Friday, August 12, 2016

Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet – Live Polka (2016)

Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet

Joanna Duda - piano
Oskar Torok - trumpet
Marek Pospieszalski - saxophone
Wojtek Mazolewski - double bass
Qba Janicki - drums

Live Polka


By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording by Wojtek Mazolewski and his quintet, which presents live versions of the material recorded for his last studio album entitled "Polka". The lineup is not listed on the album's minimal packaging, so one must assume that it is the same as the lineup which recorded the studio album. The album presents just three compositions from the studio album, with the title track repeated twice, one time lasting for over nineteen minutes and the second time for almost twenty six minutes.

These live versions are dramatically different from the concise studio versions and show the quintet stretching out and playing extensive solo sections, group improvisations and trance like repetitions, which are absent from the studio album. In short this album could be seen as "the other side" of "Polka".

Of course a live album always turns the attention of the listener to the individual players checking out their chops and technical skills. Although these musicians are experienced and talented, they definitely are not up to the challenge to keep the listener captivated for extended periods of time and the album fails in that respect. If one wants listen to long solo bass solos, there are plenty of other bassists to choose from. Perhaps shorter pieces would have worked better? In addition the sound quality of the album is rather hollow and unfocused, which does not help.

The album also shows the punkish attitude of Mazolewski towards his listeners, a hype he has been demonstrating since his Punk and Yass days, which honestly is passé today. The charm of being rebellious works for a while, but eventually what the musician has to offer artistically should kick in, which in Mazolewski's case somehow does not happen too often lately

It is difficult to understand what the reasoning behind releasing this album was. If it means to serve as an invitation to the quintet's live shows, it is definitely not the best advertisement that could have been chosen. This album and the latest Pink Freud album both find Mazolewski away from his best days that are well remembered.

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