Thursday, March 31, 2011

Marcin Wasilewski Trio - Faithful (2011) by Maciej Nowotny

First song on the album, known to many as Sting's "Secret Marriage", like "Diamonds and Pearls" by Prince on "January" or "Hyperballad" by Bjork on "Trio", on previous issues by this trio, is clearly a bow toward pop audience. Originally composition by Hans Eisler, titled "An den kleinen Radioapparat", lyrics written by Bertold Brecht, is also the link with great tradition of German lieder as impersonated by Schubert, Schumann or Mahler.
Next is first composition by Marcin Wasilewski, "Night Train To You", first of many gems from his pen proving that he equals in compositional talent to Esbjorn Svensson, Tord Gustavsen or even Keith Jarrett.  While rehearsing this song many great tunes exploiting train ride motif come to mind from "Chattanooga Choo Choo" to "Take the 'A' Train" (check Oscar Peterson version) or Pat Metheny's "Last Train Home". Michał Miskiewicz play on drums should be highlighted not only on this high-octane tune but also throughtout the whole album.   
Third is title track, a composition by Ornette Coleman from "The Empty Foxhole" (1968) album featuring Don Cherry (tr) and Charlie Haden (b) but famous due to Ornette Coleman's son, Denardo, playing on drums who at that time was...10 years old! Although this album is not my favourite, I like more "Free Jazz" (1959), "A Shape of Jazz To Come" (1961) or "Sound Grammar" (2006), but it nonetheless possesses this Ornettian element of madness, liberty, rejection of any conventions. Wasilewski's version is in-depth dialogue with great master of free jazz signalling perhaps new direction his music will take in years to come.
Fourth song "Mosaic", again composition of Wasilewski, shows why this trio is so famous and appreciated: inner energy is accompanied by stellar level of interplay. Bill Evans, Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian would applaud this tune I am sure.
Next song, standard, "Song of the Young Sad Man" is best known from terrific Shirley Bassey or Roberta Flack versions but our reference point should be Keith Jarrett's (p) one from album "Tribute" (1989) recorded with Gary Peacock (b) and Jack DeJohnette (d). You should definitely check out both versions to enjoy wholly interpretation offered by Wasilewski, Kurkiewicz and Miśkiewicz.  
Sławek Kurkiewicz, who plays on double bass, brought to trio next tune titled "Oz Guizos" by Hermeto Pascoal's, Brazilian day-dreamer, multi-instrumentalist, a man haunted by one of the strangest rhythms in the universe. With this song I would like to underline incredible level of recording as supervised by Manfred Eicher: music flows as effortlessly as a butterfly on spring meadows heated by shy Northern sun.   
"Song For Świrek" bears this unmistakable stamp of Wasilewski talent that is mixture of both lyricism and inner dynamism: it's like enjoying life in spite of all fears and grievances (song is dedicated to prematurely deceased Marek Świerkowski). 
Next "Woke Up in the Desert", another splendid song by Wasilewski, is founded on extremely simple three-note riff in turn taken by piano, double bass, drums and accordingly transformed in series of light as a feather improvisations. 
Penultimate "Big Foot" is composition Paul Bley (p) wrote for his album recorded in 1970 for ECM with Gary Peacock (b) and Billy Elgart (d). Elgart's style: bopish, energetic, masculine is very interestingly reflected by Michał Miskiewicz sensitive and spacious drumming.  
Finally, "Lugano Lake", another original from Wasilewski, refers to a location where album was actually recorded. It is farewell song played in serene mood in order to comfort audience for inevitable regret coming from realization that this hauntingly beautiful music is actually coming to the end.        
Though superficially easy-to-listen, melodic and accessible music on this album is in fact adventurous journey into what is best in world avant jazz tradition. Wasilewski, Kurkiewicz, Miskiewicz and Manfred Eicher's ECM prove that in this world full of obtrusive extravertism in the style of Lady Gaga, Rihanna or Justin Bieber there is still space for introvertic music that is not only infinetely refined but also capabale to cope succcesfully for audience attention. Splendid achievement!      

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny (http://kochamjazz.blox.pl/html)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Robert Kusiołek - Nuntium (2011) by Maciej Nowotny

Of all kinds of avantgarde, minimalistic approach appeals to me the least, but this album proves that with great music even such a skeptic as I am could be convinced. The main actor on this recording is silence: all sounds produced by musicians are only intended to underline silence inner energy and its power to transcend. I remember from school Latin proverb: "Ne nuntium necare" which translates into English "Don't kill messanger". Therefore I assume that title of the album points out towards musicians and message they want to deliver to audience. Let me then ask: who are those modern era "jazz messengers"?
Robert Kusiołek was up-to-this-moment a figure completely unknown to me: he graduated from Poznań Music Academy and is now studying in Hannover Music Scholl in prof. Elsbeth Moser class. He is accordionist and composer focused mostly on modern chamber music but on this album his musical ideas do fit very well with those of avantgarde jazz. The latter are represented by Wójcinski, the double bass player, who is one of the the brightest stars on Polish free jazz scene, collaborating already with Wacław Zimpel or  Mikołaj Trzaska, and Klaus Kugel, a German drummer whose filigree and delicate style is perfect complement for general mood of this music. Finally on violin Bulgarian Anton Sjarov appears, who is young musician with excellent classical music background, but open to experimental music whose play saturates music on this album with the sound of utmost refine and beauty.
Summarizing, this is deep and challenging album containing highly original jazz message from great players indeed. Essential position in Polish jazz catalogue of year 2011 and perhaps one of first contenders for album of the year title.
Let me also add that it is another great issue from Multikulti after last year "Hera" and "Passion" which makes them one of the most significant labels in Polish jazz along with Not Two Records.

