Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tribute To Miles Orchestra – Live (1998)

Tribute To Miles Orchestra

Mariusz Mielczarek - saxophone
Andrzej Przybielski - trumpet
Wojciech Konikiewicz - keyboards
Janusz Yanina Iwański - guitar
Marcin Pospieszalski - bass
Radek Maciński - drums
Piotr Iwicki - percussion



By Adam Baruch

This is the only album by Polish Jazz ensemble Tribute To Miles Orchestra (a.k.a. TTMO), led by keyboardist/composer Wojciech Konikiewicz, which also featured trumpeter Andrzej Przybielski, saxophonist Mariusz Mielczarek, guitarist Janusz Yanina Iwanski, bassist Marcin Pospieszalski, drummer Radek Macinski and percussionist (usually keyboardists) Piotr Iwicki. The album, which was recorded live at the legendary Akwarium club in Warsaw, presents six compositions, five of which are by Miles Davis and one is by Konikiewicz (dedicated to Davis).

Musically the album presents the style Miles Davis utilized during the last period of his career, when he switched to Warner Bros. and released the world shattering "Tutu", presenting a combination of Funk and electronic music, which at the time was as innovative as every other giant step Davis took during his career. The Polish Jazz musicians handle the Funk rhythmic challenge formidably and paraphrasing on the "white man can't jump" - white man definitely can Funk! There are plenty of superb solos and passionate moments, as well as interesting arrangements of earlier Davis compositions transcribed into the Funky style. The remarkable bass playing, which is the basis upon which this music is built, is the core element of its success. But all the participants are contributing extraordinarily and the overall result is way beyond what one might expect.

The most thrilling and astonishing facet of this album is the presence of trumpeter Andrzej Przybielski, who is ordinarily associated with the Free/avant-garde Polish scene. This is surely the most "conventional" recording that Przybielski ever took part in and his sound and imitation of the Miles Davis phrasing are simply marvelous. The invitation of Przybielski to participate on this album was a prophetic and bold move by Konikiewicz, who is therefore credited for showing us a face of the legendary trumpeter that we never knew about and is preserved here for posterity.

There is no doubt that the idea behind this album was influenced by the two Miles Davis visits in Poland, in 1983 and in 1988 (I attended that concert), which are generally accepted as life changing experience for the Polish Jazz scene, both collectively as a community and individually as directly influencing the local musicians. The second visit, which happened shortly before Poland was finally released from the grip of the Socialist regime, was a symbol of a changing reality, which at the time was just around the corner (pun intended).

The album suffers from some minor sound quality problems due to the recording conditions, but those are completely negligible in view of the musical contents and the historic significance of this album. The fact that this album disappeared from the shelves almost immediately after it was released and was never reissued is a crying shame.

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