Monday, January 14, 2013

Jerzy Mazzoll - Responsio Mortifera (2012)

Jerzy Mazzoll - clarinet, copositions, texts

Marcin Dymiter - producing and mixing

Responsio Mortifera (2012)

By Maciej Nowotny

"Responsio mortifera" were words written by the scribe upon the record of final interrogation of Jeanne D'Arc. Based on this she was condemned to death by auto-da-fe. Why Jerzy Mazzoll chose these words to become a title for his latest album will remain his mystery. But it should be noticed that his life was not without pain and suffering, be it private or musical. As the latter is concerned despite being one of protagonists of so-called yass - free jazz influenced movement which in 90ies last century refreshed somewhat stale air of Polish music - he never really got as much recognition as he deserved. Virtually unknown abroad, he was despised by leading exponents of mainstream jazz in Poland who looked at him and his colleagues (Tymon Tymański, Tomek Gwinciński, Mikołaj Trzaska and others) with the same dismay as once Miles Davis seen music of Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy or Cecil Taylor. 

This lack of support combined with personal problems (among them very grave illness) all resulted in long break since his last albums, recorded with band or under his own name, respectively 6 or 12 years ago!!! It doesn't mean he was inactive - the music is all his life - but he didn't contributed to mainstream with new musical ideas. Great loss taking into account how innovative thinker and accomplished musician he is! Set upon such a background his 2012 comeback looks even more conspicuous because he returned this year with three (sic!) new albums. His "Minimalover" was warmly received by critics and audience and was followed by EP "Jeden Dźwiek i Pan Bóg" (transl. "One Sound and the God") and finally this album released at the end of year. They all share one characteristic common for all Mazzoll projects: they are difficult to describe. Mazzoll style is highly individual like no other in Polish jazz or even the world.

The labels such as jazz, avantgarde, electronic music, punk rock though applicable are far from denoting precisely what you can find on this disc. Perhaps names of musicians which Mazzoll himself regards as his favourites will tell you more: Eric Dolphy, Roscoe Mitchell, Peter Jorgensmann, Evan Parker or Bill Laswell. None of them appears on this album but no less than 19 (sic!) other musicians were recorded or sometimes caught unaware and are present on this album. To make a coherent music out of such a maze is a great achievement of Marcin Dymiter who is not only a producer but effectively co-creator of this album. In the end it works very fine, being very personal an yet very forward thinking. In some aspects it sounds like, say, Matana Roberts' famous "Coin Coin" where she relates the history of her family, its emancipation from slavery, in universal language of jazz. Nature of a slavery Mazzoll found himself in is different but the goal itself is the same since times of Aristotelis: to get rid of the past through artistic experience. A catharsis. In this context the only setback of this recording is that the translations of Polish texts spoken by Mazzoll are not included with CD. But even without them the sheer power of emotions present here should be moving to any open-hearted listener.

Mazzoll instrumental:

Mazzoll reading his poetry:

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