Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kazimierz Jonkisz - Jazz Energy (2013) *** 1/2

Kazimierz Jonkisz

Borys Janczarski - tenor saxophone
Tomasz Grzegorski - tenor & soprano saxophone
Jerzy Małek - trumpet [4,5,6]
Wojciech Pulcyn - double bass
Kazimierz Jonkisz - drums

Jazz Energy (2013)

By Maciej Nowotny

Kazimierz Jonkisz, born in 1948, is a legend of Polish jazz and arguably one of the best drummers of its golden era along with equally prominent Czesław Bartkowski or Janusz Stefański. He collaborated with almost every significant jazz musician in Poland, among them those the greatest like Zbigniew Namysłowski, Mieczysław Kosz, Adam Makowicz, Michał Urbaniak or Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski. He was also one of the first or even the first drummer in Polish jazz who created and led his own ensemble. With his bands he recorded for acclaimed Polish Jazz series in 1980 "Tiritaka" and in 1987 "Outsider" which count among the best albums in whole history of jazz music in Poland.

Unlike many of his colleagues from that era who either became inactive or have nothing interesting to say, Jonkisz continued to record important albums also in new "capitalistic" times. Perhaps it helped him that since 1992 he was working with younger generation as a teacher of drumming at well-known Warsaw Music College. Anyway he was able to establish relationships with younger players and appeared on such successful albums as, only very lately, Piotr Lemańczyk's "Naha Poeple" (2009) or Joanna Gajda's "Heaven Earth Earth Heaven" (2011). But admirers of his talent have waited impatiently for his own project and been longing for times when his albums gave direction to jazz in our country.

Those times are now well over, at least in my opinion, and those giants of the past like Namysłowski, Karolak, Urbaniak and even Stańko himself are not any more so influential as before. Zimpel, Trzaska, Rogiński, Masecki, Obara are now among those who go in the vanguard of improvised music in Poland. Still it is great news that Jonkisz has once again assembled the band and at last recorded new material. Especially since it will probably fulfill all expectations of his fans as it is a straight-ahead continuation of a language he used on his famous albums of 80ties. Music is clearly build upon hard bop legacy, there is no innovation here, no breaking old structures which is now the sign-of-times of new jazz music worldwide. Instead it is nostalgic journey to those magic decades of 50ties and 60ties when in the US, thanks to great black musicians, jazz music exploded as new kind of art and way of the living. 

Luckily it does not sound even a bit antique or outdated, as many such albums do, which it owes as much to the youthful vigour of the leader as to the enthusiasm of younger generation of players who surround him and who are, at least as jazz scene in Poland is concerned, the creme-de-creme of our mainstream jazz. Borys Janczarski on tenor saxophone, Tomasz Grzegorski on tenor and soprano saxophones, Jerzy Małek on trumpet plus Wojciech Pulcyn on doublebass are creating a great team full of dedication which makes this classic jazz sounds fresh and invigorating. Incidentally, as in a fourth tune titled "Confidence", this jazz energy is joined by a stroke of genius once again proving that in this kind of music good melody means everything. All in all this CD is mandatory for all Polish jazz fans, even if it was for this one wonderful tune!

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