Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Resonance Ensemble - Double Arc (2015)

The Resonance Ensemble

Ken Vandermark - baritone saxophone & Bb clarinet
Dave Rempis - alto & tenor saxophones
Mikołaj Trzaska - alto saxophone & bass clarinet
Wacław Zimpel - Bb & alto clarinet
Magnus Broo - trumpet
Per-Åke Holmlander - tuba
Steve Swell - trombone
Mark Tokar - bass
Christof Kurzmann - llooppTim Daisy - drums
Michael Zerang - drums

Double Arc

MW 936-2

By Maciej Lewenstein

My super short review on Facebook was: The Resonance Ensemble was Made To Break Territory Band. It was obviously invented for fun, but there is certain message in this sentence. There was always quiet a difference between the musical concepts and sound of Ken Vandermark's Territory Band and The Resonance Ensemble. Territory Band include always (or at least on the records that I know) Jim Baker on piano, which is very essential. There was a bass string section of Kent Kessler on bass and Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, who both frequently use the bowing technique. In Territory Band the reeds section is more saxophone oriented, whereas in The Resonance Ensemble clarinets are more exposed. Last, but not least, Territory Band included in their personnel electronics: for instance, Lasse Marhaug played on "New Horse For The White House" and on "Collide", notable for the participation of Fred Anderson.

On "Double Arc" my beloved Christof Kurzmann joins the Ensemble and that, of course, make its effect on the music. Kurzmann is one of the leaders of Made To Break, an incredible quartet with Ken Vandermark on reeds, Tim Daisy on drums and Devin Hoff on bass guitar. I saw them twice in concerts in Barcelona and I admire their CDs: "Provoke" and "Cherchez La Femme". I consider Kurzmann to be the most original and creative laptop player/performer I know! So in this sense the last album of The Resonance Ensemble breaks certain barriers that were separating it from other projects of Ken et consortes.

The set was recorded at the Manggha Culture Center in Cracow. "Double Arc", composed by Ken, consists of "Arc One" and "Arc Two", divided into 8 and 6 short or moderately long sections, respectively. There is a lot of collectively free improvised fragments (c.f. "Arc One, Section 1"), but also a lot of more traditional ones with a composed theme followed (or not!) by improvised solos or duos (c.f. "Arc One, Section 2"). As Ken explains in the liner notes, this is the longest piece he wrote since the mentioned "Collide", strongly inspired by his interests in film music: American action movies of the 1970s, the early period of New York School composers, like John Cage and Morton Feldman, the work of the "Midwest School" of improvising composers form the late 1960s and 1970s (in particular represented by the late Julius Hemphill), obviously American and European free jazz and later free improvised music, Gil Evans & Miles Davis collaborations, and... funk of the 1970s from the USA, Nigeria and Ghana. The piece is dedicated to the great late Polish composer, Witold Lutosławski, one of the Ken's favorite composers of the XXth century. 

Evidently this is the most conceptual and best constructed album of The Resonance Ensemble. For me it is a masterpiece, comparable to the highest achievements of this sort in the whole history of the contemporary jazz and improvised music, comparable to Barry Guy's London Jazz Composers Orchestra "Ode" or Cecil Taylor's recordings with European Orchestra.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pink Freud - Pink Freud Plays Autechre (2016)

Pink Freud

Adam Milwiw Baron - trumpet, electronics
Karol Gola - baritone saxophone
Wojtek Mazolewski - bass guitar
Rafał Klimczuk - drums

Pink Freud Plays Autechre

MYSTCD294


By Bartosz Nowicki

W końcu jest. Po długich oczekiwaniach płyta Pink Freud z coverami Autechre trafiła do słuchaczy. Próbowano wydać tę płytę za granicą w Warp Rec. - matczynej wytwórni legendarnego duetu z Rochdale, niestety ambitne plany zespołu spaliły na panewce. Fakt ten może wydawać się rozczarowujący, gdyż artystyczna strona tego przedsięwzięcia jest wielce udana.

Idea nagrania w jazzowych wersjach kompozycji gigantów elektroniki i idm pojawiła się już na płycie "Monster Of Jazz" (2010), na której to figurowała aranżacja utworu "Goz Quarter", dość skromna i oszczędna wobec finalnej wersji zamieszczonej na "Pink Freud Plays Autechre". Pięć lat dzielące album "Monster Of Jazz" od koncertu w katowickiej Hipnozie, gdzie zarejestrowano materiał nowej płyty, to czas, który pozwolił członkom zespołu dokładnie przestudiować materiał źródłowy, mozolnie go ogrywając, wydobyć z niego esencję i przełożyć na pinkfreud'owski język przebojowego free. 

