Friday, November 1, 2013

Various Artists – Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol.09 (2013) ***1/2

Zygmunt Wichary - piano
Jerzy Matuskiewicz - saxophone
Jan Tomaszewski - trombone
Janusz Zabieglinski - clarinet

and others


By Adam Baruch

This is the ninth 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 available additional source of Polish Jazz recordings. For many years Polish Radio recorded concerts presented during Poland's most important Jazz venues, including the annual Jazz Jamboree Festival and many other festivals as well.

The material collected here presents recordings made between 1957 and 1962, all of which represent Traditional Jazz (Ragtime, Dixieland, New Orleans and Swing genres called collectively Trad Jazz for short). The artists include visiting musicians like the American clarinetist Albert Nicholas and the German clarinetist Emil Mangelsdorff, both of which were guests of the second Jazz Jamboree Festival in 1957. Other performers are Polish and include pianist Zygmunt Wichary and his orchestra, clarinetist Janusz Zabieglinski and his quintet, saxophonist Jerzy Matuskiewicz and his octet, trombonist Jan Tomaszewski and his Big Band and the New Orleans Stompers. The various ensembles perform mostly Trad standards, with just a couple of tunes being originals among the total nineteen tracks present.

The performances are all very good and show that the Polish scene also enjoyed the Trad revival, which was very popular in Western Europe at the time. The legendary division between the traditionalists and the modernists on the Polish scene was not as radical as beyond the Iron Curtain, with musicians often playing both Jazz camps simultaneously (in different ensembles of course). Overall this music is very good and the invaluable historical significance of these recordings is beyond reproach. Beautifully restored sound quality is not perfect, but considering the problematic and often faulty source material, it is a remarkable job 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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