Wednesday, December 23, 2015

POLISH JAZZ 2015 TOP TEN ALBUMS!!!


POLISH JAZZ BLOGSPOT 2015 TOP TEN ALBUMS

1. High Definition Quartet - Bukoliki 30
2. Wojciech Jachna & Ksawery Wójciński - Night Talks 26
3. Pegapofo - Świeżość 18
4. RGG - Aura 17
5. Radek Wośko - Contouring 14
6. Bartłomiej Oleś/Tomasz Dąbrowski - Chapters 12
7. Ziporyn/Zimpel/Zemler/Riley - Green Light 11
8. kIRk - III 9
9. Krzysztof Lenczowski - Internal Melody 8
10. Klima/Wyleżoł/Kowalewski - Lutosławski Retuned 5

MUZYK ROKU
Tomasz Dąbrowski

DEBIUT ROKU
Quantum Trio - Gravity

REEDYCJA ROKU
Jerzy Milian - Semiramida

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Polish Jazz TOP TEN 2015 by Tomasz Łuczak


Tomasz Łuczak TOP TEN Polish Jazz 2015:

1. High Definition Quartet - Bukoliki
2. Wojciech Jachna & Ksawery Wójciński - Night Talks
3. Bartłomiej Oleś/Tomasz Dąbrowski - Chapters
4. RGG - Aura
5. Pegapofo - Świeżość
6. Radek Wośko - Contouring
7. Klima/Wyleżoł/Kowalewski - Lutosławski Retuned
8. NAK Trio - The Other Side Of If
9. Shofar - Gold Of Malkinia
10. Sphere - Synesthesia

MUZYK ROKU
Tomasz Dąbrowski

DEBIUT ROKU
Quantum Trio - Gravity

REEDYCJA ROKU
Jerzy Milian - Semiramida

Monday, December 21, 2015

Polish Jazz TOP TEN 2015 by Adam Baruch


Adam Baruch TOP TEN Polish Jazz 2015:

1. High Definition Quartet - Bukoliki
2. Pegapofo - Świeżość
3. Krzysztof Lenczowski - Internal Melody
4. Małgorzata Maliszczak - Złote Myśli Kobiety
5. Maciek Pysz - A Journey
6. Zbigniew Chojnacki - Elektrotropizm
7. Bartłomiej Oleś/Tomasz Dąbrowski - Chapters
8. Bartosz Dworak Quartet - Polished
9. RGG - Aura
10. Klima/Wyleżoł/Kowalewski - Lutosławski Retuned

MUZYK ROKU
Wojciech Jachna

DEBIUT ROKU
Nika Lubowicz - Nika's Dream

REEDYCJA ROKU
Krzysztof Sadowski - Na Kosmodromie

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Polish Jazz TOP TEN 2015 by Mateusz Magierowski


Mateusz Magierowski TOP TEN Polish Jazz 2015:

1. High Definition Quartet - Bukoliki
2. Wojciech Jachna & Ksawery Wójciński - Night Talks
3. RGG - Aura
4. Adam Pierończyk & Miroslav Vitous - Wings
5. Ocean Fanfare - Imagine Sound Imagine Silence
6. Quantum Trio - Gravity
7. Pegapofo - Świeżość
8. Nikola Kołodziejczyk Orchestra - Barok Progresywny
9. Radek Wośko - Contouring
10. Ziporyn/Zimpel/Zemler/Riley - Green Light

MUZYK ROKU
Tomasz Dąbrowski

DEBIUT ROKU
Quantum Trio - Gravity

REEDYCJA ROKU
Krzysztof Komeda Trzciński - Krzysztof Komeda w Polskim Radiu Vol. 05

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Polish Jazz TOP TEN 2015 by Piotr Wojdat


Rozpoczynamy publikację podsumowującą 2015 rok w polskim jazzie. Na początek jak zwykle umieszczamy listy indywidualne autorów piszących na blogu. Tegoroczne kategorie to: Top Ten Polish Jazz Albums 2015, Debiut Roku, Muzyk Roku i Reedycja Roku. Zaczynamy od propozycji Piotra Wojdata.

