Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jan Jarczyk / John Stetch - Smoked Pianos ( GAD Records, 2011)

Jan Jarczyk – fortepian
John Stetch – fortepian

Smoked Pianos ( GAD Records, 2011)

Polish pianist / composer Jan Jarczyk, who lives in the US & Canada since the late 1970s, is fondly remembered as member of the original Zbigniew Seifert quartet, where he played alongside Seifert in the late 1960s / early 1970s, contributing some of his compositions to the quartet's repertoire. The wonderful early recordings by the Seifert quartet ("Nora") were released on the same Gad label, which also released this album. Jarczyk continued his Jazz career in the US & Canada as educator, first at the Berklee Collage of Music in Boston and later at McGill University in Montreal. He also continued to perform and release Jazz albums. Jarczyk met Canadian (of Ukrainian origin) pianist / composer John Stetch twenty years prior to this recording, when Stetch was one of his students. He invited Stetch to play with him a series of concerts in a piano duet setting. These concerts, which were organized to celebrate Jarczyk's 60th birthday, were recorded and this album now brings these recordings to a wider audience. Of the seven duets included here three were composed by Jarczyk, one by Stetch, one co-composed by the two players and two are standards. The material presents a versatile setting, from ballads to up-tempo compositions, which allows the players to stretch out and exchange licks along the way. The deep empathy, understanding and mutual respect between the two musicians is obvious and plays a major role in the overall music-making / love-making ambience. Although both players are clearly highly talent performers, the duo is stronger than the sum of its individual parts. Stylistically the music moves between straight-forward melodic modern Jazz to mostly improvised stretches, so there are no dull moments here. For piano lovers, this is heavenly stuff, well worth having and of course returning to. Warmly recommended!

Author: Adam Baruch
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