Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pink Freud - Monster of Jazz (Uniwersal, 2010) by Adam Baruch

Pink Freud (band)

Wojtek Mazolewski - bass
Tomek Duda - sax
Adam Milwiw-Baron - trumpet
Jerzy Rogiewicz - drums

Monster of Jazz (Uniwersal, 2010)

This is the 7th album by Polish ensemble Pink Freud, which managed to gain considerable popularity on the local scene, both with Jazz and non-Jazz listeners and critics alike. Formed in 1998 by bassist / composer Wojciech Mazolewski, the group changed its lineup several times over the years but succeeded to maintain its popularity and gradually achieved a cult following and a large fan base. Musically the group offers a unique amalgam of genres and musical directions, originating with Jazz and improvisation, but also encompassing elements of Punk Rock, dub, jungle, drum and bass and electronic music. In many respects it is a direct continuation of the Yass movement, which flourished in Poland in the 1990s, and could be referred to as post-Yass. 

Since Yass was initially intended as an expression of rebellion against the established Jazz canons, which many young musicians felt to be stagnant, post-Yass took the rebellion a bit further out, emphasizing the cross-genre trend, groove and even dance elements, which resulted in the music being much more widely accessible. As opposed to the intellectual image that Jazz is usually associated with, this music is intelligent fun music, with some Jazz associations, and should be treated as such, no more and no less. This album was recorded by an expanded sextet version of the group, which includes, apart from the leader, trumpeters Adam Milwiw-Baron (son of the great Polish saxophonist Piotr Baron) and Tomasz Zietek, saxophonist Tomasz Duda, vibraphonist Jerzy Rogiewicz and drummer Kuba Staruszkiewicz. 

Of all the Pink Freud albums, this is the most "radical" one, with the electronics, dub and jungle elements taking the lead, pushing the Jazz improvisations aside considerably. As a result this album will be probably the least "appealing" to listeners with a strong Jazz background. Of the twelve tracks present on the album, eleven are original compositions by the group members and the remaining one was adopted from a composition by the British electronic duo Autechre, a choice which hints as to the general direction of this album. 

Although there is plenty of inspired blowing by the horns, the overall mood is somewhat hectic and lacks a clear musical direction. There is an apparent absence of well formed melody lines, which characterized the groups' earlier outings. As much as the group's intention to continue their restless journey in search of new expressions is commendable and admirable, it often is a treacherous path which could lead to disaster if moderation is not applied. One must hope that they will re-invent themselves anew with their future efforts, leaving this one behind as a document of their quest. Of course there is plenty of music here to be enjoyed and the album is worth listening to, even if one somehow expects something more from such a great group.

1. Pink Fruits
2. Warsaw
3. Little Monster
4. Polanski
5. Bald inquisitor
6. Red eyes, blue sea and sand
7. Pierun
8. Goz Quarter
9. Braxton
10. Diamond Way
11. Spreading the sound of emptiness
12. Monster of Jazz

By Adam Baruch

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