Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Maciej Sikała - ASAF (2004)

Maciej Sikała (saxophone)
Michał Barański (double-bass)
Piotr Jankowski (drums)
Joanna Gajda (piano)

mmcd, 2004






One of the most beautiful mainstream albums ever in Polish jazz is completely unknown not only abroad but also in Poland. Moreover it was recorded spontaneously and almost by accident during jazz workshops Missio Musica organized in August 2003. Like another sax man of note Piotr Baron's albums ("Salve Regina") Maciej Sikała (saxophone), the leader of the band called ASAF, is inspired by his Christian faith and treats music as way of expressing his love to God. Check for example the cover of CD where in shapes of upright and bent reed you can perhaps find the shape of fish.

But regardless of religious message the music on this album is simply overwhelmingly beautiful. Anchored strongly in mainstream jazz it's attractiveness lays not in form but in emotions that are pure, intensive and contagious. They easily spread onto listeners due to massive amount of space, silence and depth as created by artists. Maciej Sikała is accompanied by musicians of the same highest rank he himself belongs to. Michał Barański's line on double-bass is as subtle and refreshing as spring shower in the evening. Piotr Jankowski hustling and shimmering on drums is perfect addition to Joanna Gajda sensitive and elegant support to excellency of rhythm section. Joanna Gajda last year splendid "Heaven Earth Earth Heaven" is clearly influenced by this magnificent recording.

Seldom I drool over clearly mainstream music but this music breaks out of all boundaries and since first notes put me under its spell. Go and check by yourself how powerful its magic really is!!!


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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rafał Sarnecki - Madman Rambles Again (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2011) by Adam Baruch

Rafał Sarnecki (guitar)
Paweł Kaczmarczyk (piano) 
Jerzy Małek (trumpet)
Lucas Pino (saxophone, flute)
Wojciech Pulcyn (bass)
Łukasz Żyta, Paweł Dobrowolski (drums)
Jose Manuel Alban Juarez (percussion)

Fresh Sound New Talent, 2011



Adam Baruch (check his music boutique www.jazzis.com) is presenting new album of talented man Mr Sarnecki. It is our second text about this desc but music certainly deserves it...

This is the 2nd album by the excellent Polish guitarist / composer / arranger Rafal Sarnecki, following his outstanding debut released a couple of years earlier. Sarnecki manages to repeat the same level of freshness and quality, but the new album is different in many ways, mostly due to the fact that Sarnecki lived in NY for some time, absorbing some of the Big Apple's influences, which are evident in the brass arrangements, Latin rhythms and overall sound of the recording. But fortunately this amalgamation of American influences did not replace his European roots, which remain intact, especially in his superb compositions. He composed seven of the eight tracks on the album and included one standard, same as last time. 

His musical cohorts consist partly of the same excellent musicians who recorded the debut album: pianist Pawel Kaczmarczyk, bassist Wojciech Pulcyn and drummers Lukasz Zyta (on six tracks) and Pawel Dobrowolski (on two tracks) (all five are members of the pianist's Audiofeeling Band), strengthened by a brass section: US saxophonist / flautist Lucas Pino and trumpeter Jerzy Malek. Percussionist Jose Manuel Alban Juarez (despite the name he's Polish) guests on two tracks. The sextet format allows Sarnecki to develop a much richer orchestration and complex arrangements for his superb compositions, which he does beautifully, carefully avoiding overdoing it, which is a rare and commendable approach. The performances are of course stellar and these young musicians bring a wide smile on veterans' (like me) faces, seeing that Jazz has a future after all. 

What I particularly admire about Sarnecki is his ability to eschew the Fusion trap – he manages to keep this album 100% Jazz, which is extremely rare for guitar albums these days. The album was released on the Spanish Fresh Sound label, which releases albums by young and promising Jazz musicians from all over the world, giving them a chance of international exposure, an admirable policy deserving support. Polish Jazz legend Tomasz Stanko gives Sarnecki some warm compliments on the album's cover, and I'm only happy to concur with his opinion – this is definitely a great piece of music, which deserves repeated listening and an honorable place on the shelves of Polish Jazz discography. Wholeheartedly recommended!

Fragment of music registered during concert in Polish consulate in New York this year:


Author of text: Adam Baruch (http://www.adambaruch.com/)

...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Włodek Pawlik - We Are From Here (The Kielce Philharmonic Orchestra, 2010)

Włodek Pawlik is good example of how third-stream jazz is popular in Poland. There are countless recordings exploring this so many times plowed field with particular emphasis on Chopin compositions, regarded as hero of national culture and all that blah blah. I often wonder where this fascination with classical music comes from: my supposition is that it is related to the fact that most of jazz musicians in Poland undergo classical education. Good side of that is that technical level of Polish instrumentalists is really high, the weak side is that they are kind of limited in their imagination, they lack bravery, open-mindedness, spirit-of-rebel to cast behind themselves all that they so industriously learned during classical education.

This record of Włodek Pawlik is an example of such attitude: no one can deny his virtuosity in playing the piano and his compositional talent as displayed on this album. If he stucked to jazz as he more or less did on first track titled "Puls 11/8 na fortepian, flet, orkiestrę smyczkową i sekcję rytmiczną", it would be magnificent CD. This is great composition, very well played where both jazz and symphonic elements are perfectly balanced. 

But after this gem tune lasting 13:59 comes kind of suite titled "We Are Fro Here" lasting more than half an hour which is simply yet another typical post-romantic peace of music that unfortunately sounds so all-too-well-known, so easy-to-predict-what-will-be-next that I only with great difficulty forced myself to listen to this record more than once for sake of this review. Part of the problem lies as well in rather suppressed and lacking-breath sound of The Kielce Philharmonic Orchestra. Or is it poor level of recording? Or both?

Check this film to feel general mood of the music although material comes from different recording "Tykocin Suite" featuring trumpeter Randy Brecker who added a lot to this music:


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

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sensational schedule for Jazz Autumn in Bielsko!!!

Usually well-informed Jazz Forum magazine announces truly sensational schedule for Jazz Autumn Festival in Bielsko-Biała. If these dream comes true, between 16-20 November 2011we shall be able to listen to such dramatic events as:

16.11.2011

Colin Vallon Trio (Colin Vallon - piano, Patrice Moret - double bass, Samuel Rohrer - drums) whose last record for ECM titled "Rruga" has brought music of extreme beauty and depth. Certainly one of the most interesting jazz pianio trios in the world along with our renowned Marcin Wasilewski Trio (check their recently issued "Faithful").

Cecil Taylor (piano) and Tony Oxley (drums) - this left me speechless!!! Taylor is living legend of  avantgarde, voice like no other in modern jazz while Oxley drumming is very well remembered by Polish adience from his recordings with Tomasz Stańko like "Leosia" (2000).

