Monday, August 31, 2015

Radek Wośko - Contouring (2015)

Radek Wośko

Kasper Tranberg - trumpet, cornet
Marek Kądziela - guitar
Radek Wośko - drums

Contouring

MPJ015



By Mateusz Magierowski

Czym jest improwizacja? Pierwsza odpowiedź, która nasuwa się na myśl w świetle tego, co o improwizowaniu zwykli mówić muzycy ją uprawiający - jest ona po prostu wolnością. A wolność improwizowania - jeśli ma nie zamienić się w chaos, totalną kakofonię i anarchię powinna mieć swoje granice, wyznaczane jeśli nie jedynie przez samą obecność współtowarzyszy muzycznego dialogu, to przynajmniej przez mniej bądź bardziej precyzyjnie zarysowane kompozycyjne ramy. Z takiego założenia - jak się wydaje - wyszedł na swojej pierwszej nagranej w roli lidera płycie perkusista Radek Wośko i niewątpliwie była to decyzja ze wszech miar dobra.

Wośce - reprezentantowi odświeżającej oblicze polskiego jazzu fali młodych muzyków, którzy odebrali gruntowne wykształcenie w duńskich konserwatoriach, podczas nagrania krążka "Contouring" towarzyszą gitarzysta Marek Kądziela (podobnie jak perkusista mający za sobą studia w duńskim Odense) oraz duński trębacz Kasper Tranberg, współpracujący w przeszłości z tuzami pokroju Johna Tchicai'a czy Joe Lovano. To niecodzienne bądź co bądź w muzyce improwizowanej instrumentalne zestawienie jest pierwszą formacją, której Wośko przewodzi jako samodzielny lider. W przeszłości sprawdzał się już jednak znakomicie we współliderowaniu, czego dowodem jest nagroda Grand Prix, otrzymana przez Tomasz Licak & Radek Wośko Quartet podczas Festiwalu Jazz nad Odrą w 2013 r. i wydana rok później płyta tej formacji zatytułowana "Entrails United". 

Punktem odniesienia dla improwizującej polsko-duńskiej trójki stają się na "Contouring" swoiste kontury właśnie - zarysowane przez lidera i Tranberga kompozycyjne szkice, pozostawiające przestrzeń dla improwizacji tak zespołowej, jak i solowej. Szczególną rolę tak w pierwszym, jak i drugim typie muzycznej narracji odgrywa Kądziela, mający już na swoim koncie grę w podobnym zestawieniu instrumentalnym, by przywołać w tym miejscu inne polsko duńskie trio - formację Hunger Pangs, tworzoną przezeń wraz z Tomaszem Dąbrowskim i Kasperem Tomem Christiansenem. Jego gra przywołuje (ale w żadnym wypadku nie powiela) najlepsze tradycje jazzowej gitarystyki spod znaku Billa Frisella, rozpiętej pomiędzy bardziej stonowanym, onirycznym wręcz obliczem ("Sunrise", "Rzeczka") i nasycającymi kolektywny dialog niepokojem i napięciem partiami ("A Trip to Krzywe", "Mirror").

Na styku tych dwóch przeplatających się ze sobą w muzyce tria estetyk - lirycznej, nasyconej nostalgią, wpisującej się w klimat umieszczonego na okładce płyty zdjęcia oraz tej sięgającej poza melodyczne i harmoniczne schematy, czerpiącej z najlepszych tradycji współczesnej muzyki improwizowanej zbudowana została cała, daleka od monotonii dramaturgia krążka. I w jednej, i w drugiej z nich świetnie odnajduje się lider, który żadną miarą nie jest niewolnikiem rytmu, lecz raczej głównym kreatorem zarysowywanej kreską o różnej barwie i intensywności przestrzenności tworzonej muzyki. Owa przestrzenność zagospodarowywana jest na zasadzie kontrapunktu bądź unisona przez gitarę Kądzieli i pozbawione zbędnych ozdobników, momentami ascetyczne wręcz brzmienie trąbki Tranberga. Summa summarum - "Contouring" to kolejna dojrzała, wysokiej klasy płyta Radka Wośki, która z pewnością będzie się liczyć we wszelkiego rodzaju tegorocznych polskich jazzowych podsumowaniach i plebiscytach, jak najbardziej zresztą zasłużenie.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Festival Źródła Nowych Talentów jazz & literatura 2015


