Friday, March 15, 2013

Piotr Lemanczyk – Amhran (2013)

Seamus Blake - saxophone
Piotr Lemanczyk - bass
Jacek Kochan - drums

SOLITON 257






By Adam Baruch

Polish Jazz bassist / composer Piotr Lemanczyk is a household name on the local scene and over the years he gained a considerable reputation as one of the most talented, versatile, dependable and imaginative bass players around. His numerous recordings in the last decade present a musician of many faces, who feels completely comfortable playing Free Jazz, melodic lyrical mainstream Jazz and anything in between.

This album finds Lemanczyk in a trio setting, with US (British born) saxophonist Seamus Blake and Polish drummer Jacek Kochan, playing mostly music he composed. Of the eight compositions present on the album seven are by Lemanczyk and the remaining one is by Kochan. The music is free-spirited and open, not Free Jazz per se, as it is based on pre-composed themes, but it emphasizes the improvisations, focusing on them rather than on the melodic or even harmonic backbone. Naturally the saxophone stands in the centre of attention, but a careful listener will notice immediately that this is first and foremost a collective performance, which never falls back into a soloist / rhythm section situation, like most other saxophone trio recordings. Although Lemanczyk solos as well, his most significant contribution is simply playing along with his cohorts, demonstrating ears wide open and undivided attention and respect towards his partners. The drums often take a step back on this album, which leaves the dialog between the saxophone and bass as the centerpiece of this beautiful music.

I wonder if other listeners will share my view that this album is largely atypical as far as Polish Jazz is concerned. That omnipresent lyricism / intrinsic melancholy, that is the trademark of Polish Jazz, is almost completely gone herein. If I listened to this music blindfolded, I'd most probably deduce that this is an American album. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why, but the way the saxophonist improvises and Lemanczyk / Kochan respond is a classic example of contemporary American Jazz characteristics.

Any way one looks at (or rather listens to) this music, one thing is apparent: this is masterly conceived and superbly executed stuff, which has so much to offer that even an experienced Jazz connoisseur will need to contemplate and absorb this music for a while in order to fully comprehend it. There is simply to much aesthetic beauty here to be taken in at one go. One can only hope this music will reach as many appreciative listeners as it truly deserves.

This album is an absolute must for all Polish Jazz fans and any serious Jazz buff anywhere on this planet should be able to enjoy this music to the fullest, even if it will take more than one listening session to get there. Wholeheartedly recommended!

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