Friday, November 30, 2012

Inner Spaces & David Doruzka - Light Year (2012)

Inner Spaces (band)

Stepanka Balcarova - trumpet
Lubos Soukup - saxophones,
Vit Kristan - piano
Max Mucha double bass
Grzegorz Maslowski - drums

Guest:
David Doruzka electric guitar

Light Year (2012)

By Maciej Nowotny

Many people say that Europe is in crisis. I am of an opposite opinion. Europe is simply changing and in many respects it is flourishing as never before. Do you want a proof? When I was a kid the continent was divided by the Iron Curtain and the countries were separated from each other by borders that were not at all easy to cross. Those dark days are over. We live in one common space, in peace and prosperity. Such changes in Europe have brought some positive things and simultaneously caused some problems. It is not a place to discuss the problems, so in this text I shall focus on one of those positives: free movement of European youth.

For decades this movement was suppressed but with European Union coming into life it become a matter of common policy to promote the exchange of young students between academic centers throughout the whole continent. This situation applies also to musical academies. And many Polish students study now for example in Denmark in Odense while many Czech youth learn jazz in famous Katowice Music Academy. The effects of this interchange is salutary as the music life become more vibrant, ideas move around, relationships are formed.

All above stated elements are present in cooperation between Czech and Polish students of Katowice Music Academy who few years ago created The Inner Spaces Quintet. Their debut album "Inner Spaces" was very warmly received. In my review I stressed a high level of musicianship, coherence of whole material and great compositions, especially those written by Stepanka Balcarova who plays on trumpet. With "Light Year" I must go even further with my appreciation. Although tunes written by Balcarova are still among the best on this album (check awesome "Higher Form Of Love") but those written by Lubos Soukup (saxophone), Vit Kristan (piano) and David Doruzka (guitar) are equally captivating. Also interplay between musicians became deeper. It is really great pleasure to listen how well this whole machine is working. These are not separate voices figthing for listener's attention as often on albums by young musicians. This is one organism, one instrument, moved by one idea and going in one direction. The striking coherence of this music owes much to excellent rhythm section formed by two Polish youngsters: Max Mucha on double bass and Grzegorz Masłowski on drums. All in all, an excellent piece of jazz which deserves attention and appreciation as much from critics as from audience. 

Tracklisting:
1. Hyacinthus (Lubos Soukup)2. Silence (Lubos Soukup)
3. Mondays Mystery (Vit Kristan)
4. Far Away (Lubos Soukup)
5. Red and Yellow Excitement 1/2 (Lubos Soukup)
6. Red and Yellow Excitement 2/2 (Lubos Soukup)
7. Ukolebavka (David Doruzka)
8. H.F.L. (Higher Form of Love) (Stepanka Balcarova)
9. Phei I. (Vit Kristan)
10. Christmas Fairy Tale (Vit Kristan)
11. Phei II. (Vit Kristan)
12. Light Year (Stepanka Balcarova)


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Grzegorz Karnas – Audio Beads (2012)

Grzegorz Karnas - vocals
Adam Oles - cello
Michal Miskiewicz - drums
with
Miklos Lukacs - cimbalom

BMC 199




By Adam Baruch

This is the fifth album by Polish Jazz vocalist Grzegorz Karnas and his first live recording. Recorded in Hungary and released on the excellent Hungarian BMC label, the album captures Karnas accompanied by cellist Adam Oles, drummer Michal Miskiewicz and guest artist Hungarian cimbalom player Miklos Lukacs. Together they perform just five extended pieces, one of which is a Joni Mitchell song and the rest are originals co-credited to Karnas and Oles. The sound quality of this live recording is absolutely superb, which every single note being perfectly audible.

Karnas presents a unique approach to Jazz vocals, which amalgamates lyrics, vocalese, scat, wordless chanting and spontaneous improvisation. He is always full of surprises and completely unconventional. His vocal modus operandi is based on techniques developed earlier by American Jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin and sounds similar to McFerrin's early work, but of course is inventive enough to avoid being considered simply a replica of the original. Karnas is experienced and talented enough to keep his audiences mesmerized and his extended improvisations manage to sustain tension for prolonged periods of time, which of course is extremely difficult. As this live recording proves, he is a fascinating live performer and listening to him live is perhaps the best way to benefit from his many abilities.

The accompanying musicians are all splendid players and provide excellent support for the vocalist all the way through. The cellist uses his instrument mostly as if it was an upright bass, almost never playing arco. He displays fantastic musicality and virtuosic control of the cello, being the primary partner of the vocalist and complementing him superbly. The drummer plays delicately, often using his hands and brushes, with of course is suitable for this intimate music-making experience. The cimbalom player sounds remarkably like a pianist, which although works well in this situation, is a pity, as it loses the wonderful "original" sound of the instrument, which surely might have added another interesting dimension to this already multifaceted music.

Considering the fact that male vocalists are a rarity on the Polish Jazz scene (and in general), Karnas definitely deserves to be praised for filling this difficult gap. Constantly developing and expanding his vocabulary and technique he is definitely a talent to be watched and enjoyed. This album is certainly a splendid addition to his recorded legacy and a source of immense listening pleasure. Wholeheartedly recommended!

Dariusz Herbasz – Joy Of Friendship (2012)

Dariusz Herbasz - saxophone
Tomasz Grzegorski - saxophone
Piotr Mania - piano
Adam Zuchowski - bass
Tomasz Sowinski - drums

MULTIKULTI MPI 024




By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album as a leader by Polish Jazz saxophonist Dariusz Herbasz and his double tenor saxophone quintet, which also includes saxophonist Tomasz Grzegorski, pianist Piotr Mania, bassist Adam Zuchowski and drummer Tomasz Sowinski. The album comprises of six original compositions, all by Herbasz and was recorded at the superb Tokarnia Studio with engineer Jan Smoczynski presiding.

If I would have been subjected to listening to this album in a blindfold test situation, I would be sure this is an unknown recording of mid 1960s Blue Note period, as this music has the distinctive feel of modern mainstream, which flourished at the time and was captured for posterity by Rudy Van Gelder. The warmth and presence of the overall sound and the crisp piano sound are quite remarkable.

But of course there is also the music, which stylistically returns to that wonderful period that summarized the Jazz tradition bringing it to sheer perfection on one hand and opening doors for the free form just wide enough to make it interesting on the other hand. These wonderful compositions are truly grand on every level; there are some beautiful melancholic melodies, several great vamps, and a strange feeling of familiarity even upon the first hearing. I must admit that it's been a while since I've heard a collection of such superbly crated tunes on one album.

Herbasz takes a considerable risk with the double tenor saxophone frontline, since such setting is often prone to clashes and outright contest rather than cooperation, but also opens intriguing opportunities of harmonizing and completing each other. It's a pleasure to hear how well this situation was handled here, enabling both players to solo as well as play together in a variety of quite distinct musical surroundings and atmospheres. Both saxophonists [lay remarkably well, both when simply stating the lyricism of a melody or venturing into almost free form excursions.

The rhythm section is excellent as well, providing the ideal support for the soloists and framing the musical expressions with just the right amount of direction, allowing space for less constrained experimentation at times. The pianist is an ideal harmonizer and his vamping is a classic form obviously learned from the best. Bass is round, clear and worm and the drums play exactly the amount of time keeping to keep everything tick, with some great topping of inventive drumming. The overall dynamic sensitivity of the entire rhythm section is simply just what the doctor ordered to make the music perfect.

