Saturday, September 14, 2013

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski – Skleroptak (2009) ****

Jan Praszyn Wroblewski - saxophone / composer / arranger

with

BRT Jazz Orchestra

POLJAZZ / ANEX 301




By Adam Baruch

The material presented on this album was recorded in Belgium but presents the great veteran Polish Jazz saxophonist / composer / arranger / bandleader Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski, who contributed his beautiful compositions and arrangements and plays as the principal soloist. He is accompanied by the Belgian (Radio & TV) BRT Jazz Orchestra, directed by Etienne Verschuerena, which includes many wonderful players, including internationally known keyboardist Bob Porter and drummer Bruno Castelucci.

Wroblewski, who was also the director of the Polish Radio Jazz Studio Orchestra during the years 1968-1978, recorded these compositions earlier with that orchestra, but these new renditions sound quite different from the earlier versions, being more "polished" and "rounded". The Polish orchestra was in fact a collection of top soloist whereas the Belgian orchestra is a full-fledged professional Big Band, which is much more about the overall band sound than individual solo spots. As a result the music captured here is a beautiful example of European Big Band sound, which is quite different from the American counterparts.

Overall this is a splendid Big Band album playing excellent music, interesting arrangements and featuring some great solo spots. Although pretty mainstream, this is elegant music, full of European aesthetics, which is completely ageless and sounds now every bit as great when it did at the time of its release. Big Band enthusiasts should have a field day with this excellent piece of music, which is again back in circulation.

Side Note: The Poljazz label, which originally released this album, was active for 20 years (between 1972 and 1991) and was owned by the Polish Jazz Society. Considering the fact that the music industry in the Socialist State was centralized and totally controlled, with just one State owned music company producing all the albums, the possibilities to record and release Jazz albums were extremely limited. Poljazz was conceived and founded in order to allow for many more Jazz (and other) albums to be released independently from the State owned Polskie Nagrania / Muza and as such revolutionized the music industry at the time, being the only such enterprise in Eastern Europe. The Polish label Anex reissued many of the original Poljazz albums on CD, bringing this fabulous music back to life.

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