Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Joanna Gajda Quartet - Heaven Earth Earth Heaven (2010)

When I was young I trained for a swimmer, usually swimming in sprint relays, being young however I preferred to swim solo. To my objections my old and experienced trainer always responded in such words: "Maciej, only the strongest teams may field winning relay, that's why I appreciate medals in relays many times more than solo ones". That is very much true in jazz as well and that is also why this recording is so astonishing. Because all of a sudden from the deepest ranks of Polish Jazz team has come forth Joanna Gajda and recorded the CD that is simply outstanding!

Most of data to this article I take from interview Mrs Gajda gave to Jan Cegiełka in Jazz Forum November issue. We learn from it that Mrs Gajda graduated piano from renowned Katowice Music Academy. She is now teaching herself in Kalisz Music Academy but she testifies that only two years before she has became assertive enough (through influence of Piotr Wojtasik to whose mentorship she owes a lot) to start enlisting musicians to her own band. And she managed to gather around herself very talented ones: Borys Janczarski (tenor saxophone) has very smoky sound and his virtuosity reminds the style of magnificent Bobby Watson; Andrzej Święs is promising young bassist, his play provides rock-solid base for this hard-swinging jazz; Sebastian Frankiewicz is quick as a silver young drummer who already recorded interesting album Hendrix Piano with Artur Dutkiewicz Trio this year. As guest appears on this album: Marian Pawlik ona bass, star drummer Kazimierz Jonkisz and fantastic singer Natalia Przybysz.

And exactly the little cameo of Natalia Przybysz who sings wonderful tune to words of St Luke Gospel Don't be afraid little flock is where I would like to turn spotlights first. Vocal of Przybysz is simply smashing, thoughtful and yearning piano of Gajda is flying sky high and support by Swięś & Frankiewicz sensitive enough to blow your mind away! I find no words apt to express my wonder what they do to mainly modal jazz in one piece after another: yes, it is mainstream play but their ability to invoke emotions is revelatory. Strong gospel connotations are omnipresent in this music pointing clearly enough where an idea of the title of album comes from. Finally let me add that all these excellent compositions are written by Joanna Gajda. Great jazz woman appeared in Polish Jazz. People please believe in her! And I do and shall wait for her next CD very impatiently...

I you want to buy this record check this link: http://wwylomie.com/heaven-earth-eart-heaven-cd.html



If you want to listen to more music from this album: http://www.myspace.com/joannagajdaquartet

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


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dwootho - Space Pressures (2010)

This is debut recording let me therefore start with names of musicians as it is proper to introduce them first: Marek Tarnowski (accordion, hammond organ), Tomasz Piątek (tenor saxophone, clarinet), Bartosz Łuczkiewicz (bass), Maciej Dziedzic (drums, percussion) plus Natalia Gllińska (vocal) as a guest. Certainly very interesting still this record is not easy to classify or judge as it melts in one pot flavors rarely heard together. I would rather avoid to name musical genres which echo in this recording (folk, rock, club music and many other) because I feel that the only label describing properly this music is one of jazz which was once defined as simply "sound of surprise". 
Neither mainstream nor avantgarde this music is eluding all classifications and shall not be overlooked by anyone who values creativity, courage and individuality as expressed in melodies and rhythms.
After saying so many nice things about this recording and its authors let me add a small knock. Though I like music on this album I still feel that sometimes artists slump into what is too obvious, easy and predictable. Bass line become at times too mechanical, sax play too sexy, drums somewhat run of mill and only Marek Tarnowski on his accordion never ceases to surprise and amaze. It is done perhaps in order to provide music more accessible for larger audience. Not a bad idea for debut recording but as far as I am concerned I would expect something more free and improvisational next time to make my interest in this band and its music permanent.   
Please listen to a song titled Balkan Groove:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pulsarus - FAQ (2009)





















Trio Pulsarus consists of Dominik "Doministry" Strycharski (flutes), Aleksander Papierz (saxophones) and Jakub Rutkowski (drums) which are on this recording accompanied by following guests: Wojciech Waglewski (guitars), Adam Pierończyk (saxophones), Mikołaj Trzaska (alto saxophone) and Jan Peszek (voice). Certainly one of the most interesting records in Polish Jazz last year proved to have prolonged influence one me so I decided to go back to it and write few words about it encouraging others to get to know it. 