This is a remarkable debut and a brilliant Jazz album, which comprises of everything that makes Jazz such a great music: it's interesting, artistic, intelligent, well played and above all honest, simply stating the artist's credo and not trying to be something it isn't. Well done indeed!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Grazyna Auguscik - Man Behind The Sun (2012)

Grazyna Auguscik

Grażyna Auguścik - śpiew
Rob Clearfield - fortepian, fortepian Fendera, Wurlitzer
Matt Ulery - kontrabas
Jon Deitemyer - perkusja
John McLean - gitary

Man Behind The Sun (2012)


By Rafał Garszczynski (excerpts from linear notes)

Observing Grazyna Auguscik’s musical path has been a fascinating experience. It’s a tale of a modest (to date) girl from Slupsk (Poland), who learnt to play the guitar at a local music school. At the end of the 70s she decided to give singing a go. (...) For a singer in her early thirties (nothing personal!), the decision to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston came quite late. She was probably the oldest in her group and most likely the best or very good, anyway.(...) For years Grazyna has been cooperating with young musicians from Chicago. If the opportunity arises, she sits in with big names, such as Jim Hall, John Medeski, Michel Brecker or Patricia Barber. (...) 

Nick Drake is a diamond in the rough. True, Bob Dylan is a household name and a great poet, but there are also others who, despite not having carved for themselves a successful career of parallel magnitude, certainly deserved one. Part of the legend of many an acclaimed musician is their short or tumultuous life, as was the case of Tim Hardin or Tim Buckley, both American, and the only Briton in the pantheon of rock poets, Nick Drake. What’s the difference between American and British folk, or, rather, what makes Nick Drake stand out? Far from relying on lyrics alone, he writes exceptional music as well. In his works the melody complements the lyrics and evokes a dark, desolate mood with powerful instrumental support and complex, nonobvious arrangements. (...)

Grazyna’s ideas for Nick Drake’s compositions are extraordinary. The fact that there have been very few attempts to take on his works over last forty years is a testimony to how complex the material is. Highly intimate on both the musical and lyrical level, his songs are also very much bound to a specific time and place and as such, despite exploring universally understood, timeless concepts, might be difficult to interpret by a different performer. Musically, they pose a challenge as well, the songs cannot be simply sung without being dissected, understood and reinterpreted so that they respond to who is singing them, even if that means altering the original emotion. 

Nick Drake is considered by many to be the saddest poet of contemporary music. However, to be able to penetrate the listeners’ souls and move their hearts you have to resort to powerful means of expression. Nick Drake mastered this skill forty years ago and now Grazyna Auguscik is excelling at it. So much so that I keep wondering if the songs on Man Behind The Sun aren’t better than the original. What’s certain is that they are equally personal and overflowing with contagious emotions. The album delivers a true musical feat, which is a rare achievement in this ever-changing reality. Man Behind The Sun is highly-addictive so consider yourselves warned… 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Intuition Orchestra - Free Acoustic (2009)

The Intuition Orchestra

Ryszard Wojciul - soprano & alt sax, clarinet, flute, EWI, synths, vocal
Bolesław Błaszczyk - synths, piano
Marcin Krzyżanowski - electric cello
Piotr Gliński - percussions

Free Acoustic (2009)

By Maciej Nowotny

"Fromm" by The Intuition Orchestra featuring Grażyna Auguścik and Zdzisław Piernik belongs to the best releases in 2012. I was fortunate to be able to get hold of first album issued by this ensemble and here is my report.

"Free Acoustic" was released in 2009 and was not available in commercial circulation. Altogether the mere 100 copies were pressed. It is therefore really very, very rare. The line-up is a bit different than on "Fromm" with Ryszard Wojciul (saxophones, clarinet, flute, synths, EWI, vocal) and Bolesław Błaszczyk (synths, piano) appearing on both albums. But Marcin Krzyżanowski (electric cello) and Piotr Gliński (percussions) seem to be present only on "Free Acoustic" but not on "Fromm" (I write "seem" since I do not have physical copy of "Fromm" and got line-up only from the sources available on internet).

There are some affinities in style between these two releases, like strong connections with contemporary classical music,  yet it is better to treat them separately. They bring in fact totally different aural experience. In both cases VERY satisfactory.

The music by The Intuition Orchestra is based on total improvisation. We can read in linear notes: "Musicians meet in studio and without any preparation and without composition create music. The compositional process takes place during recording. And it is result of emotion and sensitivity which is brought to session by its participants".

Sounds OK but in most cases of so called free music (less and less this kind of music has anything in common with jazz) this brings only chaos, cacophony, disorder. Fortunately this is a bit different in case of this album. Sure the music on this album can be characterized by higher degree of entropy than typical mainstream albums. But in fact what we get here is a very coherent material which offers continuous narration from the beginning to the end.

The reason for this is that sounds that were recorded during session were afterwards carefully selected and mixed. The interesting thing is that the same material was mixed TWICE by two different members of the ensemble.  On CD 1 we got music as arranged by Ryszard Wojciul, while on CD 2 by Marcin Krzyżanowski. This is a very interesting idea and its outcome is inspiring. Check one of mixes by Marcin Krzyżanowski which is particularly catching:




The premiere of debut album by Piotr Orzechowski COMING SOON!!!


On the 23rd of November, the debut solo album of Piotr Orzechowski, known as Pianohooligan, will be released. The date of the premiere of the Experiment: Penderecki album is not accidental. On this day, a concert on the occasion of the Maestro’s birthday will be held in the Poznan Philharmonic. Pianohooligan will take part and he will give Krzysztof Penderecki the first copy of the album. The album will be available for purchase from the 27th of November, published by the prestigious Decca Classics company in cooperation with Universal Music Polska. Thus, Piotr Orzechowski becomes one of only two Polish artists (alongside Aleksandra Kurzak) whose albums were signed by the logo of this prestigious London record company.

The Experiment: Penderecki album is Pianohooligan’s personal tribute to Krzysztof Penderecki. The recording of a journey to the colourful and aesthetically diverse, but also complicated world of music of the Polish composer includes seven pieces. All of the compositions were thoroughly thought out by Orzechowski, and their final shape gained recognition from Krzysztof Penderecki himself – reads Daniel Cichy’s review.

The material for the Experiment: Penderecki album was recorded in Switzerland. It was one of the prizes that Piotr Orzechowski received for winning last year’s Parmigiani Montreux Jazz Solo Piano competition, organised as part of the 45th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival. Piotr Orzechowski performs Krzysztof Penderecki’s works – both reinterpretations and attempts at reading the originals as accurately as possible, as well as variations on the compositions of the author of the Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. The young musician and his project were supported by Penderecki himself.

The album will feature the following pieces:
1. Capriccio per oboe
2. Polymorphia
3. Stabat Mater
4. Lacrimosa
5. Larghetto
6. Sinfonietta per archi - Allegro Molto
7. Sinfonietta per arch - Vivace
8 Aria
9. Sonorist Variation I
10. Sonorist Variation II
11. Sonorist Variation III
12. Sonorist Variation IV
13. Sonorist Variation V
14. Aria da capo

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bill Frisell we Wrocławiu...

Bill William Frisell. Powtórzcie to nazwisko parę razy, nie tyle wgryzając się w to kim jest ten muzyk (o tym parę słów za chwilę), ile wsłuchując się w dźwięk składających na nie głosek. Usłyszycie w nich być może pewne rozkołysanie, bluesowy zaśpiew, pewną miękkość i słodycz, które potem odnajdziecie na nagraniach tego amerykańskiego gitarzysty. A należy on do tej wśród muzyków jazzowych ekskluzywnej kategorii, których styl rozpoznawalny jest od pierwszego dźwięku. Tacy byli Thelonius Monk, Bill Evans, John Coltrane i oczywiście Miles Davis. Wśród gitarzystów zaledwie garstka: Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, Johnny Smith, Pat Metheny czy ostatnio zjawiskowa Mary Halvorson. 

