By Adam Baruch
This is the first installment in a series of releases documenting the recorded legacy of the great Polish Jazz pianist / composer Slawomir Kulpowicz, most of which is released for the first time. Kulpowicz, who died prematurely in 2008 at the age of 56, was a victim of cancer. He was a member of groups led by the top Polish Jazz players like Zbigniew Namyslowski and Tomasz Stanko and led / co-led his own ensembles like The Quartet, In-Formation and also cooperated with many other musicians over the years. He was an avid follower of John Coltrane's music and kept in touch with Coltrane's wife Alice Coltrane. Following his visit to India, Kulpowicz discovered Indian music and the spiritual aura of India, which became his own.
The Quartet was formed by the rhythm section of Zbigniew Namyslowski's so called "third quartet", i.e. pianist Slawomir Kulpowicz, bassist Pawel Jarzebski and drummer Janusz Stefanski, with the addition of saxophonist Tomasz Szukalski, one of Poland's all-time greatest Jazz musicians and a spectacular player of rare quality. Although Szukalski naturally dominated the sound of the ensemble, it was Kulpowicz who was the spiritual leader and the sole composer of all the original material they performed. Spiritually the music was soaked in the John Coltrane legacy, with Szukalski playing lengthy "wall of sound" solos, supported passionately by the rhythm section, with Kulpowicz vamping a la McCoy Tyner, Jarzebski delivering virtuosic bass parts and Stefanski raising all hell behind it all, which engulfed the overall effect with incredible power and overwhelming strength of expression, similar in character to the Coltrane late period recording.