Pulsarus as a band was created in 2003 and they debuted in 2005 by Digital Freejazz, next year followed by CD titled Squared Rotoscope and after 3 years FAQ arrived, "the best one we've made so far" as the leader of the band claims. Musically we have here electro-acoustic jazz which I like very much and associate wit such excellent jazzmen as Evan Parker and Rob Mazurek, or, if we want to dig deeper Steve Reich and Karlheinz Stockhausen. It is therefore very praiseworthy that in these Polish Jazz territory we have this electro-acoustic field as well and cultivated by such talented musicians!

What marks this CD out is its artistic unity to which contributes the fact that almost all music on this album was composed by Strycharski. But this effect is evident also in such details as the cover of this CD which reminds me in mood the old sci-fi horrors as Ridley Scott's Alien. Let us therefore note that for production of the album Piotr Pawlak was responsible on behalf of Biodro Records.

The most controversial point in this astonishing music production is the part in which Polish famous actor Jan Peszek takes part. It takes form of some theatrical monologue, accompanied by music but it sounds really whacky and rather unconvincing to me. On the other hand there is a project that the music on this album will be accompanied by a film then this presence of the Peszek voice on this recording might be more justified. 

All in all this is certainly recording worth your your while let me therefore encourage you strongly to visit following site and listen to the samples of music from this session: http://www.myspace.com/pulsarus 

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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Piotr Wyleżoł - Children's Episodes (2009)

Marcin Wasilewski, Przemysław Raminiak and Piotr Wyleżoł - certainly names to remember if you are interested in Polish Jazz. They all excel in classic jazz trio format and over years attained level of perfection that cannot be praised too much. Of them all Piotr Wyleżoł style is closest to great Bill Evans tradition or Polish jazz piano genius Mieczysław Kosz. His piano sings, yearns and sighs as if whispering to the ear of lover girl (or boy).   He evokes emotions with ease of true master and takes us on a ride where everything may happen from tenderest lyricism to utter despair and finally to hard swinging jazz redemption. 
Awesome display not only on side of this fantastic pianist but also on the side of his equally gifted companions: bassist Michał Barański and drummer Łukasz Żyta. Honestly speaking the quality of jazz trio owes as much to the competence of the pianist as to the quality of interplay between members of the trio. In this case the level of interplay between artist is breathtaking. And to no surprise as they have been already playing together for 10 years and recorded  such gems  as "Piano Trio" (2006).
This year however may be turning point in Piotr Wyleżoł career because he not only sees this CD issued by well established Fresh Sound New Talent label but he also recorded "Live" (2010) CD in quintet format with fantastic new musicians Pierończyk, Dorouzka, Kowalewski, Dziedzic and also played important role in new Nigel Kennedy jazz project "Shhh!" (2010). Well, so this star on Polish Jazz firmament that shines so brightly cannot be anyone's but his. Congratulations Piotr!



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Piotr Lemańczyk - Naha People (2009)

Too few people in Poland noticed and appreciated this album as it deserved. In my opinion however this was not only one of the best jazz recordings last year but also one of the most intriguing over last couple of years. Moreover I honestly cannot recall anyone in Poland playing on trumpet (Tomasz Stańko apart of course) on a level Tim Hagans is playing on this CD. Speaking shortly this is item that every jazz lover shall definitely inspect more carefully and listen many times over.
Certainly mainstream jazz but it has all charm of modern jazz as it is forward thinking, complex and infinitely refined. All musicians involved in this project play simply masterfully. Tim Hagans who is one of the best trumpet players on this planet shows that his artistic potential is simply limitless. His trumpet weavers and meanders as butterfly on a spring meadow in full blossom. Piotr Lemańczyk bass is rock solid and deep as some far away storm on the edge of dream and reality. He is assisted by fantastic young vibraphonist Dominik Bukowski whose strokes are as light as first raindrops on freshly opened flowers in the morning. Nor worse is veteran drummer Kazimierz Jonkisz whose intricate play reminds me of sun beams hide-and-seek game with shadows in some old and mysterious forest. On tunes 1,6,7 excellent saxophonist Maciej Sikała appears his presence subtle and unobtrusive as moon waning in morning light. Finally, I would like to notice very high level of recording and mastering of the sound for which Michał Mielnik and Tomek Cybula were responsible.
All compositions are by Piotr Lemańczyk and are very good but if I was to find some fault in this magnificent project I would say that tempos of tunes might be a bit more diversified. But apart from this minor objection I find this album very rewarding and cannot but listen to it over and over again. Fantastic music! 
To learn more about the leader please visit: http://www.piotrlemanczyk.com/. To hear some music from this album: http://www.myspace.com/lemanczykpiotr.

By Maciej Nowotny

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