Bill Frisell należy do tej wąskiej grupy i jeszcze do tego wszystkiego zajmuje w niej pozycję prominentną. Bo kiedy porównać go choćby z takim Johnnym Smithem to widać jak wiele Bill osiągnął. Obaj mają własny sound, który próbują naśladować liczni inni, z mniejszym lub większym powodzeniem. Ale podczas, gdy kariera Smitha trwała krótko to Bill jest nieprzerwanie na topie od początku lat 80tych. To zresztą ciekawa historia, bo jego przygoda z wielkim jazzem zaczęła się w sposób nieco przypadkowy. Chory Pat Metheny polecił go "na zastępstwo" Paulowi Motianowi i tak Frisell pojawił się na wydanym przez ECM w roku 1982 krążku "Psalm". Wystarczyła jedna sesja, by Manfred Eicher, szef ECM, zdecydował o tym, że Bill Frisell powinien stać się jedną ze sztandarowych i najcześciej nagrywanych postaci tej legendarnej wytórni.

Moja historia właściwie jest podobna: raz posłuchałem Billa Frisella, a potem lawina ruszyła. Byłem wtedy wiele lat młodszy i pamiętam jak poleciałem do starszego kolegi, lepiej znającego się ode mnie na jazzie i pytam: słuchaj czy on jeszcze coś nagrał, muszę go znaleźć na innych płytach?! Na to ten uśmiechnął się do mnie z politowaniem i rzekł: Czlowieku, on grał na ponad stu krążkach... No cóż, od tamtej pory liczba tych krążków urosła do ponad dwustu. GRUBO ponad dwustu... Oczywiście zaledwie cząstka z tego to autorskie projekty Billa. Reszta to projekty, do których był zapraszany. Jednak zaproszeń nigdy nie brakowało i to do bardzo różnych przedsięwzięć.

To jeszcze jedna z rzeczy, które odróżniają Frisella od Smitha (wracam do głównego wątku mej wypowiedzi), bo Smith to heros niemal wyłącznie cool jazzowej gitary, a język Frisella okazał się na tyle giętki, że równie dobrze odnajduje się on w mainstreamie, bluesie ("Blues Dream"), muzyce country i bluegrass ("Nashville" i "Disfarmer"), muzyce klasycznej (w ramach 858 Quartet m.in. ze wspaniałą skrzypaczką Jerry Scheinman), world music ("The Intercontinentals") czy rocku (współpraca z Elvisem Costello nad albumem "The Sweetest Punch"), a także awangardzie (np. współpraca z Johnem Zornem). Przy czym próba opisania muzyki jaką tworzył w tych wszystkich konfiguracjach przy pomocy jakichkolwiek etykietek jest nieadekwatna. Gdziekolwiek się pojawiał był po prostu sobą, snuł swoją włąsną opowieść i jest miarą siły jego indywidualności, że jego język jest na tyle uniwersalny, iż pasuje do tylu różnych stylistyk.



Właśnie ta umiejętność konstruowania narracji jest kolejną cechą wyróżniającą muzykę Frisella, bo jego autorskie płyty niemal zawsze są o czymś, niosą jakiś ważny przekaz, ideę. Tak jest i w przypadku materialu, który miałem okazję wysłuchać podczas jego koncertu w ramach tegorocznego festiwalu Jazztopad we Wrocławiu, a zatytułowanego "Great Flood". Po polsku "Wielka powódź" to projekt poświęcony katastrofie jaka dotknęła dorzecze Mississipi wiosną roku 1927. Koncertowi towarzyszy projekcja filmowego dokumentu autorstwa Billa Morrisona, do którego na żywo muzycy tworzą ścieżkę dźwiękową. Wracając do katastrofy, to spowodowała ona wielką emigrację głównie Afroamerykanów, z Południa Stanów Zjednoczoncych na Północ. Muzykologom pozostawiam analizę jak znaczący był wpływ tej emigracji także na dzieje muzyki amerykańskiej w tym jazzowej. 

Mnie poruszyło coś innego. Po pierwsze, byłem szczęśliwy, że mogę posłuchać swojego ulubionego muzyka, który przywiózł do Polski swój kto wie czy nie najlepszy skład (nie taka znowu częsta rzecz przy wizytach gwiazd jazzu w Polsce...). Ron Miles grający na trąbce, Tony Scherr na gitarze basowej i Kenny Wollensen na perkusji i wibrafonie towarzyszą Billowi od bardzo wielu lat, a ich artystyczny dorobek sprawia, że wizyta każdego z nich pojedynczo byłaby artystycznym wydarzeniem. Rzadko ostatnio chodzę na koncerty. Coraz częściej mam wrażenie wielkiego rozziewu między poziomem jaki odnajduję na płytach, a tym jak brzmi muzyka grana żywo. Na niekorzyść muzyki granej na koncertach. Nie muszę dodawać, że to oznacza śmierć jazzu. W tym przypadku było inaczej. Na żywo muzyka zabrzmiała lepiej niż na płytach. Wielka klasa muzyków i lata grania razem sprawiły, że swoboda i perfekcja wykonania pozostawały w absolutnej symbiozie. Kto miał uszy, czuł się jak w niebie.

Jednak mnie, jak i publiczność wrocławską, wzruszyło bardzo jeszcze jedno. 15 lat temu wielka powódź uderzyła w Dolny Śląsk zmieniajac na zawsze historię tego miasta. Ulicą Traugutta, przy której się wychowałem, a którą do tej pory jeździły samochody, autobusy i cieżarówki, wtedy, jak w Wenecji, poruszać się można było jedynie łódką. Patrząc na wzburzone fale Missisipi, widziałem Odrę, widziałem podobny los ludzi, bez względu na epokę, kraj czy kontynent, na kolor skóry. "Jesteśmy wszyscy braćmi - pomyślałem - ale nie rozumiem dlaczego, żeby to odkryć musimy stanąć w obliczu wielkiego nieszcześcia?..."

Autor tekstu: Maciej Nowotny

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Aga Zaryan – Live At Palladium (2008)

Aga Zaryan - vocals
Larry Koonse - guitar
Darek Oleszkiewicz - bass
Manyungo Jackson - percussion

COSMOPOLIS 081/082/083







By Adam Baruch

This is the fourth album by Polish Jazz vocalist Aga Zaryan and her first live recording, captured at the Warsaw's Palladium club. She is accompanied by a trio of excellent musicians: guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Darek Oleszkiewicz and percussionist Munyungo Jackson, who all participated in the recording of her second album "Picking Up The Pieces", recorded a couple of years earlier in the USA. The album comprises of thirteen tracks, spread over two CDs and a DVD with the video of the concert, which has the same musical content and some bonus material with artists' interviews. The music originates mostly from the second album, with a couple of earlier songs form the debut album, one instrumental piece, which opens the concert and one previously unrecorded song (by Stevie Wonder), which closes it.

It takes balls of steel (especially for a woman) to face a large crowd and being able to mesmerize it with such a delicate music, which is based on aesthetics and finesse and requires total silence and complete attention from the listener. There are but a few female vocalists able to perform such magic on stage and Zaryan is certainly at the very top of this exclusive guild. The three master musicians accompanying Aga deserve of course a large piece of the praise, especially Oleszkiewicz, since lengthy parts of the concert are simply duets between him and the singer. His playing is way beyond virtuoso bass performance; it is simply the vehicle carrying this entire show on his shoulders. His empathy and telepathic conversation with Zaryan and the other musicians is simply sensational.

