Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Kulpowicz Quartet - Expression (2019)

Kulpowicz Quartet

Sławomir Kulpowicz - electric piano
Piotr Cieślikowski - tenor & soprano saxophones
Wojciech Pulcyn - double bass
Kazimierz Jonkisz - drums
Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet (2,3,5)



By Adam Baruch

This is an archive release of music recorded by the legendary Polish Jazz pianist/composer Sławomir Kulpowicz and his quartet shortly before his untimely death in 2008. Following a long period of inactivity on stage Kulpowicz reformed his ensemble called simply The Quartet in 2006 with saxophonist Piotr Cieślikowski, bassist Wojciech Pulcyn and drummer Kazimierz Jonkisz. They recorded this album in 2007 but it remained unreleased following the havoc of his death. This album presents six tracks selected from the studio tapes, all original compositions by Kulpowicz. Trumpeter Tomasz Dąbrowski added (overdubbed) trumpet parts to three tracks of the original recording in 2018.

Kulpowicz, who was one of the most talented Polish Jazz composers/pianists and a fascinating personality, was a devoted follower of John Coltrane´s music and his own compositions followed stylistically and spiritually the legacy of the great Master, which the music on this album reflects beautifully. The material recorded by Kulpowicz constitutes one the absolute peaks of the Polish interpretation of American Modern Jazz, avoiding mimicking and replication and adding a fresh, independent approach, and this album beautifully solidifies this approach, being a valuable addition to the legacy Kulpowicz left behind him. 

I was somewhat taken aback by the idea of overdubbing the original recordings, which at first glance looks quite sacrilegious, but upon further examination it looks like the original material was intended to be overdubbed by guest musicians, with obvious rhythm section only gaps left within the music waiting to be filled. The musical producer Ryszard Wojciul couldn´t have found a more appropriate musician to create the missing pieces of the puzzle than Dabrowski, who stood up to the challenge outstandingly. Sometimes doing the unthinkable is simply the right thing to do.

Overall this is an absolutely brilliant piece of music, an outstanding addition to the legacy of Kulpowicz in particular and Polish Jazz in general. For Tune managed to create another must have item for the Polish Jazz connoisseurs and the release of this album is of the same level of importance for Polish Jazz like the releases of previously undiscovered material by John Coltrane for global Jazz scene. An absolute must!

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