17.11.2011

Tom Harrell, one of best trumpeters in American jazz, will bring his Chamber Ensemble with "Debussy -  Ravel" project. Sounds very interesting to me!

And yet another mind-blowing announcement: evening this day great Pharoah Sanders will be playing in Bielsko Biała!!! Wooow!!!





18.11.2011

The concerts for this day are not yet disclosed.

19.11.2011

On this day will play a band of pianist and harpist Iro Haarla which is honestly speaking little known to me but when I look at names one can find in her band: trumpeter Mathias Eick, saxophonist Trygve Seim, double-bassist Ulf Krokfors and drummer Jon Christensten, I am sure this gig will be worth to be present at.

Evening this day is secured for special event since Craig Taborn Trio will play featuring apart from this young but excellent pianist, Thomas Morgan on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums.



But last day 20.11.2011 is again truly a killer!!!

First Michael Formanek Quartet will play whose double-bass will be accompanied by Tim Berne (saxophone), Craig Taborn (piano) and Gerald Cleaver (drums).  They will perform material from disc titled "The Run And The Spare Change", one of the most significant in ECM catalogue last year.

However evening concert will be of even more attention since it will feature legendary trumpeter Tomasz  Stańko and pianist Craig Taborn. The outcome of this meeting is unpredictable but that's exactly what we love in jazz, don't we?


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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Adam Pierończyk Trio - Live In Berlin (Meta Records, 2007)

Adam Pierończyk Trio

Adam Pierończyk (tenor & soprano saxes, zoucra)
Ed Schuller (double bass)
Krzysztof Dziedzic (drums, percussions)

Metarecords, 2006

Courtesy of  Stef Gijssels we would like to remind you an excellent album issued by Adam Pierończyk Trio few years go:

I've sung the praise of Polish saxophonist Adam Pieronczyk before, and I'll do it again now for his new release "Live In Berlin", with Ed Schuller on bass and Krzystof Dziedzic on drums. The performance itself dates back to 2005, played for an obviously small yet attentive audience. Three of the four pieces come from his recent album "Busem po Sao Paulo", the last piece from "Few Minutes In The Space". Pieronczyk's playing is very melodic and creative, accessible with a deep emotional tone, and his compositions are beautiful, simply beautiful. The limited audience creates and intimate atmosphere, which is further reinforced by the minimal line-up and the nature of the music : it's as if you're there, or they here. Ed Schuller's lyrical approach fits perfectly with Pieronczyk's playing and Dziedzic's drumming is a real treat as well: subtle, sophisticated and rock solid. Together they bring long and exciting musical explorations, with great interplay and real soul. While listening to this CD, more than once the thought occurred to me : "this is what jazz is all about". So : recommended.


Author of text: Stef Gijssels (http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Aga Zaryan - A Book Of Luminous Things (Blue Note, 2011) by Maciej Nowotny

Aga Zaryan (vocals)
Michał Tokaj (piano)
Larry Koonse (guitar)
Darek Oleszkiewicz (double bass)
Munyungo Jackson (percussion)
Polish Radio String Orchestra


Blue Note, 2011
New album by Aga Zaryan which we annouced not so long ago in this note (there is plenty of information there which I will not repeat here) is already available in shops in Poland and worldwide through Blue Note distribution. Aga Zaryan's last record "Looking Walking Being" (2010) was a great success and she was universally acclaimed as top jazz singer in Poland but she also starts to be recognized by audience abroad. That album brought not only great singing by her but also stellar play by her sideman of whom two are present also on her newest album: Munyungo Jackson whose play on percussion enlivens greatly this music and Michał Tokaj who not only is accompanying on piano but co-creates music on this album since he composed all tunes.

So what we have in this pot and what is the outcome? Whole album is focused around texts which are very deep and moving indeed: most of them are penned by Polish Nobel Prize winner poet Czesław Miłosz and some of his favourite poetesses (Jane Hierschfield, Anna Świrszczyńska, Denise Levertov). Tunes are all composed by Michał Tokaj and they are melodious, relaxed and bluesy. On the other hand unlike on "Looking Walking Being" where compositions were of different authors (apart from Tokaj, Larry Koonse, Zbigniew Wegehaupt and David Dorouzka), "A Book of Luminous Thing" lacks the diversity of the previous album though gains on artistic unity. There is also no immediate hit like title track on previous album and closest to that is "Music Like Water" flowing gently and lazily which is good example how Aga Zaryan's music change on this CD: from accessible, optimistic, energetic to more ambitious, pensive and complex. 

On top of Miłosz texts and Tokaj writing lays singing of Aga Zaryan's and I bet few jazz vocalists in world  will venture on task as difficult as she did on this album. And yet her singing flows so effortlessly, graciously and is yet so communicative that I cannot say anything else but simply praise this splendid effort! 

Last but not least is play by Aga's companions: Michał Tokaj apart from composing all tunes supplies her with elegant and lyrical accompaniment on piano, Larry Koonse play on guitar is no worse or better than David Dorouzka's on previous album, Darek Oleszkiewicz lays usually deeply hidden in the background (due to frequent use of strings I suppose) while Munyungo Jackson percussion rides are one of the best instrumental moments in this music. Excellent strings of Polish Radio Orchestra supply a film-like setting for most of the tunes.      

So what is my final position on this album? I simply admire it because Aga Zaryan showed truly jazz spirit by totally renewing her musical concept although retaining her own, individual language so well known and appreciated from many of her previous albums. In the result she is providing us with significant achievement that will most probably bring as many approving as disapproving opinions. But that is what is good art all about, isn't it?  

PS. BTW birds are singing that sooner or later we will get this music (or similar) with Polish texts. That will be great news for Polish speakers!

Check Aga Zaryan's web page for samples of music. Although there is still no music available on web with songs from "A Book Luminous Things" please listen to this a bit older song since it is reflecting what is general mood of music available on this disc:


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


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Alchemik - Sfera Szeptów (Empik Jazz, 2001)

Alchemik
Grzech Piotrowski – soprano saxophone, sopranino
Marcin Masecki – piano
Marcin Murawski – bass
Robert Luty – drums
Jan Pilch – percussion
Barbara Witkowska – harp
Chamber String Ensemble Alchemik – String Quartet

Empik Jazz, 2001

I often use label "smooth jazz" as synonymous of unambitious and bad jazz. But to be honest I am wrong: ANY music may be good or bad, regardless labels which we decide to attach to it. And this album is a very good example of that!