  

Author: Maciej Nowotny

Droga z Taby do Akaby

Kilkanaście kilometrów dzielące egipską Tabę od jordańskiej Akaby pokonuje się w pół dnia. Dlaczego? Bo po drodze jest Izrael. Przejście graniczne po egipskiej stronie to cały ten kraj w pigułce: piękne krzewy i drzewa, a na nich pachnące nieziemsko kwiaty, w których tonie posterunek wyglądający, jakby miał się zaraz zawalić. Izrael to zupełnie inna bajka. Wszystko tu nowoczesne i dobrze zorganizowane, jak na amerykańskim lotniskowcu, który jakimś cudem zarył dziobem w środku najbardziej suchej z arabskich pustyń. Kiedy wreszcie po długich godzinach oczekiwania w bezczynności, rewizjach i pytaniach o cel wyprawy, dotarliśmy do Akaby, przygniótł nas tak potworny upał, że aż zatykało dech w piersiach. Bo Akaba to jedno z najgorętszych miejsc na Ziemi. Temperatura przekraczała 50 stopni. Przeszedłem w inny stan skupienia. Przestałem być białym człowiekiem. Musiałem odrzucić tę rasową tożsamość. Powyżej 50 stopni okazała się ona fikcją.

W czasie, gdy reszta wycieczki zaszyła się w hotelu, a dokładniej pod prysznicem - jedynym działającym urządzeniem przynoszącym złudzenie ochłody, ja udałem się na bazar. Nie mogłem usiedzieć w miejscu, wzywała mnie pustynia. Wiem, brzmi śmiesznie, ale tak było. Oczami wyobraźni widziałem, jak T.E. Lawrence zbiega tu z gór, prowadząc korowód wielbłądów w karmazynowych czaprakach.

Postanowiłem napić się kawy. Dostałem filiżankę świeżo zmielonej arabiki z obfitą domieszką kardamonu. Upał i ta upiornie mocna kawa wyostrzyły moje zmysły do ostateczności: wtedy usłyszałem muzykę… Cały bazar nią rozbrzmiewał, każdy sklep był pełen dźwięków niczym miniaturowa muszla koncertowa, chodziłem od jednego do drugiego, łowiąc dźwięki. Szybko uznano mnie za szaleńca, który stracił rozum pod wpływem tego nieznośnego upału. Zamiast bowiem targować się o cenę chlebów, przypraw, koszul czy butów, pytałem sprzedawców, co za muzyka rozbrzmiewa z ich straganów i gotów byłem słono płacić za należące do nich kasety i płyty CD.

Zewsząd dobiegały mnie zmieszane ze sobą dźwięki arabskiej perkusji, wprawiającej moją duszę w przypominający taniec derwiszów transowy wir, oraz dudnienie muzyki ludów z Czarnego Lądu, której ekstatyczny charakter przyprawiał mnie o zawrót głowy. Pod sklepieniem nieba zaczęły drżeć błyskawice, nadchodziła tak rzadka na pustyni burza. Tylko w mojej głowie rozbrzmiewał jeszcze jeden niezwykły dźwięk, wśród tej bujnej jak dżungla i gorącej jak pustynia rytmicznej wegetacji – zimny jak lód fortepian.

Kiedy wracałem do Sharm-EL-Sheikh, izraelska straż graniczna skonfiskowała cały, z takim trudem zdobyty zapas muzycznych skarbów z akabańskiego bazaru. Nie spodobały im się arabskie napisy na płytach i kasetach, może podejrzewali, że jestem kurierem Al-Kaidy? Wrażenia tej niezwykłej chwili uleciały- jak mi się zdawało- na zawsze. Aż do niedawna, gdy w moim odtwarzaczu znalazła się wydana w 2009 roku płyta niemieckiego pianisty Joachima Kühna „Out of Desert”.

Nagrana z towarzyszeniem marokańskiego wirtuoza oud i guembri Majida Bekkasa i hiszpańskiego perkusisty Ramona Lopeza, jest ogromnym krokiem naprzód Kühna po pierwszym albumie tego trio, czyli wydanej w 2007 roku „Kalembie” i po wcześniejszym „Journey To the Centre of the Egg”, nagranym z udziałem Libańczyka Rabiha Abou-Khalila w 2006, które i tak były już świetne. Przełomem jest sięgnięcie przez Kühna nie tylko po muzyków arabskich, ale i głębiej, do dźwięków Afryki subsaharyjskiej, reprezentowanej tu przez pochodzącego z Beninu Bessana Josepha Kouassi i jego towarzyszy. Płyta ta udowadnia, że Kühn osiągnął status artysty wyjątkowego, tworzącego własną muzykę, mającego za nic granice gatunków i nadawane przez krytyków etykietki. Jest równie inspirujący, gdy - jak tutaj - przetwarza to, co zwykle kojarzymy z world music, czy kiedy idzie pod rękę z awangardą w swoich płytach nagranych z udziałem Daniela Humaira, Tony Malaby’ego czy w niezapomnianym duecie z Ornettem Colemanem. Ale równie dobry jest także, gdy płynie bliżej głównego nurtu, jak na płytach w trio z Michaelem Wollnym i Heinzem Sauerem czy wreszcie wtedy, gdy daje wyraz swojej miłości do muzyki klasycznej, jak na solowym „Allegro Vivace”. Krótko mówiąc, album z tych, które - gdy ich słuchasz-wywołują myśl: chciałbym być tam, gdzie ci chłopcy grali i tańczyć!


