Sunday, August 30, 2020

Leszek Kułakowski/Maciej Sikała - Red Ice (2019)

Leszek Kułakowski/Maciej Sikała

Leszek Kułakowski - piano
Maciej Sikała - soprano saxophone

Red Ice


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by a duo of two veteran Polish Jazz musicians, pianist/composer Leszek Kułakowski and saxophonist Maciej Sikała. The album presents eleven original compositions, all by Kułakowski.

Kułakowski is a versatile and highly imaginative composer and his music always reflects the Polish Jazz lyricism at its best, as echoed by his extended recording legacy. But on this excellent recording his composition are padded and extended by the improvised contribution of Sikała, who turns out to be an ideal partner in this intimate encounter, adding not only his soprano saxophone virtuosity but also his own layer of melancholy and lyricism. The combined result is deeply moving and instantly becomes another exquisite instance of my favorite "Art of the Duo" idiom.

The music is beautifully melodic, and yet offers rich and often quite complex chord structures, which never stop to amaze with their ingenuity, but remain wonderfully coherent. As such it is an ideal vehicle for the improvised contributions, which are natural extensions of the basic melody lines. Sikała does an absolutely amazing work here, not only as a player/improviser, but more importantly as a co-composer of sorts, since his improvisations often add an additional melody line of its own,

The intimate atmosphere of the duo, which in these circumstances bridges between the classic Jazz idiom and the minimalism of chamber Classical Music, becomes completely full and perfectly rounded, proudly standing on its own. I dare to suggest that this music performed by a larger lineup would have probably lost much of its charm in comparison to these intimate versions.

On this album Kułakowski leaves most of the soloing to Sikała, but the few soli he does play here make me smile, longing for a long awaited solo piano album by the Maestro. Overall this is a brilliant Jazz album, which offers highly rewarding listening experience on many different levels; lovers of Jazz duo albums, fans of both of these excellent musicians, Polish Jazz enthusiasts and Jazz connoisseurs all over the world, all should be equally satisfied with what this album has to offer. Wholeheartedly recommended!

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