Tylko z pozoru koncept nagrania coverów ikony eksperymentalnej elektroniki mógł wydawać się karkołomny. Gdyby członkowie Pink Freud zdecydowali się podejść odtwórczo do ostatnich nagrań Autechre, stanęliby przed wielce ryzykownym zadaniem. Mocno wyabstrahowane kompozycje Brytyjczyków wydane po 2010, to już niezwykle zawiłe konstrukcje, oparte w głównej mierze na bezkompromisowej dominacji warstwy rytmicznej; mocnych, połamanych uderzeniach, nierównych mutujących się pętlach i chropowatym, tępym brzmieniu. Tymczasem Gdańszczanie zdecydowali się zreinterpretować najbardziej melodyjny etap w twórczości Autechre, przypadający na lata 90., gdzie wyrazista rytmika została uładzona melancholią ambientowych pasaży.

Właśnie klasyczne idm'owe melodie duetu Rob Brown - Sean Booth wyznaczają na "Pink Freud Plays Autechre" partyturę dla sekcji dętej (trąbki Adama Milwiw-Barona i saksofonu Karola Goli). Pracująca z regularnością automatu perkusyjnego, wyrazista sekcja rytmiczna Mazolewski - Klimczuk dyktuje zręby kompozycji, zaś syntezator (zgaduję, że jest to Minimoog Voyager?) obsługiwany przez Adama Milwiw-Barona, swoim niskim pomrukiem dodaje pożądanej gęstości i masywności. Obecność klawiszy wydaje się wprost niezbędna dla tej płyty. Pozwala muzykom podeprzeć swoje artykulacje na solidnym basowym fundamencie i stanowi wymierną przeciwwagę dla charyzmatycznych dęciaków.

"Pink Freud Plays Autechre" nie jest zwyczajną transkrypcją materiału źródłowego. Gdańszczanie podeszli do oryginałów twórczo i z animuszem. O powodzeniu eksperymentu zaważyło przede wszystkim skrócenie oryginalnych kompozycji, co wpłynęło na zwiększenie dynamiki utworów i przykuło uwagę do wątków melodycznych. Sięgając po nagrania Autechre, Pink Freud zmodyfikował konceptualną, abstrakcyjną formułę duetu w przebojowy repertuar. Kwartet z maszynową precyzją podąża od konkretu do konkretu, nie pozwalając sobie na rozprężające impresje. Mamy zatem do czynienia z materiałem, który pod względem formalnego rygoru przejawia wszelkie znamiona produkcji studyjnej. Okoliczności nagrania materiału zdradza dopiero zarejestrowany aplauz publiczności, zaś w warstwie wykonawczej charyzma i wigor instrumentalistów.

Interpretacja ikonicznych kompozycji duetu Autechre w wykonaniu Pink Freud imponuje monumentalnością brzmień i aranżacji, zdyscyplinowaną formą, profesjonalizmem wykonawczym i błyskotliwym przełożeniem elektroniki na jazzową modłę. "Pink Freud Plays Autechre" jest przy tym materiałem cholernie przebojowym, zyskującym z każdym kolejnym przesłuchaniem. Nie zniechęci purystów wiernych stylistyce oryginalnego Autechre, choć swą przebojowością może zmylić tych, którzy z twórczością duetu nie mieli wcześniej do czynienia.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tomasz Dąbrowski Ad Hoc - Strings (2015)

Tomasz Dąbrowski Ad Hoc

Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet, mutes
Hiroshi Minami - piano
Hiroki Chiba - double bass, electronics
Tsuboi Hiroshi - drums

Strings



AIRPLANE LABEL

By Piotr Wojdat

Przeprowadzając w październiku zeszłego roku wywiad z Tomaszem Dąbrowskim przy okazji jego solowego koncertu w warszawskim Pardon, To Tu, dużą część rozmowy poświęciłem na temat jego podróży do Japonii. Nie będąc nigdy w Kraju Kwitnącej Wiśni, utwierdziłem się w przekonaniu, że trudno ubrać w słowa odmienność innych kultur. Tomasz zdawał się być zafascynowany tym krajem. Z entuzjazmem dzielił się swoimi wrażeniami, a co ciekawsze historie opowiedział chwilę po tym, jak… wyłączyłem dyktafon. Podobnie jak inni polscy muzycy jazzowi udał się tam jednak przede wszystkim po to, aby spróbować swoich sił, grając z lokalnymi instrumentalistami. Owocem japońskiej przygody jest płyta "Strings", która powstała w trakcie nocnej sesji nagraniowej w klubie w Tokio.

Skład kwartetu, na którego czele stoi Dąbrowski, uzupełniają japońscy muzycy: pianista Hiroshi Minami, perkusista Tsuboi Hiroshi oraz kontrabasista Hiroki Chiba. Ten ostatni wprowadza do zespołu świeży powiew, poszerzając dźwiękowa paletę barw o brzmienia elektroniczne. Jednak nie dominują one nad całością. Kompozycje na płycie to akustyczny, poszukujący jazz z mocnym brzmieniem trąbki Tomasza. Ciekawie wypada też pianista Hiroshi Minami, który potrafi zarówno zaintrygować słuchacza zapamiętywalnym motywem melodycznym, jak i rozwinąć myśl w improwizacji. 