Serdecznie zapraszamy na pierwszą edycję Festiwalu Źródła Nowych Talentów jazz&literatura 2015. Festiwal trwać będzie w dniach od 7 do 11 października i odbędzie się w różnych obiektach kultury w Chorzowie. W trakcie pięciu dni festiwalowych będzie można uczestniczyć w inspirujących warsztatach literackich i muzycznych oraz niezwykłych koncertach, które pokażą różne odcienie jazzu i jego szeroko rozumiane obrzeża, zahaczając o muzykę etniczną, folk, world music, ethno jazz, nu-jazz, muzykę elektroniczną. Zgodnie z założeniami festiwal będzie prezentować muzyczne i literackie talenty artystów wybitnych, a jednak bliżej nieznanych lokalnej społeczności. Ideą Festiwalu jest również wyławianie talentów wśród uczestników warsztatów i pomaganie im w dalszym rozwoju poprzez plan mecenatu. Festiwal pragnie promować Chorzów jako miejsce mające swój udział w kreowaniu kultury. Ma nadzieję integrować i pobudzać do aktywności lokalną społeczność.

Festiwal Źródła Nowych Talentów jazz&literatura jest wspólną inicjatywą Miejskiego Domu Kultury „Batory” reprezentowanego przez Dyrektora Tomasza Ignalskiego oraz New Talents’ Resources Marzena Anioł i powstał w porozumieniu z Miastem Chorzów.

Program Festiwalu:

MIFRÁS - 9 października (piątek) g. 21.00
Klub Szuflada 15/Furheart Gallery, ul. Wolności 15, Chorzów
Bilety: 15 zł

POMIANOWSKA & KINIOR „SMOK DWUGŁOWY” - 10 października (sobota), g. 19.00 
MDK Batory, ul. Stefana Batorego 6, Chorzów
Bilety: 20 zł / 30 zł (w dniu koncertu)

MONIKA LIDKE - 11 października (niedziela) g. 18.00
MDK Batory, ul. Stefana Batorego 6, Chorzów
Bilety: 30 zł / 40 zł (w dniu koncertu)

KARNET NA WSZYSTKIE KONCERTY: 45 zł

Warsztaty (wstęp wolny, konieczne wcześniejsze zapisy):

literackie – „warsztaty z mistrzem reportażu” – szkoła reportażu z Jolantą Krysowatą
7 października (środa) g. 16.00-18.00 & 8 października (czwartek) g. 16.00-18.00
Furheart Gallery, ul. Wolności 15, Chorzów

muzyczne – „instrumenty smyczkowe różnych muzycznych tradycji świata” – zajęcia instrumentalne z prof. Marią Pomianowską
8 października (czwartek) g. 17.00-19.00 & 9 października (piątek) g. 16.30-18.30
MDK Batory, ul Stefana Batorego 6, Chorzów

muzyczno-literackie dla dzieci – „jak bawić się muzyką i słowem”- terapia przez zajęcia z muzyką i słowem – Ania Broda
8 października (czwartek) g. 15.00-17.00
MDK Batory, ul Stefana Batorego 6, Chorzów

9 października (piątek) g. 15.00-17.00
Ośrodek Integracji Społecznej przy Stowarzyszeniu na Rzecz Rodziny, ul. Pudlerska 22, Chorzów

* wszystkie warsztaty kończą się pokazem dla publiczności

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pulsarus - Bee Itch (2014)

Pulsarus

Dominik Strycharski - soprano, alto & tenor blockflutes
Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet, balkan horn
Aleksander Papierz - alto saxophone
Ray Dickaty - tenor saxophone
Stefan Orins - electric piano
Jacek Mazurkiewicz - double bass
Jakub Rutkowski - drums

Bee Itch (2014)

FOR TUNE 0023

By Glenn Astarita

When discussing progressive jazz contexts, let us not forget our brothers and sisters in Poland who have been riding the cutting-edge schema for decades, evidenced by pianists Adam Makowicz, Marcin Wasilewski, trumpeter Tomasz Stańko and other notables of the global jazz and improvising network. However, the young For Tune record label highlights fledgling talent and seasoned vets who may not be household names in the West. Hence, Pulsarus is a prime of example of a band that ventures outside the box. Formed in 2003, the acoustic-electric group features Dominik Strycharski's use of the recorder-like blockflute to link copious additives and bizarre effects into the big picture.