Piotr Wojdat TOP TEN Polish Jazz 2015:

1. Ziporyn/Zimpel/Zemler/Riley - Green Light
2. kIRk - III
3. Wojciech Jachna & Ksawery Wójciński - Night Talks
4. Radek Wośko - Contouring
5. Free4Arts - Six Months And Ten Drops
6. Gorzycki & Dobie - Nothing
7. Kądziela & Wójciński - 10 Little Stories
8. Maciej Fortuna Acoustic Quartet - Jazz From Poland Vol. 1
9. Charles Gayle Trio - Christ Everlasting
10. Slalom - Wunderkamera

MUZYK ROKU
Ksawery Wójciński

DEBIUT ROKU
Quantum Trio - Gravity

REEDYCJA ROKU
Jerzy Milian - Semiramida

Friday, December 18, 2015

JAZZOWE MALINY 2015!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Zapraszam do posłuchania prowadzonej przeze mnie wspólnie z Rochem Sicińskim i Piotrem Wojdatem w RadioJAZZ.FM audycji, w której przyznaliśmy JAZZOWE MALINY za rok 2015!!!

Płyta Roku: Przemysław Raminiak
Utwór Roku: Janusz Szrom
Współpraca Międzynarodowa Roku: Francesco Chiarini
Okładka Roku: Piotr Budniak Essential Group
Zapowiedź/Klip/W Sumie Nie Wiadomo Co Konkretnie Roku: Włodek Pawlik
Krytyk Roku: Paweł Brodowski
Wytwórnia Roku: For Tune
Festiwal Roku: Jazz Nad Odrą
Maliny Specjalne: Wanda Warska, Gabriela Kurylewicz, Krzysztof Sadowski, PSJ


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Francois Carrier/Michel Lambert/Rafał Mazur – Unknowable (2015)

Carrier/Lambert/Mazur

Francois Carrier - alto saxophone, chinese oboe
Rafał Mazur - acoustic bass guitar
Michel Lambert - drums

Unknowable

NOT TWO 928


By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording by the Improvised Music trio consisting of Canadian saxophonist Francois Carrier and drummer Michel Lambert and Polish acoustic bass guitarist Rafał Mazur. The trio performs six spontaneously improvised pieces, credited to all three trio members. The music was recorded at the Alchemia Jazz Club in Krakow.

Although improvised, the music is characterized by a high degree of melodic content as a result of Carrier's contributions, which are mostly long lines of melodic themes. Mazur's bass guitar is always very melodic and here it harmonizes perfectly with Carrier's leading lines. Lambert is a very delicate and sympathetic drummer, supporting his cohorts with his dense, precise rhythmic patterns, but keeping the volume well in control in order not to dominate the proceedings.

There is a wonderful interplay and exchange of ideas between the trio members, who are listening attentively to each other, weaving together a multi-colored tapestry of sound. The music is remarkably relaxed and serene, even in its most intensive moments, completely avoiding any signs of aggression and competitiveness, which so often completely dominates Improvised Music. As a result this is one of the few cases when an Improvised Music recording actually makes sense to be released on record and manages to recreate the actual experience. The excellent recording quality of this album is also very helpful.

Overall this is a very impressive piece of music captured for eternity on record and deserves to be heard by all Improvised Music connoisseurs. Perhaps not particularly groundbreaking, nevertheless is offers many magic moments which happen only in that particular musical idiom. Wholeheartedly recommended!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Jachna/Cichocki/Urowski/Krawczyk – The Right Moment (2015)

Jachna / Cichocki / Urowski / Krawczyk

Wojciech Jachna - trumpet, flugelhorn
Jacek Cichocki - piano
Pawel Urowski - double bass
Mateusz Krawczyk - drums
Wojciech Piórkowski - tenor saxophone

The Right Moment

REQUIEM 99

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by a Polish Jazz quartet comprising of trumpeter Wojciech Jachna, pianist Jacek Cichocki, bassist Paweł Urowski and drummer Mateusz Krawczyk. The quartet performs nine original compositions: three by Cichocki, two each by Urowski and Jachna and another two co-composed by all four members of the quartet. Saxophonist Wojciech Piórkowski guests on one track.

The music is a typical contemporary modern Polish Jazz, somewhat more "conventional" than what one might expect from such names as Jachna and Urowski, but nevertheless excellent. This musical environment serves as a perfect opportunity to hear Jachna play more melodically than on most of his recordings, showing one more of his excellent qualities as a trumpeter.

The atmosphere of this recording and the music bring a fond memory of the modern Polish Jazz period of the 1960s, especially the revolutionary Krzysztof Komeda and Tomasz Stańko recordings. All the tunes herein have the same melancholic touch of Polish lyricism, which was so archetypal of that period, and which makes them sound quite "retro". It is difficult to say if this effect was intentional, but regardless of the actual intentions, the "spiritual" similarity is very apparent.

