Sunday, May 24, 2015

Jerzy Milian – Semiramida (2015)

Jerzy Milian

Jerzy Milian - vibraphone
Jacek Bednarek - bass
Jacek Ostaszewski - bass
Grzegorz Gierłowski - drums

Semiramida

GAD 024



By Adam Baruch

This is the fourth installment of the archival series released by GAD Records, which presents the work of Polish Jazz vibraphonist/composer/bandleader Jerzy Milian. This chapter is dedicated to the Milian trio, which was his basic platform in the mid to late 1960s and which was eventually used to record his formal debut album "Bazaar" in 1969. This album collects the recordings made by the trio during four consecutive editions of the Jazz Jamboree Festival in the years 1966-1969. The trio included bassist Jacek Bednarek, who was replaced in 1969 by Jacek Ostaszewski, and drummer Grzegorz Gierlowski. On the 1969 recordings the violinist Marian Siejka is also present. The album comprises of eleven compositions, five of which are Milian originals and one is co-composed by Milian and Ostaszewski, two are by Bednarek and the remaining three are standards.

Almost fifty years later a retrospective analysis of these recordings clearly shows how revolutionary and ahead of their time they were then and how relevant they still are now. The vibraphone trio by itself was quite a unique concept at the time with only very few parallels, and combined with the highly unusual musical approach led by Milian, which combined Cool, Third Stream and Polish Romanticism, presented the listener with an intellectual challenge of the highest degree. Additionally the World Music influence added by both Bednarek and Ostaszewski (the latter was about to start the legendary group Ossian soon after), was also utterly innovative at the time. It is fascinating to hear the progress from the first track of this album to the last, which turns out to be almost completely Free Form.

The album is also a powerful showcase of the incredible talents of two legendary Polish Jazz bassists, as these trio recordings allow us to hear their incredible contributions upfront. Gierlowski also plays beautifully and of course Milian's playing is phenomenal, but that is hardly surprising.

These live recordings suffer from minor sonic quality problems, even after they have been well remastered, but vibraphone always presents quite a challenge and considering the conditions available behind the Iron Curtain at the time it is miraculous this music sounds as it does. Overall this is another important addition to the recorded history of Polish Jazz, which should not be missed. Hopefully more gems like this one will be made available to the eagerly awaiting fans.

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