Although verging between smooth jazz and nu jazz therefore using all-well-known harmonies and arrangements, yet it is graciously composed and performed. It is creating relaxing background to comfortable armchair, dimmed lights and evening rest or meditation...

Apart from Grzech Piotrowski whose play on soprano saxophone and sopranino resembles a lot that of Jan Garbarek, I was interested in Marcin Masecki's performance on piano. His recordings with Piotrowski were one of the first in his career: his play on this album is good but pretty much fits in general mood of delicacy and sweetness. Therefore it is even more commendable that in years to come he has been able to dramatically change and develop his musical language which is evidenced by such excellent albums like Pink Freud's "Alchemia" (2007) or his solo "John" (2010). A great example for other young Polish jazz players to follow!

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

Check this video to get to know about the general mood of this music:



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Paweł Kaczmarczyk - Audiofeeling (2007)


Courtesy of Adam Baruch (www.jazzis.com) we publish review of debut album by Paweł Kaczmarczyk. Check as well his next recording "Complexity In Simplicity" made for ACT, both discs proving he is one of the most talented men in Polish jazz these days:

Brilliant debut album by Polish Jazz prodigy, pianist / composer Pawel Kaczmarczyk, aged 22 at the time of this recording. The album presents Kaczmarczyk with his piano trio with bassist Michal Baranski and drummer Pawel Dobrowolski, which was his regular group at the time. Three saxophonists: Radoslaw Nowicki, Tomasz Grzegorski and Grzegorz Piotrowski join the trio on several tracks, turning it into a quartet and on one track a sextet, when they all play together. Of the ten tracks present here, eight were composed by Kaczmarczyk and the other two co-composed by Kaczmarczyk and Piotrowski.

The music is absolutely brilliant, from top to bottom, from start to finish and from the first to the last note. The piano trio showcases their mutual telepathy and the quartets / sextet introduce an ensemble approach. Kaczmarczyk is obviously an outstanding player, elegant and sensitive and above all mature well above what might be expected from a musician of his age.

But even more astounding than his technical brilliance are his skills as a composer, which turn him into a full-fledged Jazz personality. His music amalgamates all of the Jazz tradition, ignoring trends and genres, emphasizing the sense of melody and structure which one finds only amongst the finest of Jazz Masters, like Bill Evans. Of course all the other musicians are equally excellent, playing with grace and passion, always elegantly and with taste. The overall result is a stunning achievement, especially in view of the fact that it is a musical debut. I can´t imagine any Jazz lover in the world not loving this music to bits, as it is simply overwhelmingly beautiful. A must!

Author of text: Adam Baruch (http://www.adambaruch.com/)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I love Cracow and (free) jazz in Autumn!!!

Ken Vandermark and Marek Winiarski (Alchemia 2008) for. Krzysztof Penarski

I was born in Wrocław - probably the merriest city in Poland, I live in Warsaw - the biggest and most metropolitan but I love Cracow - it is bohemian, metaphysical and moody as any good blues or jazz. It is a city where Tomasz Stańko lives, where Krzysztof Komeda first become known to public and where Mieczysław Kosz debuted playing in restaurants and dancing halls. It is therefore city of jazz as in the past as now which is evidenced for example by festival Krakowska Jesień Jazzowa (Cracow Autumn Jazz Festival).

The history of this festival goes back to 2004 when Marek Winiarski - a founder of Not Two Records invited Ken Vandermark to Cracow for series of concerts. Because those concerts took place in Alchemia Club and were very succesfull, owners of this club, Aleksander Wityński and Jacek Żakowski, decided to organize (first in Poland?) festival dedicated solely to free jazz and improvised music. Organized every year since then this festival hosted more than 150 muscians, among them Anthony Braxton, Charles Gayle, Joe McPhee, Peter Brotzmann, who gave more than 100 concerts. If you want to see great photos evidencing many of great artists playing in Cracow during this festival please check website of photographer Krzysztof Penarski.

So if you plan your travel to Poland and you love free jazz, there is no better polace for you Autumn this year as Cracow Autumn Jazz Festival. Here you can find schedule from which you can learn that such great artists as Taylor Ho Bynum, Liudas Mockunas, Ken Vandermark, Paal Nilssen-Love, Rafał Mazur (and many others) will be playing concerts.

The festival is stretched over three consecutive autumn months starting on 20.09.2011 with Kazutoki Umezu KIKI and ending on 28.11.2011 with Band named Conference Hall featuring Gebhard Ullmann, Michael Jefry Stevens, Joe Fonda, George Schuller. So there is plenty of time to plan trip to Cracow and believe me:  in this world there are few things as gracious as lazy stroll along Cracow's famous Planty promenade from Wawel Royal Castle to Old Market when tons of pure gold come down from splendid chestnut trees...

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


Friday, June 17, 2011

Leszek Możdżer - Komeda (ACT, 2011) by Maciej Nowotny

Możdżer is a key figure in modern Polish jazz. His importance is evident at several levels. As very young pianist he took part in yass movement playing in Miłość band (check for example "Asthmatic"). He was at those times playing avantgarde music, often mockingly paraphrasing great tradition of mainstream jazz. Although after couple of years this movement extinguished, it left an important legacy which enabled present renaissance of free and improvised music in Poland.

After this period Możdżer moved closer to mainstream when he played in energetic bop style making several recordings that are by many regarded as best ones in Polish jazz history ("Talk To Jesus" or "Live In Sofia").

But that was not the end of Możdżer's metamorphoses because after couple of years he once again changed his emploi completely and moved unexpectedly toward popular music though  maintaining his jazz language. And the outcome was as usual with Możdżer entirely his own which is evidenced for example by recordings he made with Lars Danielsson ("The Time").

Although many jazz lovers in Poland complained over this latest change, I am of the opinion that there is no musician in Poland that makes more to popularize jazz among wider audience. The result is that his albums are impatiently awaited by all music lovers in Poland, jazz fans or not, sold in thousands of copies and his concerts are always given in full-packed halls.

Especially valued by audience are Możdżer's solo projects. His "Chopin" album became legendary. "Kaczmarek By Możdzer" contains tunes composed by Jan A. P. Kaczmarek who was awarded Oscar for sound track to Marc Foster's film "Finding Neverland". But of all those splendid recordings this newest one, dedicated to Krzysztof Komeda, sounds to me as most gracious and beautiful. One tune after another we hear all so well known tunes by Komeda but they are only a starting point for subtle and boundless improvisations. Following the steps of such great solo improvisers in Polish jazz as Mieczysław Kosz or Adam Makowicz, Możdżer proves that he is worthy to be placed in a same line with those giants of the past. Taking into account that Komeda is perhaps the most significant personality in history of Polish jazz and that this album allows to acquiesce with his magnificent compositions played in very attractive and approachable way, I do not hesitate but call this CD best ever entree to Polish jazz for all those who would like to start to know it better...

