Saturday, June 30, 2012

Zbigniew Namyslowski Modern Jazz Quartet - Lola (Decca, 1964)

Zbigniew Namyslowski Modern Jazz Quartet

Zbigniew Namysłowski - alto sax
Wlodzimierz Gulgowski - piano
Tadeusz Wójcik - bass
Czesław Bartkowski - drums

 Lola (Decca, 1964)

However good European jazz musicians might be, seldom if ever are they likely to initiate any new jazz directions. During the last decade and a half we have had Swedish George Shearing-style quintets, Danish Mulligan-like quartets, and innumerable other imitation's. Poland's Zbigniew Namyslowski MJQ comes close to an original sound, yet it is obvious that this unit would never have existed in this present form without the work of John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman. 

One nameless British jazz critic is quoted on the sleeve as saying that Namyslowski's own alto playing "almost makes Ornette Coleman sound like George Lewis". On the strength of the music heard here this is nonsense, for although Zbigniew Namyslowski's approach is 'new', he observes chord sequences and improvises in a more conventional manner than Coleman. At the same time Zbigniew has made quite astonishing progress when one considers that his experience of jazz has probably been limited to records and Voice Of America broadcasts heard in Poland. His playing transcends the expected type of phrasing, splaying across the 'traditional' breaks in the chorus construction. His tone, incisive with a cutting edge, brings to mind the attack of Sonny Criss and Jackie McLean. 

The writing is by members of the quartet, with the exception of Kern's 01' Man River, of course, and takes in a variety of moods. Generally speaking, the work of the pianist, bass player and drummer is adequate rather than inspired, but the deep-rooted intensity of the leader's alto compensates for this. It would be interesting to hear Zbigniew Namyslowski after he had spent, say, six months working in New York with men such as Billy Higgins, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison. This LP was made in London last summer during the Polish quartet's visit to this country. Readers may recall their appearances at the Ronnie Scott Club, the Richmond Jazz Festival and on a BBC broadcast, all of which opened a few eyes—and ears—to the advanced state of jazz in Poland. A.M. 

1. Piękna Lola, kwiat p [06:37]
2. Leszek i Ludwik [03:36]
3. W 5/4 czasu [08:00]
4. Blues Shmues [03:50]
5. Rozpacz [07:19]
6. Tkotkonitkotko [04:44]
7. Woźny Najważniejszy [03:54]
8. Piatawka [06:45]

source: Gramophone


  1. I absolutely disagree with this review, now (almost 50 years later) more than ever. It was written at the time when American Jazz was God, and the European Jazz was only an infant, an emerging new identity, which the reviewer simply completely ignored. This album, inspired by Namyslowski's stint with Komeda, reflects the birth of European Jazz, which at the same time was happening in the UK as well, but it took years until it was recognized by poeple, such as the reviewer, as a genuine new force, emancipated from the American dominance and stylistic lethargy.

  2. I absolutely agree with Adam Baruch.

  3. This is such a great record. Less than 10 years after Namyslowski will record Winobranie, another astonishing record mirroring what had happened around in music and still even more than Lola personal and original, well aware of its contemporaries but capable of a word in his own.

  4. After a recent stream of Polish records I cannot agree more with Adam. A derivative jet original and powerful statement by a 24years old genius. Great music, this and some wonderful records to come started European jazz as Manfred Eicher himself admits (I wish he could produce music so strong, though tofay).


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