Friday, August 24, 2012

Aga Zaryan - Looking Walking Being (Blue Note, 2010)

Aga Zaryan - Vocal

David Doruzka - Guitar
Michal Baranski - Bass
Lukasz Zyta - Drums
Munyungo Jackson - Percussion

Looking Walking Being (2010)

This is the 5th album by Polish Jazz vocalist Aga Zaryan and her first release on the legendary Blue Note label, a first ever by a Polish artist. This album marks a new stage in Zaryan's career, characterized by performing original material especially composed for her by pianist / composer Michal Tokaj (six of the twelve songs on the album) and Czech guitarist / composer David Doruzka (four songs), both actively playing on this album. One additional song was composed by guitarist / composer Larry Koonse, who accompanied Zaryan on her earlier recordings and another one is by the great and sadly recently departed Polish bassist / composer Zbigniew Wegehaupt. Apart from Tokaj and Doruzka the other accompanying musicians include bassist Michal Baranski, drummer Lukasz Zyta and percussionist Munyungo Jackson.

Zaryan also takes charge of writing the lyrics for seven of the album's songs with the remaining five being poems by the marvelous British-born American poetess Denise Levertov. The lyricism of Zaryan's texts and the intricacy of Levertov's modern and deeply moving poetry give the album a clear artistic direction, which draws from the beautiful tradition of combining music and poetry, especially the Jazz & Poetry movement, which flourished in the 1960s.

The music is a perfect match to the complex lyrics, fluidly and gently carrying the singer's words on the waves of sound. It is mostly lyrical as well, reflective and introvert, but energetic enough to prevent an overall morose atmosphere, which many "serious" musical projects suffer from. Obviously this kind of music requires serious and repetitive listening to uncover its complex content and allow intimate contact, but its obvious beauty is quite obvious from the very first exposure to it. This is both intellectual and emotional music, a rare quality indeed, especially these days.

Zaryan's performances as well as the accompaniment are both an absolute bliss. As usual she cooperates with her musicians on levels rarely achieved elsewhere, making the best of their respective talents and abilities. Doruzka, who is the main soloist, plays some of the finest guitar I've heard in a long time and Zaryan's obvious love for the guitar is commendable, as most singers prefer to use the piano as the main supportive instrument. The album, which was recorded in Warsaw and Los Angeles over a period of several months, displays an overall level of musicianship and recording / production as well as sonic quality, which are simply extraordinary.

There is no doubt that Zaryan and her cohorts deserve an honorable place on the Polish Jazz scene as much as being a part of world's Jazz elite with the Blue Note as their home base. Buying this album is definitely a no brainer and I can't imagine money better spent that this. A must!

By Adam Baruch
http://www.adambaruch.com/



Tracklisting:
01 Cherry Tree Avenue 2:42
02 Looking, Walking, Being 4:48
03 Let Me 5:02
04 For The New Year, 1981 4:02
05 The Stars Are As Lonely As Us 5:06
06 Seeking My Love 7:42
07 February Evening In New York 4:04
08 My Name 5:53
09 Temptation Game 6:32
10 Wanting The Moon 5:23
11 What Is This Thing Called Happiness ? 4:39
12 The Thread 6:36


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