An excerpt from marvellous "The Law And The Fist" ("Prawo i pięść") tune:
    

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


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reed Trio (Trzaska / Vandermark / Zimpel) - Last Train To The First Station (Kilogram Records, 2011)

Reed Trio

Mikolaj Trzaska - alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Ken Vandermark - tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet
Waclaw Zimpel - bass clarinet, clarinet, tarogato

1kg Kilogram Records, 2011


Again Free Jazz Alchemist (check his web site http://jazzalchemist.blogspot.com/) is using his unique knowledge about Polish free jazz to tell a story about one of the best avantgarde albums recorded this year:

I remember how I've been excited getting news about this trio first recording ever since 2008. Wawrzyn Makinia (known maybe better as Laurenz; owner of Multikulti) was all hyped about the first recording session (I was visiting Poznan for Made in Chicago Festival and could a get a first-hand report). Only to find out (through Ken Vandermark's facebook and occasional meetings in Krakow with Waclaw or Mikolaj) that the session was lost due to the hard disk crash. The trio's set during the second edition of Resonance project (autumn 2009) was so inspiring and in complete sync that it was obvious enough that those three will continue to work together.

In April of 2010, after performing in Gdansk, (a studio session and a concert which, fortunately recorded, constitutes the music available on this cd) during the travel from Gdansk to Warsaw, Ken Vandermark's baritone was stolen from the train's compartment (something I'm ashamed to admit happened in my own country but the immediate reaction and remarkable support - the story on national news, newspapers and the entire community of musicians, music promoters and music fans united in the search for the baritone uplifted my spirit a bit). The following days were packed with action flick worthy events but the baritone was not found. Ironically though the insurance money allowed Ken to buy the baritone from Peter Brotzmann (old Werner Ludi's instrument) which was actually what he wanted to do in the first place. And that's the story behind this music (described elegantly by Ken himself in the liner notes) - full of bumps and unexpected and unwelcome twists, the music though is something completely else.

The music is, to put it simply, beautiful. Surprisingly fragile, a fruit of incredible sensibility - it's remarkable how those three artists are able to connect and react together, completely egoless. The sense of communication is uncanny, sweet harmonies, instant unisonos ("When Tulips are Gold", clarinet duo by Ken and Waclaw - "Crossroads nad Cosmic Ray"). Seamlessly exchanging roles of leading, harmonic or rhythmic instruments this trio creates a truly democratic 'conference of birds'. And although the sacrum space (New Synagog in Gdansk) could have suggested the more intimate playing not unlike modern chamber music, it doesn't mean that they're playing shy - occasional wild screams make the general peaceful nature of this music more evident.

The clarity of vision is awe-inspiring whether it's the entire trio playing, a duo piece (3 of those) or a solo (one by each musician). Each of those really is worthy a mention, fragile and lyrical Trzaska's alto ("Sitting on a Warm Stone"), rhythmic and hard-edged Vandermark's tenor ("The Distance That Becomes You") or slow, deep, meditative and soulful Zimpel's bass clarinet ("It's Here and It's Gone"). Despite this variety, or maybe thanks to it Reed Trio creates the music that is uncompromising, emotionally gripping and sometimes even breathtaking, with a sense of unity and direction that is quite spectacular.

This is some of the most enchanting and absorbing music I've heard this year. It sure may have taken a lot of time and trouble to get this recording done, but (from my perspective which is a listener's point of view) it was completely worth it. A stunning statement.

Reed Trio performing in Gdynia in 2008:


Author of text: Bartek Adamczak (http://jazzalchemist.blogspot.com/)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Marcin Wasilewski Trio - Faithful (ECM, 2011) by Stephan Moore

Marcin Wasilewski Trio

Marcin Wasilewski (piano)
Michal Miskiewicz (drums)
Slawomir Kurkiewicz (bass)

ECM Records, 2011





Certainly one of the most interesting mainstream albums issued this year, now in Stephan Moore review:

Six albums on and the Marcin Wasilewski Trio (originally known as Simple Acoustic Trio) have evolved into a relaxed, introspective and now adventuresome outfit. The trio's stint with Tomasz Stanko and some warm production work from Manfred Eicher of ECM have helped the group hone its sound as well as their performances. Their use of space is clever and precise and makes their latest album, Faithful, one of their best and one of JazzWrap best albums so far this year.

Adventuresome is one the aforementioned words I used to describe MWT's advancement. The opening of Faithful, "An den kleinen Radioapparat", the group explore German composer Hans Eisler classical standard sans vocals. Without the vocals the listener is clearly focused on the instrumentation. And the delivery from Wasilewski is sublime. Miskiewicz's subtle brushes add a layer of mystery that still reflects upon the original composition. "Night Train To You," moves with lovely but rapid pace. Wasilewski while setting the structure has written a piece that still allows the group to improvise throughout.

One of the things I've always enjoyed with MWT's albums is there ability to reshape and re-imagine other artists material. As evident on Paul Bley's "Big Foot" where by the very nature of the composition, the trio strive and deliver a powerful yet playful performance. Kurkiewicz's movements in dense and propulsive. Wasilewski's uptempo rhythms really give Bley's original a run for the money. It's one of the best versions of this piece I've heard (not that there are a whole lot). While on "Oz Guizos" (originally written by Hermeto Pascoal) the trio are wonderfully melodic and add a sense of spaciousness that gives the members wide breathing room. Kurkiewicz strumming is sublime and helps the piece move gently up and down.

The delightful "Lugano Lake" closes the albums and for me encapsulates the trio's recent form of the last few years. It's peaceful, agile and dynamic all the while holding a sense of that many listeners will gravitate to. Marcin Wasilewski has emerged as a colourful and daring pianist in the last few years. The trio as a whole continue to solidify their name on the global psyche. The diversity of Faithful may finally send the Marcin Wasilewski Trio into the level of recognition. This is a brilliant piece of work from a group that gets better and better with every outing. Deep. Personal. Reflective. And Highly Recommended.



Author of text: Stephan Moore (http://jazzwrap.blogspot.com/)


Monday, June 13, 2011

Jazz Forum digitalized...

Jazz Forum is in Polish jazz something more than just magazine, it is an institution, gracefully led by Paweł Brodowski. For almost 50 years it not only informs, promotes (fantastic series of mainly debut CDs that are attached to every subscriber's copy) but it most of all shapes gusto of jazz fans in Poland. That is why it also irritates me sometimes since in my opinion it is too much inclined on mainstream side of jazz neglecting a little our thriving avant-garde and free jazz scene. However even that has recently changed and names like Wojtek Mazolewski ("Smells Like Tape Spirit"), Maciej Obara ("Three") or Oleś Brothers ("De Profundis") appear on its columns more often.

