Monday, June 23, 2014

Various Artists – Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol.15 (2014)

Various Artists


By Adam Baruch

This is the fifteenth installment in the new series of releases initiated by the Polish Radio, which presents archive Jazz recordings. Radio recordings are always a fabulous source of remarkable material, and as far as Polish Jazz history is concerned, the Polish Radio, which was a state monopoly for 45 years, recorded over time a plethora of invaluable material, which apart from the albums released by the Polskie Nagrania record company (also a state monopoly), is the only available additional source of Polish Jazz recordings. For many years Polish Radio recorded concerts presented during Poland's most important Jazz venues, including the annual Jazz Jamboree Festival and many other festivals as well.

The material collected here presents the second volume of recordings made in 1961 and 1962 by Polish Radio in several Polish cities, presenting Polish Jazz ensembles performing American Jazz standards. Although played well, this music presents very few challenges as far as Jazz development is concerned, but from a historical perspective that stage of development was an important step towards a the creation of a new voice in modern Polish Jazz, which was just around the corner. Playing standards prepared these musicians for the challenges that were in store for them when the music made a decisive leap forward towards the new Polish / European Jazz.

The album includes sixteen tracks, by two ensembles, playing as mentioned earlier standards, in a manner still very similar to their American models. The ensembles are: Zbigniew Namyslowski (saxophone) Jazz Rockers with saxophonist Michal Urbaniak, pianist Krzysztof Sadowski, bassist Adam Skorupka and drummer Andrzej Zielinski (thirteen tracks) and Andrzej Trzaskowski (piano / trumpet) quintet with saxophonists Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski, pianist Wojciech Karolak, bassist Roman Dylag (bassist Jan Byrczek plays on one track) and drummer Andrzej Dabrowski (three tracks).

Stylistically the music is based on mostly Bee Bop and Hard Bop standards, played with obvious talent and affinity, but lacking any originality. Of course this is still an important document of the era and fans of mainstream Jazz and Polish Jazz history should be happy with it.

The beautifully restored sound quality is excellent and the warm ambience of the analog recording is a true joy. As usual with this series, which is very reasonably priced, I miss the presence of "in depth" liner notes / booklet, which should convey the circumstances at which this music was recorded and its importance to the development of Jazz in Poland. Nevertheless this is an absolutely essential piece of Jazz history which every Jazz fan will surely consider an absolute must.

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