Monday, November 4, 2013

SBB – Live Jazz Nad Odra 1975 (2013) ****

Jozef Skrzek - keyboards, bass
Apostolis Anthimos - guitar
Jerzy Piotrowski - drums

GAD 008








By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording by the legendary Polish Prog / Jazz-Rock Fusion group SBB, captured during the annual Jazz Nad Odra Festival in Wroclaw, one of Poland's most important Jazz events running uninterruptedly since its first edition in 1964. Over the years the festival exposed generation after generation of Polish Jazz players to the wide audience, as a result of the competition held every year, which presents the best musicians under the age of thirty. Winning this competition was the first major step in the careers of many of the most important Polish Jazz musicians.

This recording presents the original lineup of SBB with guitarists Apostolis Anthimos, keyboardist / bassist Jozef Skrzek and drummer Jerzy Piotrowski. They perform original material, which at the time was mostly not yet recorded in the studio and would eventually be released on their second ("Nowy Horyzont" released 1975) and third ("Pamiec" released 1976) albums. The group was at the time in a transition from their Progressive Rock phase, which started while they were still members of the Czeslaw Niemen's band, into the Jazz-Rock Fusion, which would be their home turf for many years to come. Since there are relatively very few recordings from this period, the very existence of this recording is a miracle and the fact that we can enjoy it now, almost forty years later, is a blessing.

The music comprises mostly of lengthy pieces, which were the group's trademark, that include extended improvisations and atmospheric passages, building up slowly towards a dramatic climax or even several climatic peaks, one after another. The overall impression this music created was a trans-like state of mind, which drew the listeners into a magic world of dreamy, almost psychedelic reality. Obviously such music making relied heavily on the virtuosic abilities of all the three members of the group. Skrzek, as the primary composer, sets the melodic framework and the moods; Anthimos creates the dramatic guitar arpeggios and musical peaks and Piotrowski brilliantly keeps it all moving forward and invigorates the music with his pulsations.

For many SBB followers, and Polish music lovers this period of the group's activity is, in retrospective, their most inspired, fascinating and mind-boggling. This music epitomizes the process of constant search for the undiscovered, the manic restlessness and the audacity to step into the unknown, which characterizes it. There is no doubt that this is one of the artistic peaks of Eastern European music, brewed behind the Iron Curtain. And honestly, as far as Prog and Jazz-Rock Fusion are concerned, very few of the things that happened since can stand up to this level.

The sound quality of this material is a bit muffled and with a limited sonic range and clarity, but considering the fact it was recorded live and never intended for release, it is certainly more than adequate. Of course both musically and historically it is absolutely superb and should not be missed by anybody who cares about SBB or Eastern European music from the 1970s. Grab it and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. http://sbb.w.interia.pl

    http://www.last.fm/music/SBB

    ReplyDelete

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