Zaryan's performances are simply breathtaking from start to finish. She is much more adventurous here than on the studio albums, using her full vocal range as well as creating a panorama of sound effects using her voice. Her total control of tone, expression, volume and theatrics is masterful, as is her ability to switch moods and atmosphere. She simply holds the audience at the palm of her hand.

Although the album brings little new material, it summarizes perfectly the first phase of Zaryan's career, where she concentrated on her vocal interpretations of Jazz standards. The next phase, which started with the third album, was about to expose her also as lyricist and a Jazz and Poetry artist, taking her right up to the very top of the Polish Jazz scene. When the legendary Blue Note label signed Aga Zaryan as its recording artist, it was a culmination of the first decade of her career, well earned and truly deserved, as this album proves beyond any reasonable doubt.

In retrospect this is a wonderful document, a time capsule preserving magic moments, which are always associated with sublime pleasure, when revisited. I simply can't imagine anybody could resist Zaryan's charm and talent for long, so give in and grab this crown jewel as soon as you can – satisfaction guaranteed!

Various Artists – Tribute To Komeda (2012)

Janusz Olejniczak - piano
Zbigniew Wrombel - bass
Krzysztof Przybylowicz - drums
Maciej Fortuna - trumpet
Karol Szymanowski - vibraphone
Andrzej Olejniczak - saxophone
Wladyslaw Sendecki - piano
Lena Ladoff - piano
and others

Private Edition


By Adam Baruch

There is no doubt that the legendary figure of pianist / composer / bandleader Krzysztof Komeda, the Godfather of Polish Jazz, is still very much present on the local scene, more than forty years after his untimely and tragic death. Komeda's charisma, mystique, prophetic vision and above all his extraordinary talent as a composer keep his legacy alive generation after generation, with his musical heritage being passed on to the upcoming young Polish Jazz artists, as an integral part of the modern Polish Culture.

In the scope of those forty plus years since Komeda's death the Polish Jazz scene produced a plethora of recordings, concerts, festivals and other events dedicated to his memory. As a result the idea of commemorating Komeda has been overexploited and often even abused by lesser quality attempts, which result in blemishing his memory rather than uphold it. Fortunately this album is definitely not one of those damaging efforts; on the contrary, it offers many new and fascinating discoveries, as well as thrilling interpretations by excellent musicians, which treat the music with respect and obvious admiration.

The album includes ten Komeda compositions, performed by several different ensembles: pianist Janusz Olejniczak with Atom String Quartet, bassist Zbigniew Wrombel and his quintet (drummer Krzysztof Przybylowicz, trumpeter Maciej Fortuna, pianist Piotr Wrombel, vibraphonist Karol Szymanowski) with actor Kamil Mackowiak, the duo of saxophonist Andrzej Olejniczak and pianist Wladyslaw Sendecki, the duo of tuba player Zdzislaw Piernik and synthesizer player Tadeusz Studnik and finally solo piano performances by Lena Ledoff.

Such diverse settings are an ideal vehicle to present the diversity of Komeda's music and the endless possibilities, in which it can me expressed and interpreted. All the performances are truly superb, moving and deeply engaging and pay a fitting homage to Komeda's heritage. My personal preferences are the trumpet pats by Maciej Fortuna, the incomparable piano playing of my friend Wladyslaw Sendecki and the solo piano pieces by Ledoff. But each and every musician participating in this recording deserves full admiration and respect. The quality of these live recordings in not ideal, but neither is life, so true music lovers can certainly live with it and enjoy it immensely.

The most interesting two pieces on this album are the early Komeda Jazz and Poetry compositions to poems by Jerzy S. Sito, known mainly for his work as translator, who died in 2011. Komeda's involvement with the Jazz and Poetry movement, presented by him during the 1960 Jazz Jamboree festival, is one of the most fascinating, but sadly neglected, milestones of his career. The two pieces were restored from Komeda's notes by the great vibraphonist / composer Jerzy Milian, who was a member of Komeda's group in the late 1950s. Honestly that entire program simply screams for proper restoration work.

Overall this is a superb piece of music, which is worthy of an honorable place in any serious Polish Jazz music collection and should be of interest to the many Komeda followers all over the world. Brilliant stuff!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Piotr Filipowicz – Jazz Tribute To Michael Jackson (2012)

Przemek Kostrzewa - trumpet
Marcin Ganko - saxophone
Dominik Roslan - piano
Piotr Filipowicz - bass / arrangements
Pawel Dabrowski - drums

Lena Zuchniak - vocals (one track)

Polskie Radio 1505


By Adam Baruch

Why, in the name of all the Saints (who go marching in), would a group of talented, experienced and serious Polish Jazz musicians get engaged in recording this monstrosity is beyond me. Bassist Piotr Filipowicz is relatively well known on the local scene, with an established record in Jazz, theatre and Classical music. This album is his idea and he wrote all the ten arrangements of songs associated with Michael Jackson (either written by Jackson or by other songwriters who worked with him and were performed / recorded by him). His other partners are trumpeter Przemek Kostrzewa, saxophonist Marcin Ganko, pianist Dominik Roslon and drummer Pawel Dobrowolski. Vocalist Lena Zuchniak sings only on the last track of the album.

The album does not fulfill the promise stated in its title, as the only connection between the music it contains and Michael Jackson is limited to stating the songs' themes in the opening notes of each track. There is no conceptual, spiritual, stylistic or aesthetic connection between this music and the essence of Jackson's music. The songs quickly turn into mainstream Jazz, which is boring, repetitive and simply uninspired. The arrangements are shallow and detached from the origin and completely meaningless. The track with vocals is even worse that the instrumental ones.

Obviously these musicians can play and even play very well, which is immediately evident, but which makes the entire affair even sadder. If opportunism was the motivation behind this project, it was missed by a mile. Jackson's fans are usually quite disassociated form Jazz and Jazz fans will see through this sham instantly.

Such waste of talent always makes me feel sad, mad and Bad (pun intended)!

Ida Zalewska - As Sung By Billie Holiday (2012)

Ida Zalewska

Ida Zalewska - vocal
Kuba Płużek - Fender Rhodes, piano
Max Mucha - double bass
Arek Skolik - drums

guests:
Piotr Schmidt - trumpet
Marek Pospieszalski - tenor sax, bass clarinet
Jarosław Bothur - tenor sax
Adam Solski - trombone
Bartek Pieszka - vibraphone

As Sung By Billie Holiday (2012)

By Maciej Nowotny

Sometimes I am like a little child: I like SURPRISES! And this record is such a surprise, a very pleasant surprise indeed. Because who really heard anything about Ida Zalewska? For couple of years she was verging between soul, blues, R&B and jazz. But she never indeed made to spotlights as separate, distinctive and creative individuality. Not until 10th November that is the day of premiere of her second (at least it seems so to me!) album dedicated to American heroine of vocal jazz, Billie Holiday.

You could ask what made so deep impression on me? Certainly all these songs were sung hundreds  of times after the immortal performances by Lady Day. But somehow Ida Zalewska succedeed where many have failed. She neither tried to reinterpret these songs and make them coherent with modern jazz aesthetics nor she imitated performances of Holliday in which case she would be doomed to failure. Instead she sung Billie Holliday songs in most natural, unpretentious and sincere way expressing her love towards art as created by this extraordinary woman. Since it coincidies with the fact that almost all these songs are about love, therefore the album is sparkling with emotions, with longing, with sweet languor associated with being enamoured in other human being.

This sensous mood is marvellously underlined by Ida's voice. Unlike any other in Poland this voice is deep, low, sultry. It reminds me a bit of voice of Diana Krall without being overcontrolled or Norah Jones without being monotonnous. If I was to compare her to somebody, I would point out at Patricia Barber who though not having big voice through masterfully operating moods manages to make her singing unique. Ida seems to follow similar route, and I am happy to announce now, ladies and gentlemen, the birth of an accomplished jazz singer!