The performances are, as expected, excellent from start to finish and although Jachna's trumpet is the most evocative instrument, all four members of the quartet are superb instrumentalist and the quartet plays together like a dream, even when the music gets to be complex and demanding. Cichocki, whom I have not heard earlier, is especially impressive as a newcomer and I certainly hope to hear a lot more of him in the future.

Overall this is a superb album, which definitely stands among the best achievements of the current year, even if it is not especially innovative or groundbreaking. Such music continues a tradition that is worth preserving invigorates it and refreshes it with new creative powers. These still relatively young musicians are already the main creative power of the Polish Jazz scene, and the next generations are already puffing on their necks. These are good times for Polish Jazz and it's great to be alive while they last!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Witold Janiak Trio – Zagrajcie Swoją Muzykę (2015)

Witold Janiak Trio

Witold Janiak - piano
Rafał Różalski - double bass
Kamil Miszewski - drums

Zagrajcie Swoją Muzykę

PRIVATE EDITION




By Adam Baruch

This is the fourth album by Polish Jazz pianist/composer Witold Janiak, recorded in a classic piano trio setting with bassist Rafał Różalski and drummer Kamil Miszewski. It presents nine traditional Polish folkloristic tunes rearranged into the Jazz idiom by Janiak. The album was recorded at the excellent Studio Tokarnia and engineered by Jan Smoczyński, with the usual superb sound result.

Judging by the number of albums related to Polish Folklore it seems that the Polish Jazz scene rediscovered its roots in 2015, in a way repeating a trend that was quite popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of those recent albums are truly revealing and present superb aesthetic achievements, while others sadly are much less original and seem to just blindly follow a fad.

Janiak and his trio are very proficient musicians and their playing is without reproach all the way through, but the resulting music simply does not rise above the level of being "nice". There is no fire or emotional stir that makes a Jazz album rise above the average. The folkloristic influence is very marginal and does not come forward enough, beyond stating the basic melody line, failing to achieve the amalgamation of the two genres.

To be fair this is still a very decent piano trio album, which many Jazz fans can enjoy; it simply does not compare to other exceptional Jazz albums released in Poland, which are way more artistic, engaging and fulfilling.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Festiwal "jaZZ i Okolice" - Kaszebe II; Peter Evans Quintet; Saagara


By Tomasz Łuczak

Kilka tygodni temu wraz z dobrym znajomym wspólnie zastanawialiśmy się nad znaczeniem yassu jako zjawiska kulturotwórczego w ujęciu totalnym. Który to już raz przywoływaliśmy nie tylko charakterystykę samej muzyki, ale i koncepcyjność oraz ideowość wynikającą chociażby z treści tekstów (Kury, Trupy). Umówmy się, właściwie nic nowego, tutaj wszystko zostało już powiedziane i przemielone po wielokroć. Niemniej dla fana yassowego fenomenu, każda okazja do przypomnienia historycznych momentów może być co najmniej pociągająca. Ten eklektyczny, sentymentalny kontekst powrócił do mnie podczas chorzowskiego koncertu Ola Walickiego (swego czasu jednego z ważnych filarów yassu) z projektem Kaszebe II.

Walicki proponuje tutaj drugą odsłonę swojej autorskiej wizji Kaszub, naznaczoną swoistą trójmiejską dezynwolturą, odważnym igraniem z publicznością na granicy dobrego smaku, czy fekalianym humorem i sowizdrzalstwem a la Tymon Tymański (znakomity Bunio na wokalu). To miejsce, gdzie przewrotna ironia i tandeta Wojciecha Smarzowskiego rodem z „Wesela” przeplata się z ekwilibrystyką słowną Doroty Masłowskiej. Gdzie w sposób inteligentny kiczowata swojskość współistnieje z elegancją na tych samych prawach, a nad wszystkim unoszą się symboliczne opary „Polovirusa”. Dodatkowo cała ta treść w połączeniu z formą muzyczną – mieszaniną pozornie prymitywnego synth popu, rocka alternatywnego spod znaku Captaina Beefhearta czy Pere Ubu, elementów jazz-rocka, folkowych przyśpiewek i znalezionych przez Walickiego fragmentów starych, kaszubskich zaśpiewek – daje piorunujący efekt. No ale jeśli w składzie legendarny gitarzysta Piotr Pawlak czy trębacz Tomek Ziętek, to czy można się dziwić?


