Friday, August 31, 2012

Kuba Stankiewicz - Spaces (2012)

Kuba Stankiewicz - piano

Maciej Sikała - tenor saxophone
Wojciech Pulcyn - double bass
Sebastian Frankiewicz - drums

Spaces (2012)

This is a wonderful new album by the veteran Polish Jazz pianist / composer Kuba Stankiewicz, recorded with his quartet, which includes also saxophonist Maciej Sikala, bassist Wojciech Pulcyn and drummer Sebastian Frankiewicz. The album comprises of nine original compositions, all by Stankiewicz.

The music is mainstream Jazz, or rather classic Jazz, with the typical Polish tinge; lyrical, romantic and brilliantly melodic. For some reason the new generation of the Polish Jazz players diverged largely into new areas, neglecting the unique approach that identified the early days of the scene, which placed composition above everything else. Stankiewicz seems to have returned to that principle here, with his compositions being the centre of attention. Both the beautiful ballads and the up-tempo numbers have splendid melody lines, which serve as perfect vehicles for the saxophone and piano solos. The actual performance of the music is also kept in very traditional form, without any adventurous undertakings, which would have been out of place here.

Sikala, who is the principal soloist here, plays excellently, especially on the soprano, with his long, somewhat sentimental twisted lines being absolutely perfect for this kind of music. The rhythm section plays a refined and tight background, which is always right there, when needed and always balanced with the soloing instruments keeping the music afloat. Stankiewicz plays superbly in the background, but solos sparingly, avoiding drawing too much attention to himself, which is quite unusual for a leader. When he plays solo, he does so with exquisite taste and humility. He obviously prefers the ensemble sound as best suiting his compositions.

In spite of all that "retro" setting, this is a great Jazz album by all means. It's been quite a while since I've had the pleasure of listening to such refined music, which is both aesthetically and artistically pleasing. There is nothing wrong with mainstream Jazz, as long as it is so elegantly performed and presents intelligent and heartfelt music.

There is little to be added here, except for the fact that this is an album every true Jazz lover around the world should be able to cherish wholeheartedly. I can only prompt everybody to try. Satisfaction guaranteed!

By Adam Baruch

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