Interestingly enough, the ensemble launches the album with John Lennon's "Imagine." During the onset, soft horns shape the primary theme, but as the album progresses, the musicians execute a horde of off-center contrasts and bursting choruses along with experimental episodes. Strycharski's blockflute work is apt to affix a festive touch and eerie overtones into certain passages that uncannily sound electronically treated. The ensemble's restless spirit shines on a per-track basis as they pursue odd-metered conceptualizations and soundscapes, etched with expressionistic improvisational segments and avant-garde jazz interludes. But they often slam matters into the ozone via brute force soloing, layered passages, brash horns arrangements and ominous progressions. 

"Isogriv 2" commences with Stefan Orins' lower-register Fender Rhodes phrasings, steeped in a slow tempo groove, dappled with oddball background treatments, echoing horns and airy flutes. Here, they emit a foreboding vista; although the artists often intersperse gravelly dissonance with heavy metal jazz imagery amid bold works such as "Isogrov 3," that boast zany improvisational tactics and convey a shock and awe mindset. In sum, listening to this ensemble is a stirring experience that should excite the hearts and minds of jazz enthusiasts who yearn for something that goes against the grain, augmented by a highly entertaining form-factor.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Paweł Kaczmarczyk Audiofeeling Trio – Something Personal (2015)

Paweł Kaczmarczyk Audiofeeling Trio

Paweł Kaczmarczyk - piano
Maciej Adamczak - double bass
Dawid Fortuna - drums

Something Personal

HEVHETIA 0100



By Adam Baruch

This is the fourth album by Polish Jazz pianist/composer Paweł Kaczmarczyk, recorded in a classic piano trio format with bassist Maciej Adamczak and drummer David Fortuna. This rhythm section is also known as the rhythm section of the New Bone ensemble. The album presents seven tracks, all of which are original compositions by Kaczmarczyk. It was mixed and mastered by the great Jan Smoczynski and released on the Slovak Hevhetia label, which releases lately a significant amount of Polish Jazz albums, opening new opportunities for Polish Jazz musicians, who face a very tough and crowded local recording market.

Kaczmarczyk stormed the Polish Jazz scene over a decade earlier as a young prodigy, winning awards from every possible competition and later recording and releasing three excellent albums as a leader. But the initial impact somewhat subsided over time and although he was visible on the scene quite recurrently, almost six years passed between the release of his last album and this one. No doubt these were years of reflection and reassessment of his musical attitude, as this album clearly proves. The return to the piano trio format and the much less complex arrangements of his compositions signal a kind of return to the roots.

Kaczmarczyk was always a great songweaver, and the collection of his new compositions confirms that status again. Wonderfully melodic, deeply lyrical and always full of grace, his music, presented here in a very basic down to earth form, is most effective exactly as it appears here. Gone are the elaborate and intricate rhythmic complexities, instrumental shenanigans and other tricks of the trade; instead we get Kaczmarczyk almost naked musically, but finally mature and truthful to himself.

Of course Kaczmarczyk is also a brilliant pianist and on this album, which is modest and very personal, there are limited possibilities to shine as a virtuosic performer; and yet Kaczmarczyk manages to pull this off, playing some amazingly sweet and inspired piano performances. The experienced rhythm section plays along tightly and supportively, being always there when needed. Adamczak plays several nice solos and stands by the leader both harmonically and rhythmically. Fortuna is a very busy drummer, but at all times stays in the background not disturbing the delicate trio balance.

In many respects this album could be seen as Kaczmarczyk's "return", an older, and more mature and focused version of the young star from a decade earlier. The lost charm of excitement and surprise was replaced by musical depth and developed compositional as well as performing skills. It was definitely worth the time we had to wait for this album and hopefully another long lingering will be spared. Welcome back!

Side Note: The promo version of this album includes also seven tracks, but two of them are different than those included on the formal album, which of course makes the demo a most desirable collector's item!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Leszek Żądło/European Art Ensemble – Emotion (2015)

Leszek Żądło/European Art Ensemble

Leszek Żądło - saxophone
August-Wilhelm Scheer - saxophone
Wojciech Groborz - piano
Tolek Lisiecki - bass
Wiesław Jamioł - drums

Emotion


JBBO

By Adam Baruch

Polish (resident in Germany) Jazz saxophonist/composer/educator Leszek Żądło (born 1945) is one of the most formidable representatives of the first post WWII generation of Polish Jazz musicians. He was also one of the first amongst the Polish Jazz musicians to leave his country, which he did in the mid-1960s, first to Austria and then to Germany. Of course he still keeps very strong ties with the Polish Jazz scene and plays there often, and his ensembles often include other Polish Jazz musicians. On a personal note, Leszek and I have been friends since many decades.

