Friday, December 16, 2011

Grzech Piotrowski Quartet - Archipelago (Challenge Records, 2011)

Grzech Piotrowski Quartet (band)

Grzech Piotrowski - saxophone
Bram Stadhouders - guitar
Michał Barański - double bass
Onno Govaert - drums

Archipelago (Challenge Records, 2011)

You can either love or hate Grzech Piotrowski music. Very much alike to such artists as pianist Leszek Możdżer or vocalist Anna Maria Jopek he is in fact much closer to pop music than to jazz music. Like Możdzer or Jopek he gained popularity other jazz musicians can only dream of but in consequence by some listeners, especially those like myself free jazz inclined, his music happens to be despised as shallow and commercial. I personally prefer to look at it the other way as kind of bridge between those two great dominions, of pop and jazz, a bridge which makes it possible for many souls to become attracted to more ambitious music. 
This release by him will undoubtedly stand among his most successful albums. Although he keeps to his cool, ambient and relaxing moods sliding at moments close to smooth jazz he fortunately finds in Dutch guitarist Bram Stadhouders enough challenging counter-partner to make this enterprise inspiring for even such a full-of-reserve listener as I am. Although Stadhouders stands firmly on mainstream ground his chops are surprisingly varied with cool jazz, electronic and even free jazz influences successfully integrated in his own voice. His interaction with Grzech Piotrowski is pure pleasure to follow and prove that Polish saxophonist is at his best when he confronted with equally strong personality as he was for example on his earlier "Dracula In Bucharest" recorded with then very young prodigiously-talented Polish pianist Marcin Masecki. But "Archipelago" glitters and shines also thanks to fabulous rhythm section. Both top Polish double bassist Michał Barański and Dutch drummer Onno Govaert add third dimension to this sound  landscape making rehearsal a very satisfactory experience. 
What can I say in the end? Grzech Piotrowski consequently goes along his own musical path. Perhaps he justly does not mind voices of critics because he is successful at what counts the most that is in establishing relationship with audience. Since this album is released by Dutch label Challenge Records it is now easily available outside Poland. Congratulations as much to artists as to recording company and I wish Grzech Piotrowski  the same amount of recognition and love among international audience as he enjoys among Polish one!

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

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