Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wojciech Myrczek Quintet - We'll Be Together Again (2010)

This record was added to summer (7-8/2010) edition of Jazz Forum magazine and this music was very well coupled with this season of the year. It is warm, tender and and cheerful. Young singer embarks on journey across jazz standards as if cruising round some Caribbean island. One can imagine not only luxurious ship and its captain with cigar in his mouth but also refined and cultured passengers that can appreciate jazz standards played and sung with such a elegance. I see them chatting, mashing and dancing to this music flowing from the scene so effortlessly, so easy, so skillfully. Certainly Myrczek is the most interesting debutant in male jazz vocalists for years. And honestly speaking there never have been too many of them in Poland too. With few exceptions Polish Jazz can be associated with all kind of musicianship but rather not with male jazz singers. Is it possible that Myrczek or other young artists may change this situation? Time will show... 
To listen to one of songs sung by this artist please visit following web page: http://www.myspace.com/wojciechmyrczek. Finally let me note hat Myrczek enjoys solid backing by following musicians: Marcin Kaletka (tenor saxophone), Michał Wierba (piano), Michał Kapczuk (double bass) and Sebastian Kuchczyński (drums)


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Witold Janiak - Mainstreet Quartet (2010)






















The cover of this CD very well reflects the mood of the music inside: sunny, relaxing evening, drinks, smiling girls as brown as a berry. And from speakers music as mellow and elegant as Martini is sipping. However if someone decided to listen to it more carefully he would discover how masterfully it is accomplished, that it is by no means prosy but has links to such great formations of the past as fusion jazz Chick Corea's Return To Forever, Herbie Hancock's Headhunters or smooth jazz giants David Sandborn (clearly inspiration for saxophonist Michał Kobojek) or Bob James (the same for piano player Witold Janiak). Other musicians in this quartet are bassist Marcin Błasiak and drummer Emil Waluchowski who give a very solid support in rhythm section.
This recording prove that many prizes that befell on this group, among them Grand Prix of Bielska Zadymka Jazzowa, the festival organized under auspices of Tomasz Stańko himself, were by no means accidental. By this album they show that there is still something worthful to say on smooth side of jazz and that jazz is so interesting because it has so many faces, not only free or avant garde, but also easy-to-listen and melodic, sometimes traditional and dance-like.
Please, listen to one song from this album Thursday Evening. More music is available on following web page where you can also find in my opinion the best track on this album, the interpretation of Herbie Hancock's Chameleon (http://www.myspace.com/mainstreetquartet), a truly wonderful tune! I am waiting impatiently for their next recording where I hope they will go deeper in this direction, rehearsing hidden gems jazz of undervalued jazz of fusion era...

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tomasz Sowiński & The Collective Improvisation Group - Synergy (2010)

Goddamn Polish Jazz so motherfucker strong! exclaimed one of my American colleagues upon hearing this recording. And indeed it is extremely funky although names of musicians involved in this project may be totally unknown and impossible to spell for foreign listeners. Nonetheless they are all creme de creme of Polish young jazz players and they really do hit the roof with this music!
Groove is strong in this music as once force in Luke Skywalker. Recently in one of my texts I cried over the fact that we lack in Poland of drummers of calibre of Jack DeJohnette, Jim Black or Jeff "Tain" Watts. But this record headed by young Polish drummer Tomasz Sowiński proves that I was completely wrong. His work on both drums and Łukasz Ruszkowski's on percussion  is so creative and forward-thinking that I simply find no words to express my admiration for them. Everything rustles, bounces and leaps in this music! Rhythm is omnipresent as Holy Ghost in hearts of true (jazz) believers. 
In file with such other jazz orchestras as Paweł Kaczmarczyk AudioFeeling Band (http://kochamjazz.blogspot.com/2010/01/paw-kaczmarczyk-audiofeeling-band.html), Contemporary Noise Sextet (http://kochamjazz.blogspot.com/2010/03/contemporary-noise-sextet-unaffected.html) or Jerzy Małek Group (http://kochamjazz.blogspot.com/2009/12/jerzy-maek-group-bop-beat-2009.html) Tomasz Sowiński and his The Collective Improvisation Group lead Polish jazz audience towards Promised Land of long forgotten jazz big bands. Darek Herbasz (tenor sax), Jerzy Małek (trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet), Piotr Mania (piano), Piotr Pawlak guitar&additional sounds), Żuchowski Adam (bass) and Ruszkowski Łukasz (percussion) plus leader, seven jazz musicians, the magnificent seven, the seven samurai who cut through ten consecutive tunes like damasacen steel through all doubts that modern jazz can be both avant garde and sexy.
Finally let me underline the role played in this recording by Piotr Mania. His presence on the piano reminds me very much of Kenny Drew style. Like Drew Mania remains low profile, subtle and vigilant to slightest changes in complicated rhythms of music but he never fails to support, nurture and expand it. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stańko, Szukalski, Holland, Vesala - Balladyna (1976)

















