Artur Dutkiewicz - piano
Andrzej Cudzich - bass
Marek Stach - drums
Jazz Choral Vocal Group
Muza PNCD 1091
By Adam Baruch
This unusual and very interesting album by the superb Polish saxophonist / composer Tomasz Szukalski, who sadly died this year, presents him in a double setting: first as a guest artist accompanying the Georgian vocal group Jazz Choral and than as a leader of his quartet, which includes also pianist Artur Dutkiewicz, bassist Andrzej Cudzich and drummer Marek Stach.
The album starts with six pieces performed by Jazz Choral; First three tracks are sung a cappella and the remaining three are performed with Szukalski and an unidentified rhythm section (piano, bass and drums). The vocal tracks are followed by three tracks performed by Szukalski and his quartet, two of which are standards and one is an original composition by the leader.
Jazz Choral were a vocal group similar to the Polish group Novi, which existed on the local scene twenty years earlier, and several other ensembles which based their performances on perfectly matched harmonies and swinging melodies. Their performance is spotless and quite virtuosic, with a nostalgic touch. Szukalski spices their music with excellent solos, which can only be constructed by a musician of his statue.
The three tracks by Szukalski and his quartet highlight his incredible power as a player, clearly emphasizing his post-Coltrane legacy and incredible versatility. Listening to him play, now that he is gone, is truly moving to everybody familiar with the Polish Jazz scene. His premature death is a great loss!
This album was recorded during the transition period between
finally freed itself from the Socialist regime, and was somehow "lost" in the turmoil. This reissue brings back to life a piece of music, which should not be forgotten. Definitely worth investigation! Poland