Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Polish Jazz - Summary of 1st Quarter 2011

The end of year 2010 was outstanding for Polish jazz with such a number of excellent recordings I do not remember for years. I decided therefore to move one album issued at the very end of last year to new 2011 as it deserves all possible attention: it's "Zomo Hall" by Foton Quartet. It gathered very positive reviews in Poland and abroad. The band consists of Gerard Lebik, Artur Majewski, Jakub Cywiński, Wojciech Romanowski and if any of you got an opportunity to listen to excellent Mikrokolektyw album "Revisit", recorded for American Delmark label last year, so let me assure that here we have music no less ambitious and attractive as on those so widely recognized disc. Bravo!
Apart from "Zomo Hall" most interesting new records of the beginning of this year has come from avantgarde bands with Polish legendary Not Two label issuing following fantastic CDs: first "Kafka In  flight" by The Resonance Ensemble with Ken Vandermark, Mikołaj Trzaska and Wacław Zimpel (among other artists) plus very good "Last Train To The First Station" recorded by the same above mentioned musicians playing as Reed Trio. 
But as far as I am concerned the most inspiring of all was "Nuntium", issued by Multikulti label, with Robert Kusiołek, Anton Sjarov, Klaus Kugel and Ksawery Wójciński. Refined, intellectual, immensely deep music set on minimalistic background. 
I have just complimented on some avantgarde projects but no less interesting things have happened on mainstream side of jazz. At the very beginnig of this year Allegro label issued two interesting albums:
"Afreakan Project" by Wojciech Staroniewicz and "Facing The Challenge" by Krzysztof Pacan. Both these musicians have been known as excellent sidemen but with abovementioned albums they must be included into absolute spearhead of Polish mainstream. For Staroniewicz it is already second album as a leader after fantastic "Alternations" issued in 2008 while for Pacan it is his debut recording in this role and it's simply excellent!
Let me know review couple of albums that were most expected by Polish jazz fans in first quarter of 2011:
- Robert Majewski issued album "My One And Only Love" recorded with dream team composed of Joey Baron, Bobo Stenson i Palle Danielsson, which brought superbly played jazz, mostly emotional ballads, all well-known standards, but I was disappointed however because it was a bit too predictable and conservative for my taste.
- RGG, my favourite Polish cool jazz trio, Przemysław Raminiak, Maciej Garbowski and Krzysztof Gradziuk, whose "Unfinished Story" dedicated to Mieczysław Kosz I regard as one of masterpieces of Polish jazz, recorded new album titled "One" which has premiere in March 2011. It is very melodic and light-hearted and shall appeal rather to smooth jazz lovers than those, as I am, dedicated to avantgarde and improvised side of modern jazz. 
- MWT, Marcin Wasilewski Trio, records for legendary ECM label and is perhaps the best known Polish jazz combo abroad (Tomasz Stańko bands aside). Their new album "Faithful" is step forward in the direction of avantjazz but rather careful and subtle. Still music of MWT retained its unique identity and is pure joy to listen to. 
- CNS, that is Contemporary Noise Sextet, is a band founded by Kapsa brothers, recorded new album as well, "Ghostwriter's Joke". I see this band as one of the most interesting among those young and brave collectives which transgress the boundaries of what we typically associate with jazz. Their previous albums like "Pig In Gentleman" i "Unaffected Thought Flow", uniting jazz, film, rock and pop music were simultaneously ambitious and very sexy. Their newest record however has brought even more rock or even post-punk climates and thus lost some of its appeal to my sensitive and picky ears.
- Wojtek Mazolewski, one of the most prolific Polish musicians these days, recorded with his quintet an album titled "Smell Like Tape Spirit" which is as good and inspiring as recent "Monster Of Jazz" he recorded with Pink Freud. 
All albums mentioned in this note deserve strong recommendation! 

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