Since 1965 apart from what was said above Jazz Forum is also a great source of information about history of Polish and European jazz available in Polish but also in English and German because its international editions were printed in those languages between 1968-1989 and 1976-1981 respectively. It is therefore good news for Polish and foreign readers that numbers covering first 25 years of Jazz Forum existence will soon become digitalized. This valuable project was initialized by Z. Seifert Foundation (Aneta Norek-Skrycka and Janusz Stefański) with a financial support of Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Bravo!

The link: http://www.polishjazzarch.com/, now inactive, shall be checked near the end of this year for fully functioning site...    


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tylko teraźniejszość jest wieczna...

Muzyka i muzycy, jazz, to o miłości do nich jest moje pisanie. Ale jednak jest coś ważniejszego, wyznam nieco ze wstydem, z lękiem, z zażenowaniem, tym czymś jest dobre towarzystwo. Potrafi ono spotęgować przyjemność z obcowania z kulturą do, no właśnie, do czego? Są takie chwile, które chciałoby się, aby trwały bez końca, nie tylko dlatego, że się dzieje coś nadzwyczajnego, ale dlatego, że jesteśmy w dobrej kompanii. Tak było właśnie podczas koncertu odbywającego się 20 maja w Ośrodku Kultury Ochota z okazji 10-lecia RGG - tego jednego z absolutnie najlepszych polskich trio w historii.

Czułem dreszcz podniecenia tyleż w oczekiwaniu na ten koncert, co na spotkanie z przyjacielem, z którym mieliśmy wspólnie doświadczać tej muzyki. Kiedyś przed laty wiele razy słuchaliśmy wspólnie jazzu, a jeszcze więcej rozmawialiśmy o nim, zwłaszcza o tym jazzie z lat 50-tych i 60-tych, o złotej epoce Blue Note. Potem nasze drogi rozeszły się, ale po kilku latach znowu połączył je jazz. Spotkaliśmy sie przypadkowo, mało wtedy słuchałem polskiego jazzu, wydawał mi się zapyziały i nieciekawy, a ów kumpel zwrócił moją uwagę właśnie na RGG czyli Przemysława Raminiaka (fortepian), Macieja Garbowskiego (kontrabas) i Krzysztofa Gradziuka (perkusja). I tak właściwie z przypadku, bezwiednie i nieplanowo, zacząłem znów po wielu, wielu latach uważniej słuchać naszych jazzmanów i z tego, po jakimś czasie, narodził się mój blog poświęcony polskiemu jazzowi, do odwiedzenia którego przy okazji Was zapraszam: http://polish-jazz.blogspot.com/

Jeśli chodzi o opinię o najnowszym albumie RGG zatytułowanym "One", z którego materiał miał być grany podczas koncertu, to były one raczej ostrożne choć z całkowicie przeciwstawnych przyczyn. Dla Mirka, wielbiciela mainstreamu i tego elementu nazwijmy go cantabile w jazzie, album był nie do końca satysfakcjonujący ze względu na liczne wstawki improwizowane, z ducha awangardowe. Dla Macieja natomiast, który pisze ten tekst, a który gustuje we free jazzie, album był nie do końca satysfakcjonujący, ze względu na obecność nazbyt łatwo wpadających w ucho melodyjek i grania w stylu Billa Evansa, które mu się już nieco przejadło.


Zaczyna się koncert. Pełen profesjonalizm w każdym calu, ale widać tremę, zdenerwowanie, napięcie artystów. Lubię to! A nienawidzę, gdy na scenę wychodzą muzycy niezmotywowani, lekceważący publiczność, niedoceniający jej, a w polskiej rzeczywistości się to zdarza zbyt często. Ale nie RGG. Można ich postawić obok zespołu Marcina Wasilewskiego, obok Audiofeeling Band Pawła Kaczmarczyka czy różnych składów Wojtka Mazolewskiego: to wszystko duma polskiego jazzu. Ale wracam do opowieści: wielkie przestraszone oczy Krzysztofa Gradziuka wołały do publiczności - chcecie nas zjeść, nienawidzę Was!!! I nie mylił się zbyt wiele...

Może dlatego właśnie to był jego wieczór: w swoim graniu dawno wykroczył już poza wyłącznie zestaw perkusyjny. Jego kreatywność okazała się po prostu niezmierzona, grał na bębnach i talerzach jak natchniony, a poza tym korzystał z rozłożonych wokół kołatek, łańcuchów, sztućców, a nawet z plastikowej butelki! Trzeba powiedzieć wprost: jest to wielka indywidualność polskiego jazzu, talent na miarę Arta Blackeya, Jacka DeJohnette czy Paula Motiana. Ale to nie znaczy wcale, że niżej oceniam grę jego partnerów. W istocie grają oni jak jeden organizm, być może stąd tytuł płyty, odnajdują to legendarne "telepatyczne" współgranie tak w harmoniach jak dysharmoniach, w różnych tempach jak i nastrojach.

Po koncercie, którego nie sposób było skończyć ze względu na burzę oklasków i niesłabnący entuzjazm publiczności, podeszliśmy do Krzysztofa Gradziuka i na jego ręce złożyliśmy gratulacje całemu bandowi. Mówił o rosnącym ciężarze oczekiwań wobec zespołu, który nagrał tak wspaniałe płyty jak poświęcony Mieczysławowi Koszowi "Unfinished Story" czy w pełni improwizowany "True Story". Mówił o próbie, która poszła źle. Mówił o tym jak ciężko znaleźć drogę do muzyki wyrafinowanej, a jednocześnie pozwalającej nawiązać kontakt z szeroką publicznością. Mirek rozmawiał przytomnie z tym wielkim artystą, a ja doświadczałem w oszołomieniu jego pasji, obsesji, miłości jaką jest muzyka, jazz.

Wyszliśmy z OKO, był niesłychanie ciepły majowy dzień, żal było wracać do domu. Zamieniliśmy parę słów: Mirek stwierdził, że najbardziej podobały mu się właśnie te dynamiczne, awangardyzujące improwizacje, a ja nuciłem w duchu wszystkie te słodkie jak marcepan melodie, które tak mierziły mnie w domowym odsłuchu płyty. Ta chwila, pomyślałem, będzie trwała wiecznie, teraz, tak to właśnie jest, gdy wielka sztuka wywoła rezonans... 