Autor tekstu: Maciej Nowotny

Friday, March 25, 2011

Horny Trees - Branches of Dirty Delight (2009)

This record made a great impact on me and I would like to recommend it wholeheartedly: it's original, avantgarde but simultaneously accessible and easy-to-listen. How is it possible? Perhaps a reason is that this trio unites talents of t(h)ree players of very different jazz background who nonetheless managed to harmonize their styles and produce common and very interesting sound.
Hubert Zelmer (drums) has graduated from legendary Warsaw Music Academy and since then played in both classical and jazz music projects. Although young he excelled in many mainstream jazz recordings like in projects with Wojtek Staroniewicz, Zbigniew Namysłowski or Adam Pierończyk. Paweł Szamburski (clarinet) on other hand is one of the leaders of Polish avantgarde scene and member of such fantastic bands as Tupika, Cukunft or SzaZa cooperating with such important artists as Raphael Rogiński, Tomasz Duda or Mikołaj Trzaska. As for Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski (bass guitar and wind instruments) I believe he is self-taught but his ambition and talent are exceptional. He saturates music with pure madness showing that people who come from world outside of musical schools have a lot to offer to jazz. 
Speaking shortly, it is great that these young but very talented lads decided to work together disregarding all differences in their careers and music genres they played so far. The result is magnificent indeed! As with all the best contemporary jazz it is eclectic music uniting such different influences as free improv, klezmer, chamber, rock, electro-accoustic and even rave or trance. But in the end instead of chaos we got coherent and original music showing how attractive (if executed so well as here) may be such a synthetic attitude. 
If you are interested in what CD cover illustrates check following link (you can find there also music from this album) and read Horny Tree's bio in English: buahahahaha!



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wojciech Staroniewicz - Alternations (2008) by Maciej Nowotny

Wojciech Staroniewicz is one of these musicians who has surprised me the most over last few years. Though he is active on Polish jazz scene for over 20 years and played with all the greatest in Poland, he used to be somewhat low-profile, an excellent as sideman (in Włodzimierz Nahorny Sextet or LoudJazzBand) but rarely recognized as a standalone leader. However with his latest issues that is "Alternations" (2008) and "Afreakan Project", he proves to be as distinctive and inspiring voice in Polish mainstream jazz as much better known musicians.
On this record he is accompanied by young but already very successful musicians like Sławek Jaskułke (piano), Hubert Zemler (drums), Michał Barański (double bass) and, as a guest, superstar Leszek Możdżer (piano). As a result music is played simply brilliantly and since all songs are originals composed by Staroniewicz, we got here something fresh, creative and beautiful beyond description. Staroniewicz tenor sax reminds me Joe Henderson style: warm and very melodic but simultaneously creative and masculine, it saturates music with great inner energy and appeal. Fantastic record indeed!
Check following link for a sample of music from this album, a song titled "Dual": smashing play by Sławek Jaskułke on piano! Equally great is Leszek Możdżer piano storm as shown in "Sunny Sony" song!! What a jazz piano fiesta!!! More music from this album is available on Allegro's web site, the recording company to which we owe the printing (of the very high level) of this excellent album.

Author: Maciej Nowotny
http://kochamjazz.blox.pl/html


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Few texts in English for newcomers to Polish jazz...

Recently Paweł Baranowski (well-known Polish jazz critic) has send to me (and some other of my friends who are writing for Impropozycja blog) info with interesting links regarding Polish jazz in English. I decided to share them in this note so more people interested in Polish jazz can take an advantage of them:





Have a good reading ;-)))

Kazimierz Jonkisz - Top Six Outsider (Polish Jazz Vol. 71, 1987)

Volume nr 71 in great Polish Jazz series (which i got thanks to welovepolish.blogspot.com) brings us music which sounds as fresh now as it did on the day of its recording 25 years before. A bunch of then young players: Kazimierz Jonkisz (drums), Witold Szczurek (bass), Krzysztof Popek (flute), Piotr Adamski (piano), Maciej Strzelczyk (violin) and Henryk Gembalski (violin) showed such an energy and enthusiasm on this record that it was obvious that they had to become key players on Polish jazz scene in 80ties and 90ties. 
As far as leader of this band is concerned, Kazimierz Jonkisz started his career by taking taking part in recording of famous Zbigniew Namysłowski album "Winobranie" in 1973 and since then was very active playing with most important players in those times like Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, Tomasz Szukalski, Włodzimierz Nahorny etc. From 1974 until 1976 he was playing in Jazz Carries group with Henryk Miśkiewicz among others with whom he recorded album titled "Jazz Carriers: Carry On!" in 1973. Finally in 1978 he set up his own band which with different personel carried on for quite long time recording such interesting albums as "Tiri Taka" in 1980, "Top Six" in 1986 and "XYZ" in 1987. 
In musical terms this is mainstream jazz owing a lot to hard bop era with delicate Polish folk accents. It rocks as hell but presence of both violins and flute make music sound so original and Polish, unmistakably one of great recordings of serious players in Polish jazz.
PS. Please note a very interesting album cover which is a joke directed toward communist regime hated by most of Polish jazzmen: lap decorations containing portraits of musicians remind medals of Soviet heroes ;-)))
Check this link for a composition by Krzysztof Popek "Polinelia" from this record.

By Maciej Nowotny
http://kochamjazz.blox.pl/html


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Vertical Invaders


W którejś z poprzednich notek pisałem na temat płyty „7”, nagranej przez formację Der Rote Bereich z grającym na perkusji Oliverem Stiedle, dla którego finezji po prostu nie byłem w stanie znaleźć słów. A teraz chciałbym zwrócić Waszą uwagę na kolejną płytę, na której perkusja jest w roli głównej, tylko że tym razem gra na niej Tiziano Tononi. I tu jazz, i tam jazz, free, improwizacja, awangarda z najwyższej półki, ale jakże kompletnie różne podejścia do rytmu! U Stiedla rytmy są postrzępione jak pajęczyny u schyłku babiego lata, u Tononiego ustrukturyzowane, uporządkowane jak w fabryce Forda. A wydawałoby się to zupełnie niezgodne z ich narodowymi charakterami! Co za perkusiści, co za jazz, co za odmienne podejścia do bębnów we free! 

Oczywiście to nie wszystko, co czeka Was na tej płycie. Otóż są w jazzie nazwiska, które działają na mnie jak czerwona płachta na byka. Pharoah Sanders, Wadada Leo Smith, David S. Ware, William Parker. Mój Boże! Od wielu już lat atakuję niemal każdą ich płytę w nadziei, że w tych doskonałościach znajdę wreszcie jakąś rysę. Ale nic z tego! Zwykle po kilku przesłuchaniach leżę i kwiczę z podziwu, jak byk przebity srebrną klingą szpady torreadora, ukarany przez Muzy za mą nadmierną pychę. Czy tym razem będzie podobnie, bo przecież wymienionemu przeze mnie wyżej Tiziano Tononiemu i młodemu skrzypkowi włoskiemu Emanuele Parriniemu towarzyszy grający na kontrabasie sam wielki William Parker właśnie?