Musically Żądło is a modernist, playing contemporary Jazz based mostly on the post John Coltrane tradition and his virtuosic abilities as a player place him in the top class of the Polish Jazz saxophonists, if not at the very top. His compositions are all classics of the Polish Jazz tradition, continuing, perhaps in the closest possible way, the path set by the compositions of Krzysztof Komeda.

This album is a live recording of a quintet led by Żądło, which also features the German baritone saxophonist August-Wilhelm Scheer and Polish Jazz musicians: pianist Wojciech Groborz, bassist Tolek Lisiecki and drummer Wiesław Jamioł. The quintet performs eight compositions, one of which is an original by Żądło and seven are standards, three of them by John Coltrane and two by Wayne Shorter, i.e. classic modern Jazz material.

Obviously an informal session, this music is all about having a good time and playing some great music. For listeners unfamiliar with Żądło's abilities as a player this is a wonderful opportunity to hear a true Master at work. Scheer also plays some very fine solos. The rhythm section supports the two soloists sympathetically and solidly. Overall this is a classic live modern Jazz recording, which should appeal to all lovers of the genre. The Żądło original, which is also the longest track on the album, is an absolute marvel.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Piotr Wyleżoł – Improludes (2014)

Piotr Wyleżoł

Piotr Wyleżoł - piano

Improludes

HEVHETIA 0083






By Adam Baruch

This is the first piano solo album by Polish Jazz pianist/composer Piotr Wyleżoł and his sixth release as a leader/co-leader. It comes after a relatively prolonged period of silence (about five years) since his last recording. The album presents eight original compositions by Wylezol partly inspired by the work of the great Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, especially Liszt's etudes, hence the tongue in cheek album's title. The album was released by the Slovak Hevhetia label, which seems to be lately one of the favorite labels of the Polish Jazz artists, which is hardly surprising considering the great job the label is doing so far.

The association with Liszt's romanticism is hardly accidental, as Wyleżoł's music displays clear Classical Music influences. Combined with the Polish lyricism and a wonderful sense of melody, these pieces are a delightful set of melodic gems, which are easy on the ear but at the same time invoke deep emotions and a charming aptitude. Solo piano lovers will find here everything one might expect from a solo piano album – excellent music, beautiful and sensitive execution and a superb recording quality, which is always an essential ingredient of such projects.

Overall this music is not very innovative or groundbreaking, but its merits are clearly on quite a different musical layer, aesthetically close to the European Classical Music tradition, updated and transposed to contemporary language. Therefore this album should not be judged nor should it be approach from a strict Jazz point of reference, but should be allowed the leeway of a more open minded attitude towards its true artistic significance and impact.

One might speculate if this album marks a turning point in Wyleżoł's career, especially as a composer, leading to a whole new path combining his classical training and Jazz improvisation, or is this just a one time journey of discovery? Regardless of the answer, let's hope we won't have to wait for another five years to hear the answer to this question. Welcome back!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Adam Kowalewski – For You (2013)

Adam Kowalewski

Adam Kowalewski - double bass
Piotr Wyleżoł - piano

For You

HEVHETIA 0068





By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album as a leader by Polish Jazz bassist/composer Adam Kowalewski, recorded in a duo setting with pianist Piotr Wyleżoł. It presents eight compositions, five of which are originals by Kowalewski, one is an original by Wyleżoł and the remaining two are standards. The album was released on the Slovak Hevhetia label and was one of the first Polish Jazz albums released by that label, to be later followed up by numerous others.

Kowalewski recorded a plethora of albums as a sideman before he recorded this album, which means that he was already an established name on the local scene and the purpose of this album was obviously to present Kowalewski also as a composer apart from his abilities as a bass player. He cooperated with Wyleżoł earlier on playing bass on Wyleżoł's debut piano trio album and therefore the choice of partners is hardly accidental.

The music presents a series of melodic tunes, well within the Jazz mainstream, which are played by the duo with a lot of space and mutual respect, allowing both musicians plenty of breathing space. As expected in such circumstances, the volume of the bass is higher up in the mix than normal, which allows the listener to hear exactly every note played by the instrument.

The problem with bass/piano albums is of course that the piano, which plays all the melody lines, "steals" the listener's attention and only the most experienced listeners are able to split their attention between the two instruments on an equal basis. However, those able to listen to both instruments in parallel will discover a beautiful dialogue and a supportive collaboration, which is elegant and graceful.

