Ted Novak - guitar
Krzysztof Pacan - bass
Paweł Dobrowolski - drums
By Adam Baruch
This is the debut album by Polish guitarist Ted Novak, recorded with a trio which also includes Polish Jazz veterans: bassist Krzysztof Pacan and drummer Pawel Dobrowolski. The album presents eight compositions, seven of which are Novak originals and the remaining one is a Miles Davis tune. The music was recorded at the excellent Studio Tokarnia with Jan Smoczynski presiding, as usual, at the console. This is the first heavily electric production that comes to my attention recorded at Studio Tokarnia, which usually excels at acoustic music, and once again I must raise my hat to Mr. Smoczynski for his incredible skills as a sound magician.
From the first note heard on this album the listener is exposed to an unfamiliar electric guitar sound, which is pretty original and surprising. After many decades, where the music scene was under complete guitar domination, one is sure that everything that is possible to do with a guitar was already done, but apparently the surprises never cease to pop up. However after a couple of tunes the guitar tone and sound effects get absorbed by our brain and we get back to a quite familiar world of heavy Fusion, which although has some improvisational elements, is much closer to Rock than to Jazz, especially rhythmically.
Guitar pyrotechnics are unfortunately a very perilous and slippery ground; how much of it is sheer genius and how much is just a show off and boring repetitious doodling? It's for the listener to decide in every specific case, and those opinions will probably vary quite a bit. Personally I must say that I have heard all of this before, after all I was lucky to hear Jimmy Hendrix, Mahavishnu Orchestra and all other significant guitar players in person and at their prime. But does it mean that this album has no merit at all? Not at all, I'm quite sure that many guitar aficionados will absolutely love the distorted, echoing guitar screams to bits. Combined with the unusual sound, superb rhythm section and excellent sound quality, this album is actually a lot of fun.
But the album has its drawbacks: with just slightly over half an hour of music it is hardly a full CD and should really be treated as an EP, especially if someone is going to buy it (if that happens at all any more). The Fusion listeners might find it too Rocky and the Rock listeners might find it too complicated. Life is a bitch…I'm already waiting for the next adventure!