Jeśli chodzi o muzykę, jaka znajduje się na tej płycie, to punktem wyjścia dla niej jest Leroy Jenkins, dla którego album ten jest rodzajem trybutu. Jenkins to legendarny amerykański skrzypek jazzowy, który działał na awangardowej scenie chicagowskiej, był w AACM, grał z Anthony Braxtonem, założył formację z udziałem Anthony Davisa i Andrew Cyriila, a potem koncertował z Cecilem Taylorem. Szukając inspiracji, skrzypkowie często oglądali się na dominujących w jazzie saksofonistów, a niektórzy, jak chociażby nasz Zbyszek Seifert, łączyli grę na obu instrumentach. Jednak Jenkins, idąc śladem Trane’a, nawiązywał głównie do tego okresu jego twórczości, gdy ten współtworzył free jazz. To właśnie dlatego na płycie tej, obok oczywistych nut bopowych (zwłaszcza w pracy perkusji), pełno jest brzmień coltranowskich z tamtego okresu, muzyki transowej, pełnej niczym nie skrępowanych improwizacji, akcentów folkowych, w tym szczególnie tych z muzyki orientalnej. Ostatnim źródłem inspiracji, które ma niebagatelne znaczenie dla brzmienia muzyki na tej płycie, są włoskie tradycje muzyki improwizowanej, uosabiane tutaj przez takie formacje, jak Nexus i Italian Instabile Orchestra. W ogóle Włosi byli bardzo gościnni wobec amerykańskich jazzmanów, nie tylko tych zajmujących się muzyką improwizowaną, umożliwiając im przetrwanie w trudnych latach 70tych i 80tych, gdy w USA królowała czarna muza spod znaku Motown Records, a potem rapu. Katalogi takich małych, rodzinnych, włoskich wytwórni jazzowych, jak Red, Black Saint, Soul Note, Philology, CAMjazz czy słynny Splas(h), by wymienić tylko kilka najbardziej znanych, kryją prawdziwe perły… amerykańskiego jazzu! Włoska awangarda powstała pod wpływem nagrywających w Italii muzyków zza Oceanu, a płyta ta jest rodzajem hołdu dla trwających wiele już lat związków między jazzem amerykańskim a włoskim. Hołdem najlepszym z możliwych, bo wyrażonym muzycznym językiem dnia dzisiejszego, inspirowanym tradycją, ale spoglądającym w przyszłość. 

No to może na zakończenie jeszcze słów kilka o obecności Wiliama Parkera na tej płycie? Cóż, leżąc na boku, w kałuży krwi, na wysypanej białym, morskim piaskiem arenie, słyszę grzmoty oklasków i wiwaty na jego cześć. Od potężnego, zwieńczonego rogami ciała odrywa się moja dusza, mówiąc słowami Hadriana, „animula vagula blandula”, której wznoszeniu się ku Niebu („Ascension”…) oprócz smutku towarzyszy jednak zachwyt, zwłaszcza gdy słucham niezwykłej wersji „Naimy” Coltrane’a, którą znajdziecie ukrytą, jak perłę w muszli, w utworze czwartym na tej godnej uwagi płycie.

Autor tekstu: Maciej Nowotny


Friday, March 18, 2011

Piotr Wojtasik - Lonely Town (1995)

I often grumble on this blog as far as mainstream jazz is concerned that it is too predictable, too well-known, too conservative. But from time to time an album arrives which despite having all these features wins me over entirely and I cannot detach myself from my beloved Tannoy speakers. And such is the case with "Lonely Town" recorded under leadership of trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik.
He is a serious player on Polish jazz scene and he not only recorded with the best musicians in Poland but is also lecturer in Wrocław Music Academy where his trumpet class has become famous. On this recording he is accompanied by all-star team of Polish jazz musicians: Leszek Możdżer (piano), Krzysztof Popek (flute), Zbigniew Namysłowski (alto sax), Maciej Sikała (tenor sax), Jarosław Śmietana (guitar), Jacek Niedziela (bass), Marcin Jahr (drums) and Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Jerzy Jarosik.
The program of the album contains mostly standards like "Naima', "Darn That Dream" or "Stella by Stalight". There are perhaps better albums of Piotr Wojtasik available but this one with its accessibility and charmful character may be the best entrance to his discography. 
If you want to get to know more about Piotr Wojtasik or buy this record, please check this link please. And check following link to listen to Wojtasik's trumpet although not in any songs from this album and with different line-up.

By Maciej Nowotny


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mikromusic - SOVA (2010)

I love jazz but honestly speaking there is plenty of great music outside. That's why I have recently written about new Zimerman record and that's why I am today writing about this album titled Sova by Mikromusic, although it is clearly pop. They are coming from my native and beloved city of Wrocław. Natalia Grosiak  has excellent vocal, sweet yet psychedelic and is also author of all texts which are enough intriguing to catch your attention for longer than just a while. Her creativity and style is no worse than those of much more famous Polish jazz singers and listening to her singing reminds me that good jazz singing usually flourishes best on the fringes of mainstream. She is accompanied by Dawid Korbaczyński on guitar, Robert Szydło on bass, Robert Jarmuzek on piano, Adam Lepka on trumpet, percussion and Łukasz Sobolak on drums - a quality support which at moments sounds a little trip-hop or nu jazz, making music of this band much more interesting than usual pop pulp. Bravo! 
Please check this link to listen how good vibe this young artists produce.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

100nka - Potrawy, sTrawy + Kompot Gratis (2007)

