Thursday, May 19, 2011

Christof Griese & Leszek Możdżer - 52nd Return (1996)

Możdżer is a giant on Polish music scene but sadly he has been moving away from jazz idiom in recent years. He started his career as free jazz player and was one of protagonist of yass movement in Poland. Around 1996 however he started to move towards mainstream and this recording is good example of this change. 
I wonder what the title of this album refers to: either 52nd Street in New York known in mid 20th century for the abundance of jazz clubs hinting at renaissance of jazz in Europe or at Bud Powell's "52nd Street Theme"? If you listen to the original version of this tune and imagine how it would sound when played by John Coltrane group featuring McCoy Tyner on piano, you shall cath perfectly the sound and mood of the first half of this album.

However in second half of the album musicians all of the sudden turn toward free jazz, and instead of following Trane go after Ornette Coleman and one must admit that they do that in a same graceful manner. The high level of playing is secured by Christof Griese on sax (and flute in one tune), Leszek Możdżer on piano swithing at keyboard with Kirk Nurock, excellent Ed Schuller on double bass and Niko Schauble on drums. 
This free jazz-bop transitional stage in Możdżer  play evidenced also by another recording with Griese "Words" (199) but first of all by outsanding recordings with Adam Pierończyk like "Talk To Jesus" (1996) or "Live In Sofia" (1998) by regarded by many as the best in his career. But Możdżer decided that he needed to go even further towards pop music to win audience that was yet unconquered by jazz players. And he again succeed which proves that for artist with such a immense talent as he has, everything is possible if he remembers to express message in his own words. And Możdżer has never failed to do that...

I haven't got a film with music from this album but check the video from series of great concerts Możdżer gave with jazz stars from all around world in Gdańsk last year:

Nana Vasconcelos i Leszek Możdżer w Gdańsku przez mmtrojmiasto  

Author: Maciej Nowotny

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