Sunday, September 8, 2013

Various Artists – Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol.07 (2013) ***1/2

Romal Dylag - bass
Leszek Dudziak - drums

Various Artists


By Adam Baruch

This is the seventh installment in the new series of releases initiated by the Polish Radio, which presents archive Jazz recordings. Radio recordings are always a fabulous source of remarkable material, and as far as Polish Jazz history is concerned, the Polish Radio, which was a state monopoly for 45 years, recorded over time a plethora of invaluable material, which apart from the albums released by the Polskie Nagrania record company (also a state monopoly), is the only additional source of Polish Jazz recordings. For many years Polish Radio recorded concerts presented during Poland's most important Jazz venue, the annual Jazz Jamboree Festival and many other festivals as well.

The material collected here presents recordings made during 1961 (with one exception from 1962) by visiting Jazz musicians, mostly from Scandinavia. Although the Iron Curtain separating Eastern Europe from the West was still very much intact and pretty impregnable, Poland's relations with the northern Scandinavian neighbors were much more relaxed and allowed for two-way contacts between musicians and mutual visits. As a result Scandinavian Jazz, mostly Swedish, had a major impact on the Polish Jazz scene in the early 1960s and allowed exposure to new musical developments that were happening in the US and Western Europe at the time via smuggled LPs and personal contacts.

The first four tracks present the giant Swedish saxophonist / composer Bernt Rosengren, one of the founding fathers of modern European Jazz, in a quartet setting with the brilliant Romanian pianist Jancy Korossy and a Polish rhythm section comprised of bassist Roman Dylag and drummer Leszek Dudziak. The next three tracks preset the Korossy trio with the same rhythm section. Then comes one track by the Swedish Lasse Lystedt quintet, followed by three tracks by another Swedish ensemble, the Lars Werner trio, and finally the album is rounded off with a vocal track by Norwegian vocalist Nora Brockstedt accompanied by the Polish Radio Orchestra.

The music includes mostly Jazz standards, except for the tracks by Lars Werner, which are all originals. Although based mostly on Bebop, it shows already early signs leading to the development of a new European Jazz style, which would crystallize over the next few years. The performances are all excellent and their invaluable historical significance is beyond reproach. Beautifully restored sound quality and a warm ambience of the analog recording is a true joy.

As usual with this series, which is very reasonably priced, I miss the presence of "in depth" liner notes / booklet, which should convey the circumstances at which this music was recorded and its importance to the development of Polish Jazz. Nevertheless this is an essential piece of history which every European Jazz fan will surely consider an absolute must.

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