Sunday, December 6, 2015

Franciszek Raczkowski Trio – Apprentice (2015)

Franciszek Raczkowski Trio

Franciszek Raczkowski - piano
Paweł Wszołek - double bass
Piotr Budniak - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz pianist/composer Franciszek Raczkowski, recorded in a classic piano trio setting with bassist Paweł Wszołek and drummer Piotr Budniak. It presents seven original compositions, all by Raczkowski.

As the title suggests, Raczkowski is still at the very early stage of his career and is searching for his personal language, both as a player and a composer. His music is floating somewhere between mainstream Jazz and more ambitious explorations of the melodic and harmonic spheres, quite diverse and obviously still uncertain as to the final outcome. As a result the album is somewhat uneven, with some of the pieces being very interesting and others significantly less so. Although the music sounds very melodic, there are but a few clear melodic themes to which the listener can cling to or follow. The rest sounds just as fragmented statements, hold together by the framework of a tune, but not really making sense musically.

The music is very well performed, although Raczkowski does not display a wide dynamic range in his performances, which is splendidly picked up by the rhythm section, which does a wonderful job here. Wszołek keeps the tunes together bravely, even when the music seems to disintegrate, and Budniak keeps it alive with his delicate but masterly strokes.

After repeated listening to this album I could not honestly make up my mind if it presents a pianist/composer of great hope, as some of the statements I read about it claim. The comparisons to Keith Jarrett are pretty far fetched and might prove more damaging than constructive. I'll have to wait patiently for the next album to see if Raczkowski is the "next" big thing on the Polish scene. In the meantime this album surely deserves to be listened to and as a debut it is altogether quite nice.

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