Zdając sobie sprawę z tego, że płyta powstawała szybko, a do tego między Dąbrowskim a japońskimi muzykami wystąpiły pewne problemy językowe, nie sposób nie docenić zawartości "Strings". Za każdym razem, kiedy słucham albumu projektu AD HOC, odnoszę wrażenie jakby panowie grali ze sobą kolejny już raz. Porozumienie na tle muzycznym udało się zatem osiągnąć bez większych problemów, czego dowodem ta oto naprawdę udana płyta.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Tomasz Stańko Experience


The Tomasz Stańko Experience (PL/DK/NO/FI/ISL)

Copenhagen Jazz Festival prezentuje we współpracy z Ambasadą RP, Copenhagen Jazzhouse i klubem Dexter w Odense specjalne spotkanie z jedną z ikon europejskiego jazzu na czele międzynarodowego zespołu młodych muzyków. 

Koncerty odbędą się w następujących dniach:

17 lutego - Copenhagen Jazzhouse, Kopenhaga
18 lutego - Dexter, Odense
19 lutego - The Village, Kopenhaga (zamknięty koncert dla zaproszonych gości)

Skład:
Tomasz Stańko - trąbka
Artur Tuźnik - fortepian
Tomasz Dąbrowski - trąbka
Martin Fabricius - wibrafon
Johanna Sulkunen - wokal
Stian Swensson - gitara
Richard Anderson - bas
Radek Wośko - perkusja
Snorri Sigurdarsson - trąbka
Thomas Hass - saksofon

Tomasz Stańko jest uważany słusznie za jednego z najwybitniejszych trębaczy jazzowych w Europie i na świecie. Wszechstronny muzyk, który w ciągu swojej długiej kariery przenosił się między awangardą i lirycznym pięknem. Urodził się w 1942 roku w rozdartym wojną kraju, by już we wczesnych latach 60. być ważnym głosem na żywiołowej polskiej scenie jazzowej. W bardzo młodym wieku wziął udział w nagraniu płyty Krzysztofa Komedy "Astigmatic" (1966), będącej kamieniem milowym. Stąd droga była już prosta aby stać się popularnym muzykiem sceny światowej, który grał z takimi postaciami jak Cecil Taylor czy Dave Holland.

Stańko jest uważany za jednego z pionierów europejskiego free jazzu, a w 1970 roku został on również członkiem międzynarodowego Globe Unity Orchestra - zespołu, który tworzyło szereg najważniejszych współczesnych europejskich muzyków free jazzu. Stańko nie ograniczał się jednak tylko do free jazzu. Pracował z klasycznymi kompozytorami jak Krzysztof Penderecki, natomiast jako lider własnych projektów, wyróżnił się on wieloma doskonałymi wydawnictwami w ramach lirycznego jazzu - szczególnie dla wytwórni ECM. Jednym z nich była płyta "Dark Eyes" z 2009 roku, z zespołem złożonym z bardzo ciekawych muzyków skandynawskich. Stańko wystąpił także w kilku ścieżkach dźwiękowych, w tym dla amerykańskiego serialu "Homeland".

W zespole The Tomasz Stańko Experience mistrza można usłyszeć w żywym dialogu z inspirującym zespołem młodych sił z europejskiego jazzu i muzyki improwizowanej. Ta grupa muzyków spotkała się podczas tzw. Summer Session 2015, czyli corocznego zjazdu profesjonalnych muzyków jazzowych, organizowanego przez duński związek jazzowy Jazz Danmark, gdzie pod kierownictwem Tomasza Stańki pracowała nad materiałem złożonym z kompozycji członków zespołu, a szczególnie nad utworami mistrza. Występ w sumie 10 osób na scenie, wysoce kompetentnych muzyków z Danii, Norwegii, Finlandii, Islandii i oczywiście Polski jest dla słuchacza doświadczeniem muzycznym. Wydarzenie interesujące zarówno dla starych fanów "polskiego Milesa Davisa", ale również dla tych, którzy chcą się wybrać w ekscytującą podróż przez kalejdoskop europejskiego środowiska jazzowego.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Matusik & Ghostman – Live (2013)

Matusik & Ghostman

Piotr Matusik - keyboards
Ghostman - vocals

Live

PRIVATE EDITION





By Adam Baruch

This is a debut album by Polish duo, which pairs keyboardist/composer Piotr Matusik and vocalist Ghostman (Grzegorz Lulek). The music was recorded live and it was the duo's debut performance. The album presents nine original compositions/songs co-credited to both members of the duo.

I have no idea why this album landed on my lap over two years after it was released, but better late than never. I must admit that I fell in love with this music from the first moment and I am still completely stunned by it. Mind you, it is only marginally Jazzy, but nevertheless it is one of the most original musical ventures on the Polish scene in the last few years.

