Friday, June 14, 2013

Krzysztof Herdzin – Fantasy On Themes From IV String Quartet By Grazyna Bacewicz / Fairytale Stories (2009)

Krzysztof Herdzin - piano
Michal Kulenty - saxophone
Robert Kubiszyn - bass
Cezary Konrad - drums
Royal String Quartet
Pawel Gusnar - saxophone


By Adam Baruch

It seems that some Jazz musicians / composers, especially those with Classical Music education and training, are caught in a duality conflict between these two streams of artistic expression. After all the European musical tradition cultivated Classical music for centuries as a lofty and superior cultural form, leaving other kinds of music, like Folklore, Pop and later also Jazz to the masses. Since the late 20th Century Jazz managed to achieve some recognition from the Classical music elite, but is hardly commonly accepted on equal terms.

Polish pianist / composer / arranger Krzysztof Herdzin belongs to that particular group, which is probably the reason why he tries to bridge his Jazz activities with Classical music, as demonstrated on this album, which presents two Jazz-Classical Fusion pieces composed by him. The first piece is a three parts fantasy based on the themes used in the 4th String Quartet by Polish 20th Century violinist / composer Grazyna Bacewicz, who was an exceptionally gifted composer concentrating on music involving the violin, but wrote also full orchestral pieces. The fantasy is performed by a Jazz quartet, which includes Herdzin's regular rhythm section: bassist Robert Kubiszyn and drummer Cezary Konrad and saxophonist Michal Kulenty. The Jazz quartet is accompanied by the Royal String Quartet. The second piece is an eight part cycle of miniatures performed in a duet setting with saxophonist Pawel Gusnar.

The problem with most such attempts is to combine Classical music with Jazz is usually twofold: to integrate the two into an organic amalgam and to maintain a balance between the conflicting nature of the two. Often those attempts fail on both counts or at least at one of them, becoming either Jazz & Strings or Classical music played by the saxophone. In this case is seems that Herdzin's Jazz affiliation takes over, leaving the Classical component slightly in the background. Although the integration between the Jazz and string quartets is very smooth, the resulting music demonstrates a Jazzy "swing", which Classical music usually lacks. Whatever the music misses in adventurousness and novelty is well compensated by great melodies and slick arrangements. Nevertheless this is overall a very satisfactory effort, which surely deserves a wider audience than it initially achieved. Personally I prefer the intimate duets, which work better for me, but the whole record should prove interesting to most true music lovers.

The performances are, as usual with Herdzin's albums, spotless and inspired. All the musicians involved are highly talented and professional. Herdzin, as usual, manages to present one more facet of his bottomless box of tricks, which never ceases to amaze.

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