Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Krzysztof Popek – Fresh Air Project (2016)

Krzysztof Popek

Krzysztof Popek - alto flute
Piotr Wojtasik - trumpet, flugelhorn
Nicolas Simion - tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
George Cables - piano
Cameron Brown - bass
Victor Lewis - drums

Fresh Air Project


By Adam Baruch

This is an album by veteran Polish Jazz flautist/composer Krzysztof Popek, which breaks his seven years long period of silence. It was recorded in a sextet setting with Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik, Romanian saxophonist Nicolas Simion and an American rhythm section: pianist George Cables, bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Victor Lewis. Together they perform seven pieces, of which just one is an original by Popek and another is a short outro by Cables and the remaining five are standards.

As the lineup suggests, the music is typical mainstream Jazz, which has almost nothing to do with Polish or European Jazz, and is soaked in American tradition with a very predictable results. Although these are excellent musicians, the music they perform offers no intellectual challenge whatsoever to the listener.

There are plenty of great instrumental passages, especially Simion's bass clarinet parts, but again nothing outstanding, which does not appear on almost every CD recorded in the US. Popek's flute still sounds beautifully romantic, but the instrumental performances alone are simply not enough to make this album exceptional. I still hold fond memories of Popek's work as the leader of the legendary Young Power, which I'd rather listen to than to this album. Overall this is a highly professional post Bebop mainstream album, well recorded and pleasurable, but not different from thousands of other similar albums of this type.

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