Acoustic bass buffs will of course have a field day with this album, and considering the good sound quality of this recording, it is quite suitable to test top range Hi-Fi equipment for balanced bass midrange response. Personally I'm looking forward for the next album by Kowalewski, to discover more of his melodic gems!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Łukasz Górewicz - The String Of Horizons (2015)

Łukasz Górewicz

Łukasz Górewicz - acoustic & electric violins, guitar, piano, percussion, programing, loops

The String Of Horizons

Big Flow Records




By Ian Patterson

Active in both classical and contemporary music, Polish violinist/composer Łukasz Górewicz is perhaps best known abroad for Ecstasy Project, the unique experimental chamber/avant-garde jazz ensemble formed in 1999; its albums such as "Realium" (Polish Jazz, 2005) and "Reminiscence Europae" (Fonografica, 2008) underlined Górewicz' credentials as one of the most arresting violinists of his generation, regardless of genre. On "The String Of Horizons" Górewicz steps out alone, composing, arranging and producing the music, in addition to playing all the instruments. Needless to say, Górewicz' highly lyrical violin is central to these contemporary, atmospheric compositions.

Górewicz hits the ground running on "New Bike" with multiple, layered violins creating a bewitching sonic tapestry. Sustained notes and pizzicato rhythm form the bed from which Górewicz electric violin blooms. Bottom-end piano makes a brief but incisive appearance, percussive rhythm emerges and a grungy guitar riff saws through the dancing waves. Strings duly relieve the guitar riff and the numerous violin voices converge in a rising, climactic wall of sound. It's a dramatic opener that sets the bar high.

On the whole, however, the music is too serene to be indie-rock and the loop-layered violins employed sparely enough that to call it contemporary chamber ensemble music doesn't quite paint the whole picture either. Górewicz may be a one-man band but it's his unadorned, loop-free playing that shines brightest on cinematic tunes like "Green Moon" and "Melting Snow" where delicate piano, drone and achingly lyrical violin converge. Minus drone, violin and piano embrace on the brief yet poignant "Marta". For all his technical virtuosity, it's Górewicz' finesse and compositional nuance that are foregrounded.

There's more meat and gristle on "Ada", where ambient, computer-generated effects reminiscent of Radiohead's "Kid A" (Parlophone, 2000), a repeating piano motif and a crushing, two-note electric guitar mantra underpin several interweaving violin lines. Likewise, the layers of the rhythmically punchy "K Flow In Berlin" and the haunting "Flying Through The Darkness" marry programmed effects and Górewicz string-rich textures. Regardless of the density of the musical architecture, Górewicz lyricism constantly illuminates this almost suite-like recording.

Nowhere is this inherent lyricism better illustrated than on the brooding "Kind of Time," Górewicz striking tribute to the Polish jazz violinist Zbigniew Seifert, who died in 1979 at the age of thirty two. Seifert still exerts a significant global influence, as witnessed by the inaugural Zbigniew Seifert International Jazz Violin Competition held in Luslawice in 2014, a competition that drew scores of applicants from around the world, including Górewicz. Górewicz was one of ten finalists who made it to Luslawice and arguably the violinist there closest to the spirit of Seifert. Like Seifert, as "The String Of Horizons" demonstrates in spades, Górewicz is, above all else, an original voice.

On "The String Of Horizons" Górewicz reveals his mastery of multiple musical strands. Folkloric, classical and avant-garde colors merge completely to form a subtle yet persuasive language that is melodious, atmospheric and edgy. An impressive, intimate recording that should propel Górewicz to a wider international audience.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

3275kg Orchestra – 1 (2015)

3275kg Orchestra

Maciej Trifonidis - leader, production, percussion
with 30 musicians

1

BCK 2015




By Adam Baruch

This is another interesting project by Polish Jazz musician/composer/visionary Maciej Trifonidis, who leads here an orchestra of thirty musicians, which performs thirteen original compositions by Trifonidis and other members of the orchestra. The sheer scale of such a project and its musical and logistical complexity clearly proves that Trifonidis is a genius and a dreamer, who manages to pull off projects, which nobody else dares even to think about.

Although separately titled, the thirteen pieces serve musically as a continuous musical suite, which stylistically freely moves between styles and genres, amalgamating Jazz with contemporary Classical, Pop, Rock, Musical and World Music. The themes are clearly melodious and harmonious, with the improvisations and orchestral arrangements being all well within the musical mainstream, which is quite surprising considering Trifonidis' previous association with much more adventurous musical forms. This music is definitely accessibly to all music lovers, even the most conservative ones.

