Saturday, September 15, 2012

Adam Baldych & The Baltic Gang - Imaginary Room (ACT, 2012) by Adam Baruch

Adam Baldych & The Baltic Gang

Adam Bałdych / violin
The Baltic Gang:
Jacob Karlzon / piano
Lars Danielsson / bass, cello
Morten Lund / drums
Verneri Pohjola / trumpet
Marius Neset / saxophone
Nils Landgren / trombone (on 05 & 08)

Imaginary Room (ACT, 2012)

This is the first international release by Polish Jazz violinist / composer Adam Baldych. Recorded in Berlin, it features Baldych in a sextet / septet setting with some of the best Scandinavian
musicians (hence the Baltic Gang): trumpeter Verneri Pohjola (Finland), saxophonist Marius Neset (Norway), trombonist Nils Landgren (Sweden) who plays on two tracks and co-produced the album, pianist Jacob Karlzon (Sweden), bassist Lars Danielsson (Sweden), and drummer Morten Lund (Denmark). Baldych composed ten of the album's twelve tunes and co-composed the remaining two (one with Karlzon and the other with Danielsson). The album was released on the German ACT label, which already features several Polish Jazz artists on its recording artist roster.

Baldych, just 26 years old at the time this music was recorded, has already a most impressive list of achievements behind him and is often referred to as the new hope of Polish Jazz violin, which has a remarkable tradition indeed, with such outstanding masters as Michal Urbaniak, Zbigniew Seifert and Krzesimir Debski. With this album Baldych certainly earned his final seal of approval, joining the distinguished club of his predecessors.

The music included on this album is a major step in the development of Baldych as a composer. There is a definite style and a personal signature on all the tunes, which share a remarkable tendency towards melancholy, romanticism and deep lyricism. Most of the music is delicate, low key and slow tempo, with long and winding melody lines, a manner quite typical to the great Polish composers, both Classical and Jazz. The presence of the Scandinavian musicians, who are also known for their specific tone, might have influenced the overall sound and atmosphere of the album, but that would be only marginal. Considering also the fact that the tracks are relatively short and the arrangements do not allow expanded improvisations, it is obvious that the focus of this album is the music (compositions) rather that the performances.

The performances are, of course, stellar, which is not surprising considering the level of the musicians involved. Baldych plays superbly, as expected, but much less flashy and extrovert than on his earlier recordings. It is obvious that he reached a mental maturity, which turns him into a total musician, who does not need to prove his ability to the world, but to present a complete musical work of art, which includes composition, arrangement, performance and ambience as a whole. There are plenty of superb musical moments on this album, which of course will be revealed and discovered with repeated listening sessions.

The album is definitely one of the finest recent Polish Jazz recordings and will become part of the Polish Jazz canon for years to come. Baldych, who is just making his first international steps, is destined for glory, which hopefully will be achieved gradually. In the meantime this music is his gift to us, to be enjoyed to the fullest. Chapeau!

By Adam Baruch

Track listing:
1. Village Underground - 04:51 (Baldych, Adam)
2. Mirrors - 05:17 (Baldych, Adam)
3. The Room of Imagination - 07:08 (Baldych, Adam)
4. Cubism - 04:59 (Baldych, Adam)
5. K8 - 06:35 (Baldych, Adam)
6. Time Traveler - 03:07 (Baldych, Adam / Karlzon, Jacob)
7. Rama hai - 05:37 (Baldych, Adam)
8. For Zbiggy - 03:40 (Baldych, Adam)
9. 11.16 - 04:45 (Baldych, Adam)
10. Zarathustra - 03:14 (Baldych, Adam)
11. Inspiration - 04:04 (Baldych, Adam)
12. Million Miles Away - 02:11 (Baldych, Adam / Danielsson, Lars)

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