Dominik Strycharski - soprano, alto & tenor blockflutes
Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet, balkan horn
Aleksander Papierz - alto saxophone
Ray Dickaty - tenor saxophone
Stefan Orins - electric piano
Jacek Mazurkiewicz - double bass
Jakub Rutkowski - drums
Bee Itch (2014)
By Dirk Blasejezak
When I received this record, I was immeditely reminded of the last album by Pulsarus, "FAQ", that they released quite a while ago, and that I actually liked, but that still did not fully convince me. Nevertheless, the music with it's combination of electronic sounds and jazz instruments went exactly in the direction that I like, so I had to give this album a try ... And it blew me away!
With this album, the musicians around the trio Strycharski / Papierz / Rutkowski walk on on their path. Hard-line. On a first listening the music seems to be quite composed, but it's actually just a framework, no rigid skeleton though, around which the musician very freely mold their sounds. At the end there are 11 sculptures standing in the room that we, the listener, can enjoy devotedly. On the face of it, they look very angular, almost geometric - a feeling which arises from the high repetitiveness of the underlying compositions. However, it is clear that there is more than a sequence of rhythmic patterns. In fact, for me the repetitions, that were so obvious at the first listening, lose weight after some time. They take a back seat and create the canvas on which a plethora of nuances appear, that employ the ear and the mind likewise. The sometimes ostinato, yet grooving rhythms are much fun to listen to. And in most tracks very catchy melodies, or rather short chord progressions entwine around those rhythms, that you want to hum along immediately and that make the whole album so memorable.
The very first piece, "Imagine", gives an excellent example for explaining jazz to friends and acquaintances. Starting from the well-known harmonies of John Lennon's song of the same name unravels almost the entire history of jazz. It is indeed incredible how confident the seven musicians walk through the different styles and yet always stay very close to each other. The track is also very suitable as the musical language reaches even non-jazz fans. And if your friends rather like rock music, I recommend "Bathetic" - the first bars could easily be the riff of a grunge song of the early 90's.
Regarding the musicians I don't want to get too much into detail, they are known from formations such as Nucleon, Tom Trio or Trifonidis. If find it in fact amazing, how those seven musicians - improvise - such a coherent piece of art. This is even more surprising as they do not walk on beaten tracks here but till new fields. Of course there have been others who tried to merge modern musical language and acoustic jazz, but far too often the attempt failed - on this album it is more than successful.
Honestly, I am absolutely thrilled by this album. The musicians of Pulsarus and their guests do not just talk about breaking new ground in jazz, but they deliver - loudly and vehemently. It remains but one wish though: that they do not again take five years to produce the next album.