Thursday, November 28, 2013

Janusz Muniak – Crazy Girl (2009) ***

Janusz Muniak - saxophone
Wojciech Puszek - piano
Zbigniew Wegehaupt - bass
George Buckner - drums

ANEX 322

This is the third album as a leader by the veteran Polish Jazz saxophonist / composer Janusz Muniak, recorded live with his quartet, which also included pianist Wojciech Puszek, bassist Zbigniew Wegehaupt and American drummer George Buckner. They play only four compositions, one of which is an original by Muniak, another is by the Godfather of Polish Jazz, Krzysztof Komeda (the title track) and the remaining two are standards.

Although well played the album offers no innovation whatsoever and is simply one more Be Bop set, which is quite forgettable. The leader plays some mighty solos, which are, as always in his case, quite incredible and virtuosic, but the overall effect remains pretty unremarkable.

The album also suffers from a pretty amateurish sound quality, which often victimized live Polish Jazz recordings, with mobile recording equipment in the Socialist country being sadly sub-standard. Nevertheless it is a document both of the times and of Muniak's legacy, and therefore definitely worth listening and enjoying his bravado performances.

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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