Matusik, who is a very gifted pianist and composer as evident from his other recording projects, uses a plethora of keyboards to accompany the vocalist and skillfully changes the sounds / samples / timbre of his instruments to support his partner amicably, playing on the way some truly beautiful solos. He manages to be a complete and sufficient "one man orchestra", utilizing a drum machine and other tricks of the trade, doing it all with taste and respect.

But the real surprise for me is Ghostman, the vocalist. Not only is he blessed by a wonderful voice, which brings fond memories of the great Al Jarreau, but he also manages to do something I never heard before and that is to improvise the songs' lyrics inventing them in a gibberish language, which sounds as if spoken in a language, but in fact has no meaning whatsoever. The listener is convinced he is hearing Portuguese, Spanish, French or Italian but in fact this is all gibberish. Of course since most people do not speak many languages, they are convinced that they simply don't understand the lyrics, but the devilish trick of fooling them all is Ghostman's illusion.

Honestly this can't be accurately described by words and the only way to experience it is to hear it live, which I intend to do on the first opportunity arising. In the meantime listening to this superb music and absolutely stunning vocal shenanigans is all that I can do. If I'd received this album a couple of years earlier I'd have selected it among the top 10 albums of 2013, but alas this was no to happen. Buy I pay my respect now: hats off to both of you! And where is that studio album we all want to hear?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

P.U.R. Collective – Nichi Nichi Kore Ko Nichi (2015)

P.U.R. Collective

Krzysztof Knittel - electronics
Yuri Yaremchuk - saxophone
Alexey Kruglov - saxophone
Maciej Staszewski - guitar
Tomek Chołoniewski - drums

Nichi Nichi Kore Ko Nichi

FOR TUNE 0056


By Adam Baruch

This album presents a recording of Improvised Music created by the P.U.R Collective, which consists of musicians from Poland, Ukraine and Russia (hence the ensemble's name): prominent contemporary composer Krzysztof Knittel, who is in charge of electronics, saxophonists Yuri Yaremchuk and Alexey Kruglow, guitarist Maciej Staszewski and drummer Tomek Chołoniewski. The album consists of seven spontaneously composed and improvised pieces. The album's title is a quotation from a lecture by John Cage.

The music is an example of radical musical avant-garde, which shuns away everything most people associate with the term music, i.e. melody, harmony and rhythm. To most listeners this album will sound like a collection of random noise, which although made by humans using instruments, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Only a tiny fraction of people follows collective music improvisation of the kind presented here, but the fact that there are such people is a good enough reason for such records to be made.

Armed with a lot of patience and open-mindedness this music can be actually enjoyed, by following the line of thought (or perhaps intuitive reaction), which stands behind this music. These musicians improvise collectively, i.e. listen carefully to each other and exchange musical ideas between them, even if most people simply can't hear it. The two saxophonists deliver some first rate improvisations, the rocky distorted guitar takes the music into another direction and the excellent drum parts prove that drums are much more than a time keeping devise. The electronics are kept pretty much in the background and provide mostly an atmospheric element.

Overall this kind of music demands total attention and complete freedom of aesthetic definition of the music idiom, expanding the definition considerably. This album is highly recommended to brave hearted and unconventional listeners only.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tatvamasi – The House Of Words (2015)

Tatvamasi

Tomasz Piątek - tenor saxophone
Jan Michalec - trumpet
Grzegorz Lesiak - guitar
Łukasz Downar - bass guitar
Krzysztof Redas - drums

The House Of Words



REQUIEM 103

By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish ensemble Tatvamasi, led by guitarist Grzegorz Lesiak, which also includes saxophonist Tomasz Piątek, trumpeter Jan Michalec, bassist Łukasz Downar and drummer Krzysztof Redas. The album consists of four lengthy compositions, all by Lesiak. Although not entirely unambiguous, it seems the music was recorded "live in the studio" as it includes applause, but the sound has all the characteristics of a studio recording, contrary to the statement that it was recorded during an open air concert.

Following their sensational debut album released on the American Cuneiform label, Tatvamasi continue their tale of success and manage to produce another piece of music, which is fascinating and highly original. The lineup, extended to quintet with the addition of the trumpeter, has more instrumental possibilities and skillfully uses that advantage on this album. All members of the ensemble contribute superb solo parts and participate in the group interplay amicably and intelligently.

The music, as usual with Tatvamasi, is quite beyond classification stylistically and merges many different cross-genre elements, mostly World Music melodic lines and repetitive chant-like progression, Rocky rhythmic patterns and Jazz improvisation. Lesiak's guitar playing also uses electronic and ambient sound effects. The amalgamated sound produces a trance inducing environment, which allows the soloists to spread their wings and extrapolate into their personal dimensions. Hypnotic and absorbing, this music is simply irresistible.

