Saturday, June 8, 2019

Ola Mońko – Wherever You Are (2018)

Ola Mońko

Ola Mońko - piano
Jerzy Małek - trumpet
Maciej Sikała - tenor saxophone
Michał Barański - bass
Eric Allen - drums

Wherever You Are


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish pianist/composer Ola Mońko, recorded in a quintet setting with trumpeter Jerzy Małek, saxophonist Maciej Sikała, bassist Michał Barański and American (resident in Poland and married to Monko) drummer Eric Allen. The album presents nine compositions, eight of which are originals composed by Mońko and one is a standard, all of which were arranged by Monko. The album offers a warm clear sound, which fondly resembles the famous Blue Note Records sound created by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder.

The music sits comfortably within contemporary mainstream Jazz, which is not surprising considering that Mońko spent thirteen years living and playing Jazz in the US, where she was exposed to what the best American Jazz has to offer. Her compositions are all well built and offer solid melodies and coherent harmonic structures, which results in them sounding as good as any Jazz standard played today.

All the members of the quintet are veteran players with years of experience behind them and as the result the music flows smoothly and elegantly from one tune to another and the album seems to be over in a flash. All three soloists contribute inspired solo parts and the rhythm section keeps the music streaming in an amicable fashion.

Overall although not innovative as far as the Jazz idiom is concerned, this album offers splendid mainstream Jazz experience and presents an excellent collection of original tunes, which prove that the Polish Jazz musicians can play American mainstream as well as their counterparts across the pond and compose wonderful heartfelt tunes. For mainstream Jazz lovers this album is a gem from start to finish and a most pleasant listening experience. Congratulations go to Mońko for finally making her statement, hopefully only the first of many. Go Girl!

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