Sunday, September 2, 2012

Nowicki / Swies / Frankiewicz Trio – Pathfinder (Multikulti, 2012)

Nowicki / Swies / Frankiewicz Trio

Radek Nowicki - tenor & soprano saxophone
Andrzej Święs - double bass
Sebastian Frankiewicz - drums

Pathfinder (Multikulti, 2012)

This is the debut album by the Polish Jazz trio comprising of saxophonist Radek Nowicki, bassist Andrzej Swies and drummer Sebastian Frankiewicz. There are nine tracks on the album, eight of which are original compositions (four by Nowicki and two each by Swies and Frankiewicz) and one is the trio's interpretation of a Radiohead song. The album was recorded in the legendary Studio Tokarnia and engineered by Jan Smoczynski, the studio owner, a guarantee of superb sonic quality.

These three talented young musicians have all quite impressive musical achievements behind them and therefore it is not surprising that they sound remarkably mature as performers. Stylistically, however, they seem to be still somewhat undecided as to the degree of freedom they want to incorporate into their music, which remains mainstream oriented on this recording. The saxophone trio is one of the most difficult Jazz formats and demands a lot of discipline in order to present a cohesive whole and this trio definitely stands up to the challenge with flying colors. Naturally saxophone trios tend to put the focus of the listener's attention on the saxophone player and are less about interplay and cooperation than say piano trios. On this recording there are plenty of bass and drums spots, showcasing the individual talents of the participants, but in most cases it is the sax up front supported by the rhythm section.

The music, although quite appropriate for the format, is somewhat lacking in the melody department. Mainstream Jazz is usually based on strong melody lines, which last at least as long as the tune is being performed. The melodic content here is somewhat abstract and difficult to follow, which works fine for a free form setting, but in a mainstream is contra productive. It seems as if the trio members intended to play a much looser set, but were reluctant to "cross the line".

However, all things considered, this is still a very strong debut with great performances and a lot of interesting moments, which should make the trio members proud of their work. Definitely worth investigating!

By Adam Baruch

1. Wings [6:02]
2. Pyramid Song [8:03]
3. Pathfinding [7:41]
4. Diving Dog Dance [5:59]
5. Gardens of The Vistula [5:20]
6. For Aunt Marry [8:18]
7. Mikado [5:51]
8. Mr.Ape [5:46]
9. Chinese Love Song [6:39]

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