Thursday, June 13, 2019

Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski Sextet - Komeda. Moja Słodka Europejska Ojczyzna (2018)

Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski Sextet 

Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski – tenor saxophone
Henryk Miśkiewicz – alto saxophone
Robert Majewski – trumpet (CD1)
Łukasz Poprawski – soprano saxophone (CD2)
Wojciech Niedziela – piano
Sławomir Kurkiewicz – bass
Marcin Jahr - drums

Komeda. Moja Słodka Europejska Ojczyzna

PN 0190295700348 

By Krzysztof Komorek

Szczerze mówiąc, w pierwszym momencie mocno zdziwiła mnie zapowiedź wydania tego albumu. Podobnie jak wielu innych obserwatorów krajowej sceny jazzowej, nieco cierpiałem z racji nadmiaru komedowskich projektów (zwłaszcza tych średnio udanych) oraz wpychania za wszelką cenę dziedzictwa wybitnego kompozytora do kolejnych albumów. Zdumienie potęgowała osoba lidera, bowiem Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski zawsze zdawał mi się osobą dokonującą przemyślanych wyborów artystycznych. Stąd może decyzja, by projektowi przyjrzeć się jednak uważniej. Decyzja ze wszech miar słuszna, bo sprawa nie okazała się wcale tak oczywista, jak wskazywałoby na to pierwsze wrażenie. I to z kilku równoprawnych powodów. 

Pierwszy z nich to nagrany materiał. Uznawany przez samego Komedę (jak wieść głosi) za najważniejsze dzieło życia, powstały w roku 1967 i wydany w Niemczech zbiór "Meine Süsse Europäische Heimat - Dichtung Und Jazz Aus Polen” – łączy polską poezję (wiersze m.in. Szymborskiej, Miłosza, Herberta, Ważyka czy Przerwy-Tetmajera przełożone na niemiecki przez Karla Dedeciusa) z polską muzyką. Nigdy jednak nie doszło do zarejestrowania czysto instrumentalnej wersji dzieła. Chociaż kilka muzycznych fragmentów płyty pojawiło się potem w zmienionej niekiedy formie na innych albumach Komedy – "Temat dla jednego, a wariacje dla drugiego świata" jest pierwowzorem "Nighttime Daytime Requiem", dobrze znane są "Litania" i "Po katastrofie".

Po drugie, płyta firmowa przez Ptaszyna Wróblewskiego nie jest owocem pochopnej decyzji. Pierwotnie całość przygotowywano do widowiska z udziałem Andrzeja Seweryna, recytującego wiersze. Spektakl zamykał w 2013 roku Letnią Akademię Jazzu organizowaną przez łódzki klub Wytwórnia. Jeszcze w trakcie prac zdecydowano się na opracowanie i nagranie wersji instrumentalnej. Doszło do tego dzień po koncercie, w tej samej sali, ale już bez udziału publiczności. Trzy lata później ową instrumentalną całość przedstawiono na Polish Jazz Fetsival w Tomaszowie Mazowieckim, a koncert ów także został nagrany. Materiał, jak widać, przeleżał nieco na półkach. Koniec końców w momencie finalizowania decyzji wydawniczych Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski stanął przed koniecznością wyboru wersji, która miała się ukazać. Na szczęście dla nas, słuchaczy, decyzji tej nie udało mu się podjąć i do rąk publiczności trafił album dwupłytowy.

Program obu płyt jest wprawdzie dokładnie taki sam - różnicę stanowi jedynie zapowiedź lidera rozpoczynająca koncertową wersję – ale jak wspomniałem, możliwość posłuchania obu rejestracji jest niezwykle cenna. Przede wszystkim ze względu na odmienne składy, które wystąpiły przy każdej z okazji. W studyjnym nagraniu w sali Wytwórni w sekcji dętej zagrali Ptaszyn, Henryk Miśkiewicz oraz trębacz Robert Majewski. Podczas koncertu tego ostatniego zastąpił saksofonista Łukasz Poprawski, tworząc w ten sposób unikalne w odczytaniu Komedy saksofonowe trio tenoru, altu i sopranu. Obydwu części słucha się znakomicie. Każda z wersji przynosi solidną porcję znakomitej, nowoczesnej muzyki. Trudno nie pochwalić instrumentalistów – obok wspomnianych dęciaków, wyróżnia się jeszcze Wojciech Niedziela. Choć po prawdzie będzie to jedynie wskazanie pierwszych pośród równych w całym ansamblu.