Spotkać po raz kolejny Petera Evansa na żywo, to zawsze jest wydarzenie. I nieważne, czy akurat będzie to występ solowy, duetowy, kwartet, kwintet czy orkiestra. Zawsze zwraca uwagę, zawsze wprawia w poruszenie zwoje mózgowe, nigdy nie pozostawia obojętnym. Ileż to już razy pisano o jego technicznej perfekcji, wzorcowo wycyzelowanym brzmieniu, przedstawiano go jako modelowy wręcz przykład idealnego trębacza nowych czasów. 

W Sosnowcu zaprezentował projekt szczególny, czyli elektroakustyczny kwintet, gdzie dla mnie osobiście szczególną rolę prócz Evansa tworzą dwie indywidualności – wielka legenda perkusji Jim Black oraz Sam Pluta odpowiadający za instrumenty elektroniczne i wszelkie dźwiękowe preparacje. Przypadek Pluty jest tu oczywiście podwójnie interesujący. Pozornie niepasujący ze swoimi „udziwnionymi” instrumentami, bo śmiało i bezczelnie ingerujący w akustyczny kontekst formacji, tak jakby rozsadzając wewnętrzną, improwizowaną symbiozę grupy, prowadzący swoją własną elektroniczną narrację, jednocześnie pozostający w intuicyjnym kontakcie z każdym z muzyków. No i mój cichy bohater Jim Black, znakomicie odnajdujący się w tej całej gmatwaninie pełnej matematyki – przestrzenny, precyzyjny, niejednoznaczny, najbardziej bliski idiomowi jazzowemu. 

Ten koncert to cała prawda o muzyce proponowanej przez Evansa – momentami ekstremalnie wymagająca, inteligentna, przytłaczająca wielością znaczeń i rozwiązań, do bólu techniczna, bardzo złożona i intelektualna, w jakiś sposób ryzykowna, zimna i karkołomna. No ale podobno tak właśnie funkcjonują wielkie muzyczne osobowości.


Po takich koncertach ogromnie kusi nazwać Wacława Zimpla najbardziej etnicznym z naszych improwizatorów. Z jednej strony, biorąc pod uwagę pełny kontekst jego dokonań oraz funkcjonowania na muzycznej mapie świata, byłoby to nazbyt oczywiste i chyba jednak pretensjonalne. I nie chodzi już tylko o całą przeszłość związaną z nieodżałowaną Herą, projektami z Raphaelem Rogińskim czy Mikołajem Trzaską. O tym wszystkim już wiemy i nie ma sensu po raz setny mielenie tego wątku. Z drugiej strony mam jednak nieodparte wrażenie, że w przypadku projektu Saagara Zimpel pozwolił sobie na najgłębszą eksplorację definicji „etno”. Z całym pomysłem stuprocentowego zanurzenia się w tradycję, pewną swoistą obrzędowość, z absolutnym odkrywaniem jak najszerszego spektrum w tym przypadku staroindyjskiego dziedzictwa kulturowego. 

Jak opisują swój świat sami muzycy – z jednej strony funkcjonuje tu złożona i skomplikowana koncepcja muzyki karnatyckiej, z drugiej – a jakże – historia europejskiej muzyki improwizowanej, w której Wacław czuje się jak ryba w wodzie. Charakter korzennej celebracji uzupełniają specyficzne instrumenty o egzotycznie brzmiących nazwach – khaen, thavil, ghatam czy khanjira. A do tego wszystkiego coś, co mnie osobiście zaskoczyło najbardziej, czyli duża komunikatywność i klarowność przedstawionej koncepcji muzycznej, co oczywiście przełożyło się na odpowiednie, wielce pozytywne reakcje publiczności. Do pełni szczęścia brakowało tylko Dona Cherry’ego, Lestera Bowie’ego czy Archiego Sheppa. Jeden z najlepszych koncertów tegorocznej edycji festiwalu „jaZZ i okolice”.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Garbowski/Soovik/Damasiewicz – Sesto Elemento (2015)

Garbowski / Soovik / Damasiewicz

Piotr Damasiewicz - trumpet
Maciej Garbowski - double bass
William Soovik - drums

Sesto Elemento

FSR 04



By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording, captured during the Ad Libitum Festival in Warsaw, by an Improvised Music trio comprising of Polish bassist Maciej Garbowski, Polish trumpeter Piotr Damasiewicz and Swedish drummer William Soovik. The album presents nine tracks of freely improvised music, with the composition rights not credited on the album's packaging, therefore by default assumed to be co-created by the trio members. The album was mixed and mastered by Jan Smoczyński, owner of the Studio Tokarnia, which guaranties a great sound quality.

