Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Ida Zalewska – Storytelling (2016)

Ida Zalewska

Ida Zalewska - vocal
Kuba Płużek - piano
Szymon Mika - guitar
Kuba Dworak - double bass
Damian Niewiński - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by Polish vocalist/songwriter Ida Zalewska, recorded with a quartet comprising of pianist Kuba Płużek, who also arranged all the songs, guitarist Szymon Mika, bassist Jakub Dworak and drummer Damian Niewiński, all of them representatives of the young generation of the Polish Jazz scene. The album presents ten original songs, six of which were co-composed by Płużek and Zalewska, three are by trumpeter Jerzy Małek and one is by pianist Bogdan Hołownia. Zalewska wrote the lyrics to seven of the songs and Joanna Majorkiewicz to the remaining three; five of songs have Polish lyrics and the other five have English lyrics.

Although the album is somewhat jazzed up, mostly by the presence of the Jazz musicians, Zalewska is body and soul oozing the Blues, with her deep, sensual voice and vocal mannerisms all originating in the Blues idiom. There is none of the typical Polish lyrical melancholy and Slavic mysticism here (well almost); it is all one or another form of the Blues. Płużek, as the composer, arranger and main accompanist took the bull by its horns and produced a diverse but consisted body of music, which is built around Zalewska's capabilities.

The instrumental work on this album is relatively modest, and except for Płużek, who carries most of the weight on his shoulders, the rest of the quartet is rather subdued. Mika plays a few very nice solos, but on a Blues album one would expect a much more dominant guitar presence. The rhythm section has little more to do than to keep time, which they do pretty straightforwardly. Płużek contributes some nice solo parts and serves the role of the accompanist amicably.

Overall, although not really my cup of gumbo, this album is definitely something fans of Soul drenched American Blues will enjoy a lot. The biggest problem this album presents to me is with the lyrics: the English lyrics are fine but Zalewska's pronunciation is a bit off, the Polish lyrics sound really unnatural in this environment and don't fit the music very well. I guess Blues was not meant to be sung in Polish. Anyway these are minor points and I guess this music can do very well live, much better than in a sterile studio environment.

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