Friday, March 10, 2017

D.R.A.G. – Oberek (2017)


Dominika Rusinowska - violin
Mateusz Gawęda - piano
Jakub Mielcarek - double bass
Józef Rusinowski - drums


AUDIO CAVE 2017/003

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz quartet D.R.A.G. led by violinist Dominika Rusinowska, which also includes pianist Mateusz Gawęda, bassist Jakub Mielcarek and drummer Józef Rusinowski. As the title suggests, the album presents six Polish Folklore melodies, arranged for the Jazz quartet by Rusinowska, Gawęda and the entire quartet (two pieces each). Although not stated on the album's liner notes, the music was recorded live (at least partly).

The renaissance of the Polish Jazz Violin School in the last decade is a true joy and seeing finally a female violinist joining the pack is encouraging. Especially so in view of this ambitious and interesting effort which crosses genres between Improvised Music and Jazz-World Fusion, which is extremely demanding.

The arrangements take the folkloristic themes only as basic musical ideas, which are then expanded by the lengthy improvisations, featuring the violin and piano. The rhythm section supports the soloists by creating a steady pulse, which drives the music forward and allows the soloists to move pretty far away, both harmonically and rhythmically. Most of the solo parts are quite Free oriented, at times even extremely Free, which sometimes slightly exceeds the abilities of the soloists, especially in the case of the leader. Nevertheless the music flows energetically and presents many superb moments of highly interesting intensity. By the nature of things Gawęda steals a lot of the attention with his stellar piano parts, but this of course should have been expected.

Overall the album tries to say a bit too much that is really necessary in this case. A more modest and calculated approach might have produced a more refined result, but considering the age and experience of these talented musician, a youthful enthusiasm is understandable. Definitely an impressive debut for the leader, who emerges as one more Polish Jazz musician worth following!

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