Saturday, December 31, 2011

Maestro Trytony - Enoptronia (Mozg, 1996)

Maestro Trytony (band)

Tomasz Gwincinski - guitar, leader
Renata Suchodolska - cello
Tomasz Pawlicki - flute, keyboards
Tomasz Hesse - bass
Rafal Gorzycki - drums





special guests:
Andrzej Przybielski - trumpet
Marta Handschke - voice
Jacek Majewski - conga
Wojciech Kuczyniecki - bass clarinet
Wojciech Gibas - fagot
Tadeusz Michalski - bass clarinet

Mozg, 1997

Maestro Trytony is key group in history of Polish avantgarde scene. Its history dates back to 1991 when trio Trytony was brought to life by Tomasz Gwińciński (guitarist) together with Jacek Pawlicki (doublebass) and Jacek Buhl (drums). This squad recorded two albums: "Tańce Bydgoskie" (1991) and "Zarys Matematyki Niewinnej - koncert w Mózgu" (1995) while Tomasz Gwińciński also recorded with Jerzy Mazzoll and his Artythmic Perfection group (check their "A" album) and Łoskot (listen to excellent "Sun"). All these projects made Gwińciński key player in lively Bydgoszcz music scene which focused first around Trytony club (that's where name of band comes from) and then around famous Mózg club.

But Gwińciński did not give up on Trytony and it happened around that time that he had some theater projects (BTW his favourite occupation up to present day) where he mostly used classical music language. He therefore started experiments (as we read on Mózg web page) in "blending motifs of contemporary chamber music (Bartok, Strawiński, Ines) with New York avantjazz aesthetics and that peculiar Polish lyricism a'la Komeda". To achieve new sound he needed bigger band so he began to cooperate with whole new set of musicians, a much bigger group than previously, among whom there were now many classically trained players. In years to come especially fruitful turned out to be Gwińciński relationship with drummer Rafał Gorzycki (check excellent albums he made with bands called Ecstasy Project or Sing Sing Penelope) and with legendary trumpeter Andrzej Przybielski. These new band recorded in 1997 new album titled "Enoptronia" which may be described as "a tone poem" and immediately became one the most important albums as far as yass movement (new free and avantgarde music in Poland) is concerned. Obligatory!   

Just a sample of Maestro Trytony sound:


Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

Friday, December 30, 2011

Aga Zaryan interview in Turkish magazine...


(Editor) I have recently prepared for interview with Aga and came across her old interview given to Turkish magazine and a video evidencing this gig. Aga is as always stunning...

Polish jazz singer Aga Zaryan will enchant holidaymakers in the southwestern resort town of Bodrum tonight in what will be her first-ever appearance in Turkey. Accompanied by Tony Jones on bass, Monica Bulanda on drums, Şenova Ülker on trumpet and Uraz Kıvaner on piano, Zaryan will be onstage as a guest singer at the Cabo Verde club at the Yalıkavak Marina. Zaryan describes her relation with jazz as "love at first sight" and says even though she worked as an English teacher for many years, she never gave up on her dreams of jazz.

Having graduated with honors from the Frédéric Chopin Secondary School of Music on Bednarska Street in Warsaw, she also did post-graduate work at the Jazz Studies Program there. She has participated in international jazz workshops, and her albums have received platinum and gold status. She has come to be described as the "new hope of the Polish jazz scene."

Apart from giving many concerts in Europe and the United States, she also obtained a licentiate from the musical therapy department of the Lodz Academy of Music in 2004, focusing her thesis on the use of certain elements of jazz music in the process of musical therapy for youth and children. "The results of my thesis were interesting. Kids can also, thank God, enjoy swing. They don't have to be only Britney Spears fans," Zaryan says, laughing, during an exclusive interview with Today's Zaman at İstanbul's Ataürk Airport just before flying from İstanbul to Bodrum.

What inspired you to become a jazz singer?

It happened in 1996. My friend from music school, also a singer, gave me a recording of Ella Fitzgerald. He said this kind of music suits my voice, my taste. When I heard the first standard, "Black Coffee," my world turned upside down. It was love at first sight. The harmonies, melodies, mood, acoustic sound of the trio and the emotions the voice would bring made me feel emotional and hypnotized. A couple of months later I joined international jazz workshops in Warsaw and met American musicians who gave me hints on what to listen to and where to search. A year later I got a scholarship for the Stanford Jazz Workshop. Ray Brown was teaching bass and held master classes with all the students. I was surrounded with a beautiful, new, unknown world of music I wanted to learn more about. It felt like an ocean that never ends. It still feels the same after 12 years. My vocal teachers were encouraging me to go to New York. I visited the Big Apple and had my next great experience of listening to live jazz played by the giants I knew from CDs. I didn't leave Poland, but visited New York every now and then to find new inspiration.

You are considered one of the most talented Polish jazz vocalists of the younger generation. Your first album earned double platinum status and the other two reached gold status. How did you get to where you are today?

It took me many years to get wider recognition. I went to music schools in Warsaw and jazz workshops. I am lucky to sing with great musicians. I have my own lovely trio [Michal Tokaj on piano, Michal Baranski on bass and Lukasz Zyta on drums]. I also cooperate with very experienced musicians, such as Darek Oleszkiewicz, David Doruzka, Larry Koonse and Munyungo Jackson. I always knew that jazz is my passion and even though I was for many years a teacher of English as a second language for children, I would never give up on my dreams of music. I listened to a lot of instrumental jazz, went to good concerts, kept searching for my own voice and style in jazz. It takes a lot of time and patience. I would sing in clubs and at festivals for years, but I spread my wings two years ago with the help of my manager, who does amazing work. I made a breakthrough. Now I play concerts not only in Poland but all around Europe, Russia and the United States.

Your newest album, "Beauty is Dying," is your first album sung in Polish. What are the differences of singing in your mother language and singing in a second language?

"Beauty is Dying" is a very special project recorded last year for the 63rd anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. I chose poetry written during World War II by young Polish poets. Michal Tokaj, my pianist, wrote the music and arranged it. It was an enormous challenge to sing in Polish. It's not an easy language to pronounce. We always feel emotional when we play these songs. My grandparents were fighting with Germans in this uprising for the freedom of Poland and its capital, Warsaw. Michal and I were born and raised in Warsaw, so it was a natural thing to record this album.

When will you release your next album?

We are planning on releasing a new album next year with many lyrics in English that I wrote and music composed by Michal Tokaj, David Doruzka, Larry Koonse and Darek Oleszkiewicz. I feel that this album will be a new chapter in my musical life. Before that we will release a live DVD and CD this autumn from a concert we played during a two-week tour I played this spring with Oleszkiewicz, Koonse and Munyungo Jackson. I had a real ball with these amazing musicians. Each concert was an amazing experience. They always helped me spread my wings.

You don't exclusively play with Polish musicians. Does playing with artists from different nations add something to your music?