Colorado beetle (stonka=100+ka) became in Poland quite a famous bug. There were times when plenty of these small insects ravaged not only potato fields but, even in bigger numbers: radio, newspapers, cinema, all due to communist propaganda. "Stonka" played important role in secret alliance led by Uncle Sam directed at weakest point of communist regime in Poland: farming industry. Strangely, however, when in 1989 political system in this country changed, almost immediately shops became abundant with food (though on other hand few could then afford it). Stonka miraculously left spotlights of country media and become normal pest as any other, stripped of all its demonic aura. 
OK, not all of them disappeared. At least couple of them still cherished idea to be superstars again and they succeed! Their way back to fame was easy: they changed potatoes for weed (title of the album translates into something like "dishes of weed and heroine shot free of charge"). Yeah! That's cool I would say and I hope that you are not hypocritical: in my country everyone's boozing as hell, hundreds of people are killed by alcoholised drivers but that's OK with our government. Why? Because our spirit industry is powerful lobby and all vodka is heavily taxed. And weed? Weed is so easy to grow and so difficult to tax. Then weed is bad, very bad indeed for our government. 
Going back to 100nka: they recorded this double CD album in 2006 and it's pure fun. Psychedelic fusion avantgarde free improv cosmic jazz that is the simplest label I find to describe what kind of music it comprises. First CD is recorded in studio by Przemek Borowiecki playing drums, Adam Stodolski on double bass and Tomek Leś on guitar. The music really is great stuff but with second CD, recorded LIVE and with addition of trumpeter Antoni Ziut Grala they do really hit a roof! It rocks as hell and shows that this small ugly beetle is BACK as evil and pissed off as ever and willing to be force in Polish jazz to be reckoned with. The story will be continued...



Monday, March 14, 2011

Robert Majewski - Komeda (1995)

This recording dates back to 1995 and is kind of family business. Henryk Miśkiewicz is alto saxophonist while Michał Miśkiewicz, his son, is a drummer, well-known from his long term collaboration with Tomasz Stańko and Marcin Wasilewski. He also has a sister, Dorota Miśkiewicz, a talented pop and jazz singer.
On the other hand a senior of Majewski family, Henryk Majewski, trumpeter, is not present on this album but instead his son, Robert Majewski, is playing on this same instrument accompanied by his younger brother pianist Wojciech Majewski (his performance appeals to me most). The only musician outside these two families is Zbigniew Wegehaupt but only nominally since they all know each other for ages.
Good thing resulting from such a steup is that they are all playing technically impeccable and are communicating with each other perfectly. The music is very sweet and emotional. However it's well too polite and well-behaving as far as I am concerned. It does not bring this "sound of surprise" which I expect from good jazz recordings and I therefore treat is as rather uninspiring tribute to such a musical genius as Komeda was. Please, check this film to listen to a mellow and refined sound these musicians are capable to produce.
    

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Marcin Masecki - John (2010)
























Up to this point I knew little about Marcin Maseckl and though I previously listened to his last album "Bob" it somehow did not catch with me. But with this record it turned out to be differently, I overcame initial objections and once started to dig deeper full impact of music got me. Certainly Masecki solo piano efforts (aforementioned “Bob" and this record) are not easy to digest. In terms of musical temperament he may be compared to such great pianists of the past as Thelonius Monk, Cecil Teylor or Cedar Walton. He is constantly experimenting, searching for novelty, for yet unexploited sounds and harmonies. 
He is especially active in modyfying piano which sounds at times like children instrument (check record Małe Instrumenty “Grają Chopina" for similar attitude) or some out of tune instrument covered with many years dust stashed in corner of old attic. Tunes are also something between child chaotic and mindless thumping on keyboard and the type of refinement and skills that can be only ascribed to an accomplished pianist with strong classical eduction. Strange as it sounds it's all true and shows that Masecki voice is highly original and that his path, entirely his own, may lead him in future to even better things.
For the time being apart from this solo piano avantgarde efforts, he plays in excellent ParisTetris avantpop group and he also is planning for spring issue of new albums with his newly established jazz sextet Projesjonalizm and also another solo piano with Bach's “Kunst Der Fuge”. Speaking shortly, certainlny Masecki is one of the most interesting young artists on Polish jazz scene and this is the album not to be missed. Check first how he plays Bach and then how he sounds on this album: stunning indeed!!!


By Maciej Nowotny
http://kochamjazz.blox.pl/html


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Trifonidis Free Orchestra - "...be like a child..." (2009)

Bartek Adamczak finalizes his small cycle about Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski: check other posts about albums "The Dudes" (2010) and "Downtown Project" (2010). He is also writing a very interesting blog about free jazz: http://jazzalchemist.blogspot.com/.

