Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Slawek Dudar Quartet – Inside City (2014) ***1/2

Slawek Dudar - saxophone
Robert Jarmuzek - piano
Adam Kabacinski - bass
Wojciech Bulinski - drums
with
Artur Lesicki - guitar
Jacek Zamecki - vocals

LUNA 337



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album as a leader by Polish Jazz saxophonist / composer Slawek Dudar, recorded by his quartet, which also includes pianist Robert Jarmuzek, bassist Adam Kabacinski and drummer Wojciech Bulinski. A couple of guest musicians: vocalist Jacek Zamiecki and guitarist Artur Lesicki participate on selected tracks. The album presents seven original compositions, all by Dudar.

Musically the album presents the lighter side of the Jazz spectrum, somewhere between mainstream, Jazz-Rock Fusion (when the guitar is present) and Smooth Jazz, but in contrast to most albums released with such characteristics it is a solid and valuable contribution, especially due to the excellent compositions, which are all surprisingly diverse, melodic and far from being trivial or banal. Actually some of these tunes are truly outstanding to be honest.

Dudar has a nice tone and plays with self-confidence and a lot of feeling. He manages to sty within the Jazz framework and not cross over to the Smooth Jazz vocabulary (or lack of it), which is often the case. Jarmuzek plays some splendid piano parts, very supportive and always displaying great taste. His contributions keep the album solidly on the Jazz ground. The rhythm section, especially the drums, although perfectly executed and technically fine, is a bit too Rocky for my taste, but that is a minor point.

The album has a very good sound quality, balance and ambience, which in addition to the fine music makes it a most pleasant listening voyage. For me this music is "sunny" and perfect for a ride on a shore in our kind of weather. Sometimes the morose Polish melancholy is simply too much, and this album manages to avoid it almost completely, except for the last tune, which is a beautiful ballad dedicated to the EST trio – not surprisingly. Very well done gentlemen!

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