Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Antykwintet – Antykwintet (Swinging Tricity Vol.3) (2012)

Leszek Kulakowski - piano
Antoni Sliwa - flute
Lech Wieleba - bass
Jozef Eliasz - drums
Marian Szarmach - drums
Mariusz Stopinski - trumpet
Piotr Sapieja - oercussion


By Adam Baruch

This is the third installment in the excellent archival series documenting Polish Jazz created in the country's Tricity on the Baltic Sea, one of the important centers where Polish Jazz thrives and over the years produced numerous first-rate musicians and superb bands. The series presents material, which in most cases never previously appeared in any form and therefore is of immense historic importance.

This chapter presents the Antykwintet ensemble, which was a relatively short lived quartet / quintet founded in 1978 and active for about four years, but unfortunately never managed to record even one album under their name, which sadly was the fate of many Polish Jazz artists during the Socialist regime. However they did participate three times (1978, 1979 & 1980) in the Jazz Nad Odra festival in Wroclaw, where all of the material on this album comes from.

Antykwintet was founded by pianist / composer Leszek Kulakowski and flautist Antoni Sliwa (who's siblings played with two other ensembles documented by this series: Baszta and Rama 111). The initial quartet also included bassist Lech Wieleba and drummer Jozef Eliasz. That quartet also included percussionist Piotr Sapieja as a guest musician. Later on the quartet was expanded to a quintet with the addition of trumpeter Mariusz Stopnicki and Eliasz was replaced by Marian Szarmach.

The music includes seven compositions, six of which are originals by Kulakowski and one is by American guitarist Barney Kessel, all recorded live as mentioned earlier. The sound quality is not great, but remastered it is certainly good enough to be enjoyed. The live setting allows for expanded treatments of the compositions, four of which are over ten minutes and one over seventeen minutes long. This means there are ample opportunities to hear long solos, mostly by the pianists (on both acoustic and electric piano) and the flautists. Since the flute is sadly rarely used as the front solo instrument in Jazz, this album should be greatly interesting to flute aficionados. The quintet with the trumpet / flute front line is also very unusual, almost unique in fact, which is another interesting aspect of this album.

The music is modern mainstream, not revolutionary but certainly interesting and quite innovative at the time. The live setting again allows for a lot of freedom, especially during the extended solos, which, assuming the ensemble would have continued together might have developed into more imaginative pastures, but alas we'll never know. In any case this is certainly worth revisiting some thirty plus years later.

This is another great piece of Polish Jazz history, which should definitely be told and preserved as part of the country's Cultural Heritage. Kudos to Marcin Jacobson for creating this series and keeping it going!

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