In contrast to the three soloists, the rhythm section shows a remarkable restrain, simply driving the music skillfully ahead, but not drawing the listener's attention away from the centerpiece. Nevertheless their contribution is an absolutely essential piece of the music, which would have been impossible without it. Tatvamasi successfully pass the "second album" test with flying colors and hopefully will continue to produce more of their unique music in the future. As usual in such cases I can't wait to hear their next album and in the meantime I invite every connoisseur of unusual, challenging music to get hold of a copy of this gem. Well done!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Wild Mans Band – Fredensborg (2015)

The Wild Mans Band

Peter Brotzmann - tenor saxophone
Mikołaj Trzaska - alto saxophone
Peter Friis Nielsen - bass
Peter Ole Jorgensen - drums

Fredensborg

NINTH WORLD 050


By Adam Baruch

This is the sixth album by The Wild Mans Band, a conceptual trio, which invites other musicians to join them one at a time in turn, to create an ad hoc quartet. The trio consists of veteran European Free Jazz/Improvised Music musicians: German saxophonist/clarinetist Peter Brotzmann, Danish bassist Peter Friis Nielsen and Danish drummer Peter Ole Jorgensen. On this album they are joined by the great Polish saxophonist/clarinetist Mikołaj Trzaska, who completes the quartet lineup. The quartet performs five original compositions, all co-composed by all the quartet members.

The music is a fantastic explosion of raw energy and collective improvisation of the highest caliber, which hardly leaves a moment to gather one's thoughts, simply taking the listener on a wild and reckless journey of imagination and emotional treasure hunt. The level of interplay and individual virtuosi statements is staggering and this music has something new to offer with every listening session.

Brotzmann and Trzaska cooperate superbly together and the age and background differences seem to have no influence whatsoever on their incredible dialogues. With both of them having a very strong and unique personalities, their interplay is even more intense and eventually also more fruitful than other meetings of this kind.

The rhythm section is also absolutely brilliant, standing shoulder to shoulder with the intense foreground action. Nielsen has an incredible flexibility and speed and his pulsation keeps the entire musical environment in check, saving it from chaos and anarchy. Jorgensen is very skillful in not barraging the proceedings with his drumming, which would have annihilated the overall sound, keeping his wonderful drum parts just at the right level to be audible but not dominating. On the more serene parts his drumming is very musical and even melodic, adding a new dimension to the entire outcome.

In short this is a great example of Free Jazz/Improvised Music that is creative, surprising, emotional and engaging, which unfortunately does not happen too often in that idiom. Completely lacking any ego trips and the need to prove something, this music simply flows naturally, which makes it stronger and more influential than music that is trying to impress. This is a must have for all lovers of Free Jazz/Improvised Music, as recordings of such class, masterly execution and aesthetic beauty are rare indeed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Malerai/Uchihashi/Maya R – Utsuroi (2015)

Malerai / Uchihashi / Maya R

Michał Górczyński - clarinet, tenor saxophone, keyboard, plastic flute, toy guitar, voice
Kazuhisa Uchihashi - guitar, daxophone
Maya R - vocal
Dagna Sadkowska - violin
Mikołaj Pałosz - cello

Utsuroi

FOR TUNE 0055

By Adam Baruch

This album presents a wonderful project created by Polish trio Malerai, formed and led by clarinetists/composer Michał Górczyński with violinist Dagna Sadkowska and cellist Mikołaj Pałosz, and two Japanese musicians: vocalist Maya R and guitarist Kazuhisa Uchihashi. The album presents thirteen songs, which are sung in Japanese. Eleven of these songs were composed by Górczyński and two by Uchihashi. The lyrics of these songs were written by Japanese poets: Hekigoto Kawahigashi (the pioneer of modern haiku) and Yoshihiro Harada and by Friedrich Nietzsche (translated into Japanese).

The music is all about the sound and ambience of the Japanese language and reflects its many subtleties. Completely cross-genre, it moves freely between Pop, Rock, Jazz and contemporary Classical, with ease and elegance, always keeping the listener in suspense. Górczyński emerges here, similarly to his work on earlier Malerai projects, as one of the most interesting Polish contemporary composers and his ability to diversify his palette to suit different environments is quite remarkable.

Since this album is about the sound and feel of the Japanese language, it is not necessary for the listener to understand the language as such in order to enjoy this album. The vocals can be easily considered as one of the instruments of the entire ensemble and be accepted as such. The Polish and English translations of the lyrics are present in the album's booklet, for those who are interested in the actual meaning of the lyrics.

Overall this is a beautiful piece of contemporary music, which by its aesthetic potency easily bridges genres and cultures, creating a completely new universe. Superb music, great performances and a true gift for innovation and farsightedness turn this into a first class musical experience, which of course is wholeheartedly recommended!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Jaskułke & Wyleżoł – Duo Dram Lalala Koncert (2012)

Jaskułke & Wyleżoł

Sławomir Jaskułke - piano
Piotr Wyleżoł - piano

Duo Dram Lalala Koncert

PRIVATE EDITION





By Adam Baruch

This is an album by Polish duo Duo Dram, which pairs pianists/composers Sławomir Jaskułke and Piotr Wyleżoł. Recorded live, the album presents five original compositions (three by Jaskułke and two by Wyleżoł) and one composition by Kenny Wheeler, all performed on two pianos.

