Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Sound Pack – On Air (2019)

The Sound Pack

Joanna Świniarska - vocal
Katarzyna Mirowska - vocal
Małgorzata Biniek - vocal
Marcin Wawrzynowicz - vocal
and group

On Air

SJ 045

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the Polish Jazz vocal quartet The Sound Pack, led by Marcin Wawrzynowicz, which also includes three female singers: Joanna Świniarska, Katarzyna Mirowska and Małgorzata Biniek. They are accompanied by a splendid instrumental septet, which comprises of trumpeter Dominik Mietła, saxophonist Marcin Kaletka, trombonist Łukasz Rakalski (who was in charge of the excellent instrumental arrangements), guitarist Gabriel Niedziela, pianist Bogusław Kaczmar, bassist Michał Kapczuk and drummer Przemysław Jarosz (who was also in charge of the album's mix). The vocal arrangements were supplied by veteran Polish Jazz musician/arranger Aleksander Mazur (more about him later). The album presents ten Jazz standards, nine of which are evergreens known to every Jazz fan around the world and one originates in Poland. The album was recorded at the excellent Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki offering the usual splendid sound quality.

To anybody familiar with Polish Jazz this album immediately brings on the obvious association with the legendary and phenomenal Polish Jazz vocal quartet NOVI, which clearly also sets an incredibly tough and perhaps even unfair standard of comparison. After just a few seconds into the music the association becomes a reality, which is not entirely surprising considering the fact that Mazur worked with NOVI on one of their later albums and was involved with arranging for vocal groups for years. Therefore rather than comparing this album with those made by NOVI, I'd like to say that it is good to see (well, hear) finally someone who dares to stand up to the challenges and continue the Polish Jazz vocal quartet legacy.

The album offers excellent vocal arrangements and up to date instrumental approach, which allows for soloing by the individual players. All the performances, vocal and instrumental as one, are first rate and represent the fabulous level of the young Polish Jazz generation. The bluesy guitar parts by Niedziela and lyrical piano parts by Kaczmar are my personal favorites, but again everybody performs splendidly. The vocal parts deliver both lyrics and vocalese with the same level of harmonic perfection.

Some critical notes, however, are also in order: the choice of material is a tad too obvious/trifling, which can be forgiven considering this is a debut outing, and hopefully will be improved on future recordings. Although the singing of lyrics in English is not particularly ostracizing here, the sole song in Polish is an example of how things could be done better? Overall this is a splendid debut offering, which is a true pleasure to listen to from start to finish and a delightful experience for Jazz vocal group connoisseurs. Looking forward for the next album already, well done Ladies and Gents!

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