Sunday, February 14, 2016

Przemek Dyakowski/Take It Easy IV – Swing! (2015)

Przemek Dyakowski/Take It Easy IV

Joanna Knitter - vocals
Przemek Dyakowski - saxophone
Wojciech Staroniewicz - saxophone
Dominik Bukowski - vibraphone
Artur Jurek - keyboards
Janusz Mackiewicz - bass
Tomasz Sowiński - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording of a concert that celebrated the 80th Birthday Anniversary of the veteran Polish Jazz saxophonist Przemek Dyakowski. The music, recorded at Radio Gdańsk, was performed by a group of Dyakowski's friends, which included, in addition to him of course, vocalist Joanna Knitter, saxophonist Wojciech Staroniewicz, vibraphonist Dominik Bukowski, keyboardist Artur Jurek (who also arranged all the songs), bassist Janusz Mackiewicz and drummer Tomasz Sowiński. A few guest musicians also took part in the proceedings. The album presents eight songs (and a bonus track with vocalese by Hanna Banaszak), seven of which are originals: two each by Staroniewicz and Knitter, and one each by Dyakowski, Bukowski and Mackiewicz. Knitter also wrote the lyrics (in English) to all these original songs. The last song is a standard.

The music is exactly what the album's title promises: a set of songs kept within the mainstream Jazz tradition, all of which sound as if they were well known Jazz standards, which of course means that they are all beautifully crafted to the highest standard. The performances are also excellent, executed with flair and obvious professionalism, spiced with many beautiful solos. The relaxed atmosphere and good sound make the music flow smoothly from one song to another, with an overall effect of joyous occasion and great fun had by all the musicians present

Knitter manages to pass the test of singing in English, which usually has a disastrous result on Polish Jazz albums. Her pronunciation, although obviously non-English, is charming enough and highly musical, which makes the overall result comparable to other great non-native English language singers. Her singing here and her warm timbre fit the general concept of the music like a glove. Her lyrics are also quite excellent, so she comes out of this recording definitely on the winning side.

Overall this album is definitely as good, if not better, than most American mainstream/Swing albums, and the original music herein is way better, which of course means that Polish Jazz is not inferior anymore to anything from across the pond.

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