Of course such complex ensembles are extremely difficult to being properly recorded and this album does suffer from many sound problems with the overall ambience being muffled and the separation nonexistent. In case where this music would have been properly recorded, it would probably sound infinitely more attractive.

Nevertheless it is a very ambitious, unusual and daring project, which deserves admiration and support and it is encouraging to see it being actually brought into existence. One can only thank Trifonidis for not giving up and consistently producing works of great musical merit. This album is wholeheartedly recommended to all listeners who are ready to reach beyond the obvious. Well done Maestro!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Switchback - Switchback (2015)

Switchback

Mars Williams - sopranino, soprano, alto & tenor saxophones, flutes, kalimba
Wacław Zimpel - alto & Bb clarinet, algoza, overtone flutes
Hilliard Greene - double bass
Klaus Kugel - drums, percussion

Switchback


MPI 028

By Martin Schray

Dedicated followers of our website know that we love the works of Polish clarinetist Wacław Zimpel, no matter if he plays with his quartet, Hera, Undivided or Ircha, a clarinet project led by Mikołaj Trzaska (to name just a few). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see him live, until I found out that he was playing with his band Switchback at Dachau’s Kulturschranne, home of the busy local jazz club. 

And what a marvelous show it was! Switchback is Zimpel (alto, b-clarinets, algoza, flutes), Mars Williams (tenor, alto, soprano, sopranino saxophones, little instruments), Hilliard Greene (double bass) and Klaus Kugel (drums, percussion) and their performance was like opening up a diverse musical landscape. On the one hand there were Mars Williams’ brutal outbreaks, on the other hand Waclaw Zimpel’s dark clarinet meditations and Klaus Kugel’s zen-like cymbals and chimes. And the glue that holds everything together was Hilliard Greene’s pulse. Especially the second set was mind-blowing. Apart from the brilliant improvised jazz excursions there was a long passage when Williams used the kalimba and Kugel added tiny bells, clips and gongs, while Zimpel set a counterpoint with wooden flutes and a small, portable harmonium. It was a deep dive into jazz’s folkloristic aesthetics, into world music and into good old Chicago free jazz.

Switchback have developed in the last two years, so their CD – a live recording of a 2013 performance – is a bit different from the concert. The first track, "Four Are One", is a programmatic title since these very different musicians all contribute to an overall sound. The music is a wild mixture of blues and urban free Jazz (Williams), Klezmer and modern classical music (Zimpel), spirituals and traditional grooves (Greene) and somber and liberated beats (Kugel, whose style differed the most compared to the concert). It’s an emotional up and down of wild battles between the saxophones and the clarinets, juxtaposed by lots of meditative and quiet moments. The reeds’ hymn-like moments, the harmony of their interplay, is replaced by different complicated layers, by wild, eruptive, overblown segments that cut like a knife. It’s a feverish ride with lots of twists and turns in which Klaus Kugel’s percussion sets the bright points of rest that set a counterpoint to the intensity of the reeds.

But the real sensation of this quartet is bassist Hilliard Greene, a man whose style is deeply rooted in African music. He is an energetic player who slabs the corpus of his bass, but also caresses the instrument with his bow. He seems to merge with it, and pushes his fellow musicians to unknown realms (especially in the title track where he has a long solo). In a nutshell: Switchback’s debut is an excellent piece of work, a must have for classic free jazz fans.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Rimbaud - Rimbaud (2015)

Rimbaud

Tomasz Budzyński - voice
Mikołaj Trzaska - horns
Michał Jacaszek - electric power

Rimbaud

GRAM1502




By Bartosz Nowicki

Sama obsada twórców tego przedsięwzięcia może budzić ekscytację. Trzej niezwykle doświadczeni, utalentowani i uznani, także poza granicami naszego kraju muzycy: Mikołaj Trzaska, Tomasz Budzyński i Michał Jacaszek oddają hołd jednemu z bodaj najbardziej charyzmatycznych poetów w historii. Podziwianemu i znienawidzonemu Arthurowi Rimbaud. Ta mieszanka wybuchowa, która ponad miesiąc temu eksplodowała ze spodziewanym hukiem, zasłużenie wywołała wielkie emocje wśród słuchaczy i recenzentów. 