But her star would not shine so brightly without background as created by stunning performances of musicians who accompany her. They are all well known to conseisseurs of Polish jazz. Her quartet consists of pianist Kuba Płużek (very talented enfant terrible of famous Music Academy in Katowice), double bassist Max Mucha (yet another fabulously talented young lad from this school) and veteran drummer Arek Skolik (whose class is beyond any doubt). They are supported by very well chosen set of guests in persons of trumpeter Piotr Schmidt, saxophonists Marek Pospieszalski and Jarosław Bothur, trombonist Adam Solski and vibraphonist Bartek Pieszka. These guys' input in creating this excellent piece of jazz cannnot be overestimated. Bravo!



Fusionator – Kung Fu (2012)

Krzysztof Lenczowski - guitar
Wawrzyniec Prasek - keyboards
Lukasz Jan Jozwiak - bass
Szymon Linette - drums

with
Adam Baldych - violin (on 2 tracks)

Private Edition 5903292102993


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the young Polish Fusion band Fusionator, which comprises of guitarist Krzysztof Lenczowski, keyboardist Wawrzyniec Prasek, bassist Lukasz Jan Jozwiak and drummer Szymon Linette. The violin virtuoso Adam Baldych guests on two tracks. The album includes ten original compositions, six composed by Lenczowski, and two each by Prasek and Jozwiak.

The music is quite conventional as far as Fusion goes, with a tendency more towards Rock than Jazz, demonstrated both in the improvisational approach and the choice of rhythmic patterns. If fact Progressive Rock listeners should feel especially "at home" with this music, as it is similar to many other efforts in that area. Whatever is missing here as far as innovation and exploration are concerned is balanced by the excellently crafted tunes and the individual performances, which are mostly excellent, especially those by the guitarist, who is undoubtedly the most imaginative player in the group as well as the main composer. Stylistically he is heavily influenced by Mike Stern (who also tends to sound Rockier rather than Jazzier) and a plethora of other guitar heroes, but manages to find an individual voice, which is quite rare these days.

Although obviously an introductory effort, this is quite an impressive debut, which should provide an exciting listening experience for Fusion / Prog enthusiasts, especially in view of the complete lack of excitement in that area in years. There is a lot of potential herein, which hopefully will turn into a more mature achievements in the not to distant future. Definitely worth investigating!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beata Przybytek – I'm Gonna Rock You (2012)

Beata Przybytek - vocals
Damian Kurasz - guitar
Boguslaw Kaczmar - piano
Tomasz Kalwak - keyboards / arrangements
Toamsz Kupiec - bass
Adam Kowalewski - bass
Arek Skolik - drums
Krzysztof Dziedzic - drums
Filip Mozul - drums
Slawek Berny - percussion

FLID 001

By Adam Baruch

This is the fourth album by the Polish vocalist Beata Przybytek and her debut as a singer / songwriter. After releasing three consecutive albums between 2003 and 2005, Przybytek took almost seven years to come up with this album, which presents sixteen songs written by her to lyrics (in English) by Alicja Maciejowska (thirteen songs) and her own (the remaining three songs). She is accompanied by a wonderful ensemble of gifted and sympathetic instrumentalists, which includes the keyboardist / arranger Tomasz Kalwak, who is responsible for the truly excellent and highly skilled musical settings created for her songs. Other players include guitarist Damian Kurasz, pianist Boguslaw Kaczmar, bassists Tomasz Kupiec and Adam Kowalewski, drummers Arek Skolik, Krzysztof Dziedzic and Filip Mozul and percussionist Slawek Berny. Several guest musicians also appear, among them trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik, vibraphonist Bernard Maseli, organist Jan Smoczynski and others.

Przybytek started her career as a Jazz vocalist, but her last album ("Wonderland"), which comprised entirely of songs by Stevie Wonder, saw her already flirting with Pop, Soul and Rhythm and Blues. This album, which focuses on her songwriting as much, if not more, as on her performances, takes her into new territory, which in a beautiful amalgam of Pop, Blues, Gospel, Soul and Jazz. The artistic level of her songwriting is formidable and these sixteen songs are all jewels in their own right, quite diverse and beautifully full of character. I must admit that at first hearing I could hardly believe my ears as I haven't heard such a sublime collection of new songs in a very long time.

The vocal performances are also first-class, somewhat similar to the mannerisms of Etta James / Amy Winehouse, but with a wonderfully warm tone and total control of timbre and expression. It's a pity she chose to sing in English as I personally am quite convinced that if she sang these songs in her native language the result would have been even more stunning. Well, one can't win them all. Still this is one of the best albums of its kind that I've heard in a very long time.

The instrumental parts are, as already mentioned, simply delightful. Each song gets quite a different treatment, which keeps the album changing mood and ambiance often, as well as the instrumentation. The guest musicians get to deliver their respective solo spots and it sure looks like a great time was had by all during the recording sessions.

This album is also a wonderful example of high quality music, which can be overtly accessible, without compromising even an iota of its intrinsic value. Every music lover should have a field day with this brilliant piece of music. Hats off, Beata! Silesia rulez again!

Rafał Mazur & Keir Neuringer on European tour!!!


Mazur and Neuringer met in October 1999 at a drummerless jam session in one of Kraków's cellar jazz clubs and have been performing together in various formations ever since. They formed the free-jazz trio Stability Group in 2000, Infinity Quartet (with Ryan Zawel on trombone and Marek Choloniewski on electronics) in 2001, and co-founded an improvisation collective [i.e] that has connected many musicians internationally. Yet it is their duo that has been a primary force in their individual musical developments since 1999. Mazur and Neuringer share an intuitive sense of form developed in real time and in tandem with each other, and produce an extraordinary range of sonorities in light of the limited physical sound sources they use (acoustic bass guitar, occassionally bowed, and unamplified saxophone). In their years of playing together they have moved between and within extremes of energy and restraint, opening up for audiences what is essentially a longrunning dialogue between two close friends expressed in musical terms.

"They find a perfect symbiosis of sound, jointly creating something that goes beyond the voice of the individual instruments. Really strong." - Free Jazz Blog

Unison Lines European Tour 2012

15.11. - Kraków, klub Literki http://www.barliterki.pl/
19.11 – Warszawa, „Pardon, to tu” http://www.pardontotu.pl/
20.11 – Poznań, Dragon http://www.dragon.krzyk.pl/
21.11 – Gdańsk, Teatr w Oknie www.teatrszekspirowski.pl/
22.11 – Berlin, Sowieso http://www.sowieso-neukoelln.de/#home
23.11 – Leipzig, Galerie KUB http://galeriekub.de/
25.11 – Paris, La galerie G http://lartaugarage.over-blog.com/
27.11 – Brussels, Cafe Central www.lecafecentral.com/
28.11 – Amsterdam, OT 301 www.ot301.nl
29.11 – Geneve, Insubordinations series, le Cabinet http://www.insubordinations.net/agenda.html
01.12 – Wien, Porgy&Bess www.porgy.at


Maria Pomianowska i Przyjaciele - Chopin na 5 kontynentach (2010)

Maria Pomianowska - conductor

Chopin na 5 kontynentach (2010)







This album is an attempt at creating a multicultural meeting, based on selected masterpieces from the repertoire of the great composer. This CD features unique arrangements of Frederic Chopin’s masterpieces, performed on various ethnic and classical instruments from all over the world. It is a fusion which blends numerous musical traditions from five different continents with the beauty of Chopin’s works.

source: www.folk.pl





Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Piotr Schmidt / Electric Group – Silver Protect (2012)

Piotr Schmidt - trumpet
Wojciech Myrczek - vocals
Tomasz Bura - keyboards
Michal Kapczuk - bass
Sebastian Kuchczynski - drums

SJ 005




By Adam Baruch

This is the debut recording by the Polish Fusion band Electric Group led by the young trumpeter Piotr Schmidt and including also keyboardist Tomasz Bura, bassist Michal Kapczuk, drummer Sebastian Kuchczynski and vocalist Wojciech Myrczek. The album comprises of six original compositions, four of which are by the pianist and two by the leader. In addition to leading this group, Schmidt also co-leads a Jazz quintet with pianist Michal Wierba, which uses the same rhythm section as this group.

