Friday, March 31, 2017

Anna Gadt – Renaissance (2017)

Anna Gadt

Anna Gadt - voice
Zbigniew Chojnacki - accordion
Krzysztof Gradziuk - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the fourth album by Polish Jazz vocalist Anna Gadt, which presents her interpretations of Polish Renaissance music by such composers as Wacław z Szamotuł, Mikołaj Gomółka, Jan z Lublina and Mikołaj z Krakowa, who all lived and composed music in the 16th Century. The fourteen pieces presented on this album include also three short improvisations and three original compositions by Gadt. On the album Gadt is accompanied by only two musicians: accordionist Zbigniew Chojnacki and drummer Krzysztof Gradziuk (of RGG fame). The music was recorded at the fabulous Studio Tokarnia and engineered by Jan Smoczyński, with the usually spectacular sonic quality.

The music features mostly vocalese, with just a few fragments of lyrics, which of course means that Gadt's voice is the centerpiece of this project. Her control of the vocal range and her improvisational abilities are astounding. The overall musical effect is not easy to be absorbed by the average listener, as it requires patience and understanding of both ancient music and Jazz, which is definitely far from being trivial. Those who can truly appreciate this highly unique undertaking will be rewarded by immense emotional and aesthetic gratifications.

The conscious decision to appear with minimal instrumental support is also an extremely courageous one, but luckily Gadt found two most sympathetic cohorts. Chojnacki is a Master accordionist and his instrument is able to create sonic vistas which move between the mighty church pipe organ to a wooden flute. His virtuosity is simply completely exceptional. Gradziuk, who is one of the most versatile and sensitive drummers on the Polish Scene, also contributes formidable support to the vocal parts. Together the three musicians are able to create a much bigger effect than just the sum of their contributions.

Overall this is a most ambitious and praiseworthy effort, which combines paying tribute to the Polish Culture from the past and its development in recent times. The obscure Renaissance Music, known only by a few selected scholars, gets an exposure, which hopefully will result in more people discovering it. Gadt's contribution to the Polish Vocal Jazz School is fully noted and sealed by this release, being fully deserved. Well done Anna! Kudos to Jan Sudzina and his Hevhetia label for supporting Polish Jazz so enthusiastically, which is of course very neighborly of him. Keep it up!

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