Ścieżka dźwiękowa przygotowana przez super-trio Jacaszek-Trzaska-Budzyński z pewnością obudziłaby Paryż, będąc adekwatnym akompaniamentem dla niesionego karnawałowym szałem pijanego korowodu, wylewającego się z zaułków i rynsztoków francuskiej stolicy, opisywanego z namiętnością przez Rimbauda ("Paryż się budzi"). Bluźnierstwo, pogarda dla piękna, zgniły oddech nieboszczyka, fascynacja brzydotą, dekadentyzm, witalizm i taniec śmierci, ujęty w kwiecistość słowa został przez muzyków przytoczony z przepychem, zamieniając bogactwo słów w bogactwo dźwięków.

Za stronę muzyczną tego przedsięwzięcia odpowiada przede wszystkim Michał Jacaszek, który po wyciszonym "Katalogu drzew" uderza tu z brutalnością, o którą do tej pory ledwie ocierały się jego solowe kompozycje. W aranżacjach nie brakuje stałych elementów jego producenckiego warsztatu, a posługuje się nim według tego samego modelu co w autorskich nagraniach, zderzając intymność ciszy z gwałtem hałasu. Preparowane lub zarejestrowane żywe instrumenty, (tu wyciszający i liryczny fortepian), po których z reguły następuje wybuch cyfrowego hałasu unoszonego transowym krokiem ciężkich dropów, to przepis ogrywany już na wiele sposobów przez Jacaszka. To również, wypisz wymaluj, schemat wydrenowanej już estetyki power electronics, której chyba najbardziej rozpoznawalnym ambasadorem jest Ben Frost.

W tym burzliwym zgiełku hałaśliwych faktur i przysadzistej motoryki świetnie odnajduje się Mikołaj Trzaska. O jego kunszcie niech świadczy fakt, że niemal w każdym z utworów posługuje się inną artykulacją, chętnie wymieniając klarnety z saksofonami. Zdarza mu się wręcz "ryczeć", aby przebić się pośród szalejących noise'ów Jacaszka ("Armata", "Jesteście fałszywymi murzynami"). Innym razem jego wypowiedź przybiera formę transowo-plemienną, idealną wręcz dla niskich skal klarnetu ("Potop"). Zaprasza też słuchaczy do dekadenckiego walca w "Matinee d'ivresse" i hipnotyzuje mięsistymi burdonami ("Phrases"). A pozostawiony mu skrawek przestrzeni wykorzystuje z niezwykła brawurą. 

W pierwszych chwilach na wieść o zawiązaniu się projektu Rimbaud i jego składzie personalnym, moje obawy skupiły się na obsadzie wokalu, za którym stanął inicjator całego przedsięwzięcia Tomasz Budzyński. To nie pierwszy przypadek, w którym aranżacja wokali, jak i sama barwa wokalistów w projektach z pogranicza sludge i power electronic budzi u mnie mieszane odczucia. Nie rzadko chcąc osiągnąć ekstremalną intensywność wokaliści w swoim zacięciu wypadają nazbyt groteskowo. Przykładem niech będzie grupa The Body i ich ostatni album "I Shall Die Here". Również wokalizy Budzyńskiego są motywem będącym dla mnie największym dysonansem projektu Rimbaud. W oswojeniu tego kluczowego elementu płyty nie pomaga na pewno afektacja, z jaką wokalista wyrzuca z siebie strofy poezji. Rozbuchana charyzma Budzyńskiego, przeniesiona żywcem z punkowego depozytu Armii, niebezpiecznie balansuje na granicy zmanierowania, przerysowania i patosu. Sęk jednak w tym, że trudno wyobrazić sobie lepszą interpretację awanturniczej poezji Rimbaud, niźli dramatyczny skowyt szaleńca, w jakiego wciela się Budzyński. Po kilkunastu przesłuchaniach zdołałem pogodzić się z jego manierą, co pozwoliło mi na pełniejszą i przyjemniejszą recepcję albumu.

Projekt Rimbaud łączy trzy wcale nie tak bliskie sobie muzyczne światy i jest poniekąd spełnieniem mojego marzenia o usłyszeniu kooperacji Bena Frosta z Matsem Gustafssonem. Michał Jacaszek z Mikołajem Trzaską owo wyobrażenie o sesji dwóch muzycznych rzeźników realizują z nawiązką. Sęk w tym, że w moim marzeniu nie było miejsca na głos. Ale to pomimo wokalnego skansenu, jaki w motoryczną estetykę power electronics wprowadza wokalista Rimbaud, właśnie on może czuć się największym beneficjentem sukcesu tej płyty. To na Budzyńskim bowiem spoczęła największa odpowiedzialność i to on jako pomysłodawca projektu, a przede wszystkim interpretator i wykonawca słów poety, został wystawiony jako pierwszy na krytykę. Odwaga artystyczna pozwoliła mu jednak zrealizować się w tak dla jego twórczości ekstremalnie odmiennych rejonach muzycznych. Świetna praca kolektywna z pewnością obroniła ten koncept, zamazując jego słabe punkty, pozwalając skupić uwagę na muzycznym rozmachu przedsięwzięcia.

