Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Anna Serafinska – Gadu Gadu (Special Edition) (2012) ***1/2

Anna Serafinska - vocals
Krzysztof Herdzin - piano
Adam Kowalewski - bass
Krzysztof Gradziuk - drums

and others

POMATON 5099944044626



By Adam Baruch

This is the fourth album by Polish Jazz / Pop singer Anna Serafinska. It includes fourteen songs, all of which feature the lyrics by the great Polish poetess and lyricist Agnieszka Osiecka. The music was composed mainly by Seweryn Krajewski (ex-Czerwone Gitary), one of Poland's most remarkable songwriters. The other composers include several leading Polish Jazz figures like Zbigniew Namyslowski, Wlodzimierz Nahorny, Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski and others. The music was arranged by Krzysztof Herdzin, who also plays piano and other musicians include bassist Adam Kowalewski (who plays some mean fretless bass parts), drummer Krzysztof Gradziuk and many others, as well as a string quartet. The original album was released in 2006 and this special edition, released in 2012, adds two songs newly recorded with Anna's new group called Groove Machine.

The album has a great potential and seemingly all the right ingredients: first-class songs, wonderful lyrics, skilful arrangements and excellent musicianship, and yet although it is pleasant and overall enjoyable, it is also quite forgettable. Stylistically it sort of "sits on the fence" between Pop and Jazz, being both too close to Pop to be considered Jazz and too Jazzy to be a straightforward Pop. Herdzin's arrangements push it consistently towards Latin grooves and mainstream Jazz settings, but the result is all over the place and feels somehow uneasy.

I understand that Serafinska has quite a following in Poland, but this is the second album of hers that I listened to and she leaves me stone cold. Fortunately she sticks to Polish lyrics on this album, avoiding the problems of struggling with a foreign language, but her vocals simply don't do it for me, which of course is completely my fault. In my ears her vocal range is somewhat limited and the emotional expressiveness just doesn't cut it for me (again), although she does have a good feel for groove, which explains what she does with her new band.

Of course there are some superb moments here and the album is a nice listening experience, which can be enjoyed by many listeners across the genre borders. I sort of hoped it would be more than that.

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