It is very difficult to relate to this music within the Jazz framework, and the fact that both pianists are primarily known as Jazz artists, makes it is even more difficult to pinpoint exactly what this music is all about. The melodic themes are repeated and swapped between the pianists back and forth, there are lots of chords and notes in the air, swirling like snowflakes in the wind, but once the flakes land on the ground nothing remains in the air…

Somehow this music does not touch me at all, sounding like a New Age effort of producing soothing background music rather than anything that one can hold to. Of course Jaskułke and Wyleżoł are both superb piano players, as evident from their numerous other recordings, but this effort simply does not take off as far as I am concerned. Of course I suppose many other listeners might enjoy this music immensely, therefore I urge fans of Jaskułke and Wyleżoł to listen to it by themselves and make their own minds.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Marek Kądziela ADHD – In Bloom (2015)

Marek Kądziela ADHD

Marek Kądziela - guitar
Rudi Mahall - bass clarinet
Andreas Lang - double bass
Kasper Tom Christiansen - drums
with
Maciej Obara - alto saxophone
Piotr Damasiewicz - trumpet

In Bloom

FOR TUNE 0079

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by an international Jazz quartet ADHD, led by Polish guitarist Marek Kądziela with German bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall and a Danish rhythm section: bassist Andreas Lang and drummer Kasper Tom Christiansen – the latter three being all members of the excellent FUSK quartet. Two distinguished Polish Jazz musicians participate as guests: saxophonist Maciej Obara and trumpeter Piotr Damasiewicz. The album presents ten original compositions (one appears in two versions), all by Kądziela and one standard by Thelonious Monk.

Although free spirited and unconventional, the music is perfectly well rounded and aesthetically pleasing, flirting with Free Jazz and Improvising Music but also presenting melodic motifs and straight forward progressions. Across the board this music is quite accessible even to listeners who are embedded within modern mainstream Jazz.

Kądziela's guitar playing on this album is quite different from his earlier recordings, and most of the time it is pretty straight forward, almost acoustic, and avoids the usage of electronics and heavy sound effects. He manages to completely keep away from the dreaded Fusionist banalities that most modern guitar players suffer from, which is truly praiseworthy. Therefore it is perhaps the first time the listener can truly appreciate his ability to play melody and complex improvisations, which sound perfectly clear and vivid. The solo guitar piece on this album is definitely one of its absolute highlights.

The contributions by the other members of the quartet, as well as those by the guests, are all excellent as well. I have already written much about the FUSK quartet and these are some of my favorite European musicians, so their performances here are hardly surprising. The Lang/Christiansen rhythm section in one of the top of its kind at the moment and Mahall's legendary status is already well established. Kądziela couldn't have found better partners for his musical explorations anywhere else to be honest. The two Polish guests are also masters of their trade and the tracks that feature their contributions add generously to the diversity of this album.

I admit to having digestion problems with some of Kądziela's earlier recordings, but I completely love this one, and I am very happy to say so. This music makes perfect sense to me, worms up my brain cells and keeps me smiling. For me it definitely is the best piece of music I have heard, that he produced. But of course the future is ahead of us…

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Naxos – Coexist, Live At Polin (2015)

Naxos

Milo Kurtis - leader
Apostolis Anthimos - guitar
Konstanty Joriadis - keyboards
Lena Romul - saxophone
Piotr Olszewski - bass
and others

Coexist – Live At Polin



MILO 302

By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish World Music ensemble Naxos, led by the charismatic musician of Greek origin Milo Kurtis. Other musicians in the ensemble include vocalist Rasm Al-Mashan, keyboardists and vocalist Konstanty Joriadis, guitarist Apostolis Anthimos, saxophonist Lena Romul, bassist Piotr Olszewski, drummer Kamil Siciak and percussionists Adeb Chamoun and Anna Patynek. The album presents ten original pieces, four of which were written by Kurtis, another four by Joriadis, one by Anthimos and the final one co-composed by Joriadis and Al-Mashan. Following the ten tracks recorded live at Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the album includes a lengthy bonus track by another ensemble led by Kurtis, called Drum Freaks, originally released on the album "Smyrna".

The music of Naxos is a perfect amalgamation of the beautiful Mediterranean music sources: Greek, Turkish, Arabic and Jewish, spiced with Rock and Jazz delicacies. Spectacularly performed by these highly talented musicians and fronted by the incredible vocal abilities of Al-Mashan, who not only sings beautifully but also is able to improvise with her vocals like al great Arabic singers, this music is a delightful musical trip to the heart of the Middle East.

Of course reading about this music is not a substitute for listening to it and therefore I wholeheartedly recommend attending a Naxos concert anywhere possible, with a guaranteed satisfaction, and in the meantime getting a copy of this wonderful album and enjoying it to the max.