Each great player adds some delicious ingredients to the music. I sing with musicians I meet on my way and find their playing inspiring. Some of them are my age, some much more experienced. All are unique; all have their own voice and stories to tell through the music. I don't care if they are from the Czech Republic or the US. Music is the main factor.

What is the philosophy behind your music? What emotions do you take as guides?

There is no philosophy behind music. I love being on stage and telling stories through songs and creating music with my band. If that makes other people happy or nostalgic or whatever good feelings the music brings, I feel fulfilled. It's a give-and-take process. We try to do our best and if the audience digs us, they give us great vibes in return. For me it's as simple as that! Music is my therapy.

This will be your first concert in Turkey. Have you ever been here before? What are your impressions of the country?

It will be my first time here. Can't wait to see what this experience will bring. All I know is that it's a beautiful country and has many people with a lot of passion.

Are you familiar with any Turkish music or Turkish jazz singers?

Unfortunately, I am not familiar with Turkish music, but I am looking forward to hearing some during my stay. I know Uraz Kıvaner -- a young, talented Turkish pianist who invited me to play a concert with him in Bodrum -- and also a great jazz vocalist Sibel Köse, who has a great sound and feeling of swing and jazz.


Bel Air - Monday Dream (MP Production, 2010)

Bel Air
Piotr Gucia - Chapman stick, bas, sitar, Gotham 
Piotr Zabrodzki – Fender piano, Hammond organs, Moog, clavinet, guitars 
Marcin Gańko - saxophones, flute 
Jan Emil Młynarski – drums 
Jose Manuel Alban Juarez – percussion 

guests: Robert Majewski – trumpet 
Piotr Wrombel – piano
Michał Rudaś - vocal

MP Production, 2010

Good funk is a rare visitor in our country and to no surprise: right now when I am writing these words it is beginning of August and there are days when it is less than 15 Celsius degree. During daylight. In the sun... We cannot change our place on Earth for a bit warmer but we can at least play some funk! And that's exactly what Bel Air did last year, a band led by Piotr Gucia, bassist, supported by Piotr Zabrodzki (keyboards, guitars), Marcin Gańko (saxophones, flute), Jan Emil Młynarski (drums) and Jose Manuel Alban Juarez – percussion. This music is heavily indebted in fusion era, in memorable combos led by post-Bithes-Brew Miles Davis bands (or musicians who at some moment cooperated with Dark Magus) with drops of madness as supplied by Roy Ayers or James Brown influences. All musicians who took part in "Monday Dream" recording might easily repeat famous words of Marcus Miller: "In groove we trust".

On the other hand there is nothing new here, melodic lines sound monotonous at times (I believe it's probably better at concerts), and rhythm may seem full of madness and spontaneity but only for someone who wasn't in touch with New York or African (better) versions of funk. But let us not be too tedious: this is light and merry muse for holidays and as such it works perfectly. On beaches, in fancy bars, even on dance floors it shall fit well and I would like to appreciate it for this since it's quite rare in Polish modern music where such genres as trip-hop or nu jazz are sadly kind of underdeveloped.

Finally me let me add few words about guests on this album which are many and notable. I would like to single out two: first of all trumpeter Robert Majewski, truly a great virtuoso of cool jazz trumpet in Poland (check such his albums as "Komeda" or "My One And Only Love"). Yet here he plays more aggressively and I like very much this newly found energy since it's perfect complement for his generally restrained and thoughtful style. Words of praise shall also go to vocalist Michał Rudaś whose Orient-inspired vocalise on track titled "Holi" is one of the coolest moments I found on this album.

Great ride with Bel Air in piece titled "Stick Dance":


Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Masecki and Oleś Duo at The Forge in Camden

Ivan Hewett reviews finds pianist Marcin Masecki full of blazing energy and the Oles brothers disappointingly tame at The Forge in Camden.
Phot. Piotr Lewandowski
Jazz of a daring avant-garde kind has long thrived in Poland. Three of its practitioners appeared at the tiny but chic Forge venue on Tuesday, as part of a three-day survey of Polish jazz. Before they played, the bass-and-drum playing Oles brothers and pianist Marcin Masecki talked about their passion for those American pioneers of free jazz such as Ornette Coleman. We got a sense of these luminaries as beacons of freedom in a society that had only recently shaken off Communist conformity and double-speak.

All this set us up for something fiercely individual. In fact, the opening set from the Oles brothers was disappointingly tame. The titles of the pieces certainly promised something blazing. You can't get much more unconventional than Edvard Munch's The Scream, the inspiration behind one of the pieces. Drummer Bartlomiej Brat Oles conjured some curious sounds, and Marcin Oles played his bass with virtuosity. But the musical ideas themselves were often surprisingly conventional.

Phot. Piotr Lewandowski
Pianist Marcin Masecki was something else. Beforehand he seemed reluctant to articulate his ideas in words, and the minute he started to play one understood why. He operates on a plane of total spontaneity, but what emerges from his piano are not the tinkles and plunks of 'free' music which can often sound as conventional as scale patterns in a Mozart sonata. They were more unsettling, because they sounded like the detritus of something we know well.

We heard madly accelerated scale fragments, or limping shards of melody, against arpeggios unfolding at different speeds. Satie's muffled pathos, and the manic patterning of Nancarrow's player-piano music seem to be its ancestors. But now and then the real source of this postmodern fracturing was startlingly evident: the harpsichord sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti.

Masecki's wild improvisations often bordered on incoherence. But when they worked they had a blazing energy, tinged with the uneasy laughter that comes when we watch somebody going 'too far', and aren't sure if they're going to stop. It was a heartening reminder that 'free improvisation' can be full of courage and humour as well as lightning intelligence.

Author: Ivan Hewett


Tomasz Stanko – Chameleon (1989) by Adam Baruch

Tomasz Stanko - trumpet

Apostolis Anthimos - guitar, bass guitar, drums, percussion, sampler
Janusz Skowron - piano, synthesizer, sampler

Chameleon (1989)

This album's title is perhaps the most concise and precise description of its contents. With the 1970s behind him Polish trumpeter / composer Tomasz Stanko takes a sharp turn off the path he followed previously as the leader of the local Free Jazz / avant-garde scene and as other musicians before him (or like a chameleon) entered the world of Jazz-Rock Fusion.

The album was recorded in Athens in 1982 and remained unreleased until 1989 (by that time Stanko was already moving to the next phase of his career), when it was finally released by a small independent Greek label. But chronologically this is the first recording of Stanko's 1980s "new" style, preceding "C.O.C.X.".
The setting is a trio with guitarist Apostolis Anthimos (of SBB fame), who also plays bass, drums and percussion and young keyboardist Janusz Skowron, who uses the electronic devices to create beautiful sound vistas.

The music is (as always with Stanko) absolutely stunning and quite different from his earlier works. Here we can hear the "easier" or happier side of Stanko, with almost cheerful melody lines and relatively simple rhythmic approach. Let's make no mistake however; this is still Stanko at his best, with his unmistakable personal way of making music, virtuosic blowing and genius musical concept, all this in a slightly more accessible wrap up.