Tekst: Maciej Nowotny



Saturday, June 11, 2011

Adam Baldych / Damage Control - Magical Theatre (2011)

Adam Bałdych Damage Control

Adam Bałdych - violin
Josh Lawrence - trumpet
Paweł Tomaszewski - piano
Andrzej Gondek - guitar
Piotr Żaczek - bass
Jakub Cywiński - double bass
Michał Bryndal - drums
Adam Sak - guitar

In-depth review by Adam Baruch, a critic and owner of fine music boutique (https://www.jazzis.com/shop/): 

The violin holds a very special position in the history of modern Polish Jazz, and except for France, no other European country can pride itself in such splendid heritage as far as the use of violin in Jazz is concerned.

The first generation of modern Polish Jazz musicians includes three distinguished Jazz violinists: Michał Urbaniak (born 1943), Zbigniew Seifert (born 1946) and Krzesimir Dębski (born 1953). Each of these virtuosi and exceptional composers made his mark not only on Polish Jazz, but also on European Jazz and World Jazz scenes. Of course each of these three musicians offered a unique and very individual approach to violin, all being innovators and pioneers: Urbaniak contributed greatly to the development of Jazz-Fusion and Jazz-Funk, Seifert to modern and Free Jazz and Dębski to the amalgam of Jazz and contemporary Classical music.

Adam Bałdych (born 1986) is of course a member of a different generation; one might even say a child of a very different era. His predecessors lived and created under the Socialist regime, which of course was far from enabling the freedom of expression and the opportunities to study and develop musical talents, and their life was a story of constant struggle with reality. Bałdych grew up in a "new" Poland, liberated, democratic and full of opportunities. That does not mean, of curse, that his life and his path to success was an easy one.

Considered a child prodigy, Bałdych started his performing and then composing careers very early on, which explains his extremely impressive biography at the age of 25. The list of awards, notable performances, composing credits and recordings could easily satisfy a musician twice his age or more.

And yet Bałdych considers this album a pivotal point of his career and although not his recording debut, this is certainly a new begging, hopefully of an international career. Recorded with his band called Damage Control, "Magical Theatre" is certainly an album, which should expose him to the worldwide audiences.

Bałdych composed six of the eight compositions present here and co-composed one more, with the last being composed by the band's keyboardist. The band includes gifted young players, who provide him with excellent support and execute his complex compositions with grace and panache. Full of youthful spirit and energy, the album flows beautifully from one track to the next, changing moods and atmospheres, but always remaining fascinating. There are no dull moments here, no boring parts and no fillers – just one continuous flow of entrancing music, which keeps the listener captivated.

Of course regardless of how good the performers might be, the primary strength of this album lies in the music contained herein. Bałdych's compositions are simply spot on and his unique ability to amalgamate the Jazz tradition, the Polish romanticism and the contemporary sound techniques works perfectly. An experienced listener will be able to discover many delicate musical hints and references in this music, especially in Bałdych's solos, but surely anybody able of enjoying good music will find here starlight qualities. I'm sure that Michał, Zbigniew and Krzesimir would be proud of the continuator of their splendid heritage.

What remains is to hope that as many music connoisseurs as possible will eventually discover this gem and hold it dear to their hearts. I certainly hope it does happen, big time, as it is well deserved!

PS. Album is available for purchase here: CDBaby.

Music from this album - tune titled "Room Of Imagination":




Author of text: Adam Baruch (http://www.adambaruch.com/)


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Aga Zaryan new record coming soon!!!

Aga Zaryan has sparked an imagination of not only jazz audience by her last "Looking Walking Being" (2010). Universally accaimed by critics and press this album was full of gracious music that was simultanously easy-to-hum and yet played in so refined way that it might appeal to more ambitious lovers of jazz music as well. Great part of such a success should be ascribed to excellent sidemen sorrunding Aga Zaryan on that recording: Michał Tokaj (piano), Michał Barański (double bass), Łukasz Żyta (drums), David Doruzka (guitar) and fantastic Munyungo Jackson (percussion).

Her new project features a bit different yet still very strong cast: while Michał Tokaj ("Bird Alone") and Munyungo Jackson remain, excellent bassist Darek Oleszkiewicz ("Penumbra") and guitarist Larry Koonse join. They will certainly alter the sound of Aga Zaryan band, especially since this time the project is much more ambitious than with her last recording. She has undertaken to record 12 songs to texts of Polish Nobel Prize winning poet Czesław Miłosz and to texts of some of his favourite poetesses like Anna Świrszczyńska, Jane Hierschfield and Denise Levertov.

The album will be issued again by Blue Note which secures not only appropriate marketing and availability throughout the world but also the highest possible recording level. Taking all what was said into account "The Book Of Luminous Things" seems like absolute must-listen in Polish jazz this year...

Check this link for incredibly beautiful song "Kalinowym mostem" by Polish poetess Krystyna Krahelska (from Aga Zaryan's album "Umiera piękno"):



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jarosław Śmietana - African Lake (2000)

Jarek (Jarosław) Śmietana is one of giants of Polish jazz and most probably the best guitarist in its history. Back in 70ties he participated in legendary group called Extra Ball and since then  has collaborated with countless musicians in Poland and abroad. Unlike many of his colleagues from that generation, he remains active and records every couple of years new albums. Though he no more pushes boundaries of jazz forward, yet Śmietana usually delivers great  sound, almost always staying close to his beloved fusion jazz aesthetics.

Strong sides of Jarek Śmietana projects are musicians and compositions. On this album both those elements are of the highest quality indeed. Top Polish players like Adam Kowalewski (db), Adam Czerwiński (dr), Jerzy Małek (tr) and Jan Pilch (perc) are supported by excellent foreign Cameron Brown (db), Jeremy Pelt (tr) and Leopoldo F. Fleming (perc). But of course the most famed among them is Gary Bartz (as, ss) who is remembered to be playing with Miles Davis between 1970-71. All these musicians emerge on this CD in different setups (recording sessions took place in Warsaw as well as in New York) but they never fail to produce great sound: varied, rich, melodic.

And in this way we came to another nice feature of this album: tunes that are mostly penned by Jarek Śmietana (some old but few new ones as well) with nice addition of compositions by Gary Bartz, Zbigniew Namysłowski and one standard by Thelonius Monk. Music is very accessible, easy-to-listen and optimistic and shall fit perfectly to the coming summer season. African notes are perhaps most difficult to find in this album: some minor ones in work of guitar or percussion using congas but otherwise it has little (if nothing) in common with African music but rather it is decent piece of straight-ahead jazz with some soul and fusion accents. Good stuff!

Check this film for sample of music from this album:



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

Monday, June 6, 2011

Slowdownrecords is accelerating...

