Friday, February 15, 2013

Zbigniew Namyslowski – Standards (2003)

Zbigniew Namyslowski - saxophone
Slawomir Jaskulke - piano
Krzysztof Pacan - bass
Piotr Grzyb - drums
Jacek Namyslowski - trombone
Piotr Wojtasik - trumpet


By Adam Baruch

This is a very unusual album by veteran Polish Jazz saxophonist / composer Zbigniew Namyslowski, which finds him performing standards, whereas he usually performs only his own compositions. Of the eleven tracks present on this album, ten are standards and one is a composition by Namyslowski, based on the harmonic structure of a well known standard, with a different meter. All the ten standards have been elaborately arranged by Namyslowski, taking them in some cases quite far away from the origin. The music is performed by a superb quartet, which finds the leader in the company of pianist Slawomir Jaskulke, bassist Krzysztof Pacan and drummer Grzegorz Grzyb. Namyslowski's son Jacek Namyslowski guests on three tracks and trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik guests on one.

The album is an absolute masterpiece from start to finish: the arrangements are innovative and intelligent, the performances are perfect and the overall level of artistry is simply overwhelming. Namyslowski again proves that time means absolutely nothing as far as he's concerned and he is still the Grand Master of Polish Jazz, at least as far as modern mainstream Jazz is concerned. The album shows yet again his role as a Godfather, with his group over and over again featuring young and upcoming musicians, who play with him for a period of time before going their own way and becoming leaders on their own right. Namyslowski's playing never ceases to amaze me; for the last half a century (and more) he sounds confident, stable and beautifully creative. I only wish he'll continue to be this way forever.

The pianist Slawomir Jaskulke is the great surprise of this album, as his very modernist and forceful style, which he displayed on his early recordings, has been "tamed" by the leader and his ability to change styles from early Jazz to modern compositions and perform all of them equally fluently with virtuosic ability is very impressive.

Overall this is a wonderful album, which should put a smile on the face of every Jazz connoisseur in this planet. There is no way one could not enjoy this music, both intellectually and emotionally. These standards never sounded better that here, dressed up, invigorated and revitalized, thank to the genius of Namyslowski, which rejects the tides of time and keeps alive and kicking.

This is an absolute delight. Respect!

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