Of the eleven tracks on the album seven were composed by Stanko and four are credited to the trio, as much of the music was actually created on the fly in the studio. In retrospect this is definitely one of the most memorable Stanko albums and an absolute must to all his numerous fans. Just grab it!



Author: Adam Baruch
check also his music boutique: https://www.jazzis.com/shop/

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Laboratorium - Modern Pentathlon (Polskie Nagrania, 1976)

Laboratorium (band)
Janusz Grzywacz - Fender piano, piano, synthesizer Rolland 2000
Krzysztof Ścierański - bass guitar
Mieczysław Górka - drums, percussion
Paweł Ścierański - electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Marek Stryszowski - vocals, alto saxophone, bass clarinet
Modern Pentathlon (Polskie Nagrania, 1976)

A few years ago there appeared, in the series “Polish Jazz”, a record of the Laboratory band. On that occasion, while introducing the group and discussion their music, I ventured the opinion that the young Cracow musicians were the future of Polish jazz. Since the release of their “Modern Pentathlon” this prediction has proved right. Today the Laboratory are not longer future but present time of jazz in Poland. The Laboratory are in many respects and unusual group indeed. Having for many years worked in the quietness of Cracow, while retaining the same line-up and without the temptation or treat of immediate success – they managed to overcome the threshold of art and that of popularity. As for art – they worked out their own, original jazz-rock idiom, adding to their tonal imagination, a liking for complicated rhythmic figurations, a tendency to extend and diversify the form, etc. As for their standing in society – they have become probably the most popular Polish jazz group. The Laboratory has been playing very much indeed, taking part in major festivals, making world concert tours, making recordings. And increasingly now – be it at the international Jazz Yatra Festival in Bombay, or in Quasimodo club in West Berlin, or in small hall at the student club somewhere in Poland – the jazz-lovers do recognize the very special sound of that Cracow group. The music which is so concentrated, carefully thought out, full of nuances and with all this very much alive, filled with individualities of five musicians who concealed their solo ambitions, as well their names, under the name of the Laboratory. (All text by Jan Poprawa from original line notes from the album's back cover, translation by L. Wewiorkowski)

Check tune "Crazy Shepherd" from this album: 




Author of text: Jan Poprawa

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sebastian Szymanski's Ad Astra with Slawek Jaskulke and Grzech Piotrowski

(Editor) Sebastian Szymański is a music composer who focuses mostly on classical and film music. In his new project Ad Astra he cooperates with well-known jazz pianist Sławek Jaskułke and saxophonist Grzech Piotrowski. Whether the material containing this project will be released is yet uncertan but you can check how music sounds like by clicking YouTube link below:



Monday, December 26, 2011

Polish jazz in Top 10 at Amazon.com

(Editor) Great news for Marcin Wasilewski Trio whose album 'Faithful' recorded for ECM is high among The Best Jazz Albums of 2011 at Amazon.com: check this link. Among The Best Classical Albums of 2011 is another Polish accent: Krysian Zimerman album containing music of Grażyna Bacewicz. BTW this album is also reviewed on this site (link) proving that our interest in good music is not limited to jazz only!!!




Sunday, December 25, 2011

Off Quartet - Off Quartet (Jazz Forum, 2011)

Off Quartet (band)

Marek Kądziela - guitar
Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet, balkan horn
Morten Haxholm - doublebass
Rasmus Schimdt - drums

Off Quartet (Jazz Forum, 2011)



I am out of my words! Recently I've been wondering what are candidates for Best Artist in Polish Jazz this year 2011. And I come to conclusion that it may be not a single person but collective "debutante". I simply cannot recall year so abundant in excellent debut albums as this year is. Many of them were already described on this blog, I just pick a few from recent times: Biotone "Unspoken Words", Tomasz Licak & Artur Tuźnik Quintet feat. Anders Mogensen "Quintet" or Wierba & Schmidt Quartet feat. Dante Luciani "Black Monolith". There are many more than those but these are closest in affinity: all mainstream, all acoustic, all being a very good starting point to big carreer. Of all these discs this one appeals to me most from one point of view: it is the bravest! I admire a lot high skills as displayed by young musicians but I believe that this is too little to be successful artist. You must be ready to explore, to change, to take risks. All these elements are present in music of this band. I want to underline especially the role of trumpeter Tomek Dąbrowski. He is able to play in one moment as Dave Douglas while in another as Peter Evans. His line is effortless, winged, ingenious. I will closely watch his next steps as he clearly has big talent. No less gifted is Marek Kądziela whose guitar gracefully  counterpoints the meandering trumpet of Dąbrowski. Scandinavian rhythm section (Morten Haxholm - doublebass, Rasmus Schimdt - drums) provides rock solid pulse necessary for all this dancing by Dabrowski & Kądziela. Not bad at all!


Author: Maciej Nowotny     

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Milosc & Lester Bowie - Talking About Life And Death (Biodro Records, 1999)


Miłość & Lester Bowie (band)
Mikołaj Trzaska - soprano & alto saxophone
Maciej Sikała - soprano & tenor saxophone
Leszek Możdżer - piano
Ryszard Tymon Tymański - bass, vocals
Jacek Olter - drums
Lester Bowie - trumpet

Talking About Life And Death (Biodro Records, 1999)


Although from today’s perspective Miłość (which means “Love” in Polish) was definitely a dream-team, back then it was more like a bunch of friends, disobedient youngsters, nonconformist and self-confident musicians. From the very beginning the band was tightly connected with the Tricity’s (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot) alternative scene, inspiring a numerous bands of different genres. Their idea was, basically, not to follow in traditional jazz footsteps. Therefore its music is highly-improvised, independent of the generic limits, intentionally breaking compositions’ schemes. Of course, it would be only a sign of enormous pride, if it wasn’t justified by the musicians’ skills and original artistic vision. But that’s what characterises the biggest bands – the unbreakable will of challenging status quo, the ability to blow up the frames of reality and building them up in a new way.

The music of Miłość is an outcome of the tension between great individualities. Among them, were: classically educated musicians, such as Możdżer (piano) and Sikała (saxophone); insatiable searchers and artistic rebels like Tymański (double bass) and Trzaska (saxophone); and a miserable genius – Olter (his suicidal death made Miłość disbanded). As a result of their music was somehow balanced. A perfectly organized chaos that fluctuates from beautiful melodies (memorable cover of Velvet Underground’s “Venus In Furs”) to furious brass instruments’ solos (spontaneous “A Tribute to Drukpa Kunley”). Due to the members’ innovative attitude (not only towards music), Miłość is being often considered as the godfather of Yass – which is not really a genre but rather a blend of improvised music with jazz, rock and, essentially, everything you find inspiring.

