Thursday, August 4, 2011

Piotr Baron - Kaddish (Celestis, 2011) by Maciej Nowotny

Piotr Baron (tenor & soprano saxophone, bass clarinet)
Adam Milwiw-Baron (trumpet, flugelhorn, didgeridoo)
Michał Tokaj (grand piano)
Michał Barański (doubles bass)
Łukasz Żyta (drums, percussions)

celEsTis, 2011

Polish young musicians often mock older generation saying: they kind of stop developing 20 or 30 years ago, they are living fossils, dinosaurs! In most cases I willingly agree with them, there are great names in Polish jazz which sadly have nothing more interesting to say although they keep on recording one new album after another. Fortunately there are exceptions, Tomasz Stańko being the most obvious one, almost 70 years old he nonetheless still keeps firmly the standard of Polish avant-garde (what is unfortunately only reflected in his concert activity, not in CDs as published by ECM). 

Other example is Piotr Baron, saxophonist, better to say reedist because he plays as well on saxophones as on clarinets. On Polish scene he functions as main player in mainstream jazz and yet he managed to record an album with Wadada Leo Smith ("Salve Regina"), a dream never-to-be-fulfilled for all these young lions of our avant-garde who are so keen on criticizing mainstream jazz. Moreover, Piotr Baron makes a lot of people irritated because of his flamboyant Catholicism and many declarations that all nuances of fashion, vogue and style are secondary to him when confronted with religious message he regards as the most important. And yet, in my humble opinion (and I am not religiously fervent at all!), this religious madness saturates his music with such spontaneity, authenticity and emotionalism that he is able to evoke reactions all these young free jazz worshipers can only dream of.

I therefore prefer to put Baron in his own class, he is neither mainstream or avant-garde, he is madman, as other great jazz madmen of the past in persons of John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders or Bennie Maupin, all reedist, all going their own way, all great sorcerers, producing sounds in order to conjure demons, succuba, revelations rather than just music some disillusioned DJ may play in radio between washing powder and dog food commercial. 

Before I end this extended apology let me add that in this noble errand Piotr Baron (tenor & soprano saxophone, bass clarinet) is accompanied by dream-team rhythm section - Michał Tokaj (piano), Michał Barański (bass) and Łukasz Żyta (drums) and his son Adam Milwiw-Baron providing excellent support on trumpet. Album's program ranges from "Kaddish" (threnody over recent death of journalist Jan Mazur), to set of fully improvised duos titled according to quotations from Bible, Darek Oleszkiewicz composition "Prayer" and "Soulfood" dedicated to Benny Maupin (both "Kaddish" and "Soulfood" are composed by Piotr Baron and are the best tracks on this album), to famous "Pescador de Hombres" favourite tune of Pope John Paul II (the weakest on this album, I would expect from Piotr something more adventurous as far as this tune is concerned). 

All in all, fantastic music, one of the best albums in Polish jazz this year and I can only hope that we will not have to wait for new Piotr Baron's record another 36 months!!!

Check one of those above-mentioned improvised duos titled "Psalm 51":

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Author of text: Maciej Nowotny
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