Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nika Lubowicz – Nika's Dream (2015)

Nika Lubowicz

Nika Lubowicz - vocals
Kuba Lubowicz - keyboards
Dawid Lubowicz - violin, mandolin
Krzysztof Lenczowski - cello
Marcin Murawski - bass
Marcin Ułanowski - drums
Bogusz Wekka - percussion
Artur Gierczak - guitar
Piotr Schmidt - trumpet
Andrzej Jagodziński - piano

Nika's Dream


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz vocalist/composer Nika Lubowicz, who is accompanied by a very impressive group of musicians, which includes her siblings: violinist Dawid Lubowicz (Atom String Quartet) and keyboardist Jakub Lubowicz, cellist Krzysztof Lenczowski (also Atom String Quartet), bassist Marcin Murawski, drummer Marcin Ułanowski, percussionist Bogusz Wekka, guitarist Artur Gierczak and trumpeter Piotr Schmidt. Veteran pianist Andrzej Jagodziński guests on a couple of tracks. The album presents nine tracks, three of which are standards, two are by Dawid Lubowicz, another two by Krzysztof Lenczowski and yet another two by Nika Lubowicz herself. All songs feature English lyrics except for the last track which has lyrics in Polish.

From the very first notes of this album it's plainly evident that this is no ordinary vocal Jazz album. The arrangements, which in most cases feature either the violin or the cello up front alongside the vocal parts, replace the usual "vocals with piano trio" setting. The arrangements also include other unusual lineups, keeping the listener on his toes at all times. The overall atmosphere of this album is all about the essence of music, freely crossing genre boundaries, comfortably and elegantly touching upon mainstream Jazz, ethnic music, Pop and Soul with the same artistically predetermined frivolity. I even have to agree with all the compliments listed in the album's liner notes authored by Krzysztof Herdzin, which happens extremely rarely.

Nika Lubowicz uses her vocal abilities wisely and intelligently, switching between lyrics and vocalese with grace. Her vocalese parts are in fact way more impressive than her actual singing lyrics, which as always in such cases suffer from the English pronunciation, being far from ideal. The closing track sung in Polish is a sore proof of this. Luckily her singing lyrics are altogether just a minor part of the entire endeavor. I have not timed the album but about half of the album's duration is instrumental, which is highly unusual for albums involving vocals, and which is a very courageous and in this case extremely tasteful decision.

This is the second album in the "pink" (Jazz vocals) series by For Tune Records, and it is again a big time winner. Albums of such quality and obvious aesthetic approach are extremely rare and the fact that at least once a year they do materialize makes life worth living, at least for people who love music. This is definitely a most impressive debut and so far the best vocal Jazz album released this year on the Polish Jazz scene. Well done girl!

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