The last album of Miłość “Talkin’ About Life and Death” features the great American trumpeter, member of Art Ensemble of Chicago, Lester Bowie. His parts add a new sooth and mellow dimension to the band’s compostions. The whole album is a great testimony to passion and, indeed, the love of music. Kind of controversial, sometimes pervert, sometimes incomprehensible but always sincere and, basically, immense. Just try it out and get lovesick!

Recommended if you like: Lester Bowie, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Captain Beefheart, Thelonious Monk.

Title track from this album:


and more representative for music on this album sample form concert:


Posted by: Redmuz (Source)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gwincinski, Richter, Skolik - Jupiter, Urizen, Wernyhora, Trungpa (Not Two, 1998)

Tomasz Gwinciński - guitar, banjo
Loco Richter - bass guitar, B-3 organ
ArekSkolik - drums, xylophone
Renata Suchodolska - cello
Tomasz Mucha - violin

Jupiter, Urizen, Wernyhora, Trungpa (Not Two, 1998)


(Editor) Tomasz Gwińciski is a guitarist who was one of key actors in Polish yass movement. On this record he is backed by excellent drummer Arek Skolik and together with other players they create music of such quality that irrespective years that passed since its recording it remains highly attractive for any listener interested in modern jazz and avantgarde.

This is an amazing album, which is now available for download on several sites. It's a kind of guitar jazz instrumental music, reminiscent of Pink Floyd in the early post-Barrett period, with long, spacious and rhythmic relatively simple structures full of intrinsic tension and high quality instrumental touches and sounds, creating an eery, gloomy, hypnotic atmosphere. Jazz would not be a correct qualifier, but neither are rock nor fusion. The overall result is highly unusual, compelling and entrancing. With Tomasz Gwinciński on guitar and banjo, Loco Richter on bass guitar and B-3 organ, Arek Skolik on drums, xylophone, and with on some tracks Renata Suchodolska on cello and Tomasz Mucha on violin. This music is not about instrumental prowess, or clever harmonic development, rhythmic subtleties, or even about melody: it's all about atmosphere and mood, created over long repetitive rhythms, building a gloomy, sometimes melancholy tension with instrumental accents and shadings. Throughout the album the musicians keep their creative and unique approach to music, even if all tracks are different and by themselves of interest. Hypnotic and entrancing - I find no other words for it.

Check tune "Noc Lipcowa" from this album:


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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hera - Where My Complete Beloved Is (Multikulti, 2011) by Bartek Adamczak

Hera (band)

Waclaw Zimpel - clarinet, bass clarinet, tarogato, harmonium
Pawel Postaremczak - tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, prepared piano
Ksawery Wojcinski - double bass
Pawel Szpura - drums, percussion
guests:
Sara - tampura (third track only)
Maniucha Bikont - voice (fourth track only)

Where My Complete Beloved Is (Multikulti, 2011)

After their acclaimed self-titled debut Hera comes back with a second release. And it may come as a total surprise to whoever haven't had a chance to see the band live in the last year or so. Hera moved to explore completely different musical areas, which I talked about, regular readers might remember, as I've praised their concert at Lublin Jazz Festival, which took place only a couple of days before the recording session.

When the cd begins we enter a mystical, misty and misterious nothingness, a peacefulls space filled with delicate sounds of an arco bass, brushed percussion, gongs, harmonium's sound that fills the air, exotic and percussive sound of prepared piano strings. The music unfolds slowly, patiently, unhurried. Near the middle of the track (around 8 minutes into it) a strong bass line appears, a hypnotic ostinato motive played on harmonium, the misty nothingness embodies a clear shape of a steady rhythm structure, a vibrating, vivid vehicle for spiritual, heated and passionate saxophone solo. 

This music is a mystical act shamanism, a meditation, a trance journey through root rhythms of music from India and Africa. In a way, a continuation of total, all-embracing world music vision of Don Cherry but the spirit of Alice Coltrane is also present. 

The cd contains three lengthy (close to 20 minutes each) musical journeys, varied yet unified by the same spirit. Driven by the infallible, irresistible rhythms by Pawel Szpura and Ksawery Wojcinski (his playing reminds of Cecil McBee's beautifull tone on "Journey to Satchinanda" cd by Alice Coltrane), completed by the spiralling around each other duos of saxophone and bass clarinet (as in the second track). A powerful, tribal drums solo links seamlessly the second and the third track which, based on a tampura drone, evolves slowly, with delicate percussion shadings, a subtle and melodic bass solo, a sustained long arco note, untill, again, a strong, simply and melodic bass line emerges, to begin its dance with the drums, joined by the clarinet and soprano saxophone in this musical celebration of life.

While the first piece is a composition by Waclaw Zimpel, the latter two (in fact a continous performance divided by the drums solo) are credited to Hera which marks another change since the debut cd. The last track is a traditional russian song (original title "Och da usz ty da li czo"), wonderfully sung by Maniucha Bikont. It introduces a different kind of mysticism, a purity of root eastern europe folk culture combined with exotic sounds of harmonium, yet the all fit perfectly together. As if there were no real distance between those.

This group achieved a complete syncronicity, the sense of unity, the coherence, the clarity of direction of their playing together - it's all uncanny. And there's no need really to add that the playing by each of the musicians is great. This music is one, unique, whole. Inspired and inspiring. Not to be missed.

The titles of the album and the music tracks form together a part of the Kabir's poem "Abode of the Beloved":

"Where my complete beloved is
In that place there is no happiness or unhappines
No truth or untruth
Neither sin or virtue
There is no day or night, no moon or sun"

One of the three available on youtube fragments from a concert in Poznan, in Dragon club. All three heartily recommended.




Author: Bartek Adamczak

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Komeda Project - Requiem (WMRecords, 2009)

Komeda Project (band)
Russ Johnson - trumpet, flugelhorn

Krzysztof Medyna - tenor & soprano saxophone
Andrzej Winnicki - piano
Scott Colley - bass
Nasheet Waits - drums

Requiem (WMRecords, 2009)

With the magnificent Requiem, pianist Andrzej Winnicki and saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna solidify and enhance their reputations as the prime promoters of the essential music of the Polish pianist and composer Krzysztof Komeda (1931-1969). Komeda is widely recognized as the founder of modern Polish, and in a wider sense, European modern jazz. That he worked in Poland under Communist oppression is important. At its heart, jazz refuses to be pigeonholed, and it both allows and demands that its practitioners be utterly and freely themselves. It is this freedom that makes jazz subversive and the reason that totalitarian governments have always attempted to suppress it, since free minds cannot be controlled.

As leaders of the Komeda Project, Medyna and Winnicki remember Poland under the control of the Soviet Union, the clandestine underground sessions, the danger of daring to express oneself, and hence fully appreciate the freedom of the United States. Freedom, however, is not anarchy and realfreedom is underpinned by rules, both explicit and implicit. In music, the rules are the mixture of tonality by key or mode and its derived harmony, melody or thematic fragments and rhythm. The nature of the music is the mixture of each part's individual strength, and result of their interaction at the lower musical level and the higher level of the players themselves.

