Sunday, April 16, 2017

Leszek Kułakowski – Love Songs (2017)

Leszek Kułakowski

Leszek Kułakowski - piano
Tomasz Grzegorski - saxophone
Maciej Grzywacz - guitar
Joanna Knitter - vocals
Piotr Kułakowski - double bass
Tomasz Sowiński - drums

Love Songs


By Adam Baruch

This is a beautiful album by Polish pianist/composer Leszek Kułakowski, who shows herein yet another facet of his multitalented persona, this time as a songwriter. The album presents ten songs composed and arranged by Kułakowski to the lyrics by Polish poet Zbigniew Książek, all of them being love songs in the good old meaning of the idiom. The songs are performed by vocalist Joanna Knitter, accompanied by a classic piano trio with Leszek Kułakowski at the piano, his son Piotr Kułakowski, who plays bass and drummer Tomasz Sowiński, and by the Progress Chamber Orchestra. Saxophonist Tomasz Grzegorski and guitarist Maciej Grzywacz guest on a couple of tracks.

The music is everything one might expect from nontrivial love songs: exquisite melodies, sophisticated harmonies, unforeseen twists and highly developed swing, which keeps the songs flowing one after another, arriving at the album's last song way sooner that one might expect. Combined with the intelligent lyrics and vigorous execution, these songs are a true delight.

Of course these songs have very little to do with contemporary popular music, which of course is meant as a compliment. They belong to the era when songs had a melody, a message and some aesthetic values, in short the era when all great Jazz standards were written. In many respects these songs belong to the same "standards" category, and the fact they are new and unknown only make things more interesting, as any new material of such quality is truly scarce these days.

As far as Polish Jazz is concerned, these songs continue the tradition of Jazz & Poetry, which flourished in the 1960s, and are a warm reminder of those days as well as a most welcome continuation of that tradition. Kułakowski turns out to be a romantic at heart, which is perhaps one more good reason why I like him so much both as a musician and a human being and honored to be his friend. Overall this is an inspired collection of beautiful love songs, excellently executed by all participants, which creates moments of blessed tranquility and joy, which help the listener to survive the hellish barrage of noise which passes for music in the world we now live in.

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