Another big group, my favourite position in the slowdownrecords catalogue - not really surprising if You notice the 'free' word both in the band's name and in this blog's title. While still a set of composed pieces this one allows much more room for improvisation and brings You also the most balanced instrumental line-up - with 2 tenors, 2 altos, 2 trumpets, a tuba and the rhythm section.
Bielawski comes through again with precious melodies and harmonic depth (simply and touching theme of "Free Warsaw", with nice trumpet solo in the middle of the track). The improvisation comes forward not only as a solo inside the composed material but also as a built-in ingredient of the composition's formula - like in spare and spacious "Slam". This band can punch and kick with great energy ("The man with the lash and the beast") but adding to the mix the passion of free-jazz (wonderfully screaming sax over the majestic, epic movement of "Born to fight", boiling ensemble blowout in the "Run") and engaging in more abstract, spontaneous voyages - as in "Chromatic Sixteen" which starts with spare call & response explorations, moves into the fluent sax lines exchange and then into modern swing - nice twist on the nature of improvisation - not coming from, but arriving to the composed material. 
The biggest game changer for me - making this one not only an enjoyable (like "the Dudes" by Tricphonix) but also an engaging listening - is the rhythm section. With Wojtek Traczyk on bass (known from The Light trio with Waclaw Zimpel) and Pawel Szpura (Hera and Cukunft among other projects). This duo can lay the groove but most importantly can push the music forward also in the more uncommon territories when needed. Listen to how wonderfully their playing changes in "Tripolis", between the wild beat of the ensemble section and the light colourfull touches of the solo passage (the track ends also with a nice solo on drums by Szpura). Or how they push forward the "Playground" through the first sax solo - this piece is possibly the highlight of the album, with a fantastic brass trio section (tuba and two trumpets) and the bass solo by Traczyk, the most impressive singular statement of the disc - powerfull arco, rich and colourfull, uncompromising in timbre (wonderfully commented by Szpura on drums), then, as they give back the groove to the band, horn section starts re-building the dynamic momentum, the tension and finally collapse, disassembling the arranged riff into free and wild playing.
"...be like a child..." is a great ending, with clear theme, nicely structured arrangement (gently oscillating vibrato showing again his love of cinematic effect), anchored in the bass line, and balancing the line between solo and ensemble roles - somehow summing up the whole album.
Balancing the whole time - between composed and improvised, big ensemble sound and personal expression - this is a great musical meal, with compositions being the substance but great playing being the sauce and the spice. I have to say that I like it more and more with each listen which is something a really good music should.
You can see this band here (without Luis Nubiola but with Waclaw Zimpel on bass clarinet and Tomek Stawiecki on clarinet) going through first two compositions of this cd: "Born in my own melody" and "Born to fight". And some recent video here (showing even wilder and more expansive playing) leave me with a hope for more coming from this band in the future. Watch as they go through "District" featuring an explosive solo by Ray Dickaty (again bit different line-up, can't tell the faces in the dark though).

Friday, March 11, 2011

RGG Trio - Scandinavia (2003) by Maciej Nowotny

Przemysław Raminiak (piano)
Maciej Garbowski (doublebass)
Krzystof Gradziuk (drums)

Polskie Radio Katowice, 2003







One of the records for which I am most impatiently waiting this year is new CD of RGG trio titled "One". You can already catch a glimpse of what it will be like because I've posted here couple of tunes from this upcoming album. So in meantime I decided to write about their debut album issued back in 2003 (BTW I already wrote about their last album "True Story").

Piotr Iwicki in his Jazz Gazeta (source) writes that the history of this band dates to year 2001 when Raminiak and Gradziuk who studied together looked for bass player to play with them during their bachelor's exam. Garbowski, already second year full time student, decided to help them and so happened that they not only passed successfully exams and became full time students but also found excellent partner for their project who since then proved to be one of the most significant in Polish jazz.

Another crucial moment in their career took place in 2002 during 5th edition of Bielska Zadymka Jazzowa festival where they started in young talents competition. One of jurors in this contest, Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, recalls: "it was something incredible, I felt like stunned, whole jury's discussion lasted no more than 15 seconds". The common opinion was that they simply outclassed all other young participants and presented fully matured music being miles away from proposals of their equally young colleagues. The reward for winning in the contest was the grant for recording an album. The recording session followed accordingly and in 2003 their first CD was issued immadietely winning hearts of many jazz lovers in Poland. It is then quite funny that all this story could never happen since they entered this competion from reserve list after one of its participants had resigned!!! 

As for quality of their play I can only cite words of Tomasz Stańko spoken once with respect to musicians of another Polish great band that is Marcin Wasilewski Trio: "when I met them they were very young, two of them were 18 years old and Michał (Miśkiewicz) just 16!!! But I never have doubts about them, they simple played perfectly from the very beginning". The same can be said about Raminiak, Garbowski and Gradziuk because this debut recording contains as excellent music as any of subsequent their subsequent albums.

In terms of musicial influence we can simply say that this is cool jazz and that Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett would probably be very happy if they could see how the seeds sowed by them have beautifuly grown in some distant and cold European country. Strong Scandanavian influence (evidenced by title of one of compositions and of the album itself) is obviously equally important to RGG with figures like Bobo Stenson, Esbjorn Svensson or Tord Gustavsen coming to mind. The tune "Three For Brad" shows that inspiration coming from Brad Mehldau music is also present here and significant. Finally composition "In Him We Trust" dedicated to Krzysztof Komeda is clear sign that his cool, intelectual yet infinitely emotional way of treating jazz was important for musicians as well.

Speaking shortly, an excellent CD fully deserving to be reahearsed many times over, regardless time that has passed since its recording...

Check this link for fantastic tune from this album titled "A Moment Worth A While".

Author: Maciej Nowotny
http://kochamjazz.blox.pl/html

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Julia Sawicka Project - Breathing Space (2011)

Julia Sawicka (vocal, piano)
David Doruzka (guitar)
Grzegorz Grocholski (trumpet)
Roman Chraniuk (doublebass)
Marcin Jahr (drums)

Jazz Forum, 2011




As you probably know I am in love with jazz with inclination towards free and improvised music. Such a attitude is biasing my appraisals of music strongly. So once I got this maxi singiel by Julia Sawicka (attached to a copy of Jazz Forum magazine) and listened to it once, I decided that this is worthless. However I did not write review at once being distracted by other things like making money, dough, bucks etc.

And so happened that surprisingly this music instead of travelling straight to wastepaper basket has become a very frequent guest in my CD player! All thanks to my wife (not great jazz fan) who decided that this is (at last!) kind of jazz she can digest and she simply got enamored in this album. Wow! So the thing that neither Miles Davis, John Coltrane or Tomasz Stańko could achieve, Julia Sawicka accomplished with her low and sultry voice!

But not alone but accompanied by set of excellent musicians among whom a star of Czech guitarist David Doruzka shines with brightest light. Apart from him Grzegorz Grocholski on trumpet, Roman Chraniuk on double bass and Marcin Jahr on drums provide support any girl singing jazz could only dream of. Finally let me ask Julia (on behalf of my wife) that once she records new album, could she be so nice to send her a copy for which she is already impatiently waiting.