Requiem contains, most wonderfully, two of Komeda's greatest compositions, "Night-time, Daytime Requiem" (listed as three tracks, which, however, run together) and "Astigmatic." Those who know the originals will appreciate Winnicki's arrangements as being fresh while acknowledging the past. Komeda's knack of creating memorable, highly emotional thematic phrases and then building large, logically inevitable structures that support vigorous improvisation is directly audible here.

The band's playing, individually and as a group, is superb. Medyna is always fiery and white-hot but under control - full of passion even his slower lines. This contrasts nicely with Winnicki's cooler playing.Russ Johnson, who has been with the group since its inception, stands between Medyna and Winnicki, playing the hot trumpet and cooler flugelhorn. The core trio is supported by the very sharp and incisive rhythm section of bassist Scott Colley and drummer Nasheet Waits. Medyna writes that they were chosen precisely for two reasons: they were not familiar with Komeda and have extremely sharp reflexes. Medyna wanted the music to combine the "sound of surprise" with the opposite of its internal logical structure, and on that note Colley and Waits deliver.

Crazy Girl (WM Records, 2007), the Komeda Project's previous release, was a welcome re-introduction to the work of Komeda. From this point of view, Requiem can only be termed as essential.

Check famous "Ballad For Bernt" from this album but in concert version: 


Author of text: Budd Kopman

Dorota Gorjainow & Wieslaw Wysocki - Komeda (2001)

Dorota Gorjainow - voc
Wiesław Wycocki - as, ts, ss, cl, fl, kurtzweil - sampler
Daniel Kondraciuk - recytatywa

Every year Chopin is murdered by innumerable projects which has nothing in common with the genius of this composer except that they want to rob him out of his name to sell some unambitious music. Another victim of this trend is Komeda, arguably the most well-known jazz musician in Polish jazz history. Some of music which is advertised as "inspired" by him is hopeless and worthless or... simply ridiculous. That's the case with this album by Dorota Gorjainow and Wiesław Wysocki whose effort sounds as if Kenny G. would decide to go for music of Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp and Albert Ayler to prove their tunes could be turn into elevator music. Horrible! Avoid it at all cost!!!


Author: Maciej Nowotny

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hubert Zemler - Moped (Lado ABC, 2011)

Hubert Zemler - drums

Moped (Lado ABC, 2011)









How often do you really listen to your own heartbeat? I do it rather rare but this album persuades me I should try. And what I am supposed to  discover through such a practice? I assume I could become surprised that my heartbeat is nothing constant or predictable but it changes with my desires, my fears, my hopes. But also with sound waves created in world around me which come to my body, penetrate it and sometimes even overwhelm it. Some of those sounds are strangely organized, bringing not only shock and fatigue but also some meaning. Significance. Sense. They may be called music.

Sometimes even extraordinary music when they carry with itself a beauty! As is a case with newest Hubert Zemler solo drum album 'Moped'. His musical horizons are wide open. Even on this humble blog you can find his free jazz 'Kapacitron' (2009) and 'Branches Of Horny Delight' (2009), avantpop 'Neurasja' (2011) or mainstream 'Alternations' (2008). But this is just a fragment of his activities because he has also done succesful projects belonging to world music (Ritmodelia), chamber music (Zdzisław Piernik, Arturas Bumsteinas) and even pop (Natu). He is associated with Chłodna 25 club in Warsaw, obviously one of the most important avant music venues in Poland (along with Alchemia in Cracow, Dragon in Poznań and Mózg in Bydgoszcz) and it is worthy to note that this CD is released by Lado ABC registrating albums of most of members of this unofficial artistic commune. 

Going back to music, this is the drum solo album but its variety is limitless. At moments mimimalistic it soon turns into storm beat, sometimes featuring pulse as ethereal as a feather while later abundant in New York groove or African funky rhythms. It is testimony to creativeness of an artist whose capacity is enormous, whose maturation is yet not complete but evidently going in right direction. I count it among the most interesting albums coming from Warsaw avant-garde musicians this year along with Marcin Masecki 'Profesjonalizm', Kamil Szuszkiewicz 'Prolegomena' and Levity 'Afternoon Delights". What a year indeed!

Author: Maciej Nowotny

Monday, December 19, 2011

Olo Walicki - Metalla Preciosa (OWP, 2004)

Olo Walicki - double bass

Leszek Możdżer - piano
Maurice de Martin - drums
The Gdansk Philharmonic Brass -
Janusz Szadowiak - trumpet
Arkadiusz Szafraniec - trumpet
Mirosław Merchel - French horn
Tadeusz Kassak - trombone

Metalla Preciosa (OWP, 2004)

Olo Walicki is type of musician who has its own way and is pursing it with all dedication and perseverance. That this path does not lead along main stream of music or even jazz, that it does not coincide with fame or money, it seems not to bother him a lot and he continues to issue one good album after another. Just a year ago I stumbled in my favorite music shop on his newest album "Trauma Theater" which happened to be one of few examples of music written for stage that stands successfully on its own. So I decided to go back and check what other recordings he has made in few recent years. Because as majority of Polish public I  associated Walicki with great events of the past, namely main the role he played in mid 90ties in Polish yass movement, but I was rather unaware of his latest works. And with my loss since this disc may be example of how original and appealing Walicki's music still is.

Title "Metalla Preciosa" summarizes well what is the concept of this album which can be described as standard jazz trio dancing on the background created by brass section. Trio Walicki/Możdżer/de Martin in itself could easily sustain the whole album because apart from Olo Walicki playing double bass we find here his long time companion from yass times Leszek Możdzer, deservedly enjoying superstar status on Polish music market and slowly making his way to European audience as well, and Maurice de Martin, German drummer, whose proficiency is beyond any question. It is important to note that brass section accompanying them (Janusz Szadowiak and Arkadiusz Szafraniec on trumpets, Mirosław Merchel on French horn, Tadeusz Kassak on trombone) consists of professional musicians from Gdańsk Philharmonic Orchestra AND that this quartet play is of the highest quality.

When a good concept meets with great musicianship the result could be only one: deeply satisfying experience. Resonating with energy of both jazz trio and classical brass section, this music shows how shall look like all meetings of these two great music languages. It is engaging DIALOGUE which although not always going on without some glitch, still leaves listener with sensation of being able to witness something fresh and unusual. I put this disc along best efforts in Polish jazz as far as third stream music is concerned in recent years. For more music of this kind and similar quality check Ecstasy Project or Atom String Quartet or  recent Piotr Damasiewicz 'Hadrony'.

