Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mateusz Smoczynski Quintet – Expressions (TMP, 2008)

Mateusz Smoczyński Quinet

Mateusz Smoczyński - violin
Konrad Zemler - guitar
Jan Smoczyński - piano, tambourine, sleight belles
Wojciech Pulcyn - bass
Łukasz Żyta - drums, percussion

Expressions (TMP, 2008)

By Adam Baruch

This is the 2nd album as a leader by the young Polish Jazz violinist / composer Mateusz Smoczynski. Recorded with a superb quintet, which includes his brother Jan Smoczynski on piano, guitarist Konrad Zemler, bassist Wojciech Pulcyn and drummer Lukasz Zyta, the album presents his talent and obvious virtuosity to the fullest extent. Of the ten compositions included on the album Jan contributed four, Mateusz one, Wojciech another four and the last is credited to all quintet members. 

The music is modern Jazz, which has solid roots in Jazz mainstream, but is open to glimpses of Free, which is not surprising since Mateusz points out John Coltrane as a major influence. Of course he also continues the Polish Jazz violin tradition, naming Zbigniew Seifert (who in turn was also strongly influenced by Coltrane) as another direct influence. However, attentive listening to his brilliant solos brings also memories of the other great Polish violinist, like Michal Urbaniak and Krzesimir Debski and of course the French giant Jean-Luc Ponty. 

Since recording this album, Mateusz recorded another superb album (again with his brother Jan) in a trio setting ("Simultaneous Abstractions"), participated in a Zbigniew Seifert tribute album ("A Tribute To Zbigniew Seifert") and recorded with the Atom String Quartet. All these projects are impeccable pieces of intelligent, rewarding and highly aesthetic music and it seems that Mateusz is heading to the very top of the local (and perhaps also international) scene. 

The album was recorded in the "Tokarnia" recording studio owned by the Smoczynski brothers, and engineered and mastered by Jan. From several other Polish Jazz recordings I've heard, which were recorded there, one can hear that this is probably the best recording studio in the country and Jan (in addition to his musical abilities) is a great sound engineer. Well, it's always a pleasure to give credit, where credit is due, as in this case. Altogether this is brilliant piece of music, which any Jazz connoisseur anywhere should cherish. Most warmly recommended!

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