Sunday, April 28, 2013

Agnieszka Hekiert – Stories (2012)

Agnieszka Hekiert - vocals
Konstantin Kostov - piano
Robert Kubiszyn - bass
Cezary Konrad - drums
with
Krzysztof Herdzin - flute
Kuba Badach - vocals
Atom String Quartet

UNIVERSAL POLAND 028947651475

By Adam Baruch

Polish Jazz vocalist / composer Agnieszka Hekiert, who combines the careers of a vocalist and a successful vocal coach for TV reality shows, released this album eight years after her last release called "Night And Day Swing", which she recorded with the pianist / composer Krzysztof Herdzin and his trio. In the meantime she also recorded the "European Impressions" album with my dear friend, the great Polish saxophonist / composer Leszek Zadlo, which unfortunately remains unreleased so far. From that session she carried over the Bulgarian pianist / composer Konstantin Kostov (who studied with another friend of mine, the Russian pianist / composer Leonid Tschischik, now living and teaching in Germany), who is her closest collaborator on this album. The other musicians, who constitute the piano trio on this album, are bassist Robert Kubiszyn and drummer Cezary Konrad. Guest appearances also include Herdzin on flute (yes I smiled too), vocalist Kuba Badach and the superb Atom String Quartet.

The album includes twelve songs, four of which are Kostov / Hekiert originals, another four are by Hekiert or feature her lyrics, one is a standard, one is a song by Sting, another one by Polish vocalist Kayah and the last of mysterious Far East source (sic!); overall quite a mishmash of styles and influences, which are unified by the arrangements (the arranger is not listed) and excellent performances by the piano trio. Kostov is a brilliant player, which is evident both on his solo spots and his skillful accompaniment, and so are of course veterans Kubiszyn and Konrad.

Hekiert is a talented vocalist, singing lyrics and vocalese with obvious ease and technical proficiency. Most of the vocals are in Polish, which of course is highly commendable, with few exceptions, which are unfortunately less impressive. Overall the vocal parts are kept within very safe limits of mainstream Jazz, which is somewhat lacking, as she obviously could have taken a few more risks and less obvious choices. Perhaps the fact that the album was released by Universal signifies an attempt to produce a much wider accessible music? In any case compared to some truly exciting vocal albums released in 2012 in Poland, this one sadly does not challenge any of them.

Connoisseurs of vocal Jazz will find this a pleasant listening experience, with excellent instrumental parts and professional vocal performances, no less and no more.

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