Please, check their new web page: http://slowdownrecords.com/

Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski has been recently recording one fine record after another. Under his own name "Downtown Project" (2010) with his Trifonidis Free Orchestra "...be like a child" (2009) and another of his group Tricphonix Street Band - "The Dudes (2010)". All these issues are worth checking indeed though my favourite is another group he plays in that is Horny Trees - "Branches Of Dirty Delight" (2009). 

In order to be able to record new albums Maciej Bielawski is following noble examples of artists like Dave Douglas (GreenLeaf) or John Zorn (Tzadik) and created a recording company Slowdownrecords.  Though he started with issuing his own music he has recently announced very interesting new outings planned for autumn this year: 

Kamil Szuszkiewicz "Prolegomena"

Osaca Vacum "Emerging View" featuring Ray Dickaty, Mikołaj Pałosz and Paweł Szpura

Trifonidis Quintet "Illuminations".

We keep our fingers crossed for this enterprise and hope to review these albums once they come to market. Check this video to listen and see how great potential as musician Maciej Bielawski has: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1691519080350.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Piotr Baron - Sanctus (2008)

While waiting for Piotr Baron's new album "Kadish" please read about his last recording:

Piotr Baron is musician of such narrative power that he can easily sustain whole album by himself. In this case he reminds me often my favorite post-McLean-era altoist namely Bobby Watson. Like Watson on many of his albums, even best ones as recorded for Italian Red recording label, Baron on "Sanctus" keep whole music together only with his overpowering presence and without him I am afraid this material would fall apart because of its eclectic character (mainstream, avant-garde, rhythm&blues, gospel are all present here). 
In one case though is Baron more fortunate than his famous American colleague: he is always surrounded by highest class sidemen. On "Sanctus" these are Michał Tokaj (piano), Łukasz Żyta (drums), Michał Barański (double bass) and as guests Thomas Celis Sanchez (percussion) and Piotr Wojtasik (trumpet). All these players belong to Polish mainstream premiere league but what is surprising that even vocalists who take part in this recording: Natalia Niemen (relatively unknown daughter of legendary singer Czesław Niemen) and Mietek Szcześniak (whom I disliked up to this album) adapt to the high level of play as displayed by instrumentalists, and give a display of their vocal abilities that is rewarding as well.
Going back to music I want to stress that everything on this album is subordinate to religious message expressing great joy and unshaken Christian faith. When compared to Baron's previous excellent albums like "Bogurodzica" and especially "Salve Regina" recorded with Wadada Leo Smith, the musical language become simplified, in purely musical terms it is therefore step back, which is a bit difficult to take for such lover on avant-garde as I am. Yet I must confess that the power of authenticity, belief, love as expressed by artists in order to praise glory of Lord easily overcome all critical objections. One is slowly, one rehearsal after another, drawn into Baron's own world where music, its style, is servant to something much more important. Very unique effort!

On this website you my find few songs from this excellent album.

Author: Maciej Nowotny


Friday, June 3, 2011

Nightime Daytime Requiem w wykonaniu Rempisa i Ortegi...

Kiedyś istniało (może istnieje dalej?) "Radio Złote Przeboje", a może to było "Radio Pogoda", czy coś podobnego. Przykro mi, ale od kilku lat nie słucham radia: puszczają w nim taki shit, że nie chcę sobie nim kalać uszu. Ale wtedy włączyłem, jechałem samochodem i może zapomniałem swoich płyt, nie pamiętam dokładnie. 

Jest ranek, Pan Maciej jedzie do pracy, a prezenter o aksamitnym jak miś koala głosie rozpoczyna dzień ze swoimi słuchaczami: "Witam Państwa, i znów poniedziałek, najgorszy dzień w tygodniu, jaka szkoda że niedziela się już skończyła i że nie możemy przeskoczyć od razu do wtorku, środy, a najlepiej do piątku wieczorem" - ciśnienie powoli zaczyna mi rosnąć, a aksamitek nadaje dalej - "a jakie prognazy na dziś? Oj, mam niezbyt miłą wiadomość, co prawda świeci słońce, temperatura 25 stopni, ale meteorolodzy ostrzegają, że biomed niekorzystny, a w ciągu dnia sytuacja jeszcze się będzie pogarszać wraz ze spadkiem ciśnienia" - zaczyna zalewać mnie krew, a sympatyczny prezenter kończy takim oto akcentem - "nie zapomnijmy o dziurze ozonowej, wg amerykańskich naukoców od kilku dni nie mamy tej niedostrzegalnej ochrony nad naszymi głowami, zatem mała rada, najlepiej zamknijcie Państwo szczelnie wszystkie okna i drzwi, zasuńcie zasłony i nie martwcie się, wystarczy, że macie włączone nasze radio, a i tak będziecie wiedzieli co ważnego dzieje się na zewnątrz".


Nie, nie, nie!!! Rankiem potrzebuję czegoś zupełnie innego: potrzebuję krzyku, czegoś co odda pełen dysharmonii, lecz i rytmicznego pulsu, zgiełk wielkiego miasta, tego mrowiska ludzi, którzy swoją gonitwą nadają sens pustce jaką jest wyłącznie materialny świat. Jest w tym rytmie zarówno brzydota tego chaotycznego zbiegowska, tragizm jego nieprzystosowania do ludzkiej natury jak i patos: losu, przeznaczenia, karmy, która sprawia, że nie mamy innego wyboru niż biec, biec, biec do przodu...

Jeśli chcecie poczuć ten pęd to sięgnijcie koniecznie po wspaniałą po prostu płytę The Rempis Percussion Quartet z Davem Rempisem grającym na saksofonach, Ingebrigtem Haker Flatenem na kontrabasie oraz Timem Daisym i Frankiem Rosalym na perkusjach, która to płyta, jeśli chodzi o free jazz jest chyba najlepsza płytą w ogóle jaką słyszałem w tym roku. Mam ją już od wielu miesięcy, zakochałem się w niej od pierwszego słuchania i towarzyszy mi non stop, a zwłaszcza wtedy kiedy jak wojownik muszę zagrzać sam siebie do walki z różnymi przeciwnościami losu. Nota bene płyta ma też i polską recenzję pióra Andrzeja Podgórskiego - warto zajrzeć tu: http://impropozycja.blogspot.com/search?q=dave+rempis+quartet. Acha i sprawdźcie ten link, aby posłuchać próbkę tego jak mocarnie ta muzyka brzmi.