It seems that the Polish Jazz scene is not only capable of grooming excellent piano players, but apparently also brilliant young trumpeters, as evident from the recent wave of extraordinary new releases. This album certainly falls into the same category as far as presenting new trumpet players, but it is quite different in every other sense, most notably being a Fusion recording, a genre which nowadays rarely features the trumpet as the leading instrument, as it used to in its heydays. This album in however not just one more Fusion album, as it includes many other elements, especially Funk, which makes it particularly interesting.

The compositions present a diverse musical approach, with excellent melody lines supported by Funky rhythms, memorable vamps and overall superb execution, which is simply heartwarming, especially in view on the musicians' age. I must admit that its been quite a while since I've had the pleasure to listen to such Funky high quality music, which at best brings back fond memories of Herbie Hancock's "Mwandishi" period. Schmidt sounds great regardless if he plays a muted trumpet, an electronically processed one (a la echoplex) or simply blows straight forward. Bura is best (in this environment) playing the electric piano rather than synthesizers and the rhythm section is close to stealing the show at times, with those bass slaps that make your ass dance and the extraordinary drumming, which is all over the place and yet so on time. The vocals are used mostly as vocalese, where they are most effective. When they turn to singing lyrics (in English), they quickly become the weakest link of the otherwise excellent effort.

Overall this is definitely a most impressive debut recording, which is both fun to listen to and a quality listening experience. I'm really looking forward to hear their next one, hopefully soon. Not to be missed!

Schmidt, a native of Silesia, the southwestern Polish region (where I come from as well) is one of a growing number of important Polish Jazz musicians originating there. The region is cultivating an active and first-rate local Jazz scene in the last decade, including clubs and festivals. In short, Silesia rulez!

100nka - Lose Weight (2012)

100nka (band)


Tomek Leś - guitar
Adam Stodolski - double bass
Przemek Borowiecki - drums, bells, paper

Lose Weight (2012)



100nka is a band which has become legendary among such a free jazz/yass freaks as I am supposed (by many, not myself!) to be. Three their previous releases: "Zimna Płyta" (2004) recorded with Mikołaj Trzaska, "Potrawy, sTrawy + Kompot Gratis" (2007) and "Superdesert" (2009) featuring Herb Robertson were full of creative energy, wild, even crazy at moments. But at the same time, unlike many free jazz albums, these were always coherent proposals, with some clear idea behind music. One could agree with artistic vision they delivered or not but they did not leave the listener indifferent.

This record retains all these positive features of previous recordings but at the same time it brings a complete change in band's music. Instead of free jazz the musicians turn to the composition, to structure, to form. Although I will miss "old" crazy 100nka I want to congratulate these guys on such a decision. I believe jazz is about change, about "searching for new land" and without readiness to cast aside everything behind yourself and embark on new path, it often loses its soul, becomes artificial, sad. These three musicians: guitarist Tomek Leś, bassist Adam Stodolski and drummer Przemek Borowiecki show courage and determination which is seldom found even among the greatest of jazz, in Poland or worldwide.

But of course music is the most important. What is the artistic outcome of all these changes? Intriguing. Though no perfect. Whole new world suddenly opened before these musicians! The world of composing, of finding fresh melodies, of creating moods and first of all of finding their own sounds. There is everything of those on this album. Sometimes sparking like real gems but sometimes (to be honest!) dim and vague, still in "statu nascendi". There is obviously a lot of work to be done to be able to call it great music but it augurs well and it may be the beginning of a path leading to something as important as old 100nka was. Though reluctantly I want to step with them on this new path... 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tomek Gwinciński with Krzysztof Gruse, Nonlinear Ensemble - P. Und Der Wolf & Bromberg Schule / Szkoła Bydgoska Tom 2 (2008)

Tomek Gwinciński with Krzysztof Gruse, Nonlinear Ensemble

narrator 1 - Tomasz Gwinciński
narrator 2 - Paweł Passini
NonLinear Ensemble directed by Tomek Gwincińcki
solist: Tomasz Pawlicki - flet/fortepian

 P. Und Der Wolf & Bromberg Schule / Szkoła Bydgoska Tom 2 (2008)

By Maciej Nowotny

Tomasz Gwinciński is one of the most imporatant musicians in yass - a serious avantgarde movement in Polish music in 90ties last century. His collaborations with Jerzy Mazzoll in such bands as Niebieski Lotnik or Arythmic Perfection belong to most forward thinking in a whole of this movement. He was also important member of legendary bands of that era called Maestro Trytony (check "Heart Of Gold" or "Enoptronia") and later Łoskot ("Sun"). Looking back this bands influenced heavily present avantgarde renaissance in young Polish music showing that it is possible to say something fresh without being limited to any specific music genre but rather through unfettered usage of all available inspirations, be it free jazz, classical music, music or punk rock (typical for yass, yet it could be anything else for new generation of young artists who relate to this movement).

This project can very well be seen in this perspective since as other Gwinciński enterprises it is something fresh and totally unexpected. It is really difficult to define it. I see affinities with works of Viennese avantgarde of the beginning of previuos centrury (Schoeberg, Berg, Webern) and/or works like for example "Rake's Progress" by Igor Stravinsky. It may be described as kind of transformed opera or radio play with narration recited by Gwinciński and Paweł Passini in German! This narration is something between fable, twisted philosophy or musicology lecture. 

Up to this moment it sounds intriguing but unfortunately (now there is a time for my personal opinion!) it doesn't work as well as it was devised. First, unlike in case of Viennese School music here is too simple, shallow really, to be able to sustain listener's attention for approximately an hour. Second, and most important, this project shares vices of so many avantgarde projects: it is uncommunicative. It is difficult to imagine who will be its recipient? Poles will not understand it because it is in German. Germans do not have an idea it exists at all. International audience? I doubt it will reach for this album after reading my text. Why therefore do I write about this record? Obviously I am as crazy as this music is...


Friday, November 9, 2012

Swingujące Trójmiasto (Series) - Antykwintet (Soliton, 2012)

Antykwintet (band)

Józef Eliasz - drums (1-5)
Leszak Kułakowski -piano (1-7)
Mariusz Stopnicki - trumpet (6-7)
Marian Szarmach - drums (6-7)
Antoni Śliwa - flute (1-7)
Lech Wieleba - double bass (1-7)

guest: Piotr Sapieja - percussions (1-3)

Soliton 2012

By Maciej Nowotny

The jazz scene of Tricity (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot) has been since decades one of the most important and arguably most creative in Poland. Unfortunately much of its output, especially prior to 1989, remains largely unreleased due to the aversion which the communist government held toward the artistic boheme of Tricity. Fortunately recently Marcin Jacobson of Soliton, a recording label based in Sopot, has ventured on filling this gap and started to release great music which still lay hidden in archives. He started with such a bands as Rama 111 and Baszta, presenting selections of their yet unrealesed music, both very good indeed. And now Antykwintet comes as third and it is no worse then its two predecessors, perhaps even the best of three!

