Friday, January 23, 2015

Michal Przerwa-Tetmajer – Doktor Filozofii (2014)

Michał Przerwa-Tetmajer

Michał Przerwa-Tetmajer - guitar
Jan Smoczyński - piano
Michał Jaros - bass
Hubert Zemler - drums

Doktor Filozofii

PRIVATE EDITION 01



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut solo album by Polish guitarist / composer Michał Przerwa-Tetmajer, who is familiar to followers of the Polish Jazz scene as the guitarist of the successful group Jazzpospolita. The album was recorded in a classis quartet setting with pianist Jan Smoczyński, bassist Michał Jaros and drummer Hubert Zemler and presents nine original compositions by Przerwa-Tetmajer. It was recorded at the excellent Studio Tokarnia and engineered by Smoczynski, resulting in excellent sound quality, as usual.

The music on this album is quite different from what Przerwa-Tetmajer plays with Jazzpospolita and is obviously an attempt to present a different side of his musical personality. The overall concept here is bona fide Jazz, as opposed to the obvious anarchist / rebellious approach used by the group. Surprisingly it is not about straightforward / mainstream melodic Jazz at all, but quite an ambitious open and at times even completely Free Form Jazz, although mostly quite reserved and melancholic. Although the music has a strong melodic content, the melodies are purposely uneven, both harmonically and rhythmically, which means that this music requires attentive listening and is anything but easy on the ear.


The depth of these compositions is the biggest surprise of this album. Subtle, delicate, even fragile musical threads are finely presented and then developed by the two main soloists, each doing it his way; Smoczynski, who is a Master of melodic chord progression, pulls the tunes towards subtle melancholy, so typical of Polish Jazz, whereas Przerwa-Tetmajer pushes them into ragged fragmentation. This dichotomy adds an interesting dimension to the entire process of music making, which lifts this album to a higher plane.

Przerwa-Tetmajer's guitar playing is a strange mixture of classic Jazz and Blues guitar and his own liberties, which sometimes fit the music perfectly but on other occasions sounds a bit unnerving, hesitant and plain "strange". He is after all just starting, so his personal style is still in the process of being shaped, but the potential and talent are definitely there. Smoczynski, whose reputation as a brilliant player is mostly well within the mainstream idiom, shows here that he is incredibly flexible and can handle a much more challenging situations. The rhythm section, which consists of much older and experienced musicians, is of course beyond reproach and keeps this music "down to earth", saving it from potential chaos.

Overall this is a very impressive debut, which hopefully will lead to future explorations of the infinite musical space. Judging by the compositions on this album Przerwa-Tetmajer has a bright path ahead of him, both as a player and composer. Of course we are all waiting for his next quantum leap of his solo career, in parallel to his work with Jazzpospolita.

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