Please, check this link to Julia Sawicka site in order to listen to samples of music from this album. But I would recommend you to check this link as well where you can find a bit more predatory version of Julia which suits my tastes a bit more ;-)))

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny
http://www.kochamjazz.blox.pl/

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The winner is...Jazz Nad Odra Festival!!!

Fot. Krzysztof Dziedzic
Soon after excellent Bielska Zadymka Jazzowa festival another one called Jazz Nad Odra (source: Jazz Forum) has come, one of the oldest and most renown in Poland, important especially because of competition for young musicians. So the question is who is the winner this year? Tuźnik/Kądziela Quartet!!! Maciej Kądziela plays on saxophone, Artur Tuźnik on piano, Emil Brun Madsen on double bass and Matias Andreasen on drums (check links under names for sample of music by these artists). Half of this band recorded in 2010 good album titled "Last Call" as Outbreak Quartet which was described on this blog.
Summarizing, congratulations to young artists and best wishes for future but first of all I would like to thank people in Wrocław who continue great tradition of this festival. Unlike in Warsaw where small peple with big egos effectively DESTROYED the best Polish festival ever Jazz Jamboree...


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Transgress - Oneirism op. 1 (2010)

This rather pretentious title of the album and name of the band plus doubtful artistic concept of CD cover together with extremely lame photos of artists inside did not indeed inclined me favorably towards this music. So I must admit I was entirely surprised once I inserted this disc and started to listen to what sounds began to flow from my beloved Tannoy speakers: fresh, charming and very, very intriguing. 

Then I started to study the CD cover more closely and discover that I know nothing about any of artists in this project, name of recording label, Soliton, a good one, being the only familiar entity involved in the process of creation of this album. Following query showed a little more details: the band is laureate of FERMATA foundation which support young and creative artists and made possible recording of their debut album. The key figure in the band is Marcin A. Steczkowski who not only plays on piano, keyboard, alto horn, trumpet but also composed most of the music on this album. He is exploring jazz, chamber, klezmer, avantgarde and perhaps even more labels could be found with respect to this music but to be honest I regard such a broad scope as weakest side of this album: it's outgrowing any genre being in consequence a bit too eclectic for my taste. Since my heart belongs to jazz I feel like every time Steczkowski and his partners go full-time jazz the effect is very rewarding otherwise it starts to be indigestible mash.

Speaking shortly, this is ludic, creative if somewhat juvenile effort of the VERY talented artists which should ask themselves in what language they would like to communicate with an audience. They have potential to be as distinctive and important voice like Contemporary Noise Sextet, Levity or even Pink Freud provided that they start to move consistently toward jazz direction. Otherwise I am sorry to say but I rather predict them to be forgotten soon...which would be SAD indeed considering how great potential they are showing with this album.

Please, check this link to listen to how well they sound if keeping on jazz side of the line or look at this video:


Author of text: Maciej Nowotny
...

      

Czy istnieje coś takiego jak miłość?


Czy istnieje coś takiego jak miłość? Zapewne odpowiecie, że to głupie pytanie. Kto z nas nie kocha swoich dzieci, żony, rodziny, ojczyzny etc. Tylko, że ja nie taką mam miłość na myśli. Bo te miłości, piękne, bardzo piękne bez wątpienia, wymagają, aby zaistnieć, przedmiotu. I przez to, powtórzę za Platonem, wydają się jednak nieco ułomne. Czy istnieje, pytam zatem, miłość jako taka? Która przepełnia serce, chwilę, istnienie, ale jest nieskrępowana swym przedmiotem, oczyszczona z treści, bo i nawet niewiele ma wspólnego z nami, bo gości w nas na podobnej zasadzie jak lustrzany blask, które odbija niewidoczne żródło światła znajdujące się poza zasięgiem naszego wzroku? Czy taka miłość, silna jak nagła tęsknota, zachwyt, znajdująca się poza czasem bieżącej chwili i aktualnej przestrzeni istnieje?

Tak. Istnieje, choć nie wiem ile razy w życiu czułem ten stan, ile razy zadrgało tak serce. Bo stan ów napełnia tyleż błogością co wielkim lękiem, przerażeniem, bojaźnią wręcz. Rozrywa tkankę pewności istnienia i przewidywalności naszych uczuć, wywraca na nice poczucie bezpieczeństwa, które z takim wysiłkiem każdy z nas buduje każdego dnia jak ptaki gniazdo dla swoich piskląt. A jednak tęskni się strasznie za tymi momentami miłosnej grozy i bez nich życie jest jak...jak muzyka bez ducha.

Bo wielka muzyka ma w sobie zarówno wielką miłość jak i wielki smutek, cierpienie, lęk. Dlaczego? Chyba człowiek nie jest ulepiony na miarę rzeczy boskich, wielkich. Kiedy po nie sięga, one go spalają , niszczą. I tak było z Marionem Brownem, bo muzyk to po prostu tyleż nieznany co absolutnie niezwykły, a te same przymioty dotyczą jego muzyki. Moim marzeniem napisać jest kiedyś parę słów na temat jego osoby i muzyki jaką tworzył, by przybliżyć trochę innym słuchaczom jego sztukę. Ale jeśli do tej pory nie słyszeliście żadnej jego płyty to ta może być najlepszym wyborem na sam początek. Bo Marion Brown to ikona undergroundowego free jazzu (przynajmniej dla mnie), ale ta płyta najbliżej chyba ze wszystkich przez niego nagranych, znajduje się głównego nurtu. Jest komunikatywna, melodyjna, czarująca, a przy tym...posiada to wszystko, o czym pisałem wyżej.

