Saturday, September 15, 2012

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

Nowicki / Swies / Frankiewicz Trio

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

Pathfinder (Multikulti, 2012)

This review had to be rewritten several times since this is one of those records that you get access to only after several times of listening. What emerges from the first note onwards though is the tone. Everybody experiences this from time to time: you listen to something and immediately know it has to be from some region (I’m sure you can tell a Scandinavian record from an U.S. album; and ECM or ACT are well known for the atmosphere on their records). Polish music for me has a special tone too. It’s that warm, slightly melancholic or better lyrical note where you feel immediately comfortable with.

And into this atmosphere you get absorbed from the beginning to the end of this record. Maybe the musicians too – I’m not sure if this was meant as a mainstream album, it’s definitely no Free Jazz album, although you get the impression that all three are supposed to break free and will most probably do so in concerts. It looks like the musicians couldn't decide which way to take. This is especially obvious in the more improvised passages where you get the impression that the three are afraid to really let loose.

The reason obviously is not the quality, all three are verifiable talented and despite their age experienced musicians. All trio members are alumni of the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice (Nowicki also of the Fryderyk Chopin State School of Music in Warsaw; and Swies of the High School of Music in Poznan), and all have been working for years with Polish and international jazz stars and proven their powers.

Maybe it’s the format itself: the saxophone trio always is a bold venture. With an unisonous instrument as the leading voice the rhythm section has an enormously challenging task. On this album you can hear how Andrzej Swies on bass and Sebastian Frankiewicz on drums achieve this with much pleasure for the listener! But during Radek Nowicki’s outstanding saxophone play the rhythm group is not as present as it should be. I didn’t notice this when first listening, but this album really needs a disposed audience. Listen to it twice or better four or five times, put on some headphones and listen to it again – at some point it will light up and the interplay will become tangible. This is true even though the Tokarnia Studio did a very good job, the audio quality is stunning. It’s simply that we have here one of those albums that take their time to become accessible but experience has shown that those are the ones that persist!

It will be exciting to see where this young trio that was founded only last year will be heading. And I’m reallly looking forward to hearing them live! This debut certainly is fascinating, and it’s not solely the warm tone that sets these three apart from other saxophone trios. 

By Dirk Blasejezak

Tracklisting: 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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