Saturday, September 28, 2013

Witold Janiak Trio – Cinema Meets Jazz (2013) ***1/2

Witold Janiak - piano
Wojciech Pulcyn - bass
Cezary Konrad - drums
Andrzej Zielak - bass
Kamil Miszewski - drums


By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by Polish Jazz pianist / composer Witold Janiak, and his debut recording in the piano trio format. There are actually two different trios present on this album, one with bassist Wojciech Pulcyn and drummer Cezary Konrad and the other with bassist Andrzej Zielak and drummer Kamil Miszewski. All the tracks were recorded at the excellent Studio Tokarnia and engineered by Jan Smoczynski, which guaranties the highest sound quality. The album includes nine tracks, all of which are, as the title suggests, famous movie themes arranged by Janiak for the piano trio.

Playing cinematic music in a Jazzy manner is of course a treacherous ground, since such projects have been attempted numerous times in the past, and by the absolute top Jazz players all over the world. Therefore the idea is hardly innovative or original and anybody attempting such a project has to be prepared to offer some bonus values, like extraordinary virtuosic performance or highly inventive arrangements. Sadly this album offers none of the above.

Of course Janiak and his rhythm sections are skilled players with years of experience behind them, which results in excellent performances, but the music lacks sparkle and inspiration. This is painfully evident on the trio's interpretation of Krzysztof Komeda's theme from Rosemary's Baby, which has been performed incessantly by other Polish Jazz musicians. Overall the album presents some pleasant and well played piano trio Jazz, but fails to cross over into prominence.

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