Sunday, July 15, 2012

Jacek Kochan - One Eyed Horse (Gowi Records, 2005) by Adam Baruch

Jacek Kochan - drums, laptop, sampler, bass, keyboards, voice

Franz Hautzinger - quarter tone trumpet
Greg Osby - alto saxophone
Krystyna Stańko - vocals

One Eyed Horse (Gowi Records, 2005)

Polish drummer / composer / arranger Jacek Kochan is one of the country's most active music leaders with an impressive and prolific career in both Jazz and contemporary experimental music. Kochan spent considerable periods of time living, studying and performing in the USA and Canada and upon his return to Poland in the mid 1990s he swiftly established his position as a central figure on the local scene. Since then he recorded a considerable number of albums as a leader, co-leader and sideman with many musicians from around Europe and the US as well as local musicians of course. 

This is a document of one of such projects, which features US saxophonist Greg Osby and Austrian trumpeter Franz Hautzinger. They perform a set of fifteen compositions, all by Kochan, which are duets between the drums and electronically produced sounds (loops, samples, etc.), courtesy of Kochan and one of the two soloists playing with him. Some vocal parts, mostly mixed into the background, are performed by the Polish Jazz vocalist Krystyna Stanko. The music is very difficult to categorize and although Jazz is the general idiom here, it moves smoothly between pretty melodic mainstream, funky passages, ambient soundscapes and almost Free Jazz, all in one tune and very swiftly. 

Kochan is a master atmosphere builder with his array of rhythmic tricks and electronic sound effects, which provides a full-fledged basis for the soloists to improvise on top of it. As far as originality and uniqueness are concerned, one need to look no further, as this album simple explodes with completely innovative sounds and ideas. Of course the music is pretty demanding and attentive listening is a requirement, but the effort pays off in full. Both Osby and Hautzinger play really beautifully and seem to enjoy the unusual setting to the fullest, as evident from the resulting music. Since words are hardly adequate to describe sonic experiences, the obvious thing to do is of course to listen to this incredible music. I can only hope that my wholehearted recommendation will prompt some people to give it a try, as it is definitely too good to be ignored. This is modern Jazz at its best, which actually manages to expand the boundaries of the genre, which is rare indeed. A must!

Track listing: 1. Beyond the Obvious [01:44]; 2. Rift [05:55]; 3. Fear No More [07:05]; 4. Simoom [05:56]; 5. Not Just Yet [04:55]; 6. Time Warp to Let [05:58]; 7. Drop [05:25]; 8. Sun Doesn [04:46]; 9. Vanity Garage Sale [04:05]; 10. Professional Patriots [05:56]; 11. Private Negotiations [04:26]; 12. One Eyed Horse [01:16]; 13. Twenty Seven Names of a Man [02:19]; 14. Moscow Boogie [06:39]; 15. What the Dentists Dream of [01:16]

By Adam Baruch

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