Garbowski is one of my favorite Polish Jazz bass players, who has a proven record not only in the "conventional" Jazz environment as a member of the fabulous RGG trio, but also in much more adventurous experiments, some of them involving also Damasiewicz. This recording is however the most radical environment as far as everything I heard so far by Garbowski. This "total" freedom seems to ill-serve his great talent, mostly because although his playing here is as brilliant as always, it is somewhat detached from his partners, who seem to be exploring their own private avenues.

Damasiewicz progressed quite consistently towards freely improvised music in the stretch of the last few years and although I loved his playing a few years ago, when it showed promises of catapulting him to the very top of the Polish Jazz trumpet pedestal, his more recent explorations leave me much less enthusiastic.

Soovik plays along agreeably with his Polish cohorts, but his contributions to the trio's effort are overall almost unnoticed, staying way in the background most of the time. Nothing wrong with that of course, but in a free improvised environment the total input is what counts as the final result.

There are many interesting moments on this album, some brief highly inspired flashes of sheer genius, but sadly overall while this music was probably a stimulating listening experience, its weight as recorded document is much less significant. As usual the decision do release a piece of recorded music on record is not an easy one and always a very subjective matter.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Purusha – Cosmic Friction (2015)

Purusha

Paweł Postaremczak - tenor saxophone
Wojciech Traczyk - double bass
Paweł Szpura - drums

Cosmic Friction

FOR TUNE 0067



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz trio Purusha, which comprises of saxophonist Paweł Postaremczak, bassist Wojciech Traczyk and drummer Paweł Szpura, all three known to Polish Jazz followers as members of the large ensembles led by Wacław Zimpel (Hera and others). The album presents six original pieces, four of which were composed by Traczyk and two are co-credited to all three members of the trio.

The music of Purusha is a "classic" Free Jazz venture, which is its biggest drawback. Free Jazz exploded in the mid 1960s and this music sounds almost exactly as if recorded at that time, i.e. about 50 years ago. With all due respect to the cradle of Free Jazz, Albert Ayler and everything else, the clock keeps ticking. This of course might bring on reflections as to the possible path of Free Jazz in general, which may lead to a conclusion that Free Jazz only truly existed for a brief moment in the 1960s and everything done in that idiom since is simply ripples of that Big Bang?

But aside from the basic problem of being sort of "outdated", the music of Purusha is quite excellent within the boundaries of the Free Jazz idiom. Dominated by the saxophone, as usual in saxophone trios, it explores the various stages of expression between fury and tranquility, exemplifies the group interplay and allows for personal displays of instrumental ability, which are all top notch.

Postaremczak is obviously a highly talented soloist and his approach to the tenor saxophone is very personal and unique. In his hands the saxophone turns into many different instruments, often sounding exotic, weird and wonderful, which of course is very unusual. The rhythm section stands shoulder to shoulder with Postaremczak, both expanding and complimenting his journeys with obvious empathy and spirit of shared goal. Overall this is a very good Free Jazz album for diehard fans of the genre, which although does not innovate, keeps the tradition and legacy alive and kicking. Definitely worth investigation!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Mike Parker's Unified Theory – Embrace The Wild (2014)

Mike Parker's Unified Theory

Bartek Prucnal - alto saxophone
Sławek Pezda - tenor saxophone
Cyprian Baszyński - trumpet
Mike Parker - double bass
Dawid Fortuna - drums

Embrace The Wild




PRIVATE EDITION

By Adam Baruch

American bassist/composer Mike Parker spent a period of a year and a half living in Kraków and playing with local young Polish Jazz musicians. He was a member of the NSI Quartet, together with trumpeter Cyprian Baszyński, saxophonist Bartłomiej Prucnal and drummer Dawid Fortuna, recording with them their excellent eponymous debut album. In parallel and with the addition of the saxophonist Sławomir Pezda they also recorded this album, Parker's second recording as a leader so far, which is released only now. It presents eight original compositions, all by Parker (except one co-composed with Prucnal), three of which are parts of a suite.

As already mentioned in my review of the NSI Quartet album, Parker had a huge influence on his Polish cohorts, taking them away from the European Jazz idiom into more traditional American approach. On this album this is even more perceptible, as the band is playing Parker's compositions and not those by the Polish players, like on the a.m. album.