Please, listen to 'Plumbum' from this album:


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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Grazyna Auguscik, Paulinho Garcia - The Beatles Nova (MTJ, 2011)

Grazyna Auguscik - voice

Paulinho Garcia - voice, guitar, percussion

Heitor Garcica - percussion
Brett Benteler - acoustic bass
Steve Eisen - flute, sax



(Editor) Excerpts from fine text by Robert Rodi relating a gig given by Grazyna Auguscik and Paulinho Garcia. It covered in part the programme of newest album of this duo dedicated to music of The Beatles. Since it is exceptionally well-written I decided it will serve right as description of the music one can find on this release..

(...) Thursday I dropped by Katerina's for a couple of sets by Paulinho Garcia, the Brazilian-born Chicago guitarist and vocalist who's one of the city's--if not the country's--major interpreters of the classic Brazilian repertoire. Though I'm a longtime fan, this was my first opportunity to see Garcia paired with his occasional singing partner, Grazyna Auguscik, a Polish-born siren who's been a force in Chicago jazz for more than a decade.

Despite the disparity in their appearances--Garcia bright-eyed and avuncular, with a cap of snowy white hair; Auguscik regal and serene beneath a concealing blond fringe--when they began harmonizing, the effect was hypnotic. Garcia's warm baritone, with just a hint of buzz, twined with Auguscik's cool, clear soprano as though they were created specifically to complement each other. Covering a wide range of Brazilian tunes, they cooed and crooned, purred and scatted. Katerina, the club's proprietor, called it "the most beautiful collective whisper you'll ever hear," and the uncanny, almost intoxicating shifts in texture and rhythm were amplified by shifts from Portugese to English to Polish. In fact, for me the night's most significant revelation was the way Polish consonant sounds--all those affricates and fricatives that English speakers find so hard to place on the tongue--meld so gorgeously into bossa nova and samba. The syllables seem to caress the melodies, like sea foam washing up on a beach. In one number--Marcos Valle's "Summer Samba"--Garcia sang the lyric in English, alternating with Auguscik singing in Polish, and there was no question which suited the tune better.

The emotional range of the program was also remarkable. Brazilian music is known for its lightness, its deftness; for this reason it's often hastily dismissed as disposable pop confectionery. But the work of the great Brazilian composers, like Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, is tremendously sophisticated; it's slenderness and fleetness are deceptive--in fact it has the structural strength to carry the weightiest themes on its slender back. Garcia and Auguscik brought these same qualities to some non-Brazilian songs they brought into the mix, including Sting's "Fragile" (which Katerina made them play twice), the Beatles' "Blackbird," and Ned Washington and Victor Young's "My Foolish Heart." Polish composers were represented both by a modern tune and by an arrangement of a melody by Frederic Chopin, who Garcia recognizes an influence on Brazilian music--thus giving him and Auguscik a common musical antecedent, and a stronger rationale for their partnership. Not, given the results, that they need one. (...)

Author: Robert Rodi

Robotobibok - Jogging (Vytvornia OM, 2000)

Robotobibok (band) 

Artur Majewski / trumpet
Adam Pindur / saxophone, Moog synthesizer
Marcin Ożóg / acoustic bass
Maciek Bączyk / guitar, ARP Odyssey synthesizer
Kuba Suchar / drums

Jogging (Vytvornia OM, 2000)

(Editor) It is difficult to believe that this recording is already more than 10 years old! It sounds as fresh and creative as on day of its releasing proving that viewed in retrospective the band Robotobibokk was simply one the most influential in history of Polish modern avantjazz music (check also on this blog review of their second album titled "Instytut Las").

"Just because you don't live in Chicago doesn't mean you can't groove with sax and samplers. Poland's post-jazz scene is going strong, sauntering through the territories cut by Poland's first wave Yass (formerly hard-core musicians who then defined Polish post-jazz) for a more refined downtempo hybrid of psychedelic post-rock and schooled jazz. Purveyors of this sweet and patient new sound fall into two camps: the jazzier and jocular, with bands like Robotobibok leading the former and splinter group AGD doing the latter. Robotobibok bridges Bitches Brew, Bill Laswell, breakbeat drumming and the whole of the Polish jazz tradition. Combining the motor of 'robot' with the Polish word "obibok" (loosely translated as droning or loafing) their name says all that the music conveys. Robotobibok's direction follows avantjazz legends Maestro Trytony, whose leader Tomasz Gwincinski produced their debut "Jogging," a landmark of this newly grooving downtempo scene" (source: Tamizdat).

Robotobibok (a blend of two Polish words for robot and skiver) was formed in 1998 in Wrocław, Poland. From the very beginning, their music has seemed to combine modern electronic music with the energy of improvised jazz. Strong and acoustic drums, double bass and trumpet intertwine with dreamy vibraphone, electric guitar and characteristic 70’s analogue electronica (source: Last.fm).

(Editor) Check tune "Podróż do Meksyku" from this album:


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Vijay Iyer And Leszek Mozdzer Help ACT Music Celebrate 20 Years In Style

(Editor) 20th anniversary of Siegfried Loch's ACT. I congratulate and thank him for placing in its catalogue Polish artists like Leszek Możdżer ("Komeda"), Vladyslav Sendecki ("Solo Piano") or Paweł Kaczmarczyk ("Complexity In Simplicity")... 

With a roster that boasts some of the most influential contemporary jazz recordings of recent years – namely those of the epoch defining sound of the sorely missed Esbjörn Svensson Trio – among a wide range of leading jazz instrumentalist and singers German label ACT has grown to a global force all thanks to the singular vision of label boss Siegfried ‘Siggi’ Loch and 2012 will mark the 20th anniversary of ACT Music.
Over the past two decades ACT has championed an incredible array of jazz artists who are defined by their desire to push musical boundaries while reaching out to a wider audience with both authenticity and innovation at their core. This list includes the likes of popular trombonist Nils Landgren, double bassist and cellist Lars Danielsson, pianists Jan Lundgren and Joachim Kuhn, saxophonist Heinz Sauer, drummer Wolfgang Haffner and guitarists Ngyuên Lê and Ulf Wakenius. More recent luminaries include Michael Wollny’s [em], the brothers Julian and Roman Wasserfuhr, Finnish trumpet sensation Verneri Pohjola, singers Viktoria Tolstoy and Youn Sun Nah and the genre-defying string ensemble radio.string.quartet.vienna. While former EST bassist Dan Berglund’s Tronbruket band and drummer Magnus Öström’s powerful rock-edged quartet have both made critically acclaimed albums and bold steps forward as solo artists.
The label has had another good year in 2011 with a Mercury Prize nomination for pianist Gwilym Simcock’s Good Days At Schloss Elamu, the signing of artists like saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappaand pianists Vijay Iyer and Leszek Możdżer to the label, and several international accolades being awarded to the label’s artists, such as guitarist Ngyuên Lê picking up the coveted French CHOC award for the album Song Of Freedom, and trombonist Nils Landgren taking home the German Jazz Gold Award for his recent The Moon The Stars And You.
Next year is already looking very promising with a slew of new releases slated to come out between February and April, these include; Ulf Wakenius -Vagabond (6 Feb), Jens Thomas - Speed Of Grace (6 Feb), Lars Danielsson -Liberetto (20 Feb), Verneri Pohjola - Ancient History (20 Feb), Vijay Iyer Trio -Accelerando (5 Mar), Michael Wollny’s [em] - Wasted & Wanted (March 2012), The Lighthouse Trio (Tim Garland, Gwilym Simcock, Asaf Sirkis) - title TBC (April 2012).
There are UK concerts to look forward to as well with Polish piano sensation Leszek Możdżer (pictured above) performing music from his debut album for ACT, Komeda, at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London on 1 February. While Vijay Iyer plays exciting new material from his new album Accelerando at The Vortex, London on 1-2 May.

