Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Piotr Wojtasik - Escape (1999)

Piotr Wojtasik - trumpet

Tomasz Szukalski - soprano & tenor sax
Maciej Sikala - soprano & tenor sax,
Sławomir Kurkiewicz - bass
Krzysztof Dziedzic - drums

Escape (1999)

The leading trumpet of Polish jazz scene, Piotr Wojtasik, is very well known as a virtuoso, whose live improvisations are widely admired. He is also the composer of several pieces: ”The Waltz”, “Plum Orchard”, “First Rehearsal”, “Almost Touching It”... To be sure, his every improvised solo in a small composition, though based on someone else’s ideas. The present disc brings three more Wojtasik’s original compositions, one of them a major one in three parts, “Escape”, after which this disc is named. It shows at the same time his partly introverted nature and his deeply felt attitude toward surrounding turbulence of contemporary life, one wishes sometimes to escape from. From the strictly musical point of view it is a very successful combination of improvisatory freedom with the attractive ensemble sections and general structure. As he himself admits, the shaping of “Escape”ripened gradually in discussions and rehearsals with his present sidemen, Tomasz Szukalski, Maciej Sikała, Sławomir Kurkiewicz and Krzysztof Dziedzic. The colors of this music are not only unique and beautiful (in spite of piano’s absence) but assaulting our imagination. There’s a poignantly vigorous soprano-saxophone’s incantation (part I) and anguished pulsations of bass and drums underneath; the initial motif: a,f,b,d, forms a basis from which the tenor’s rebellious improvisations stem. The drums link the first part with the second, and a very attractive straight-ahead begins, jumping sporadically off the tonal barriers. We are about to admire the trumpet’s and tenor’s solo-flights, the rows of running fourth-all these full of half-defined meaning, asking for some kind of allegoric film. And finally a bass solo that guides us to part lll. The structure and expression complement each other throughout. A characteristic call (e,a,f,g) three times repeated and answered each time by a frenzy of voices, leads to a kind of psalm, where the peculiar polyphonic “free” occurs, with tenor exhortations running out of it.

The conclusion is definitely hopeful, even triumphant. Farther items on this CD add to the message of “Escape”, however differently. “Horizon”, the next Wojtasik composition starts with a broadly outlined unison theme. It unfolds on two levels. The polyphonic treatment used here resembles a kind of two-parts invention. There are two fine tenor solo improvisations with a trumpet solo in between. The sounds symbolizing movement and space entwine the return of the main theme. in October 1960 John Coltrane recorded three complete sets in the space of barely one week ;”Coltrane Plays The Blues”, “My Favorite Things” and “Coltrane’s Sound” that included the unique and beautiful John’s ballad, “Central Park West”. Wojtasik and his partners give it a very subtle and ingenious treatment. The main theme is harmonized and there are exquisite polyphonic overlapping at the end of each solo improvisations-the recurring theme which at last grows to end the piece. The third composition by Wojtasik, “Celebration”, runs in 5/4 time, sporadically colored by the sound of a conch. The ostinato groove, enhanced by subdued drums, is subjected to kind of transformation and embellished by trumpet and soprano improvisation. One may imagine the celebration sounds coming from a distant African village. The arranged and “free” sections of this piece equally contribute to the peculiar mood. The last item on this CD comes from Billy Harper, an emotional and inventive tenor-man. Wojtasik and Harper used to play together recently and both men developed a real musical affinity documented by recording the “Quest” in 1996. Harper’s “Illumination” starts here with flourish-like phrases. One is sure to enjoy two sizeable tenor solos, the first by Sikała, the second by Szukalski, as well as the brilliant trumpet improvisation by the leader-all these punctuated by introductory theme’s phrase. The music sparkles and shimmers with varying instrumental colors. 


Track listing: 1. Escape 2. Horizon 3. Central Park West 4. Celebration 5. Illumination


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