Autor: Maciej Nowotny

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sławek Jaskułke - Fill The Harmony Philharmonics (2005)

Sławek Jaskułke (piano)
Krzysztof Dziedzic (drums)
Sławomir Kurkiewicz (double bass)

Hanseatica Chamber Orchestra

BCD Records, 2005



Any stylistic genre, especially in music, when it grows up inevitably becomes eclectic. In some cases it turns out to be ground for composing best music possible like in classical music is for example with oeuvre of Gustav Mahler. However in jazz we are still far from that stage and this album being kind of attempt to do exactly the same thing throwing into one pot jazz, symphonic, rock, pop and even rap but unfortunately instead of some new harmony it produces chaos. I still regard Sławek Jaskułke as talented Polish jazz pianist but this project is his total failure. 
It's no loud - it's noisy to the point when you would simply pay musicians to stop this massacre. Krzysztof Dziedzic on drums whom I like a lot is making such a din on his drums that I cannot say anything else than that it's his worst recording ever. He simply overshadows nice (at moments) play by Jaskułke and not bad bass line as supplied by Sławomir Kurkiewicz. Presence of Hanseatica Chamber Orchestra is simply shameful. It is so sad that these great musicians took part in such unorganized racket!!! If I were in Jaskułke place, I would buy whole edition of this CD and make it to be grinded in some garbage mill as soon as possible.
Still I am waiting impatiently for his new record (to be issued soon) which is duo with another excellent pianist Piotr Wyleżoł. Hopefully it will be something much, much better than this CD and than other Polish duos of the past like Marek & Wacek. Let's pray...
Please listen to sample of music of Jaskułke playing piano solo showing how great potential he has if he is not overextending himself...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet - Smells Like Tape Spirit (2011)

Wojtek Mazolewski, bass player, is frequent guest on my blog. I reviewed his "Monster of Jazz" (2010) and "Alchemia" (2008) recorded with excellent Pink Freud band plus "Freeyo" (2009) recorded in trio with Gos and Wojtczak. All these albums (and other not mentioned here) are simply very, very good and point to very important feature of Mazolewski's play: whether he flirts with avantgarde, mainstream, free jazz or ventures into rock or even pop territory he maintains this same uniquely his own voice. Always daring, creative and self-ironic, he is brilliant wherever he chooses to turn his attention. He is one of few, VERY few, musicians whose musical language appeal to both lovers of free and avantgarde music niche and can simultaneously be voted to be played on Polish most popular and famous chart (44th position on hit list by Trójka). 

One of the explanations of the success of many Mazolewski projects is his ability to pick up right musicians who are not only among best in the country but more importantly share his artistic visions, his attitude toward art, his Boheme way of life (or better to say: image ;-). This time he is accompanied by Michał Bryndal on drums, and rhythm section they created is key to success of this album. It's trance-like, broken and angled line is simply breathtaking, among the most forward thinking and original in Polish music. These two rhythm wizards are often joined by excellent piano play by Joanna Duda and two expressive brass players: Marek Pospieszalski on saxophon and Oscar Torok (from Slovakia) on trumpet.  
Many years ago Mazolewski was deeply involved in yass revolution in Poland and he has maintained this experimental attitude over the years, his Quintet being kind of test vehicle, for his ever-changing musical ideas. He recorded first album in this format in 2007 (issued 1 year later) with completely different staff and comprising totally different music. There is no continuity altogether although there is clearly development. So let me in the end ask this question: where Mazolewski is steering with this record?

In my opinion this record shows he is maturing quickly leaving behind himself all yass lack of seriousness, order, respect for tradition which was sometimes honestly speaking a nuisance for adult listener. Already excellent "Alchemia" album (2008) marked his evolution toward play as much creative as focused on quality, on beauty of sound which together with special kind of recording procedure used in this session (using tape and without many rehearsals) gave music rarely met spatiality, density and featherweightednes. Hopefully Mazolewski will stay on this track in future as well...

You can easily buy this album in mp3 format for less 4 Euro now at following page: "Smells Like Tape Spirit".     

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny
http://kochamjazz.blox.pl/html

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Music from new recording by Contemporary Noise Sextet!!!

Music from new album of one of most interesting young jazz bands in Poland. I reviewed on this blog two excellent  albums of them: "Pig In Gentleman" and "Unaffected Thought Flow". Where their musical path shall lead them this time? You can catch glimpse of that by listening to the following three tunes:  


Rafał Sarnecki recorded for Fresh Sound New Talent!!!

I have recently written about Rafał Sarnecki debut recording "Song From A New Place". It is then great pleasure to inform readers of my blog that his next recording will be issued by prestigious Spanish Fresh Sound New Talent label (second Polish artist recording for them after excellent Piotr Wyleżoł Trio "Children's Episode") available worldwide in its catalouge since February. Polish premiere set for 8th May 2011 this new album is titled "The Madman Rambles Again". I am very curious what music this disc shall bring to us...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rafał Sarnecki Quartet - Songs From A New Place (2008)

This is kind of musical diary composed by young guitarist Rafał Sarnecki after 3 years time spend in New York. But though his debut album it sounds as it was recorded by fully matured musician. First, unlike novice and young player Sarnecki does not concentrate on his technical ability (BTW it is extraordinary) but on searching of his own, unique sound. Pat Metheny style being his point of departure his playing is never too close to his main influence to be mistaken for imitation. He from the beginning to the end is on his own way.
In such a attitude he is assisted by a set of fantastic musicians of whom pianist Paweł Kaczmarczyk deserves to be mentioned in the first place. Being himself excellent soloist and leader, Paweł has a rare ability to be able also to play as sideman in splendid way, leaving all necessary space for his collaborators to shine. Wojciech Pulcyn on double bass and Łukasz Żyta on drums provide a firm and steady support for Kaczmarczyk and Sarnecki to dance, sing and fly as much as they want.
And that is second, really surprising, feature of this recording that instead of putting himself upfront Sarnecki shows here enough maturity to be able to co-operate with all other members of the band (including flutist Thomas Abbott appearing in track 7). 
All these features of this young musician shows his great potential for future provided that he shall decide wholeheartedly to go for music and jazz because he has also a degree in physics and declares it being his second love. 
Finally let me find few words to praise Jan Smoczyński from Tokarnia studio for excellent level of recording and Maciej Stryjecki from ARMS Records (unfortunately not existing any more?) for fine level of edition of this CD.
Please, check this link for sample of music from this album.

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