Tuesday, March 14, 2017

HoTS – Numbers (2016)


Mikołaj Poncyljusz - guitar
Radek Nowak - trumpet
Bartosz Tkacz - tenor saxophone
Adam Prokopowicz - double bass
Jakub Kinsner - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by the Polish Jazz quintet HoTS, led by guitarist/composer Mikołaj Poncyljusz and including trumpeter Radek Nowak, saxophonist Bartosz Tkacz, bassist Adam Prokopowicz and drummer Jakub Kinsner. The album presents six original tunes, all composed by Poncyljusz, which are separated by five short interludes, which are improvised. All the music is presented continuously without the customary silence breaks between tracks.

Musically the album continues the path set by their debut album, which focuses on melodic compositions, which serve as basis for solo improvisations by guitar, trumpet and saxophone. The interludes feature prominently each of the quintet members in turn, focusing on their respective abilities as instrumentalists and improvisers.

The addition of Tkacz as the fifth member of the group radically expanded the ambience and the interplay possibilities, and presents a more balanced overall ensemble sound and enables sharing the load of the main soloist between him and Nowak, who was the focus of the debut album. Poncyljusz continues using the reverb soaked guitar sound, which personally I am not crazy about, but his playing is technically without reproach. The rhythm section supports the flow of the music perfectly, staying respectfully mostly in the background. Prokopowicz has a nice fat sound which fills the bottom range very well and Kinsner plays very softly (or is not prominent enough in the mix), which often seems as he's not there much.

The music is a bit too melancholy, flowing very slowly and within a very narrow emotional range. But the compositions are solid and the performances heartfelt, which adds up to a very nice atmospheric album, which deserves to be heard and enjoyed. The fact that HoTS manages to create their own stylistic signature as a group is the most significant achievement and the unusual concept of presenting the album as a continuous stream of music is also commendable. Overall this is a very interesting mainstream Jazz album, which beautifully presents the diversity and ingenuity of Polish and European Jazz and is definitely worth investigating.

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