Słowa Rimbaud chyba nigdy jeszcze nie wybrzmiały tak donośnie, bo nawet znany z upodobania do ekstremalnych form wyrazu John Zorn uciekł swoją interpretacją poezji Francuza w wykoncypowaną fabularyzację (Tzadik, 2012). Trio Budzyński/Trzaska/Jacaszek ze szczerością i charyzmą zrealizowało swój autorski plan, z tarczą wychodząc z konfrontacji z lawiną oczekiwań i wyobrażeń publiczności.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dzioboń/Wieczorek/Wielgosz – Payoff (2014)

Dzioboń/Wieczorek/Wielgosz

Dawid K. Wieczorek - guitar
Bartłomiej Wielgosz - saxophone
Michał Dzioboń - drums

Payoff

PRIVATE EDITION




By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Improvising Music trio, which comprises of drummer Michał Dzioboń, guitarist Dawid K. Wieczorek and saxophonist Bartłomiej Wielgosz. The music, recorded during an improvised session, was then split into ten tracks, and those were later given titles.

Contrary to most Improvised Music meetings, this trio's music is relatively mild, non-aggressive and even melodic to some extent. Although the guitar often plays with distortion and electronic feedback, it is balanced by the acoustic saxophone and down to earth percussive approach. Overall it is after all just an artistic experience shared by three musicians, captured and frozen in time by the recording.

There is definitely a dialogue (or trialogue) going on and the musicians have played together earlier on and listen to each other attentively. They employ a wide range of sound effects, especially the electronically aided guitar, but also the unusual usage of drums, which are quite effective and make this music quite interesting for the listener.

On the other hand, however, freely Improvised Music is by definition relevant almost exclusively only while it is performed live, and recordings of such material are simply drained of the emotional as well as artistic essence in most cases. I find it hard to believe that anybody would listen to such music on record more than once, except for extreme devotees. Overall this is an interesting endeavor, sadly limited to a miniscule specialized audience. Artistically of course it is completely relevant and engaging.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

BlackBird – BlackBird (2015)

BlackBird

Michał Walczak - guitar
Michał Rorat - piano
Paweł Surman - trumpet
Bartek Bednarek - bass guitar
Frank Parker - drums
Bernard Maseli - marimba, malletKAT

BlackBird


MULTIKULTI MPJ 012

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the young Polish Jazz quintet BlackBird, which comprises of trumpeter Paweł Surman, guitarist Michał Walczak, pianist Michał Rorat, bassist Bartek Bednarek and US drummer Frank Parker. Veteran vibraphonist Bernard Maseli appears as a guest artist on a couple of tracks. The album presents seven original compositions (one of which is repeated four times), four by Walczak, two by Rorat and one by Bednarek. The album was recorded live and has a very good sound quality.

The music is dominated by the sound of the electric guitar and immediately falls under the typical Fusion imagery. The combination of lead guitar and trumpet, which was favored by early Jazz-Rock/Fusion artists, like Larry Coryell and his Eleventh House ensemble for example, was pretty dormant lately and the attempt by BlackBird to bring it back is very effective. With the guitar/trumpet lead balanced by the acoustic piano and the electric bass and drums pulsating vigorously, the overall sound of the quintet floats somewhere between Fusion and the Scandinavian ECM sound, which of course turns it immediately into a very likeable piece of music.

Once we have established that the album sounds great the question of course arises as to its musical contents, which is definitely not on the same level as the sound. The melodies are rather simplistic and a bit repetitive, which makes the album to sound like one continuous piece of music with very little diversity. Even the attempt to break the monotony by repeating the theme song four times does not help much. It's not that the music is bad or anything, it just sort of stays in one place all the time. But of course this is only my personal opinion and others may find it completely misguided.

The personal performances by the quintet members are all quite adequate, although the guitar is definitely too loud and aggressive. For me Rorat delivers the most impressive solos, even if he is the most introvert and timid player herein. His piano strokes are a true joy throughout. Overall this is a pleasant Fusion album, which many Fusion fans might find attractive and which sounds absolutely divine, but is hardly a brainer. Since it is a debut effort, things will probably improve with their next release, which I am impatiently waiting for already.

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