Friday, January 28, 2011

Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski - Downtown Project (2010)

Bartek Adamczak vel (Free) Jazz Alchemist is starting his small cycle of 3 posts on new recordings of young Polish saxophonist Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski:

Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski could be known to some of you as the bass player in Horny Trees trio - clarinet-bass-drums band led by Pawel Szamburski which released its first cd on Kilogram Records - Mikolaj Trzaska's label. But he's also a multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer, working in and leading his own projects in very different musical environments, from raw freejazz improvisation (would love to hear his upcoming trio concert with Pawel Szpura and Ksawery Wojcinski - rhythm section from Hera) up to large groups with strings, accordions, brass, horns, playing mostly composed, strictly arranged music, balancing classical and popular influences (the biggest of those - Trifonidis Orchestra - is 16 men strong). His recent releases on his own Slowdownrecords label prove his vast talents and multiple skills. And while I'm not that big fan of such orchestral ventures, the sonic richness they can offer and many of simply charming melodies he delivers are definitely not to be missed because of such a prejudice.
First recording I want to write about (next reviews will come accordingly) titled "Downtown Project" is clearly outside the jazz genre and can be described as musical soundtrack dedicated to Warsaw. A city that, like any other urban centre nowadays, is torn apart between the fast tempo of modern life, and history, those oases where time seems not to rush anymore but walk slowly, telling stories of the past. With string quartet, accordion, tuba or ethnic percussion in the line-up this offers a wide range of colours to choose from and Bielawski does create a varied set of pieces, to tell you about whole lot of different things - a bad hangover in the "Morning" or a "Football Match" watched with his friends. The stories sometimes quite dramatic, sometimes quite joyful, trivial or pensive - not surprising if you squeeze "Dreams" between "Rush Hour" and "China Soup".
Most of those are portraits or miniatures - with only 4 out of 18 tracks over 3 minutes, and majority around 1:30. Stunning melange indeed with sounds of the city mixed in, echoes of some folk melodies, different cultures' backgrounds present, as well as Michael Nyman or Philip Glass influences (especially in the chord patterns of the "Space Beyond the City"). Bielawski does to Warsaw what Yann Tiersenn did to Paris in "Amelie". And though I guess Warsaw is not as seductive nor romantic as Paris (not a big surprise), but at least in the way how depicted by Trifonidis, it gains intriguing, if sometimes a bit disturbing, charm. 
Speaking shortly, this music is classic example of a soundtrack music to the film that has not been made, but still stands well on its own. If there are silent movies, maybe there could be also one that has no moving pictures but just the moving sounds?
("Minutes" from the album, compare it with the not so peacefull "Rush Hour" also available on YouTube)
Author of review: Bartek Adamczak vel (Free) Jazz Alchemist

Find him on his blog or on air at 20.00 on Monday.

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