Friday, April 1, 2016

Oleś Brothers & Jorgos Skolias/Sefardix – Maggid (2016)

Oleś Brothers & Jorgos Skolias/Sefardix

Marcin Oleś - double bass
Bartłomiej Oleś - drums
Jorgos Skolias - vocals



By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by the Polish trio comprising of brothers Marcin Oleś, who plays bass and Bartłomiej Oleś, who plays drums, collectively known as Oleś Brothers, and vocalist Jorgos Skolias. The trio is also referred to as Sefardix, a name they adopted from the title of their debut album together, recorded four years earlier.

The album continues to pay tribute to the Sephardic Jewish culture, by using several Ladino songs originating in the Judeo-Spanish tradition, but also using Greek, Balkan and other Mediterranean sources. All the songs were selected, arranged and transcribed for double bass by Marcin Oleś, except for one song which was composed by him. All of the lyrics are traditional except for three cases where Skolias wrote Greek lyrics.

Although the trio is seemingly limited to use just the rhythm section to accompany the vocals, in fact Marcin's bass and Bartłomiej's drums and percussion instruments create a full orchestral accompaniment, with both the bass and the drums also playing the melodic parts. Together with the vocals the full sound of the trio is incredibly expressive and lacks absolutely nothing. The virtuosic instrumental parts and the extraordinary vocals are completely unique and breathtaking. The music offers not only a respectful treatment of the tradition but also a very up to date arrangement and execution, creating a masterpiece of Jazz-World Fusion, with has very little competition. It is the instrumental minimalism and the vocal mannerism and theatrics which work together so well, creating this powerful result.

Skolias is a completely one of its kind vocal artist, who feels perfectly at ease singing vocals or improvising vocalese, with his deep hoarse baritone, which is simply charming. There is nobody else on the Polish scene remotely close to Skolias and his great talent gets here a full exposure, like almost never before. The Oles Brothers refuse to stick to the role of Poland's most formidable Jazz rhythm section and keep producing incredibly diverse music both individually and as a team. Sefardix, which is just one of their multifaceted activities, is certainly one of the most impressive.

The long wait for this album certainly paid off in full. This is one of the most impressive Jazz-World Fusion albums ever recorded in Poland, which is known for the incredibly high level of musical output. This is a kind of album which should sell millions of copies all around the world, in an ideal world; alas we don't live in an ideal world… An absolute must, don't even dare to think twice!

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