Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Natalia Kordiak Quintet – Bajka (2019)

Natalia Kordiak Quintet

Natalia Kordiak - voice
Przemysław Chmiel - tenor & soprano saxophones
Mateusz Kołakowski - piano, rhodes
Alan Wykpisz - bass
Grzegorz Pałka - drums

Bajka


HEVHETIA 0194

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz vocalist Natalia Kordiak recorded in a quintet setting with saxophonist Przemysław Chmiel, pianist Mateusz Kołakowski, bassist Alan Wykpisz and drummer Grzegorz Pałka. The album presents seven original compositions, all by Kordiak, two of which feature lyrics (one by Polish poetess/playwright Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska and the other by Kordiak) and the rest feature wordless vocalese. The album was recorded at the RecPublica Studios and engineered by Michal Wasyl, and offers a superb sound quality.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear Kordiak sing live in Katowice as a member of the First Was The Voice vocal ensemble conducted and directed by my friend the fabulous Anna Gadt, which should have prepared me for what I was about to hear on this album, but now I have to admit that probably nothing could have really prepared anybody for what this album offers. This is simply the Polish Jazz vocal album I have been dreaming about for the last half a Century, since Urszula Dudziak appeared on the Polish Jazz scene and revolutionized the approach to vocal Jazz not only in Poland but worldwide.

Kordiak treats her voice as an instrument and her vocalese explorations are simply unbounded by any previously set limitations, conventions or boundaries. Her singing is completely intuitive and her sense of melody is so open and free that the music becomes completely boundless and unconventional. Each of the tunes offers a melodic theme, but the vocal and instrumental improvisations move freely beyond the sketched horizons into the unknown and unexpected, which happens extremely rarely and immediately pushes this music into the "high sphere" of Jazz aesthetics.

The instrumentalists do a magnificent job on this album, with the most important task always before their eyes: do not disturb the vocals. Each of these players is able to play exquisitely as a soloist but this album sets a textbook example of respect and supportive role by the instrumentalists, who are clearly heard within the delicate fabric of the music, but never overshadow the vocal parts even for one moment. The rhythm section of Wykpisz and Palka, which is certainly phenomenal on its own, offers here a magnificent assistance to the vocals, often just in a trio settings. Kołakowski, who deserves a much wider recognition that he enjoys in Poland at the moment, is a key element which makes this music what it is, playing absolutely stunningly and beautifully free, which is amazing considering his Classical Music upbringing and education. Chmiel, also relatively anonymous, offers some stunning saxophone parts, which immediately put him alongside the most respected names on the Polish scene. In short this is a true dream team and Kordiak was extremely fortunate to record this album with these magnificent musicians at her side.

Polish vocal Jazz has been struggling in the last decades to produce anything as artistically and aesthetically valuable as the output it managed to offer time after time in modern instrumental European Jazz, which won it an international acclaim. Sadly Polish vocal Jazz got stuck mostly in imitating rather that inventing, with the ever present obsession of singing English lyrics, more often than not with appalling results. Therefore, although obviously hardly politically correct, the most accurate compliment I can think of under these circumstances is to say that Kordiak emerged here as someone with truly "big-balls", setting everything aside and doing her own thing. I am not surprised that Kordiak comes from under the wings of the above mentioned Anna Gadt, who is a true revolutionary Artist and obviously also and Educator.

Considering the fact that Kordiak is still a student, God only knows what she is capable of in the future and I can’t wait to find out. And yes, now I know what my best Polish Jazz album for 2019 will be on my list. ;) Thank you for a true fairytale my Dear!

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