Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jerzy Milian Trio – Baazaar (Polish Jazz Vol.17) (2014)

Jerzy Milian Trio

Jerzy Milian - vibraphone, marimba
Jacek Bednarek - bass, gidjak
Grzegorz Gierłowski - drums
with
Ewan Wanat - voclas
Janusz Mych - flute

Baazaar


GAD 017

By Adam Baruch

This is a newly remastered reissue of the debut album by Polish Jazz vibraphonist/composer Jerzy Milian, which was originally released in 1969 as part of the legendary Polish Jazz Series by the state owned Polskie Nagrania/Muza label. The album was recorded in a trio format, with Milian playing vibraphone and marimba, bassist Jacek Bednarek (who also plays the oriental gidjak on one tune) and drummer Grzegorz Gierłowski. Two members of the legendary Polish vocal quartet NOVI: Ewa Wanat (who adds vocals on five tracks) and Janusz Mych (who adds flute on one track) also participate in the recording. The original album presents eight original compositions, seven of which are composed by Milian and one is co-composed by him and Krzysztof Komeda. This expanded edition adds four tracks, recorded couple of years earlier for the Polish Radio, two of which are his original compositions, one is his arrangement of a Kurt Weil song and another is his arrangement of a Frederic Chopin nocturne.

Milian, who started his career on the Polish Jazz scene about fifteen years before this album was recorded, first came into prominence as a member of several ensembles led by Krzysztof Komeda. It was Komeda who persuaded Milian to drop the piano as his main instrument and switch to the vibraphone, thus enabling him to become a member of his ensembles. Later on Milian developed a prolific international career as a vibraphonist and as a composer, being one of the best known Polish Jazz musicians outside of Poland. Many of his achievements are documented by the ongoing archival "Jerzy Milian Tapes" series released by GAD Records, which also released this reissue.

In retrospect this is definitely one of the most idiosyncratic albums in the Polish Jazz Series, presenting one of the first occurrences of the Polish/European Chamber Jazz, which was an amalgam of modern Classical and Cool Jazz elements with many different less audible influences, like early World Music, Free Jazz, Ambient (before it was even called that) and others. The vocal parts by Wanat are completely spine-chilling, typical of her brilliant and unique style, which was the crucial ingredients of the NOVI magnetism. It is definitely a must to all Polish Jazz enthusiasts, wherever they might be on this globe (and beyond).

This album was already reissued a decade earlier, without the bonus tracks, but the entire run of CD reissues (incomplete by the way) of the original Polish Jazz Series LPs disappeared immediately after being released. The fact that these recordings are unavailable is shameful, and a sad testimony to the fact that State owned Cultural treasures are simply being disgracefully completely wasted!

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