Friday, April 26, 2013

Krzysztof Herdzin – Almost After (2000)

Krzysztof Herdzin - piano
Adam Cegielski - bass
Cezary Konrad - drums

JAZZ FORUM 020







By Adam Baruch

This is an early album by Polish Jazz pianist / composer Krzysztof Herdzin and his debut recording as a leader of a classic piano trio with bassist Adam Cegielski and drummer Cezary Konrad. It presents eight original compositions, all by Herdzin. At the time this album was recorded Herdzin was a regular member of the ensemble led by Polish Jazz veteran Zbigniew Namyslowski and his reputation as a rising piano prodigy was already pretty much established, but this recording also presents his talent as a composer.

This is a classic piano trio album, in the tradition established decades earlier and polished to perfection by generation of legendary pianists and their respective rhythm sections. Therefore it's extremely difficult to be original or groundbreaking in that specific niche, perhaps even more so than in any other Jazz endeavor. Herdzin doesn't break any particular new ground here, but his passionate playing, accompanied by obvious virtuosity and brilliant technique, manages to create a most impressive piece of Jazz music and a remarkable debut effort. From the very early recorded projects Herdzin exposes a tendency for perfection, well reflected here. His control of timbre, tempo and tone are all excellent and the result sounds accordingly.

Of course even the best pianist is only as good as his rhythm section allows and in this case his partners stand with him shoulder to shoulder, complimenting his efforts with superb companionship and affinity. Overall the trio effort is accomplished here to the fullest, and again, since this is a debut effort, the result is above the level of expectations in such cases.

As a composer, Herdzin emerges here most dominantly as a weaver of great melodies, which fall nicely on the listener's ears, but are in fact quite complicated and very well crafted. Most of his compositions on this album lack the typical Polish Jazz melancholy, which characterizes most of its output, but includes one heartbreaking ballad, which Herdzin uses skillfully to show his arpeggio skills. These pieces are mostly mid-tempo and transmit a happy, cheerful state of mind, which is a nice and refreshing change for once.

In retrospect this is still a very nice album, which can be enjoyed both by Jazz novices and refined connoisseurs, each of them on a different level. Herdzin's numerous talents as composer / arranger and a formidably multi-talented / ferociously busy Artist were yet to come at that stage. The album was released as an add-on to the European Jazz magazine Jazz Forum and was never released commercially. A reissue should definitely be considered, bringing this music to a much wider audience. A splendid piece of work by all means!

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