Antykwintet was created in 1978 on initiative of Leszek Kułakowski (pianist, violinist) and Antoni Śliwa (flutist). Over time they were joined by Lech Wieleba (bassist) and Józef Eliasz (drummer). Soon after band was created they started in the most prestigious competition for young bands which tool place during festival Jazz Nad Odrą and became immediately recognized. During their first appearance Józef Eliasz won individual prize while in next year the band (with Marian Szarmach replacing Eliasz) won first prize with Kułakowski scooping another one for the best composition.

Such a promising beginning was not unfortunately continued since in next year the band disbanded. This was tragic time for Poland with inhuman martial law imposed by General Jaruzelski. Poland for years plunged in a deep recessian as much economically, culturally as in any other sense. Difficult to believe but not even a single recording was released by this band! How big loss for our music it was is testified by this album which upon rehearsal I may describe only as extraordinary! Brilliant in every sense: compositional, performance and spiritual. Music is coherent, accesisble and yet deep, authentic. Inspired by great bop combos it in original way incorporates in its languages also other influences: fusion, free jazz, Latin and pop music. Thanks to Marcin Jacobson and Soliton Antykwintet at least takes its rightful place in Polish Jazz history...

PS. This text is based upon certain data found in linear notes written by Marcin Jacobson.

Tracklist:
1.Stasinek (L.Kułakowski)
2.Zaduma Dziadka (L.Kułakowski)
3.Minor Mode (B.Kessel)
4.Prosto przed siebie (L.Kułakowski)
5.Gonitwa siódma (L.Kułakowski)
6.Music for R. (L.Kułakowski)
7.Reinkarnacja (L.Kułakowski)


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pasimito – Rumi (2010)

Adam Celinski - vocals
Patryk Zdebik - saxophone
Darek Sprawka - trombone
Kasia Sprawka - violin
Kuba Luka - guitar
Jacek Stobiecki - bass
Przemek Lechowicz - drums

PRIVATE EDITION 5901844976023



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the Polish Jazz-Rock-World Fusion group Pasimito. As the album's title suggests, it was inspired by the works of the 13th Century Persian poet and mystic Rumi and the album's lyrics are loose quotations of Rumi's poems, sayings and aphorisms translated into the Polish language. The album comprises of ten original songs, all being group compositions. The core of the group is a septet with vocalist Adam Celinski, guitarist Kuba Luka, saxophonist Patryk Zdebik, trombonist Darek Sprawka, violinist Kasia Sprawka, bassist Jacek Stobiecki and drummer Przemek Lechowicz. Four guest artists participate on selected songs.

The music is a fascinating amalgam of a plethora of styles, which include such diverse influences as Grunge and Industrial Rock, Ambient and Electronic music, Jazzy improvisations and theatrical Progressive Rock, spiced with World Music induced folkloristic themes. This is some seriously weird stuff, which strangely works out wonderfully well. The songs are quite different from each other, which keeps the entire album full of surprises and unexpected musical developments, continuing right through the final track of the album, which includes a "hidden" part. There are no dull moments here, which is something one can say only about a tiny minority of albums recorded these days.

It's difficult to define the audience this music will work best for, as there are so many different things happening herein. Most open-minded listeners, who have no pre-conceptions, should be able to find this music worthy of their appreciation. Listeners outside of Poland should keep their ears open for this group, especially in view of the fact that the group (with small lineup changes) recently released an EP with four instrumental tracks, which are a forecast of a new full (instrumental with no language barriers) album. Unusual and charming stuff not to be missed!

Marcin Olak Trio - Crossing Borders (2012)

Marcin Olak Trio

Marcin Olak - classical and acoustic guitar
Maciej Szczyciński - bass
Hubert Zemler - drums
Mikołaj "Miki" Wielecki - percussion (tracks 7 & 8)

Crossing Borders (2012) 


By Maciej Nowotny

"Low profile" is an adjective which is rather difficult to translate into Polish language. Yet I like it very much when it applies to jazz. Nowadays there is so much hype around music that it often completely covers up its true artistic value. All these bouncing butts, fake boobs, swollen lips cannot hide from careful listeners that behind the sounds there is nothing. No spirituality, no adventure, no freedom but only money. Cash. Dough. So if you are after true artistic experience look for the projects which are low profile. New album by Marcin Trio may be very good example of such an attitude.

Its is very aptly titled  "Crossing Borders" since it crosses the artificial boundaries of music genres. Music is inspired as much by jazz, blues but also Polish folk and traditional Church music. Though narrative is told in language of mainstream, its soul is free. Because of that it may appeal as much to those who like traditional jazz but also to those who look towards avantgarde for something fresh and inspiring.

It is third recording by this trio after "Zealot" realeased in 2005 and "Simple Joy" in 2008. To be honest I wasn't great fan of this last record. It sounded for me much too predicatble, sweet, superficial. I therefore appreciate more how the music of this band has matured over last few years. It gained in diversity, in depth and in interplay. This is due as much to sophisticated composing and exquisitive playing by the leader as to the development of talent of young players who make up the rhythm section.

Hubert Zemler is one of the most interesting young drummers on Polish scene. This year he released excellent solo drum album "Moped" and he also is an important player on Warsaw avantgarde scene with such succesful projects like Kapacitron, Horny Trees or Namanga to be mentioned. Unlike Zemler who played also on "Simple Joy", bassist Maciej Szczyciński is new person in trio and replaced no less talented Wojtek Traczyk. Szczyciński is known for his versality, he may feel equally at ease on solid mainstream album by Dominik Bukowski (like "Times Get Changed") or in out-of-control enterprise by Joanna Duda ("Muzyka do bólu"), what makes him one of the most sought-after young bassists on our scene.

But of course main focus is on Marcin Olak's guitars. What immediately catches the attention is a beauty of the sound. The background is often minimalistic and Zemler and Szczyciński deserve great applause for being able to communicate effectively without making too much a noise. On this setting filigree improvisations by Olak cause astonishment and it is difficult not to be overwhelmed by delicate appeal of this music. Wholeheartedly recommended!


Tracklist: 1. Crossing Borders – episode 1, 2. Hej, od Krakowa jadę (Blue Deconstruction), 3. Ach, mój Jasieńko (Quasi ad libitum), 4. Na jabłoni jabłko wisi (Work Song), 5. Just One More Day, 6. Blue Study, 7. Waterfall, 8. Olive Tree, 9. Responsorium, 10. Katwar, 11. Infundybuła chronosynklastyczna, 12. Crossing borders – episode 2.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

David Murray feat. Marcin Oleś & Bartłomiej Brat Oleś - Circles - Live in Cracow (2003)

David Murray feat. Marcin Oleś & Bartłomiej Brat Oleś 

David Murray - tenor saxophone,bass clarinet
Marcin Oleś - double bass
Bartłomiej Brat Oleś - drums

Circles - Live in Cracow (2003)



By Jay Collins (Cadence)

David Murray is of course one of the more important tenor saxophonists of his era – or make that any era. Judging by his extensive discography, he is ready to collaborate or engage in almost any musical project. Never one to rest on his many accomplishments, any recording with Murray is worth investigating. This release is no exception, although certainly it would not be the best place to begin one’s Murray research. For this collaboration, Murray connects with two brothers, bassist Marcin and drummer Bartlomiej Brat Oles, during a special concert with “Poland’s finest rhythm section”. This live show was recorded in Cracow as part of a festival and, as the liners state, Murray was thoroughly on board with this partnership, despite the fact that there apparently wasn’t much rehearsal time. As a result, many of the compositions present space for a blowing session of sorts, with modal vamps being the vehicle for the group’s interaction. Fortunately, Murray and the brothers sound like they enjoy one another’s company, with the brothers working as full partners whether out in front or in support mode.

