Sunday, November 8, 2015

Eskaubei & Tomek Nowak Quartet – Będzie Dobrze (2015)

Eskaubei & Tomek Nowak Quartet

Eskaubei - rap
Tomek Nowak - trumpet
Kuba Płuzek - keyboards
Alan Wykpisz - bass
Filip Mozul - drums

Będzie Dobrze

FOR TUNE 0059

By Adam Baruch

This is a very interesting album, which amalgamates Rap and Jazz; a concept that has been attempted many times before, but rarely turned out to be a success. Polish rapper Bartlomiej Skubisz (a.k.a. Eskaubei) combines forces with a Jazz quartet led by trumpeter Tomek Nowak, which also includes keyboardist Kuba Plużek, bassist Alan Wykpisz and drummer Filip Mozul. A few guests appear on selected tracks. The album presents eleven original songs, all composed by Nowak (with the exception of one tune which includes music composed by Płuzek) and with lyrics by Eskaubei (with the exception of two song lyrics written by the a.m. guests). The album also includes the radio edit of the title song as a bonus track.

Rap and Jazz are seemingly two completely contrasting Art Forms. Rap focuses on the spoken word, which attempts to deliver a message, and which uses music as a background stimuli, mostly rhythmically, with the melody part being usually pretty limited, repetitive and ornamental rather than substantial. Jazz on the other hand is all about complex melodic and harmonic structures and unlimited improvisation. The Jazz & Poetry idiom successfully managed to combine spoken word and Jazz music since the 1950s but Rap & Jazz, as already mentioned above, has been much less consistent and successful in trying to present a contemporary artistic attempt of amalgamating spoken word and Jazz.

When analyzing a Rap & Jazz project, like the one here, I usually try to separate the contents into two separate planes and than estimate the level of correlation between them. In this case my feelings are as follows:

The Rap part, i.e. the strength of the lyrics and their delivery (sadly limited to Polish speaking audiences only) is cohesive, intelligent and moving. The subject matter touches upon many of the problems we all encounter in our lives, like social injustice, personal relationships, morality, hypocrisy of the media and the pitiful state of music industry. The delivery is emotional, clearly understandable and above all classy.

The music is also quite excellent: funky, melodic, uplifting and intelligent. The performances are excellent with Nowak's trumpet delivering many scorching solos and Pluzek playing a beautiful soulful electric piano, like a true pro, also delivering several heartwarming solos. The rhythm section is the backbone of this music, keeping the beat and pushing the groove rolling. This music could have easily stand on its own (without the Rap on top), producing an excellent Funk-Groove-Soul-Jazz album.

But of course most importantly these two layers placed upon each other produce the best Polish Rap Jazz effort so far. This result is hardly accidental, in view of one of the album's songs, in which Eskaubei tells about the deep influence of Miles Davis on his artistic creation. Overall this is a most enjoyable, aesthetically pleasing piece of music, which puts a smile on the listener's face. Warmly recommended!

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