My Stańko quest continues with Balladyna, his first CD for ECM, recorded with Tomasz Szukalski (saxophone), Dave Holland (bass) and Edward Vesala (drums). With this disc Stańko made farewell to his previous style dominated by Stańko's own, highly original version of Ornette Coleman's free jazz (as evidenced in Twet album which was recorded prior to this one). Step by step his music on this album changes by gaining more space, breath, gravitating towards silence and thoughtfulness so characteristic for all recordings made for Manfred Eicher. But this transformation is not complete yet and it still needed many years to finally take place. In meantime his cooperation with ECM ceased and his career took somewhat chaotic course over next couple of years. But this good beginning for ECM was never forgotten and made his great come back to this company possible many years later when he matured enough to get control over his doping habit.
Balladyna is certainly no easy-to-listen piece of music. I believe that for many mainstream jazz lovers it sounds repulsive or abhorrent. Stańko was of course fully aware of this effect. His choice of Balladyna as the title for this record is meaningful as Balladyna, the character created by XIX century poet Juliusz Słowacki, is as much violent, lustful and unpredictable as Shakespeare's Lady Makbet.  She murders her own sister, exiles her mother and plays her lovers against each other all in order to get power she is mad about. Eventually she goes unharmed by human justice or revenge.
Therefore I advise strongly to listen to this music remembering all these connotations because if there is any conventional beauty in it, it is the charm of crime, rape or tragedy, that is so attractive to flock of peaceful and well-fed citizens of great cities, since times of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.
Finally it is necessary to recall that this recording was recently re-printed by ECM in Touchstones series at a bargain price which I invited with  gratitude as prices of ECM records remain, in my opinion, exorbitantly high. This reprint was accompanied by Stańko drafting musicians for what he called New Balladyna Project. He gave concert in Denmark accompanied by Tim Berne (saxophones), Anders Jormin (bass) and Stefan Passborg (drums) with material from this record. In Poland he did the same although with different cast including talented Maciej Obara on sax (http://kochamjazz.blogspot.com/2010/03/obara-alessi-waits-helias-four-2010.html). Although there were many hopes that new record may arise of collaboration of those renowned musicians unfortunately these expectations remain unfulfilled.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Mg6N4cWNco&feature=player_embedded

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Soundcheck - III Druglum (2010)





















This year I planned holidays in such a way as to be able to reconcile them with my passion for jazz. Therefore we took for Croatia, splendid place which I can only wholeheartedly recommend, but instead of flying there by plane we traveled by car. As a result I have plenty of time to listen to many great jazz recordings of this year while driving from North to South through this beautiful continent of Europe.
Among the best recordings I listened to this almost 48 hours long session (with stopovers in Wien and Venice) is the newest, third in row, CD Druglum by Polish quartet named Soundcheck. Musicians' names are following: Maciej Kocin Kociński (saxophones), Krzysztof Dys (piano), Andrzej Święs (bass) and Krzysztof Szmańda (drums and percussion). They started to play together in 2002 and since then have scooped up numerous prizes in international and Polish jazz contests including prestigious Grand Prix of Jazz Nad Odrą festival in 2005. Plus they've recorded three excellent CDs, all very ambitious, moody, complex and brooding. Truly excellent music executed with utmost attention to details.
I am especially astonished by Maciej Kociński play on alto saxophone. Himself he acknowledges  influences from Micheal Brecker and Kenny Garret. But I myself also hear even closer affinities to Jimmy Giuffre (in the past) and David Binney (now), very unique voices in modern jazz, highly individual, avant garde, yet very, very musical. There is also some resemblence in Kocin style and the style presented by one of the best saxes in Poland at the moment Adam Pierończyk on his last CD titled El Buscador. One can only dream that they meet one day to record something together, it would be like meeting of basic nature elements, fire and water, wind and earth. For the time being we can hear them in two seperate recodings, both strong contenders for the title of best Polish jazz recording this year.
I would also like to notice an excellent play on bass by Andrzej Święs whose sound is round, deep and thoughtful. No worse is  timely accompaniment by Krzysztof Dys' piano. Last but not least we shall also sight that Krzysztof Szmańda playing on drums and percussion appeared on second breathtaking recording this year together with excellent Kattorna which makes him the most obvious runner for the best Polish jazz drummer of 2010 (at least in my opinion).

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

Please listen to the piece of fantastic music cooked for us by this quartet:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tomasz Stańko Septet - Litania (1997)


This disc is probably the best Polish jazz recording of 90ties. But it would be impossible without the stellar support of Scandinavian musicians in persons of Bernt Rosengren (tenor saxophone), Joakim Milder (tenor and soprano saxophones), Bobo Stenson (piano), Palle Danielsson (double-bass), Jon Christensen (drums) and Terje Rypdal (guitar). Further it was great German producer and owner of ECM recording company Manfred Eicher who instigate Stańko to go back to Komeda's music.The effect of this project probably surpassed all expectations of poeple involved in its creation because after many years we may see this record as undisputed turn point in international recognition of Krzysztof Komeda music.
Inspired by Stańko and his marvelous companions many Polish and foreign artists since then delve deeper into Komeda's music finding inspiration in his highly original and charismatic ouvre. This year also brought many recordings dedicated to Komeda of which I personally choose these two as most appealing:
Without Komeda's music and Polański's film Knife In Water I would never become so enamored in jazz music. Every year I go to Mazury Lake District, I take a boat with CD recording and while sailing past locations where so many scenes from this film were shot, I either listen to this music or imagine that I listen to  it. Among tunes that I know by heart is this one, Ballada, astounding beauty of so Polish style:    
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