Friday, March 22, 2013

Slawomir Jaskulke – Fill The Harmony Philharmonics (2004)

Slawomir Jaskulke - piano
Slawomir Kurkiewicz - bass

Krzysztof Dziedzic - drums
Hanseatica Chamber Orchestra
Mika Urbaniak - vocals

BCD 04

By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by Polish Jazz pianist / composer Slawomir Jaskulke, which presents a five parts suite for piano trio and chamber orchestra of the Jazz-Classical Fusion variety. The additional trio members are bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz, one of Polish Jazz most renowned bassists (Simple Acoustic Trio, Tomasz Stanko), and drummer Krzysztof Dziedzic. The orchestral parts are performed by the Hanseatica Chamber Orchestra. Vocalist Mika Urbaniak is featured on one track. The music was composed by Jaskulke, who was twenty four years old at the time.

This ambitious project, undertaken by such a young musician, is quite extraordinary by any standard. Although Jazz and Classical music have been previously combined with various degree of success, this attempt is certainly quite different from all the others, employing musical devices, themes and arrangements often contrasting and seemingly clashing with other, like the vocal Rap part in the midst of a fragment performed by the strings. The Jazz trio interludes move in and out of the orchestral accompaniment, as do the solo piano parts. The overall structure does not seem to follow any of the pre-ordained Classical musical configurations, and Jaskulke appears to be using the orchestra as a tool rather than a point of reference.

Although free-structured, the music maintains a melodic backbone, which re-appears both in the orchestral and the trio parts. The listener might find this music quite difficult to absorb, certainly during the initial listening phases, since things seldom continue for a period of time long enough to begin to sound "familiar". There is a sense or urgency and unrest, which is reminiscent of music composed for suspense movies. But listeners willing to listen patiently and repeatedly will eventually embrace the entire piece, finding its intrinsic logic.

The Classical parts are obviously influenced by contemporary composers and a well trained might hear traces of George Gershwin, The French Modernists and of course the Polish avant-gardists (Krzysztof Penderecki & Co.). Polish composer / pianist Frederic Chopin presides as well, if not bodily then surely spiritually. Stylistically this hodge-podge might need some polishing and sorting out, but give the guy a break; after all he is only twenty four…

Regardless if one enjoys this music or not, it surely deserves to be appreciated for its aesthetic merits, its audacity and its innovation. Perhaps it is a bit over the top, but people who don't dare don't get there. Personally I quite like it and wholeheartedly recommend it to music aficionados, who are after the less obvious yet more rewarding game.

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