Sunday, March 2, 2014

Wierba / Schmidt Quintet – Black Monolith (2011) ***1/2

Piotr Schmidt - trumpet
Marcin Kaletka - saxophone
Michal Wierba - piano
Michal Kapczuk - bass
Sebastian Kuchczynski - drums
with
Dante Luciani - trombone

SJ 001


By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by the Polish Jazz quintet, which was founded by two young players / composers: pianist Michal Wierba and trumpeter Piotr Schmidt. The quintet also includes saxophonist Marcin Kaletka, bassist Michal Kapczuk and drummer Sebastian Kuchczynski. On this album the quintet is expanded into a sextet with the addition of American trombonist Dante Luciani. The sextet performs six tunes, three of which are original compositions by Wierba, two are standards and the remaining one is a composition by Czech trumpeter / composer Stepanka Balcarova, who studied at the Katowice Music Academy as did all of the quintet members. The album was recorded at the fabulous Studio Tokarnia and was engineered by Jan Smoczynski, with excellent, as usual, sonic results.

Although the music is all within boundaries of typical Jazz mainstream, it is superbly arranged and executed. The original compositions are interesting and poise perfectly the melodic themes and the spirited attitude; the piece by Balcarova is the most impressive on the album. Overall this is a very pleasant well rounded Jazz album, which presents the sextet as a small Big Band, balancing between the brass and rhythm sections, features many excellent solo spots and shows that young Europeans can play mainstream as well as anybody else anywhere. The individual skills of the musicians involved are of course spotless.

This album is the first release on the SJ label, owned by Schmidt, which is one of the small independent Polish Jazz labels releasing music by young Polish Jazz musicians, a most welcome phenomenon of course, spreading the local Jazz gospel around the world.

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