Hopefully Kurtis and his cohorts will soon surprise us all again with some new music they so beautifully weave. In the meantime efharistó, shukraan and dziękuję my friends for the fabulous work and hope to see you all soon.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Charles Gayle Trio – Christ Everlasting (2015)

Charles Gayle Trio

Charles Gayle - tenor saxophone, piano
Ksawery Wojcinski - double bass
Klaus Kugel - drums

Christ Everlasting

FOR TUNE 0063


By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording at Poznan's club Dragon of a trio led by American saxophonist/pianist/composer Charles Gayle with Polish bassist Ksawery Wojcinski and German drummer Klaus Kugel. The trio performs nine tunes, four of which are standards and the other five are group compositions/improvisations credited to all trio members.

Gayle arrived on the US scene as "the new discovery/profit" of Free Jazz in the late 1980, after years of performing as a homeless street musician. I have followed his recordings over the years and I must admit that somehow Gayle has failed to convince me to be anything more than a curiosity. His extreme political and religious views aside, his "music" is a raw collection of sounds uttered with great intensity and emotion, but it does not "compute" as music in my brain – my bad of course – despite my passionate love for that kind of music. In retrospect Gayle's recordings hardly advanced the Free Jazz/Improvised Music idiom in a global sense and everything he does was already done in the 1960s, much more effectively as far as I can see.

That does not mean of course that his concerts are not worth attending and his albums not worth being heard, at least as far as one does not expect to be "enlightened". This particular gig caught on this album is pretty typical of Gayle's concerts but has a wonderful added value of the excellent rhythm section, which literally saves the day. Wojcinski and Kugel, both experienced and talented Improvised Music figures, add the missing musical element to Gayle's music, the depth and the interface, which enables a player/audience communication.

Overall this is an interesting amalgam of free spirited, almost anarchist improvisation with solid and often virtuosic "sensible" rhythm section, which prevents the anarchy to take over completely. The Free Jazz fans will definitely enjoy this music, if not immediately than after a few attempts; more conventionally oriented listeners beware, you have been warned.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

NAK Trio - The Other Side Of If (2015)

NAK Trio

Dominik Wania - piano
Michał Kapczuk - bass
Jacek Kochan - drums

The Othe Side Of If

DMCHR71154




By Maciej Krawiec

Z triem NAK w składzie z Jackiem Kochanem na perkusji, Dominikiem Wanią na fortepianie i Michałem Kapczukiem na kontrabasie miałem okazję zetknąć się po raz pierwszy na festiwalu Warsaw Summer Jazz Days w 2014 roku. Działo się to w ostatni dzień tego wydarzenia, już po występie głównej gwiazdy. Na widowni było już co najwyżej kilkadziesiąt osób, które stały się w ten sposób świadkami jednego z najlepszych koncertów tamtej edycji festiwalu. Gdy myślę o tamtym wydarzeniu, wspominam wyrafinowaną strukturę utworów, frapujący intelektualizm w grze artystów oraz ich pełne pomysłów muzykowanie. Te retrospektywne myśli idą w parze z tym, jak odbiera się pierwszą wspólną płytę zespołu: zarejestrowany w Kolonii album "The Other Side Of If".

Składają się na niego kompozycje Kochana, który przywołuje w ich kontekście inspiracje Bartókiem, Coplandem i Lutosławskim. I właśnie "kompozycja" wydaje mi się słowem-kluczem w myśli, jaką realizuje NAK Trio. Utwory zaprojektowane są z budzącą respekt precyzją. Linie, zakrzywienia i nieregularności fraz składają się na wykoncypowaną architekturę, którą włada autorska logika Kochana. Owe konstrukcje buduje z Wanią i Kapczukiem, panując w skupieniu nad natężeniem, fakturą i ekspozycją swych instrumentów.

Ze względu na ów prymat kompozycji i klarownych założeń formalnych, niewątpliwa jest pewna sterylność muzyki zespołu. Mamy wprawdzie do czynienia z jazzem, obecne są partie solowe, ale to, co skomponowane, zdecydowanie dominuje. Matematyka bierze tym samym górę nad metafizyką. Nie jest to jednak zarzut – tematy Kochana są bowiem znakomite, jakby kubistyczne, niewolne od ekspresjonistycznych kontrastów, zaś wykonawstwo całego tria na najwyższym poziomie. "The Other Side Of If" nie dostarczy więc słuchaczowi nadmiaru przystępnych emocji, ale bez wątpienia zaintryguje dramaturgią utworów i wykonawczą maestrią.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Ewa Bem – Tribute To Marek Bliziński (2015)

Ewa Bem

Ewa Bem - vocals
Marek Bliziński - guitar
Janusz Strobel - guitar
Jan Borysewicz - guitar
Jarosław Śmietana - guitar
Wojciech Waglewski - guitar
Jose Torres - percussion

Tribute To Marek Bliziński


POLSKIE RADIO 1945-1946

By Adam Baruch

This is a wonderful archival 2CD album by the Polish vocalist Ewa Bem, which she dedicates to the memory of the superb and tragically prematurely departed Polish Jazz guitarist Marek Bliziński, who died from cancer just a few days before his forty second birthday. Bliziński was the first modern Polish Jazz guitarist of international class and for many years during the 1970s and 1980s was considered the top guitarist on the Polish Jazz scene.

