversary of his untimely death), it evokes response and is redefined by new generations of musicians over and over again.
This book sheds light mainly on earlier stage of life of Komeda before he moved to Cracow where he was employed at famous Helicon club and where he met Tomasz Stańko. And on his work as film music composer. Such a point of view this book owes to the person of its author Marek Hendrykowski, professor at Poznań University and well-known author of many books on film art. 
Komeda started his career in Poznań where he studied medicine and from where his family came from. In Poznań he created his first band called Sekstet with which he gave first historic concert of modern jazz in Poland during 1956 Sopot Festival. It coincided with breakthrough in Polish political life when in 1956 again in Poznań there took place local uprising which though quelled in blood was the beginning of many changes in Poland's political life, all in the direction of its liberalization. Jazz was in avant-garde of this political movement, it embodied its juvenile and ludic roots. As such of course it wasn't supported by state and that was the reason why Komeda move to Cracow where it was easier to support himself as jazz musicians than in smaller Poznań. But still in Poznań Komeda made perhaps one of the most significant decisions in his life. In 1956 he completed his studies and started work in Poznań polyclinic as laryngologist and was offered 3 years science scholarship in Prague - a sensational beginning to his career in medicine. He hesitated for some time but finally supported by his future wife Irena he decided to resign from his career as doctor and dedicate himself wholly to jazz. His family was outraged and he had to face their frustration and his own regret that he will never be a doctor again. But this hard decision was also critical not only to his life but also to the history of jazz and to Polish culture in general. There are many such brilliant analysis in this book which make it truly a most valuable reading for anybody interested in Polish jazz.  
Foreign readers interested in Krzysztof Komeda I recommend a visit to internet museum dedicated to this artist (with English version). Truly magnificent place in worldwide web:
   

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Outbreak Quartet - Last Call (2010)


In June issue of Jazz Forum magazine I found CD of Outbreak Quartet titled Last Call. This band consists of 2 Polish musicians: Artur Tuźnik (piano), Tomasz Licak (sax) and 2 Danes: Emil Brun Madsen  (bass), Rasmus Schmidt (drums). They were spotted when they won in last edition of Bielska Zadymka Jazzowa Festival which under the supervison of Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski became one of the most significant jazz festival in Poland.   
Going back to musicians they all are students of Jazz Faculty at Carl Nielsen Academy of Music in Odense in Denmark. Through this collaboration these young musicians follow up in tracks of so many distinguished Polish and Scandinavian jazzmen who co-created European jazz since 60ties last century. There is some close affinity between jazz styles of Polish and Scandinavian players: it is rather cool jazz, moody, bluesy, dark and deep. And yet there are differences which are not so easy do describe, individual in case of every musicians but which keep creative tension high and which made such a meeting so fruitful in the past. Perhaps the most known Polish jazz tune Ballad For Bernt was composed by Krzysztof Komeda for his friend, Scandinavian saxophonist.
Going back to Last Call it has all necessary features not only to draw your attention to itself but also to keep it for longer. They play mainstream jazz, energetic, assertive and consciously referring to hard bop roots of modern jazz. In Tomasz Licak play one hear obvious Coltrane influences, in Artur Tuźnik piano I find echoes of Wynton Kelly or McCoy Tyner. The support of Danish rhythm section is of key importance to success of this album: it reminds me in style the rhythm sections of E.S.T. or Tord Gustavsen Trio. All in all these young lads are pretty talented, they not only play well but also compose very interesting tunes so I expect nice things from them in future. I recommend you to listen to sample of music from their debut album at this address:
http://www.myspace.com/outbreakquartet
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