Ryszard Borowski - flute
Agnieszka Cypryk - violin
Rafał Grząka - accordion
Krzysztof Lenczowski - cello
Plays Namysłowski (Dux, 2014)
By Maciej Nowotny
If to any extent you are in Polish jazz you should already know the name of Zbigniew Namysłowski. He is one of those very few without whom this phenomenon is unimaginable along with Komeda, Stańko, Trzaskowski, Seifert, Kurylewicz and few others. Namysłowski's contribution was manifold and since it is just a short note let me focus on those aspects of his musical personality that are meaningful with respect to this specific project: Namysłowski as an instrumentalist and as a composer.
We shall start with a latter as whole idea of this album is built on idea to convey Namysłowski's compositions to public in classical music language. A flow of ideas from jazz to classical music is of course nothing new but actually classical musicians taking on jazz compositions is relatively rare or ... rather unsuccessful. Simply the idea of music making in jazz and in classical music is often opposite, difficult if not impossible to reconcile. Yet music of Namysłowski fortunately seems to be an exception to this rule. The reason is that unlike many jazz tunes his compositions can exist on its own without his performance and with no improvisations. Namysłowski's music turns out to be complex enough to be able to work well in classical musical as much as in jazz firstly due to his highly original melody making and secondly due to his tireless rhythmic inventions (many of them influenced by folk music).
As for the band it is consisting of musicians well versed in both classical and jazz music idioms: flutist Ryszard Borowski and cellist Krzysztof Lenczowski both are active and successful on our jazz scene, while accordionist Rafał Grząka studied with Andrzej Jagodziński and only Agnieszka Cypryk seem to me having no jazz connection whatsoever. However it doesn't really matter because what is important is that they are all first class musicians with necessary feel for jazz with its unpredictability and spontaneity.
But this album comprises yet more surprises which make its rehearsal even more interesting. Apart from Namysłowski's compositions it contains two Silesian folk songs arranged by legendary Witold Lutosławski, compositions written by Borowski and Lenczowski (and very good ones!) plus a composition by another excellent Polish XXth century composer Grażyna Bacewicz. All they make up for a very diverse programme which can satisfy even the most demanding listeners.
But the most exciting is the participation of Namysłowski himself! And yet one more brilliant idea: he was invited to play solos but only in compositions other than his own. Very good move indeed as thanks to this we are not served with some well known performances but we have an opportunity to listen to him in completely new material. And what a pleasure it is! Namysłowski is one of very few Polish jazz musicians who have his own sound so from first note we recognize this tone. These performances definitely are what makes this album so very special!