Monday, October 24, 2011

Piotr Baron – Kaddish (Celestis, 2011) by Adam Baruch

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

Kaddish (Celestis, 2011)

(Editor) Verging gracefully between mainstream and avantgarde this album is surely one of the most interesting albums released this year. Please read Adam Baruch's insightful review and listen to the music. 

Kaddish, the ancient Jewish prayer usually associated with Jewish funeral and mourning services can be considered as a representation of the essence of the Jewish religion and is also often associated with the faith of the Jewish People. The fact that the great Polish saxophonist / composer Piotr Baron used this idiom as the title of his new album, as well as the title of the central composition, which opens the album, is by no means accidental. Baron, a devoted Christian, dedicated many of his previous releases to religious themes, expressing the idea that any Artist's religious views are an integral part of his personality, which is also reflected in his Art, or in his case his music. In Poland, Jews and Christians lived together for centuries, sharing the same soil and culture. It was Poland's bitter destiny to become the central setting of the Jewish Holocaust, which almost completely eliminated the Jewish presence in Poland, separating the two Nations by a chasm, which is still bleeding after seven decades. Baron, paying respect to Jewish faith and tradition, represents a present-day trend among the Poles to build a new bridge between Christians and Jews, re-establishing the severed relationships, a trend strongly present and growing. How much all this background information is related and relevant to the music itself is a decision every listener will have to make, while listening to it. The album consists of seven pieces, of which two are composed by Baron, three are improvised duets by him and his respective partners and the remaining two originate from other sources. Three of the pieces are dedicated to specific persons (two religious personalities and one musician – the great mulireedist Bennie Maupin). The personnel includes Baron's son Adam Milwiw-Baron on trumpet and didgeridoo and three Polish Jazz veterans: pianist Michal Tokaj, bassist Michal Baranski and drummer Lukasz Zyta. The music is absolutely entrancing, deeply atmospheric and moving, constantly changing and elegantly amalgamating strong melodic content with advanced improvisational excursions. Baron's playing is virtuosic at all times, often reminiscent of John Coltrane's mid-period, which is about the highest compliment I can bestow upon any sax player. The other musicians are all masters of their trade, with Baron Jr. continuing the family name and trade with honors. It's obvious that Baron is making a statement here: spiritual, artistic, musical and philosophical, all combined. This is a very personal album, which definitely stands its ground on purely musical merits, but proposes a lot of added values, when put in its proper background. An album one can surely return to many a time, re-discovering its beauty repeatedly. I raise my hat, Maestro!

Author: Adam Baruch
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