Sunday, September 9, 2012

Andrzej Kurylewicz & Wanda Warska - Somnambulists (1961)

Andrzej Kurylewicz & Wanda Warska

Andrzej Kurylewicz - piano
Wanda Warska - vocal
Jan Byrczek - double bass
Andrzej Dąbrowski - bass

Somnambulists (1961)

Unfortunately I was able to listen to this album only in form of mp3. Therefore I couldn't read liner notes. I am not even sure who exactly play on this album. As in cases of many Polish jazz albums information is scarce, incomplete or nonexistent. With this album it is even more exasperating than usual as it is truly a pearl, brilliant work embodying many characteristic features of such a unique phenomenon as Polish jazz.

First, it is as much based on bop jazz as on classical music. Most of "founding fathers" of jazz in Poland (Andrzej Kurylewicz is one of them) had strong classical music background. But it didn't manifest itself in imitating what was already well known in classical music but rather in refreshing it using novelties which were brought to music by jazz. Of these novelties most important for Polish musicians were rhythm, improvisation, sound individuality and freedom to form.

Second, before II World War jazz had been present in Poland being however of no artistic importance. It had been then simply poor copy of American music. When in second half of 50ties it was born again, almost from the beginning it wore marks of the great art, being part or even walking in spearhead of the great renaissance of different arts in Poland. Those different art movements were not developing separately but they affected each other. Especially fruitful was relationship between Polish jazz and cinema. Like for example with Art Tatum ballad "Moonray", here in interpretation by legendary Wanda Warska, which became guiding theme for cult movie "Pociąg" (Train) directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, one of the most important directors of so-called Polish film school.

Finally, Polish culture was strongly influenced by France. Among many things which had been taken over  from that country is a tradition of chansons françaises. It means that songs are rather simple, melodious but at the same time being just a departure point for small theater where singer often uses acting techniques to strengthen artistic effect. That is exactly what vocalist Wanda Warska is doing on this album. She is backed by the highest quality jazz musicians in persons of pianist Andrzej Kurylewicz, bassist Jan Byrczek and drummer Andrzej Dąbrowski. I guess that Jerzy Milian is playing on vibraphone though I am not sure. Unfortunately I cannot find who is playing on trumpet... Summarizing, this is simply brilliant piece of music that I can only wholeheartedly recommend!

By Maciej Nowotny

Check this music please!!!

Track listing: 1.Moonray 2.Somnambulists 3.Stompin' at the Savoy 4.Lover man 5.You'd be so nice to come home to 6.But not for me 7.Ballada o straconej gazy (A ballad about a lost job) 8.Tubby

1 comment:

  1. Dzięki, Maciek. Jest to ciekawy post na temat bardzo ciekawy okres w polskim jazzie i kina polskiego. Jerzego Kawalerowicza "Pociąg" (jej tytuł w języku angielskim) jest jednym z moich ulubionych filmów Polskiej Szkoły Filmowej, a także jeden z najlepszych soundtracków, jakie kiedykolwiek napisano w mojej opinii. Pewno będę starał się znaleźć kopię "Somnambulists". To oczywiście świetny album i warto odnalezieniu. To także ciekawe, co piszesz o różnicy między pre-i post-WW2 WW2 polskiego jazzu. Sytuacja w Australii bardzo podobne. Mimo, że mieliśmy wiele wspaniałych artystów grających w całym 1930 i 1940, to nie było do 1950, że zatrzymaliśmy naśladując amerykański jazz i zaczął się rozwijać prawdziwie "Australian" dźwięku z takimi artystami jak Graeme Bell i Don Burrows czele.

    Lubię tego bloga dużo i regularnie sprawdzać. Bądź dobrej pracy.

    Thanks, Maciek. This is an interesting post about a very interesting time in Polish jazz and Polish cinema. Jerzy Kawalerowicz's "Night Train" (its title in English) is one of my favourite Polish Film School films and has one of the best soundtracks ever written in my opinion. I will definitely try to find a copy of "Somnambulists." It's obviously a great album and well worth rediscovering. It's also interesting what you write about the difference between pre-WW2 and post-WW2 Polish jazz. The situation here in Australia was very similar. Although we had many fine artists playing throughout the 1930s and 1940s, it wasn't until the 1950s that we stopped imitating American jazz and began to develop a truly "Australian" sound with artists like Graeme Bell and Don Burrows leading the way.

    I enjoy this blog a lot and check it regularly. Keep up the good work.


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