Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Quartet - Loaded (1979)

The Quartet (band)

Tomasz Szukalski - tenor & soprano saxophone
Sławomir Kulpowicz - keyboards
Paweł Jarzębski - double bass
Janusz Stefański - drums

Loaded (1979)

Tomasz Szukalski nicknamed "Szakal" (Jackal) is a legend of Polish jazz. His contribution to its development and eventual glory is no less valuable than Komeda, Stanko or Namysłowski's. It is however very difficult to describe his carreer. He was so creative and simultaneously prolific that it would require a whole book to provide a reader with an extensive information about different projects he took part in. Let us then note that on Polish scene he worked with every significant player (and many insignificant) but the most fruitful relationship he established with Tomasz Stańko. He appeared on most of Stańko outstanding recordings of 70ties which are arguably his best at all notwithstanding glorious discs he recorded for ECM afterwards. It is important to note that as much on these albums as on any other Szukalski, who rather seldom acted in the role of leader on his own, was somebody far more valuable than just a very good sideman. His personality was so unique, powerful and charismatic that he co-created every project he was involved in. 

But this album is by no means dominated by Szukalski only. Musicians taking part in its recording are partners of an equal status. Pianist Sławomir Kulpowicz is a rare example among excellent stock of Polish jazz pianists of the artist interested as much in musical as in spiritual side of jazz. He travelled extensively world-wide fascinated by folk music, for example to Africa and the Middle East, where both those components are still alive and closely interwoven. It comes as no surprise then that in jazz he felt particularly interested in experiments conducted by John and Alice Coltrane.

Janusz Stefański is one of view drummers in classical period of Polish jazz (60ties and 70ties) who could keep up with rhythmic innovations that came from the US scene in those times. He is present on countless recordings of this era made by such giants as Seifert, Stańko, Urbaniak, Kosz and others. What should be stressed is his incredible versality since he was able to provide equally empathic support for Seifert bop, Kosz cool and Stańko free jazz lines. Bassist Paweł Jarzębski is perhaps the least known of all four but he should be remembered at least from his collaboration with Zbyszek Namysłowski on some of his best recordings including "Kuyaviak Goes Funky" (1975). And Namysłowski is famous for picking up for his ensambles only creme-de-creme of Polish musicians. Many of those he invited to his bands and who debuted with him made afterwads stunning careers as much on Polish as on international scene with Jarzębski no exception to this rule.

This album is second and last recorded by this band after self-titled "The Quartet" issued a year before. Although The Quartet did not survive martial law imposed on Poland in 1981 by gen. Jaruzelski, its input to Polish jazz phenomenon is crucial. It embodies what was best in this classical era of this music in Poland: fantastic proficiency of musicians, authencity, straighforwardness and creative relationship with such masters of American jazz as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins or McCoy Tyner. With its passing completely new period in Polish jazz began, time of obvious decadence but not without certain interesting signs of life. Life which eventually has come back to Polish jazz in its full glory in 90ties. It is clear that without such a legacy as created by "Loaded" of The Quartet this renaissance would be impossible or at least less inspiring...

01. Mr. Person
02. Macondo
03. The Promise
04. Train People

By Maciej Nowotny

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it the same stuff that issued recently "Again" (2005 or so, The Quartet has a reunion tour)?


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