Thursday, September 19, 2013

Marek Kazana Project - Tangola (2013) ****

Marek Kazana Project

Marek Kazana - soprano & alto saxophones
Tomek Licak - tenor saxophones
Marek Mac - electric double bass
Grzegorz Grzyb - drums
Szymon Orłowski - bass guitar (track 10)

Tangola (2013)

By Maciej Nowotny

Nowadays we often forget that jazz has always been as much music as life style. Stripped off all its existential  features it looks rather artificial, kind of "new" classical music of Afro Americans, dream-come-true of Marsalis clan and others thinking alike. But for me, and for many people round this globe, jazz is first of all a big force changing, through music, our way of thinking. Opening our eyes. Our hearts. Our souls. Seen from this perspective playing it requires much more than good craftsmanship alone, it is a mission, destiny or even fate. Jazz musicians who were able to reconcile these two elements, the music and its meaning, were always among the most influential of their kind.

First example of such an artist that comes to mind is of course John Coltrane. Incidentally saxophone player as is the leader of this ensemble Marek Kazana. Like Trane Kazana started pretty conventional by winning in 1979 Grand Prix at Jazz Nad Odrą Festival and joining Young Power, probably the most significant collective of young musicians in 80ties in Polish jazz. But like his famous predecessor at certain moment he turned toward spirituality, joined famous Free Cooperation band, and his style become more influenced by such free jazz players like Ornette Coleman or Albert Ayler. Political and economic collapse that took place in Poland at 80ties unfortunately hindered natural development of his career which resulted in almost no significant recordings made by this talented player in last decade or two. Therefore this album seems all the more important being one of rare opportunities to listen to Kazana at all!

Regardless his little recording activity he was always deemed by other musicians as force to reckon with in Polish music. It allowed him to gather a very interesting team for this project. On electric double bass he is accopanied by long time friend Marek Mec, on tenor saxophone by young Tomasz Licak whose album "Trouble Hunting" was among Polish Jazz Top Ten 2012, and on drums by experienced Grzegorz Grzyb, a member of legendary Zbigniew Namysłowski ensambles, one of few drummers in Poland having his own, unique style, feeling equally at ease as much in mainstream as in free jazz.

The experience and youth proved to be truly an explosive mixture producing one of the most outstanding recordings of recent years. Rooted in free jazz tradition, rich in Ornettian grittiness, in Albert Ayler marching rhythms, in Thelonius Monk angular harmonies, it is above all a testament to jazz as spiritual force.  From first to last note packed with action, fresh, improvised but never chaotic, is successfully overstepping some technical difficulties and shows that jazz is capable, still, of transcending popular music into true and timeless art!

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