Saturday, July 23, 2016

NOVI Singers – Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol.24 (2016)

NOVI Singers

Ewa Wanat - vocals
Bernard Kawka - vocals
Janusz Mych - vocals
Waldemar Parzyński - vocals

Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol.24 

POLSKIE RADIO 1670


By Adam Baruch

This is the twenty-fourth installment in the series of releases initiated by the Polish Radio, which presents archive Jazz recordings from the radio vaults. Radio recordings are always a fabulous source of remarkable material, and as far as Polish Jazz history is concerned, the Polish Radio, which was a state monopoly for 45 years, recorded over time a plethora of invaluable material, which apart from the albums released by the Polskie Nagrania record company (also a state monopoly), is the only available additional source of Polish Jazz recordings. For many years Polish Radio recorded concerts presented during Poland's most important Jazz venues, including the annual Jazz Jamboree Festival and many other festivals as well.

The thirteen tracks collected here were recorded during three separate occasions by the sensational Polish Jazz vocal quartet NOVI Singers: a Polish Radio Studio session from 1968 (four tracks), a live performance at the 1969 Jazz Jamboree Festival (five tracks) and finally a live performance at the 1971 Jazz Jamboree Festival (four tracks). NOVI Singers, formed in 1964 by Bernard Kawka, included also Ewa Wanat, Janusz Mych and Waldemar Parzyński. During the studio session they were accompanied by an orchestra of unknown lineup, during the 1969 concert they were accompanied by a trio comprising of organist Krzysztof Sadowski, bassist Janusz Kozłowski and drummer Andrzej Dąbrowski and finally during the 1971 concert they were accompanied by a Big Band which included trumpeters Stanisław Mizeradzki and Bogdan Skawina, trombonist Stanisław Cieślak, saxophonists Tomasz Szukalski, Janusz Muniak and Zbigniew Namysłowski, guitarist Marek Bliziński, pianist Jan Jarczyk, bassist Tadeusz Gogosz and drummer Kazimierz Jonkisz.

The material is mostly original with five compositions by Kawka, two by Parzyński and one by Mych. Three tracks are standards, one was composed by Namyslowski and one is an arrangement of a Classical piece by Frederic Chopin, which the quartet performs a cappella.

Inspired by such vocal groups like the French Les Double Six and The Swingle Singers, also originally formed in France, NOVI Singers took the vocal group artistry a notch further, presenting a wide and ambitious repertoire ranging from arrangements of Classical Music via complex Jazz compositions, mostly original, featuring advanced vocal shenanigans and finally arrangements of Pop material. They used lyrics in some of their material but were absolutely at their best when singing wordless vocalese, which they brought to perfection.

This particular album had the potential of being one of the most interesting releases in this series, since live material by NOVI Singers is almost completely absent from their recorded legacy, but sadly it suffers from some problems, which make it much less attractive that it should have been. Firstly the tracks recorded during the three separate sessions have been sequenced here quite randomly, rather than being presented grouped together by session. Secondly the recording quality is sadly very problematic on most of these tracks and even the careful restoring and remastering was not able to make them sound better. Of course the human voice is the most difficult recording challenge and considering the limitations present at the time the quality should be judged leniently, but in this case the sound quality seriously hinders the listening experience. Thirdly, as usual for this series, there is no background information about the artists, historic background, etc. which recordings of such importance truly deserve.

Nevertheless all things considered, this is still a very important document of the Polish Jazz legacy and considering the importance of this material this album immediately becomes another must have for all Polish Jazz fans and collectors of Polish Jazz recordings.

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