Parker's music is a great example of modern American Jazz, which keeps up with the changes happening in the music and manages to get itself free from the stagnation that characterizes most American mainstream. His compositions are all well structured and include melodic statements, which then are improvised on, but the freedom and breathing space present in the music allow the musicians to take off and express their individuality, before returning to the compositional structure. All of his pieces are a pleasure to listen to, and the three-part suite that concludes the album is a profound and very moving composition that proves his great talent as a composer.

Of course Parker also plays some tasteful bass parts and his Polish colleagues, all of them superb musicians as well, make this music to come alive in its full splendor. These are after all some of the young lions that will represent the European Jazz scene in a few years. Overall an excellent effort, in every respect, definitely worth listening to, so get it ASAP and help Parker to move on and create some more great music for all of us to enjoy!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Franciszek Raczkowski Trio – Apprentice (2015)

Franciszek Raczkowski Trio

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

Apprentice

FOR TUNE 0066




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.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Kwartet Pałucki – Na Skrzyżowaniu Rzek (2015)

Kwartet Pałucki

Grzegorz Tomaszewski - zither, harmonica
Michał Kulenty - saxophone, flute
Karol Szymanowski - vibraphone
Krzysztof Samela - bass

and guests

Na Skrzyzowaniu Rzek

FOR TUNE 0073

By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording by the Polish ensemble Kwartet Pałucki, a quartet dedicated to playing music that originates in the Pałuki region, combined with Jazz improvisations. It comprises of zither and harmonica player Grzegorz Tomaszewski, saxophonist/flautist Michał Kulenty, vibraphonist Karol Szymanowski and bassist Krzysztof Samela. They are joined by four guest musicians: vocalist Zbigniew Zaranek, knee fiddle player Maria Pomianowska, accordionist Łukasz Mirek and percussionist Julia Rauhut. Together they perform six traditional tunes/songs arranged in a Jazz-World Fusion fashion.

The music is a well rounded, melodic, straightforward mainstream Jazz combined (gently) with the folkloristic themes. Everything is well performed and there are plenty of nice solos by the participants. The vocal parts are also quite excellent. Generally this is a very pleasant listen and although the song's lyrics are in Polish, the album should be accessible to most Jazz-World Fusion fans.

On the other hand this album is not really very ambitious or innovating, and therefore does not belong to the list of groundbreaking Polish Jazz albums amalgamating Polish Folklore, which have been recorded on the local scene since the 1960s and are still being created today, some of which were released by For Tune Records. Overall this album is worth checking out for people who appreciate the diversity of the Polish Jazz scene.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Atom String Quartet – Atomsphere (2015)

Atom String Quartet

Mateusz Smoczyński - violin
Dawid Lubowicz - violin
Michał Zaborski - viola
Krzysztof Lenczowski - cello

Atomsphere

KAYAX 087



By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by the Polish string quartet called Atom String Quartet, one of the most unique and successful music ensembles on the local scene in the last half-decade, which comprises of violinists Mateusz Smoczyński and Dawid Lubowicz, violist Michał Zaborski and cellist Krzysztof Lenczowski. Recorded a couple of years after its predecessor, this album, spread over two CDs, presents twelve new original compositions (five by Lenczowski, two by Smoczyński, two by Lubowicz, two by Zaborski and one co-composed by all of them), two compositions by Polish contemporary Classical composer Witold Lutosławski (arranged by Lenczowski) and finally one by legendary Polish Jazz violinist Zbigniew Seifert (arranged by Smoczyński).

Musically this album more or less follows the same pattern already established by its predecessors, with the quartet walking the rope between Jazz influenced pieces and more "serious" Classically influenced pieces, somehow managing to keep the two quite diverse trends to merge and coexist. They are all obviously extremely talented musicians and composers, virtuosi performers and great entertainers, but at this point of their existence the question if their novelty and extraordinary abilities are enough to keep them going?

Perhaps the decision to release a double album was a bit hasty as the material, as good as it is, is certainly not diverse enough to justify a two CD extravaganza. Perhaps a single CD of more simmered down, distilled and self-censored material would have worked better?

On the other hand these young people have obviously a lot to say and feel an urge to share their musical discoveries with a large audience, which is perfectly fine. They can, after all, play extremely well and the string wizardry is always exciting. Personally after listening to this double album several times I still can't grasp exactly why I feel a bit disappointed? Perhaps the feeling of déjà vu is to blame; in any case I am sure that many listeners will find this album very satisfying. I still hope these young people have more in them that shown herein.
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