Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tomasz Wendt Trio & Atom String Quartet – Behind The Strings (2016)

Tomasz Wendt Trio & Atom String Quartet

Tomasz Wendt - saxophone
Grzegorz Piasecki - bass
Wojciech Buliński - drums
Łukasz Damrych - piano
Magdalena Zawartko - vocal
Atom String Quartet

Behind The Strings

SJ 018

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album as a leader by Polish Jazz saxophonist/composer Tomasz Wendt presented in a trio setting with bassist Grzegorz Piasecki and drummer Wojciech Buliński. The trio is accompanied on several tracks by the excellent Atom String Quartet (violinists Dawid Lubowicz and Mateusz Smoczyński, violinist Michał Zaborski and cellist Krzysztof Lenczowski). Vocalist Magdalena Zawartko guests on two tracks and pianist Łukasz Damrych guests on three tracks. The album presents eight original compositions, all composed and beautifully arranged by Wendt.

What might appear on the surface as another "Sax & Strings" Smooth Jazz project turns out to be a brilliant musical enterprise, which offers superb Mainstream Jazz music, which has depth and meaning. The compositions are all wonderfully solid and coherent, full of typical Polish melancholy and lyricism, and all skillfully arranged for this unusual setting. The music is diverse and rich in harmonic layers and rhythmic patterns, providing a fascinating journey to the listener, which is moving from one climax to another.

Wendt plays expressively and his improvisations perfectly suit the musical boundaries, being interesting and complex but not crossing the line into becoming too intricate for a mainstream Jazz enthusiast. The rhythm section supports the leader amicably, with Piasecki filling the bottom pulsations which make this music swing and Buliński setting the pace with his skillful and highly original drum parts. The Atom String Quartet does exactly what it is famous for, i.e. plays some superb string ornamentations and in the process produces breathtaking violin solos.

The album is a wonderful example of good taste and elegance. The proportions between the saxophone, rhythm section and the string quartet are beautifully balanced, magnificently recorded at the RecPublica Studios and engineered by Łukasz Olejarczyk. Overall this is a gem of an album for fans of sophisticated mainstream Jazz, which offers an unusual instrumental setting and great compositions, superb arrangements and perfect execution; in short some of the best Polish Jazz has to offer. Wholeheartedly recommended!

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