Thursday, March 14, 2013

Zbigniew Namyslowski – 3 Nights (1999)

Zbigniew Namyslowski - saxophone
Krzysztof Herdzin - piano
Olo Walicki - bass
Grzegorz Grzyb - drums
Piotr Wojtasik - trumpet

Grzgorz Nagorski - trombone
Cezary Paciorek - accordion
Jose Torres - percussion

POLONIA 174/176

By Adam Baruch

This album by Polish Jazz Colossus saxophonist Zbigniew Namyslowski documents a live recording captured during three consecutive nights at the legendary Warsaw Jazz Club "Akwarium". Accompanied by his regular (at the time) quartet, with pianist Krzysztof Herdzin, bassist Olgierd Walicki and drummer Grzegorz Grzyb, as well as guest musicians: trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik, trombonist Grzegorz Nagorski, accordionist Cezary Paciorek and percussionist Jose Torres, Namyslowski played a different program each night, which comprised entirely of his original compositions, twenty three of them in total.

Although not intended as such, this recording is a sort of retrospective, both for Namyslowski the composer and Namyslowski the player. Approaching the age of sixty Namyslowski celebrated four decades of activity on the local and international scenes: recording some of the Polish Jazz milestone albums, grooming generations of Jazz musicians and playing countless concerts, an impressive record, which only very few other musicians share with him. Among the compositions performed one can find a few of his early tunes, going over thirty years back before the date of this recording, as well as some recently composed ones.

The three nights seem to have quite a different character, although it's difficult to guess if that was intended. The first night is all up-tempo tunes, performed by a septet with strong presence of the percussion, which spices the music with a Cuban feel. The second night is more modern mainstream, performed by a sextet and the last night is the most adventurous, with odd meters and World Music influenced compositions, which are often Namyslowski's trademark. Overall the quality of the compositions and the performances are of course excellent. Namyslowski always knew how to pick up his group members, almost always from the ranks of one young generation after another. Walicki and Grzyb represent the youngest (at the time) generation and both prove to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the veterans. Herdzin, who played for several years with Namyslowski in the late 1990s, was still relatively unknown at the time (in the years to come his career was about to literally explode) and is the most interesting soloist on this album except the Boss of course. The guest players are all well known and their contributions are professional, but not very inspiring, except perhaps for Paciorek, who is so original that his playing is always fascinating.

In the long discography by Namyslowski, this is perhaps not one of his milestone recordings, but in retrospect it definitely reflects his exceptional abilities as a player, composer and bandleader. The sound quality of these live recordings is spotless and has a warm aura and superb presence. This is a must have for the many Namyslowski fans and Polish Jazz buffs in general!

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