Jerzy Milian - composer
By Adam Baruch
This is the fifth installment of the archival series released by GAD Records, which presents the work of Polish Jazz vibraphonist/composer/bandleader Jerzy Milian. This chapter is dedicated to Milian's ballet music, and presents four of his works, three of which were choreographed for the stage by the pioneering Polish choreographer Conrad Drzewiecki. One piece was recorded by the Poznan Opera Orchestra, which featured saxophonist Zdzislaw Nowak, and the other three by the excellent East German Rundfunk Tanzorchester Berlin conducted by Gunter Gollasch, which featured the legendary saxophonist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and trumpeter Joachim Graswurm. The composition entitled "Tema Con Variazioni", which was released on Milian's album "Muzyka Baletowa I Filmowa" appears here in its full version for the first time.
The music is completely visionary, as usual in Milian's case, floating somewhere between Third Stream, Duke Ellington's Jazz suites and contemporary Classical Music. Considering the fact he was only in his thirties, when this music was composed, he already had a tremendous experience and vision, which only very few of his contemporaries shared.
The recording with the Poznan Opera Orchestra is a bit stiff (except for the excellent saxophone parts), as these were classically trained musicians and Milian's intricacies must have been straining for them, but the three Berlin recordings are all spectacular and awe inspiring, especially in retrospect. Nobody today dares to write and perform such complex and farsighted music and perhaps we should be grateful to the Socialist Era, which enabled projects that in today's economic reality would be completely impossible to realize.
This is unquestionably one of the strongest albums in this series, which of course has a tremendous historic value, but first and foremost presents some incredible music, which absolutely has to be preserved for posterity. For Polish Jazz connoisseurs this is an essential piece of the puzzle and a must in every serious record collection. Brilliant stuff!