Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bartek Pieszka Quartet – Slow Motion (2014) ***1/2

Bartek Pieszka - vibraphone
Nikola Kołodziejczyk - piano
Maciej Szczyciński - double bass
Sebastian Kuchczyński - drums
Katarzyna Ruda - oboe (1)
Piotr Toruński - bass clarinet (7)

SJ 008




By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the young Polish Jazz vibraphonist Bartek Pieszka and his quartet, which also includes pianist Nikola Kolodziejczyk, bassist Maciej Szczycinski and drummer Sebastian Kuchczynski. Guest musicians: oboe player Katarzyna Ruda and bass clarinetist Piotr Torunski are featured ne one track each. The album presents ten pieces, of which four are standards and six are originals, four by Pieszka, one by Szczycinski and one co-composed by Pieszka and Kolodziejczyk. The album was recorded over a period of two years several years back but only now sees the light of day.

The vibraphone, one of the noblest instruments, which has a wonderful tradition in Jazz music, is sadly almost forgotten in recent years. The Polish Jazz scene is perhaps the last bastion where the vibraphone plays a significant role in Jazz music and new players of the instrument still join the ranks of legendary veterans. It is therefore with great joy and special attention that every new discovery in that area is welcomed by me and other Polish Jazz enthusiasts.

This album presents a balanced mixture of original music and standards, ballads and up-tempo numbers, all kept within mainstream Jazz tradition. There is nothing groundbreaking about this music and the no risks are taken, but the overall result is definitely enjoyable and well done, especially in view of the young age of the players involved. Mainstream Jazz connoisseurs will definitely enjoy this ride from start to finish.

As far as individual contributions are concerned, Pieszka emerges somewhat subdued and is seldom in the lead. To be perfectly hones this album is absolutely "stolen" by the incredible performances by Kolodziejczyk, who plays most of the solos and is by far the most gifted player on this album. The rhythm section is also interesting, which the drummer being a bit too busy for my taste, buy playing with feel and imagination. The bassist is very musical and supportive. The album often makes the impression of a piano trio album rather than a quartet recording.

As debuts go, this is fresh and promising, hopefully providing a glimpse of future to come for these youngsters. Definitely a nice listening experience!

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