Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bałdych & Herman Duo Art - The New Tradition (2014)

Bałdych & Herman Duo Art 

Adam Bałdych - violin
Yaron Herman - piano

The New Tradition (ACT, 2014)

By Dirk Blasejezak

This is a truly unique recording. One of a kind you seldomly hear. But I hope that the title provides the direction and that it actually initiates a New Tradition. Although sonatas for piano and violin used to be one of the most popular musical forms, they were almost completely forgotten during the last 100 years. During their time they allowed the two musicians much more freedom and many more opportunities to express themselves than other compositional forms.

And now Adam Bałdych on the violin and Yaron Herman on the piano try to establish a new tradition for this again. And it fits our time that it wasn’t composers of "serious music" that hark back, but that two jazz musicians try to accomplish this task. In recent years one could find especially in the Polish Jazz an increase of recordings in duets, but no one dared to attempt the classic duo of piano and violin. Certainly one of the main reasons is that there are only very few violinists in jazz nowadays, and in this special case we have to admit that there are even less violinists with the exploratory urge like Adam Bałdych, who recognises an opportunity when he sees it and is than able to seize it.

For this album it was once again Siggi Loch of the label ACT who had a hunch (or maybe a vision) and presented these two musicians together on the stage at the Jazz at the Philharmonic Berlin. That was in March 2013 – and according to Adam Bałdych it was: “an extraordinary, magical moment for me. I felt as if I have taken a deep breath and have found new impulses. A very classic duo of violin and piano turned out to be astonishingly fresh and opened up new creative possibilities for me.” Knowing this it was almost imperative that in the same year Siggi Loch brought the two together into one studio (actually into two: RecPublica Studios, Lubrza, Polen and Emil Berliner Studios, Berlin, Germany).

The result offers a rare “otherness.” This record stands out in many ways. In a majority of the tracks you hear strong allusions to folk harmonies even though only two of the pieces ("Lamentation Of Jeremiah" and "Canticles Of Ecstasy") are actually traditionals. Adam Bałdych, who is responsible for all original compositions seems to be very strongly committed to his own traditions, which is also supported by the choice of pieces that are not original compositions - they stem from Krzysztof Komeda ("Sleep Safe And Warm") and, of course, one wants to say, from Zbigniew Seifert ("Quo Vadis"). So he’s working here on his Polish roots in folk music as well as in Jazz and uses the duet form known to him from the classical violinist education. We listeners can be glad that he found with Yaron Herman a congenial partner, who gives him space and supports him in a very unselfish way during all his maneuvers. Especially his left hand creates a wonderful background for both on which Bałdych’s violin and Herman’s right hand can walk like on fresh moss.

If there’s actually someone who doesn’t know Yaron Herman, I highly recommend beginning with another duet, as he recorded his own debut album in 2003 together with Sylvain Ghio on the drums: "Takes 2 To Know 1". Also on the ACT label he published the album "Follow The White Rabbit" (in 2010) that probably everybody has on his or her shelf as it hit very high waves - quite rightly.

This album too is likely to cause some resonance despite its sometimes elegiac, but always very melodious moods, as it walks on old paths in very new shoes. And as I said, I really hope it will indeed establish a New Tradition!

Track list:
01 Riverendings 5:21
02 Legenda 7:50
03 Sleep Safe And Warm (K. Komeda) 4:10
04 Letter For E 6:01
05 June 4:39
06 Quo Vadis (Z. Seifert) 5:29
07 Lamentation Of Jeremiah (Th. Tallis, arr. by Bałdych) 5:13
08 Relativities 2:10
09 Canticles Of Ecstasy (H. von Bingen, arr. by the artists) 5:08

A short film with footage from the tour in February 2014:

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