Thursday, February 5, 2015

Andrzej Mitan/Grzegorz Rogala – Kiedy Umiera Czlowiek/Podniesienie (2013)

Andrzej Mitan/Grzegorz Rogala

Andrzej Mitan - vocals
Andrzej Bieżan - piano
Andrzej Przybielski - trumpet
Helmut Nadolski - bass
and others

Kiedy Umiera Człowiek/Podniesienie


By Adam Baruch

This DVD is another reminder of the fact that Polish Avant-Garde is alive and kicking and from time to time also takes a look back at its fascinating roots. The legendary figure of Andrzej Mitan, which re-appears in the limelight from time to time, mostly completely unexpectedly, is always full of surprises. This time Mitan produces a multi-media project combining music and cinematography (or video-art), resulting in this debut release on a new Polish label called Trzecia Fala, headed by a young Art enthusiast Łukasz Strzelczyk.

Back in the mid-1980s, when Poland was in its most depressing period, both politically and culturally, Polish Avant-Garde was enjoying a renaissance of sorts, taking advantage of the state of confusion that the Socialistic Regime was in due to the eminent collapse of the system already clearly apparent and as a result with a laxer censorship in place. Andrzej Mitan, who always believed in doing things rather than talking about them, released in 1984 a series of very bold musical statements by avant-garde musicians as five independently pressed LPs under the Alma Art moniker, which also presented outrageous and innovative packaging designed by avant-garde artists, including for example a barb-wired LP sleeve. Those five albums have become record collector's Holy Grail due to the fact that only 1000 copies of each album were pressed, reaching today astronomical prices on the collector's market. In 1987 four more albums appeared in a similar effort.

This DVD uses part of the first of these legendary album as the musical layer, combining it with a video-art by Polish experimental artists Grzegorz Rogala, who utilizes a technique called time stretching, which in this case takes a 3 seconds long fragment of video and stretches it to last for about seven minutes, which produces an almost still like picture with barely visible change. The combination of the tension induced by the video and the dramatic musical background produce together a powerful statement, which is also quite unique.

The music, which was recorded during the 1983 Jazz Jamboree in Warsaw (organized shortly after the Martial Law in Poland was lifted and obviously symbolizing an eruption of liberty), is performed by many Polish Avant-Garde legends, like bassist/leader Helmut Nadolski, vocalist Andrzej Mitan, pianist Andrzej Bieżan (who died shortly after the recording), trumpeter Andrzej Przybielski and others, appearing under the moniker of Jubileuszowa Orkiestra Helmuta Nadolskiego.

In retrospect it becomes clearly evident that these nine albums released by Mitan in the 1980s are extremely important documents of Polish Jazz and Polish Avant-Garde and absolutely have to be made available again, the sooner the better. Considering the fact that this DVD was also released as a numbered limited edition of 100 copies, it is by now as impossible to get as those legendary albums.

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