The trio plays seven compositions here, with four by drummer Bartlomiej, one from the bassist Marcin, one from Murray, and Ornette Coleman’s “Law Years”. The concert commences with “Go Home”, Bartlomiej’s modal piece focusing on buoyant groove set by Bartlomiej, with the tension rising as Murray draws upon the dark, spiritual vibes with trademark altissimo musings. It initially starts off tentatively. However, the musicians eventually land on thair feet. Next up is “Double Tone”, a feature for Murray’s bass clarinetand bassist’s Marcin hard swinging post Bop waves. “Circles” is meant as a feature for all three musicians, with Murray taking the bandto the stratosphere, as the youngsters follow his lead. Both Murray’s piece “Mbizo” and Ornette’s “Law Years”capture the variable rhythms and sonic connection between the brothers that inspired Murray to participate. While this is certainly not essential Murray, it demostrates his continuing vitality in interaction on an international level. The Oles brothers are worthy partners and do their part in an effort to make exciting and worthy music. 

Tracklist: 1. Go Home; 2. Double Tone; 3. Mbizo; 4. Fair Play; 5. Circles; 6. Thunderbird; 7. Law Years

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Michał Wróblewski Trio – I Remember (2011)

Michał Wróblewski Trio

Michał Wróblewski - piano
Michał Jaros - bass
Michał Bryndal - drums

I Remember (2011)




By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the young Polish Jazz pianist / composer Michal Wroblewski, recorded with his trio with bassist Michal Jaros and drummers Michal Bryndal and Wojciech Romanowski. The first version of this album was recorded by the trio with Bryndal and released as a promo. This, the final version of the album adds four more tracks recorded by the trio with Romanowski. Since both trios recorded the title track, the album's nine tracks are in fact only eight distinct compositions, of which five were composed by Wroblewski, one by Jaros, one is an interpretation of a John Coltrane tune and the title track is a contemporary house composition, which proves that Wroblewski listens to other music than Jazz as well. Both trio sessions were recorded at the legendary Studio Tokarnia, with Jan Smoczynski behind the knobs, which is always a guarantee of superb sonic quality.

The Polish Jazz scene seems to be an endless source of excellent piano players over the years, and the contemporary scene, which hosts both the veterans, the middle aged and the young pianist is simply exploding with talent and activity. Wroblewski is certainly one of the interesting newcomers, who still have to pay the dues and put forward their accomplishments before achieving an honorary position on the pedestal reserved for the Polish Jazz piano giants. Judging by this recording he's certainly on the right track, as the music presented on this album is quite excellent, both from the point of view of the performance and the compositions. Both trios play elegantly and display individual skills as well as an ensemble spirit, carefully listening to each other. The compositions present a nice balance between the melodic themes, rhythmic progressions and harmonic structures, which are ideal vehicles for the improvised passages. There is a frequent usage of Classical quotes and neo-romantic mannerisms, which are probably mostly sub-conscious and quite understandable considering the pianist's age.

The overall level of performance is quite excellent, turning this album into an ideal type of piano trio experience, which many Jazz connoisseurs greatly enjoy. The album could have been slightly longer and more adventurous musically, but than again many listeners will probably wish to change absolutely nothing. One can only hope that future recordings by Wroblewski will show him striving to achieve an individual voice and unique style, which will surely come to fruition as he gets older and more experienced. Keeping things in the right perspective, this is definitely a most impressive debut, exposing a talent to be watched. This album is highly recommended to piano trio enthusiasts, but basically every Jazz lover should be able to deeply enjoy this music. Great stuff!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Krystyna Stańko – Kropla Słowa (2012)

Krystyna Stańko

Krystyna Stańko - vocals
Dominik Bukowski - vibraphone, marimba
Piotr Lemańczyk - bass
Cezary Konrad - drums

with guest artists and string quartet

Kropla Słowa (2012)

By Adam Baruch

This is the sixth album by Polish Jazz vocalist / composer / lyricist Krystyna Stanko, and her most ambitious undertaking to date, as it presents her in the Jazz & Poetry setting, which is always very demanding and perilous. The album comprises of ten songs; four of which have lyrics by the Nobel Prize laureate poetess Wislawa Szymborska (who died in 2012), two with lyrics by poetess Halina Poswiatowska (who died in 1967 at a ridiculous young age of 32), one with lyrics by poetess Dorota Szatters (a contemporary lyricist living in Silesia, the southern part of Poland), one with lyrics by the poet Tomasz Jastrun (well-known for his involvement with the underground literary movement during the Socialist regime) and the last two with lyrics by Stanko herself. Of the ten songs, seven were composed by vibraphonist / composer Dominik Bukowski, two by Stanko and one by bassist / composer Paul Rutschka, who is Stanko's nephew.

The songs are performed by Stanko, who is accompanied by a core trio, which includes Bukowski and the wonderful rhythm section of bassist Piotr Lemanczyk and drummer Cezary Konrad. In addition several excellent musicians participate as guests adding their contributions to one or two of the songs, those being: saxophonists Maciej Obara and Irek Wojtczak, guitarist Jacek Krolik, percussionist Miroslaw Hady, Indonesian pianist Sri Hanuraga and bassist Paul Rutschka. A string quartet is also utilized on a couple of songs. The presence of so many musicians creates a much diversified album, with each of the songs being quite distinct and different sounding instrumentally, which enhances the listening experience and allows for unexpected vistas. Of course the diversity does not disturb the general atmosphere of the album, which is wonderfully lyrical and introvert, as are most Polish Jazz & Poetry albums.

For listeners familiar with the Polish scene, this album immediately brings on a need to match it up against the recent work by Polish Jazz vocalist Aga Zaryan, which is conceptually and spiritually in the same aesthetic sphere of influence. In fact this album is incredibly akin to Zaryan's latest album. One can only speculate as to how much of this proximity is intentional, but probably very little. It is more likely a result of the characteristics of both Polish Jazz and Polish Poetry being so dominant, with the distinctive rhythm of the language, its "playability" and inherent musicality, which contributed to this close encounter. Of course these albums are also wonderfully different, which creates a joyous opportunity to love them both.

Stanko should be praised for sticking with her mother tongue, against the temptations of "international potential", which brings many Polish singers to try their luck with texts in English. Every music connoisseur understands that vocalists are at their best when singing in their natural language, and of course even more so in case poetry is used. Stanko's interpretation and articulation of the poems is warm and wonderfully round, expressing her deep engagement with this project. The music is also excellent, and although melodic, it proves to be quite challenging at times, with twisted progressions and unusual harmonic structure. Listeners, who are not familiar with the Polish language, will still be able to enjoy this album immensely, just listening to Stanko's vocals as another instrument in the ensemble, carrying the melody.

The overall level of performances is truly amazing. The vibraphone and marimba are difficult instruments, especially for the less experienced listeners, but Bukowski manages to use them subtly, often staying low-key and wonderfully supportive towards the vocalist. Lemanczyk plays absolutely stunningly, with his virtuosic bass lines carrying the music like wind over water. Konrad, a well-respected veteran, is the ensemble's chronometer, without actually playing the beat, masterfully ornamenting the music with his percussive touches. The guest musicians all contribute in their relative fields of expertise. The leading Lady is firmly expressing the lyrics and yet creating a brilliant atmosphere of fragility and insecurity, as appropriate in such context. A job well done indeed!

I admit falling in love with this album immediately. Those sensitive, intelligent and brilliantly talented women always capture my musical heart filling it with passion and sweet delight. Age, experience and cynicism simply melt away. The only gentlemanly thing left is to thank Stanko for creating this heartwarming peace of musical delight and wish her God's speed. I'm already longing for the next one!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...