Michał Przerwa-Tetmajer - guitar
Jan Smoczyński - piano
Michał Jaros - double bass
Hubert Zemler - drums
Doktor Filozofii (2014)
By Maciej Nowotny
Michał Przerwa-Tetmajer managed to surprise me and that is always a good sign as far as jazz record is concerned. Up to this moment I have known him mainly from his playing in a group called Jazzpospolita, arguably one of very few Polish successful enterprises on the field of new/acid jazz. His mellow tone on guitar fit perfectly into moody ambient of Jazzpospolita's electronically propelled dancing rhythms. But to be honest it was all about team effort as on "Almost Splendid" (2010) as recent "Impulse" (2012). And it did not cross my mind that this guitarist may have any future at all in world of jazz. But I was clearly wrong because first this record is 100% jazz and second it introduces Michał as a distinctive musical personality aspiring to be put among first ranks of our jazz guitarists.
What is so special about this album that changed my view on him so thoroughly? Knowing me you could expect that he did something crazy, unexpected, innovatory or perhaps revolutionary? Nothing of that sort. On contrary "Doktor Filozofii" is all about old good jazz of Blue Note era. Specifically, as he himself admits, about legendary guitarist Grant Green. To reconstruct his legendary bluesy tone Michał went not only on extensive studies on music of his hero but also went 100% analog during recording session. The outcome of all this effort is simply awesome! The tone is deep, warm as the ocean washing the shores of southern islands and bluesy as the beautiful lady lost in the night blackness. Oh God! How this sound rocks and rolls!
But "it would be nothing" without original compositions all written by Michał which though clearly rooted in bop nevertheless sound entirely fresh. One must be totally astonished by the scale of melody making talent as displayed in these compositions by Przerwa-Tetmajer. I must confess that I already listened to this record more than twenty times and I am still far from being fed up or bored. It is one vamp tune after another but the reason why you not find yourself tired with them as on many all-hit records is that they are part of some bigger scheme like a story or tale.
Two more things should be highlighted before this text ends. First, astonishing work as delivered by rhythm section. Composed of experienced pianist Jan Smoczyński and double bassist Michał Jaros plus young Hubert Zemler they miraculously managed to keep the music within limits of vintage jazz and blues while occasionally saturating it with modern unpredictability. Last but not least the quality of recording is simply outstanding which is not surprise when we take into account that it was done in having already cult status "Tokarnia" studio (BTW its co-owner is Jan Smoczynski himself). All in all this is definitely a potential gem recording especially for all those who (like I do!) look onto Blue Note catalogue as modern equivalent of jazz Holy Bible.