Bem and Bliziński recorded together several times as a duo and these recordings were collected on the album "Dla Ciebie Jestem Sobą", released by the Poljazz label, which is reissued here as the first CD of this album. The album consists of eleven songs, nine of which were written by Polish composers and lyricists, and two are standards with lyrics translated into the Polish language. In retrospect, although over three decades have passed since this music was recorded, these songs sound remarkably fresh and sparkling, losing none of their original charm. As noted in the liner notes, these duo recordings were inspired by the Ella Fitzgerald/Joe Pass sessions, which produced four superb albums released in the 1970s and 1980s. Blizinski's virtuosic guitar riffs are beyond reproach, precise and incredibly sensitive, and he proves being not only an exceptional player, but also a most sympathetic musical partner. Bem's youthful energy and obvious talent come to full fruition on this recording, presenting her as fully mature vocalist in complete control of her vocal abilities. Her interpretations of these songs show that she feels comfortably in a Jazz environment, but easily moves into Cabaret and Pop, with the same seriousness and dedication.

The second CD of this album presents a live recording of a concert from 2000, which was a tribute to Bliziński and which presents new versions of the songs originally recorded on the duo album with Bem being accompanied by four Polish guitarists: Jan Borysiewicz, Janusz Strobel, Jarosław Śmietana (who sadly also died from cancer in 2013) and Wojciech Waglewski. The vocal/guitar duos are accompanied by percussionist Jose Torres. In addition to the songs from the original album the duos perform also songs written by the guitarists. Everybody seems to be in top form and the music flows splendidly from one song to another with Bem being on top of things at all times. Her vocal abilities are in excellent form during the entire concert and she elegantly moves between genres, whether it is Jazz, Pop or Blues. The entire concert is a very heartfelt tribute to the memory of Blizinski, who of course deserves to be remembered for his invaluable contributions over the years.

The entire album has excellent sound quality and is carefully produced and packaged, bringing back to life an important segment of the Polish Jazz history, and as such is of course most welcome.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

High Definition Quartet – Bukoliki (2015)

High Definition Quartet

Mateusz Śliwa - tenor saxophone
Piotr Orzechowski - piano
Alan Wykpisz - double bass
Dawid Fortuna - drums

Bukoliki

FOR TUNE 0074


By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by the Polish Jazz outfit called High Definition Quartet, which comprises of saxophonist Mateusz Śliwa, pianist Piotr Orzechowski (a.k.a. Pianohooligan), bassist Alan Wykpisz and drummer Dawid Fortuna (who replaced Patryk Dobosz). The album presents five pieces related to the five piano miniatures by contemporary Polish Classical composer Witold Lutoslawski based on Polish Folklore tunes from the Kurpian region and called "Bukoliki". Orzechowski, rather than using the pieces by Lutoslawski, found the original Folk tunes that Lutoslawski used as his inspiration and rearranged them into his own version of "Bukoliki", later transforming it into the Jazz quartet version heard here.

As the year 2015 swiftly approaches its ending it becomes apparent that the Polish Jazz scene this year was dominated by two parallel trends: the re-discovery of Polish Folklore and the re-discovery of Polish contemporary Classical Music by Polish Jazz musicians/composers. The most impressive releases by Polish Jazz artists in 2015 are either related to one or another of these trends and in some cases, like this album, to both of them simultaneously.

Orzechowski, who is obviously the most dominating personality in this team, has already a rich history of tackling with Folklore ("15 Studies For The Oberek") or Classical Music ("Experiment: Penderecki") and this album is a natural development as far as his musical path is concerned. What is less natural and much closer to "supernatural" is of course his immense talent to transpose pieces of music between genres or rather to transform them into his own universe, which is completely unique and unparalleled by anybody else.

But it takes a team work, like the one presented here, to make this transformation complete. Sliwa, Wykpisz and Fortuna, all brilliant representatives of the young generation of Polish Jazz musicians, play along Orzechowski completely free of any inferiority complexes and sound like young semi-Gods performing in Pieria at the foot of the Olympus Mountain with Zeus and the rest of the Godly pack grinning madly and the Muses dancing along as if possessed by the sounds floating in the air.

From the very first notes heard on this album it becomes immediately apparent that this is one of the best pieces of music produced in the Jazz sphere this year, not only in Poland, but worldwide. The intensity, elegance, flair and above all European aesthetic is omnipresent here, creating a true artistic masterpiece. I am not going to name it the "best" album of 2015, not because it does not deserve the title, but simply because I don't believe art is a competition. It is brilliant and deserves to be heard by every music connoisseur on this planet, before the barbarians take the world over or our idea of Culture implodes upon itself. Absolutely essential!

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