Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bartlomiej Oles/Tomasz Dabrowski – Chapters (2015)

Bartłomiej Oleś/Tomasz Dąbrowski

Bartłomiej Oleś - drums
Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet



By Adam Baruch

Trumpet/drums duo recordings are a very special chapter in Jazz history and they include some fascinating interplays recorded over time by American Jazz musicians, such as the legendary Don Cherry/Ed Blackwell or Max Roach/Dizzy Gillespie recordings. Some American/European trumpet/drums duos are also worth mentioning, such as the Leo Smith/Gunter Sommer, Dave Douglas/Han Bennink or Bill Dixon/Tony Oxley, documented on their respective recordings. On the contemporary Polish Jazz scene this relatively rare pairing of instruments seems to be quite favorable, with such excellent examples like Wojciech Jachna/Jacek Buhl, Artur Majewski/Kuba Suchar and others. Trumpeter/composer Tomasz Dąbrowski already has one trumpet/drums album under his arm, recorded with the American drummer Tyshawn Sorey and now he joins the brilliant drummer/composer Bartłomiej Oleś in a new trumpet/drums duo, captured on this album.

Bartłomiej Oleś is of course known to all Polish Jazz connoisseurs as half of the Oleś Brothers rhythm section, which in time achieved a legendary status as one of the best modern Jazz rhythm sections around, but this album focuses on his work as composer. Of the ten pieces presented on this album, Oles composed eight, and co-composed one with Dąbrowski, with the remaining piece, which closes the set, being a Thelonious Monk composition.

In comparison to the trumpet/drums albums listed in the opening paragraph, this recording is definitely the most lyrical and deeply melodic of them all. Oleś demonstrated his lyricism and love of melody over the years in the numerous compositions he contributed to the vast Oleś Brothers recorded legacy. Additionally, his treatment of the drums as a melodic instrument has always been his particular trademark, as he almost never simply sets a rhythm but rather plays the drums in par with his musical partners in various ensembles. The intimacy of just two instruments is an ideal opportunity to place these compositional and performance qualities at the center of the listener's attention.

Dąbrowski, whose meteoric rise to fame is fully justified, seems to be an ideal partner aiding Oleś to achieve his goals. His virtuosic attack, combined with the intrinsic lyricism, turn his trumpet into a seemingly unlimited tool able to express an enormously diverse set of emotions, from whisper to shout, anger to joy, despair to mellow melancholy. Playing side by side with Oleś, who is of course more experienced and mature, pushed Dąbrowski really hard to reach and than cross his limits, which resulted in the best performance of his life so far. Oleś managed to catalyze and crystallize Dąbrowski's unique style and mannerism, molding them into a perfect musical entity.

There is so much music on this album that a true comprehension and appreciation of it requires several listening sessions even for the most experienced music lovers. Peeling off the layers of aesthetic and emotional essence captured herein by these two Masters is a delightful and rewarding experience. There is no doubt that this is a monumental achievement in every sense and a model of lofty, almost spiritual communication between an Artist and his audience.

Personally I have a deep satisfaction from the fact that I have always considered these two musicians as representatives of what is best about Polish Culture in general and Polish Jazz in particular: honesty, consistency and a proper usage of a God given talent. Thank you both for such a wonderful gift!

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