Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sophia Grand Club – 4 a.m. (2018)

Sophia Grand Club

Eskaubei - rap, spoken word
Kuba Płużek - piano, wurlitzer, flute
Bartłomiej Prucnal - alto & soprano saxophones
Vitold Rek - double bass
Maksymilian Olszewski - drums

4 a.m.


AFRO VIBE 001

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the Polish ensemble Sophia Grand Club, comprising of rapper Eskaubei (a.k.a. Bartłomiej Skubisz), saxophonist Bartłomiej Prucnal, keyboardist Kuba Płużek, veteran bassist Vitold Rek and drummer Maksymilian Olszewski. The album presents eight original compositions, four by Płużek, three by Rek, one co-composed by Płużek and Rek and one improvised piece credited to all members of the ensemble. Seven of the numbers feature lyrics by Eskaubei and one is an instrumental.

Musically the album continues the formula set up by Eskaubei with his two albums recorded with Tomek Nowak Quartet for the For Tune Label, i.e. Jazz tunes featuring Rap and spoken word amalgamating the genres into a new musical entity. Płużek, who proves to be one of the most versatile players / composers on the young Polish Jazz scene, delivers again some fiery Jazz / Funk tunes and Rek adds his more melancholic contributions, together creating a wonderful collection of highly effective musical vistas.

Eskaubei yet again delivers a set of meaningful texts, touching upon deeply troublesome problems of contemporary life, social relationships, loneliness, injustice and many others. It is a pity the lyrics were not included in the album's artwork, as they are definitely worth reading on their own. These lyrics could be seen as contemporary revelation of what we once called "protest songs" fifty of so years ago, just to show that the world is nothing like a TV commercial, then or today.

The instrumental work is also first rate, with Prucnal delivering some soulful solos and elegant accompaniment, Pluzek is master of the ceremony with his keyboards providing most of the melodic and harmonic framework, Rek plays wonderful bass parts, which are both very Jazzy and superbly Funky at the same time, and finally Olszewski adds his polyrhythmic Groove to keep things moving ahead.

Overall this is another superb album by Eskaubei and his instrumental cohorts, which proves that Rap can be a meaningful idiom, both musically and textually. Highly recommended to open-minded listeners, who like to be told the truth straight in their faces, which even the Funk doesn't make much easier to digest. Well done again!

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