Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lichtański Sound Lab – Live (2013)

Wojciech Lichtański - saxophone
Michał Szkil - piano
Michał Kapczuk - bass
Szymon Madej - drums

PRK 0127







By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by a Polish Jazz quartet led by saxophonist Wojciech Lichtański with pianist Michał Szkil, bassist Michał Kapczuk and drummer Szymon Madej. The quartet, recorded live in the Katowice studio of the Polish Radio, performs six original compositions, all by Lichtański. All the musicians are students of the Jazz Institute at the Katowice Academy of Music with ages ranging between 21 and 28 at the time of the recording.

As usual is such cases, it is very hard to believe that this music was created by such young musicians. The level of confidence, skill and most importantly composition present herein is simply outstanding and usually associated with established artists rather than novices. Perhaps this is one of the secret ingredients, which make the contemporary Polish Jazz scene to be one of the best and most exciting in the world. Of course one has to be careful not to boost the egos of these young musicians beyond proportions, but honestly this music is simply too good to be parsimonious with compliments. It is scary to think what these young cats will come up with when they grow up?

Lichtanski's compositions are quite diverse both stylistically and dynamically, ranging from lyrical ballads characterized by that typical Polish lyricism and sweetly melancholic melody lines, to up-tempo numbers full of vigor and swinging magnificently. Yes, it is mainstream Jazz, but as such it represents the best side of mainstream, far away from the worn-out boring doodling, which is often associated with mainstream Jazz, giving it its bad name.

As performer, Lichtański has a beautiful tone, which normally takes years to acquire, which is as effective on the listener as a snake charmer. His technique is also quite remarkable. Hs companions are all first-rate players, giving him excellent support throughout. The quartet functions very well as a group, with the musicians listening to each other carefully and respecting their individual space. I'd love to hear more solos by the other quartet members, but I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunity for this in the future, as these musicians are here to stay. The pianist is the most intriguing contributor, with some blood-hurdling effectiveness during his solos, but the rhythm section is also exactly right were it's needed, strong, precise and imaginative. In short this is one stunning debut album, which simply lifts up the spirit and leaves the listener longing for the next chapter, full of expectations. Well done indeed lion cubs!

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