Saturday, January 12, 2013

Kocin Kocinski Trio – Proverbs 3:5 (2012)

Maciej Kocinski - saxophones, EWI, electronics
Andrzej Swies - bass
Krzysztof Szmanda - drums
Kuba Badach - vocals
Patrick Jiya - vocals


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut recording by the trio led by Polish saxophonist / composer Maciej Kocinski, who is primarily known as the leader of the Soundcheck quartet, which received a lot of positive attention on the local scene in the last few years. The other members of the trio are bassist Andrzej Swies and drummer Krzysztof Szmanda, who are also Soundcheck members. Vocalists Kuba Badach and Patrick Jiya appear as special guests. The album consists of ten original compositions, all by Kocinski.

The trio serves as another vehicle for the leader and his cohorts to present music, which does not fit within the framework of the Soundcheck quartet, moving into areas like atmospheric / ambient / contemplative music influenced by folkloristic motifs and to some extent by contemporary Classical music. The usage of electronics and electric bass takes the music further away from purely acoustic Jazz mainstream. There is also an atmosphere of deep emotional expression, enhanced by the album's beautiful artwork, title and of course its subject matter. Naming an album after a Biblical quote (and even printing the original Hebrew text on the cover) is surely no accident.

The music is quite an unusual amalgam, which makes sense only after listening to the whole album, preferably more than once. It involves many different techniques, from "conventional" acoustic saxophone trio to purely improvised passages, electronic soundscapes, vocal chanting, recitation and others. And yet all these different elements fit together perfectly against all odds, creating truly exciting and emotional sonic experiences. Kocinski uses the EWI skillfully to produce a plethora of different sounds, enhancing the overall instrumental range. The element of melody is vital to this music and reoccurs repeatedly, with beautiful lyrical themes, which later serve as the basis for improvised excursions.

The album and the music are obviously a team effort, and although the leader is the primary soloist, his partners get ample opportunity to contribute. Swies is brilliant, as always, with his bass (acoustic and electric) being the backbone of this excellent music. Szmanda fills the blanks and supports delicately, which is exactly what this music needs. His intelligence and good taste are obvious all the way through. All in all this is a superb musical effort, which keeps the listeners on their toes for the entire duration, leaving them wishing for more of the different same.

The Polish Jazz scene seems to be a bottomless pit of great music and talented musicians. It is always a great pleasure to discover yet another example of the above and this album certainly stands out as one of the most interesting releases of 2012. Wholeheartedly recommended to all those lionhearted connoisseurs of exciting, surprising and adventurous music!

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