Leszek Możdzer from his latest release on ACT dedicated Krzysztof Komeda:



Author: Mike Flynn
http://jazzwisemagazine.com

Friday, December 16, 2011

Grzech Piotrowski Quartet - Archipelago (Challenge Records, 2011)

Grzech Piotrowski Quartet (band)

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

Archipelago (Challenge Records, 2011)

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



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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Anna Maria Jopek in Ireland

(Editor) Interview with Anna Maria Jopek preceding her concerts in Ireland: 


TRUE CHARACTERS: The best thing about being Polish . . . is reading Wislawa Szymborska’s and Czeslaw Milosz’s poems in their original language. The worst is the seven months of winter.
When most people think of Polish music . . . they think of Chopin. But I have just done an album,Polanna , where we tried to find the essence of Polish soul in music. In one sentence, Polish music is a curious mix of wrath and melancholy.
Polish people . . . always have loads of hope for the better times to come. How else could have we survived half a century of communism? It was pretty much our sense of humour that kept us alive.
I never cared for being famous . . . Music itself has always been my prime concern. It is a great challenge to face an audience that does not know me at all. It’s a lesson in humility, in sheer communication through sound. We can win, we can fail, but we have to be absolutely honest and pure.
I work very closely in a creative sense with my husband . . . We’ve done all the albums together over the last 14 years or so. The only drawback is that he enjoys vacations and I hate them. I could work 12 months a year. He needs to do other things: travel, photography, or simply looking at nature on our farm outside Warsaw. I rarely go there.
I released three albums in one day . . . I’ve been always so curious, hungry and thirsty for the whole variety of music. This three-CD project Lustra (Mirrors) seemed to be the only answer to this . . . greed.
I represented Poland in the Eurovision . . . This was 15 years ago. I was just at the very beginning, with no album. “It seemed like a good idea at that time,” as Pat Metheny likes to say. Dublin was gorgeous, I recall. I never again participated in this kind of contest. I don’t think I ever will. This is just not my cup of tea. Not my pint of Guinness!
I trained at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw . . . I wish I could still play Mozart concertos on piano. But what I do has always been influenced by these three worlds: classical, jazz and folk. My family is filled with folk musicians.
Some of my most cherished memories on stage . . . are from the Hollywood Bowl, where I sang with some of the greatest bossa nova stars back in 2008. What a place. Perhaps the most focused audience ever is at the Blue Note Tokyo. But I also love small clubs in small Polish towns, like my favourite Jazz Cafe in Lomianki, where I play a lot. It’s like being in the living room of my friend’s house. Unique, cosy, intense.
I worked with many collaborators over the years . . . all of them define me. It’s hard to explain. The more edgy, different, and surprising the collaborators, the more I find out about myself. I’m sort of Zelig in reverse. I’ve worked even with dark metal bands, folk poetry singers, klezmers, contemporary classical virtuosos, pop stars, weirdos, everyone.
I would love to work with . . . the old, traditional village singers from Poland, while they are still with us. I’ll have to hurry.
If I could have anyone in my backing band . . . I think Mozart might be fun to improvise with.
My main influence would be . . . the authors I mentioned at the beginning. Musically: Chopin, Ravel . . . and Sting. I’ve been a huge fan for the last 30 years. I just bought my tickets for his upcoming show in Warsaw, first row.
I played in the UK only last year . . . but Ireland – why have you not invited me earlier? I love your music so much. Maybe there will be a chance to jam with some folk artists. Or this rather talented band you seem to be hiding from the rest of the world, I think they’re called U2?


Editor) Check AMJ singing from her last "Haiku" record:



Laurence Mackin

Jarek Smietana – A Tribute To Zbigniew Seifert (2009) by Adam Baruch

Jarek Śmietana (guitars)

Piotr Wyleżoł (acoustic & electric piano)
Janusz Grzywacz (keyboards)
Zbigniew Wegehaupt (bass)
Adam Czerwiński (drums)
Sławek Berny (percussion)

A Tribute To Zbigniew Seifert (2010)

and guests:
- Jerry Goodman - violin (1)
- Mateusz Smoczyński - violin (2)
- Didier Lockwood - violin (3)
- Krzesimir Dębski - violin (4)
- Christian Howes - violin (5)
- Mark Feldman - violin (6)
- Maciej Strzelczyk - violin (7)
- Adam Bałdych - violin (8)
- Pierre Blanchard - violin (9)

This is a stunning tribute album to the Polish violin virtuoso / composer Zbigniew Seifert by the great Polish guitarist Jarek Smietana and his band: pianist Piotr Wylezol, bassist Zbigniew Wegehaupt, drummer Adam Czerwinski and percussionist Slawek Berny. Keyboardist Janusz Grzywacz guests on two tracks. Smietana invited nine leading Jazz violinists to play along with this fabulous band, performing Seifert's wonderful compositions. They are: Jerry Goodman (ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra, USA), Mateusz Smoczynski (Poland), Didier Lockwood (France), Krzesimir Debski (Poland), Christian Howes (USA), Mark Feldman (USA), Maciej Strzelczyk (Poland), Adam Baldych (Poland) and Pierre Blanchard (France). These nine virtuosi play like there's no tomorrow and the resulting music is simply a breathtaking trip into Seifert's world. This is such a conglomerate of talent, that anything said beyond this would be simply superfluous. Simply grab this ASAP, as you are about to take trip of your life – violin heaven indeed!

Sample of great misci by Zbigniew Seifert:


Author: Adam Baruch
http://www.adambaruch.com/
check also his music boutique: https://www.jazzis.com/shop/

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rafal Sarnecki touring in Israel

(Editor) The tour is already over since it took place from 5-7th December 2011. Did anyone have chance to attend the concerts?