Wszakże wieczorem, gdy wracam z pracy, albo gdy opustoszałym miastem brnę przed siebie w poszukiwaniu wytchnienia, zapomnienia, przygody, potrzebuję czegoś co w ten betonowo-stalowy węzeł gordyjski wleje odrobinę metafizyki. W tym celu pragnę zwrócić Waszą uwagę na album "New Dance!", który wytwórnia Hathology (wkrótce nakładem tej oficyny ukaże się nowa płyta braci Olesiów) przypomniała nam w roku 2003 i który jest sygnowany nazwiskiem Anthony Ortegi. Anthony Ortega? Tak, należę do tych, którzy w ogóle do tej pory nie mieli zielonego pojęcia o istnieniu tego muzyka, a jest to muzyk z pokolenia Johna Coltrane'a, Sonny Rollinsa czy Ornette'a Colemana, rocznik 1928, niczego nikomu nie wypominając.

Ale jak wielu zupełnie zapomnianych prekursorów free jazzowej awangardy jak choćby mój ukochany Marion Brown ("Marion Brown" czy "Back To Paris") czy Horace Tapscott ("Dark Tree") Ortega został odkryty dopiero po reedycji swoich albumów, nota bene poprzedzonej kilkudziesięcioletnim czyścem obojętności krytyków i publiczności. Musiała zmienić się nie jedna epoka, a co najmniej trzy albo cztery, byśmy dojrzeli wreszcie do tej szalenie bezpretensjonalnej, a jakże pięknej muzyki. Bo w doprawdy niezrównany sposób Ortega połączył bop, cool jazz z najczystszej wody awangardą free jazzową, tworząc własną estetykę tyleż oszczędną i subtelną co pełną wyrazu i sugestywną. Odnotujmy, że Ortedze towarzyszą: w duetach kontrabasista Chuck Domanico (gra tego Pana kapitalna!), a w triach basista Bobby West i perkusista Bill Goodwin. Arcydzieło!


Autor tekstu: Maciej Nowotny


Adam Baldych new record is available!!!

Adam Bałdych follows in the footsteps of Polish master of jazz violin Zbigniew Seifert and after recording many valuable albums in Poland both as a leader and sideman, he went abroad last year, precisely to New York, to spur his career to new level. This is his first material recorded after coming to Big Apple. In this project he was assisted by Josh Lawrence (trumpet), Paweł Tomaszewski (piano), Andrzej Gondek (guitar), Piotr Żaczek (bass), Jakub Cywiński (double bass), Michał Bryndal  (drums) and Adam Sak (background guitar). Music is available now in electronic distribution (CDBaby) while premiere of CD is planned for October this year. 
While waiting for full album let us listen to sample:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Resonance Ensemble - Kafka In Flight (2011) by Stephan Moore

Resonance Ensemble (group)
Ken Vandermark (sax, clarinet) 
Mikolaj Trzaska (sax, clarinet)
Mark Tokar (bass)
Michael Zerang (drums)
Tim Daisy (drums)
Steve Swell (trombone)
Per -Ake Holmander (tuba)
Dave Rempis (sax)
Magnus Broo (trumpet)
Waclaw Zimpel (clarinet)
Kafka In Flight (Not Two Records, 2011)

Although we got already nice review of this album by Bartek Adamczak, here is anothere interesting text about by Stephan Moore from http://jazzwrap.blogspot.com/. Certainly music deserves as much attention as possible since it is one of the best recordings in which Polish jazz artists particpated this year... 

This is an album I have been waiting for since I read about it on Ken Vandermark's twitter feed a few months ago. The Resonance Ensemble is the brainchild of the great Chicago saxophonist, Ken Vandermark. In the similar vein to Peter Brotzmann's Tentet (which Vandermark is also a member), Resonance embarks on large scale compositions. But where PBT tend to move into the upper stratosphere in theory--Vandermark is keeping things within a linear pattern as far as the tone is concerned. There is a great deal of improvisation happening but its within the melody and rhythm of the writing.

Resonance Ensemble was first developed out of a series of concerts and studio sessions that were later recorded in 2008 (Live In Lviv) and then for the 10CD box (Resonance Box). What's remarkable is that as Vandermark states in the notes to this album, because of the size of the band and the various groups they lead and projects they participate in, its difficult to get any rehearsal time before live shows or recording. I don't think any of us would notice or care. Why you ask? Because the results are something truly unbelievable.

For the group's third album Kafka In Flight, recorded live in Poland, Vandermark guides the group with three lengthy pieces of jubilant free form that would make you feel as if Ellington, Coltrane, Cherry, Coleman, Blakey, Chambers (and take the your pick of the rest) had gotten together in your backyard. Kafka In Flight is smokin'. Unlike even Vandermark's main group (The Vandermark 5), Resonance Ensemble seem to enjoy mixing the past in a large bowl and coming up with interesting and riviting concoctions. The opener, "The Pier" is fast moving and allows for moments in which each member can contribute and expound on Vandermark's material. It's a real treasure of ideas that surface. The always incredible Tim Daisy delivers an excellent improvised mid-section, accompanied by a good portion of the horn section and Vandermark on clarinet, explore and exchange some intense possibilities but it works unbelievably well.

"Rope" is a bit more cinematic, led by some great performances from Per-Ake Holmlander on tuba (a rare instrument in modern free jazz) and Magnus Broo (trumpet). "Rope" moves from funky to experimental to comforting (so-to-speak) and gives the listener a lot to absorb. Michael Zerang and Tim Daisy are superb as they duel it out with sharp intersecting chant from each of the wind players. "Coal Marker" rounds out this hour long journey in style. It's the ensemble releasing all it's force into your speaker (and you better be able to deal with it). There are spontaneous moments that sees the group in unison but also exchanging circular rhythmic patterns. This is a group that somehow, despite little time together, knows exactly what the other is going to do and each is up for the challenge.

Kafka In Flight is an album and performance that is built around the ability of Ken Vandermark to write excellent material that is interchangeable for each member. You can picture most of these notes performed by different members and each coming up with a different result. But the result would still be amazing. Kafka In Flight is yet another step in the already legendary career of Ken Vandermark. While the first two albums are both hard to find and in the case of the boxed set--expensive--you should definitely seek out Kafka In Flight. It is well worth every avant garde fan's dollars. One of our Top Albums Of The 2011.


Author of text: Stephan Moore (http://jazzwrap.blogspot.com/)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jarosław Śmietana on blue note...

On Jarosław Śmietana fan page we find information that this Polish master of guitar veer in the direction of blues. Accompanied by Wojtek Karolak they focus on blue side of jazz inviting many interesting voices from both blues and jazz sides of scene: Polish Krzysztof Ścierański, Paweł Mąciwoda and Adam Czerwiński are joined by American singer Karen Edwards, Australian guitarist Bill Neal and UK vocalist Z-Star. Sounds intriguing and we will be able to check this music very soon since premiere is announced for June this year.

Check this article in Polish for extensive information on this project.


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