Saturday, November 23, 2013

Oleś Brothers & Jorgos Skolias - Sefardix (ForTune, 2013) ****

Oleś Brothers & Jorgos Skolias

Jorgos Skolias - voice
Marcin Oleś - double bass
Bartłomiej Brat Oleś - drums

Sefardix (ForTune, 2013)

By Dirk Blasejezak

So it’s the Oleś Brothers again… My relationship with the two brothers is a very special one. There is probably no Polish Jazz formation I've seen more often performing live and in different combinations. Nonetheless, I'm still not sure what I to think of the two. After each concert and all I hear from them I think: "That was all right," but there is also a tiny voice saying "but there could be more."

I suspect everyone knows one artist of which he or she expects exactly that one piece of art he/she’s been waiting for. For me those are the Oleś Brothers! Maybe that’s the reason I judge them so hard, it’s simply that I expect from them no less than my future favorite album for the next few years - the downside is: they just do not give it to me! Everything about them: style, attitude, expression, non-conformism - everything I want from my favorite band, but the result never completely convinced me yet.

Unfortunately this record neither is the one. The reason for this is Jorgos Skolias - but please don’t understand this a negative rating! His special way to use his voice and the compositions on this album are simply too dominant, the Oleś Brothers degenerate here in most cases to a mere rhythm section. Last year I had already the opportunity to see these three live and had there a very similar impression. There too it appeared to me that Brat Oleś played very reserved, long passages he played his drumheads with his bare hands (of course with the self-assurance he’s showing all the time). And only Marcin can excel at the bass here and there and set some accents. Of course this is higly subjective and caused solely by my expectations described above. Jorgos Skolias has an inimitable style to use his voice, or his whole body as an instrument, which you won’t find often in this form. However, if you - like me - expected a Polish jazz disk, you will surely be disappointed, because the pieces on this album are simply too “Greek” - even if this is too generalised. If the disk title is not to be misleading, the tradition of Jorgos Skolias’ singing might be the Sephardic music, based on the culture of a Jewish diaspora originally at home on the Iberian peninsula, which had a large community in Greece up to World War II.

To round this review up: Please try it yourself, this album is different! Personally I look at this album with an auspicious and a dropping eye. On the one hand it’s a wonderful album with some great melodies (you’ll hum all day) played and recorded perfectly that introduced me to a unique singer and to a culture I didn’t know, but on the other hand it seems I will have to go on waiting for my favorite record by the Oleś Brothers...

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