When 29-year-old Polish jazz guitarist Rafal Sarnecki arrives for a three-date tour here next week, he will probably not feel entirely out of place. “I know a lot of Israeli jazz musicians,” says Sarnecki, “and I studied with quite a few at the New School [for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York]. So it’s nice to be coming to Israel to play.”
One longtime Israeli pal, New York resident bassist Avri Borochov, will be on stage with Sarnecki at Levontin 7 in Tel Aviv on Monday (8 p.m.), Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem on Tuesday (9:30 p.m.) and HaEzor Club in Tel Aviv on Wednesday (9:30 p.m.). They will be joined by saxophonist Hagai Amir, pianist Nitay Hershkovits and drummer Yonatan Rosen.
Sarnecki’s tour here is supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and The Polish Institute. Sarnecki says his long-standing friendship with Borochov will come in handy next week. “We played a lot together when we were at the New School, and he played my compositions, so it’s really lucky that we can play together again.”
Relocating from Poland to New York for his studies was a wise move for Sarnecki, and not just because of the academic standard at the New School. “First of all, it meant that I was in New York, and just being there was really great,” the guitarist notes. “But the New School is also a very open-minded school. I could try to find many new things, many new styles of music. I felt that the New School was very different from all the other schools I went to. It was very useful for progressing with improvisation and composition.”
That certainly comes through strongly in the lead guitarist’s second album, The Madman Rambles Again, which will provide the basis for most of the three shows here next week.
“I was trying to use the same improvisational and compositional techniques but in different cultural contexts,” explains Sarnecki. “There is a little bit of Latin music and a bit of avantgarde style, and there’s a bit of the [German record label] ECM [atmospheric] style.”
Interestingly, over the last 40 years ECM has put out recordings by musicians from a very wide range of countries and cultures, and part of the leader’s cultural backgroundtends to come through.
So, does Sarnecki feel there is something uniquely Polish about what he does? “Yes, I do think so, but it’s very subtle,” he says. “It’s always interesting for me that Polish people don’t hear Polish elements in my music. It’s more the American people who hear Polish things in my music. I don’t relate to Polish folk music in a direct way, but there is something about the melodic feel and the rhythmic feel that comes from the Polish culture.”
Sarnecki says his artistic output is partly a byproduct of his age rather than his nationality. “I grew up during a time when Polish folk music was not popular, so I think it would be a little unnatural for me to use Polish folk music in my compositions. But I know that even listening to Polish pop songs made me aware of some Polish melodic elements which come from Polish folk music, not directly but in a more subtle way,” he explains.
Sarnecki’s personal chronology is also an important factor. “My generation grew up in a capitalist world, not like people like [69- year-old Polish jazz trumpeter] Tomasz Stanko. My generation didn’t fight for freedom [from the communist regime]. For the older generations, jazz was a symbol of freedom against communism. For me, it’s very different. My music has no political meaning, and it is not a protest against anything.”
Sarnecki feels he has made good progress since putting out his debut album, Songs from a New Place, which came out in 2008. “I now know more about instrumentation and about counterpoint. The new CD has a much wider instrumentation. I included saxophone, flute, trumpet and percussion, which are not available on the first CD. Also, I often use two melodic lines at the same time. And using counterpoint was definitely because of having more of an influence of classical music. I experimented a lot more with the second CD, also because I was aware of so many more things compared with the first CD.”
The Madman Rambles Again is certainly a wide-ranging effort, and Sarnecki’s shows here next week will cover lots of sonic and stylistic bases. They will also incorporate some tracks from Songs from a New Place and some new material Sarnecki is working on.
“I am planning the next CD. You’ve got to keep planning ahead,” he says.

Tune "Student Protest" from Rafał Sarnecki newest album "Madman Rambles Again":


Barry Davis


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Maciej Obara Quartet - Equilibrium (Fonografika, 2011)

Maciej Obara Quartet (band)

Maciej Obara - alt sax
Dominik Wania - piano
Maciej Garbowski - bass
Krzysztof Gradziuk - drums

Equilibrium (Ars Cameralis, 2011)



Maciej Obara, altoist, though young has already recorded significant albums. Check for example personnel on his last two discs: "Four" (2010) and "Three" (2010). You will probably find it astonishing with whom he already collaborated with! But it shall be less surprise if you know that few years before he was picked up by Tomasz Stańko for his New Balladyna Project. And since you can put two and two together from the list of those names you will already know that he prefers to walk on free side of jazz. With this album however he goes back to different kind of free: rooted rather in Jimmy Giuffre than in Ornette Coleman tradition. That is due to his partners, musicians with whom he already recorded his first two discs: "Message From Ohayo" (2007) and "I Can Do it" (2009). Krzysztof Gradziuk, a drummer, and Maciej Garbowski, a double-bassist, have made their own great careers specializing in merging cool and free elements in jazz and are universally recognized as one of the most exciting rhythm sections in Poland. They are best known from excellent RGG trio and if you check such albums of this band as stunning "Unfinished Story" (2007) dedicated to legendary cool jazz pianist Mieczysław Kosz, fully improvised "True Story" (2009) or recent "One" (2011), you will understand why Polish audience believe that this is probably the only trio in this country to be seriously compared to famous Marcin Wasilewski Trio. Finally, Dominik Wania completes this quartet, who got behind him valuable projects as sideman with Bronisław Suchanek, Jacek Kochan and Tomek Grochot (check "My Stories"), excellent education and immense talent predisposing him to as significant career as those of other members of this young "dream team" of Polish jazz.
But at the end of a day the most important is of course music. And it may be well described by applying a title of first track on this album which is "Cool Madness". It bursts with inner energy and reminds me of some battle between basic elementals, fire and ice, as impersonated by Obara's alto and Wania's piano,  submerged in cool and deep space for improvisation as created by Gradziuk's drums and Garbowski's double-bass. Whether they all succeed in finding so much sought equilibrium between those ever conflicting forces is for you to decide... 

This sample of music of Maciej Obara Quartet:



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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Daniel Popialkiewicz Quartet - Solstice (2011)

Daniel Popiałkiewicz - guitars
Paweł Tomaszewski - accoustic piano, keyboards
Maciej Garbowski - double bass
Krzysztof Gradziuk - drums

Solstice (2011)





I reviewed favourably debut recording ("The Hope For Tomorrow") by guitarist Daniel Popiałkiewicz. He easily counts among most promising young guitarists in Poland along with Rafał Sarnecki, Przemek Strączek or Marek Kądziela. In this album he expands his band from trio to quartet, keeping excellent rhythm section from his first record in persons of drummer Krzysztof Gradziuk and double-bassist Maciej Garbowski but adding Paweł Tomaszewski on piano. Natural question is how does this music sound when compared to his last year debut? And it sounds good, adding the piano made music richer obviously and if we reckon that all compositions are originals by Popiałkiewicz then this album may be described as fully satisfactory release confirming how great potential he possess. He is extremely fortunate to have a drummer like Gradziuk along himself! Gradziuk catapults this music to stratosphere and Popialkiewicz guitar feels very well on such high quality background. Maciej Garbowski adds solidity to this framework while Paweł Tomaszewski piano accompaniment is impeccable if somewhat too predictable. In terms of style this music is inspired by ECM version of modern jazz but rocking guitar of Popiałkiewicz and creative drumming by Gradziuk add necessary drop of surprise to make it appealing even to those a bit weary of ECM aesthetics.

Check promo of this album:



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