Nad samą muzyką nie będę się tutaj więcej rozwodził. O twórczości Komedy pisano równie często, jak ją nagrywano. Ponadto dołączona do wydawnictwa książeczka zawiera między innymi obszerną analizę "Mojej słodkiej europejskiej ojczyzny" pióra Bogdana Chmury, do której odsyłam zainteresowanych. Warto wspomnieć, że opracowania kompozycji dokonał Ptaszyn na podstawie wydanych w Niemczech nagrań, wspomagając się jedynie oryginalnymi partyturami Komedy. Sam mogę jedynie "podbić" wyrażane zewsząd komplementy i zachwyty. Od pierwszego przesłuchania nie miałem wątpliwości, że to jedna z najważniejszych płyt roku 2018. Co potwierdziłem umieszczeniem albumu w moim Top 10 ubiegłych dwunastu miesięcy. Decyzję i dziś uważam ze wszech miar słuszną.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Garbowski/Cruz/Orins – Lines Of Flux (2018)

Garbowski/Cruz/Orins

Ivann Cruz - guitar
Maciej Garbowski - double bass
Peter Orins - drums

Lines Of Flux

IMP 002




By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the Improvised Music trio comprising of Polish bassist/composer Maciej Garbowski and French guitarist Ivann Cruz and drummer Peter Orins, but not the first recording which captures these three musicians together as they also recorded the "Rashomon Effect" album in a quartet setting five years earlier. The music was recorded at the Institute of Music Performance, a wonderfully unique space in Katowice, where Garbowski organizes many events, concerts and recordings; a place where music magic happens. The album presents twelve relatively short spontaneous improvisations, all credited to the three members of the trio.

In contrast to the above mentioned earlier album, the music captured here is completely improvised and offers almost none of the conventional points of reference – melody, harmony and rhythm – that most music listeners expect to find when faced by music. But people who extend their musical tolerance to accept unconventional music should find this album highly rewarding.

Improvised Music performed by more than one person is all about communication, be it the ability to exchange ideas with the other musicians in the ensemble and even better to engage the listeners in an intellectual dialog of instant questions and answers, when the music oscillates between the performers and the audience.

All these three musicians are of course veterans of the European Improvised Music scene and their inspired performances here are not in the least surprising. They all have many impressive recordings in their portfolios and the long lasting partnership between them obviously strengthens the ability to communicate when on stage.

Overall this is a delicate, contemplative piece of Improvised Music, which should satisfy the connoisseurs of the genre and shed more light on the musicians involved, as they surely deserve praise for their efforts. Of course this album again emphasizes the vigor of the Polish Improvised Music scene, which has little rivalry elsewhere.

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

SOLITON 846


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!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Petera Sextet – Flashover (2019)

Petera Sextet

Dariusz Petera - piano
Maciej "Kocin" Kociński - tenor saxophone
Emil Miszk - trumpet
Krzysztof Lenczowski - cello
Andrzej Święs - double bass
Krzysztof Szmańda - drums

Flashover


REQUIEM/LYDIAN 2019/4

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album as a leader by Polish Jazz pianist/composer Dariusz Petera recorded in a sextet setting with some of the top Polish Jazz musicians: trumpeter Emil Miszk, saxophonist Maciej Kociński, cellist Krzysztof Lenczowski, bassist Andrzej Święs and drummer Krzysztof Szmańda. The album presents ten original compositions, all by Petra. The music was recorded at the excellent RecPublica Studios and offers a superb sound quality. It also offers a highly aesthetic packaging.

The music is a wonderful example of contemporary Polish/European Jazz, which combines melodic themes with open structures, which enable the music to spread freely in many different directions not being limited by traditional Jazz pre-conceptions, resulting in many unexpected manifestations of the compositional palette. Petera certainly arises as a new talent on the local Jazz scene and the fact that the last time he took part in recording an album happened six years ago is very intriguing. But the long wait was certainly worthwhile, as the compositions on this album are all perfectly rounded and coherent, mature and most importantly present unique personal stylistic idiosyncrasies, characterized by the dominant role of the rhythmic pulse, which stands on the same level as the melodic and harmonic contents.

The performances are all absolutely stellar, which of course is hardly surprising. Kociński, Święs and Szmańda, who together with Krzysztof Dys at the piano played together for many years as the sublime Soundcheck quartet, one of my favorite Polish Jazz ensembles which sadly dropped off the horizon, are of course Masters of the trade. Lenczowski, who made a spectacular career with the Atom String Quartet and recorded superb solo albums, is a Superstar. And finally Miszk, who is the most in demand young generation upcoming Polish Jazz trumpeter. In short Petera might have as well called this ensemble All Stars. Of course Petera also plays excellently, but respectfully shares the spotlight more or less evenly with the rest of the sextet members.

Overall this album is undoubtedly a notable event on the Polish Jazz scene, especially in view of the incredibly high competition that scene generates. It is also a splendid debut effort, which hopefully will be followed by many similar achievements of the same significance and Artistic scale. Well done indeed!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Tomasz Dąbrowski/Jacek Mazurkiewicz – Basement Music (2018)

Tomasz Dąbrowski/Jacek Mazurkiewicz

Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet, mutes
Jacek Mazurkiewicz - contrabass, electronics

Basement Music

MULTIKULTI MPI 040


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the Polish Improvised Music duo comprising of trumpeter Tomasz Dąbrowski and bassist Jacek Mazurkiewicz. The album presents seven compositions, all co-credited to both participants.

Both Dąbrowski and Mazurkiewicz are very prolific musicians who released quite a few albums on various labels, and it is a bit difficult to follow their rich output, especially in view of the incredible number of albums released on the Polish scene year after year. Mazurkiewicz released a couple of excellent albums with another young Polish trumpeter Wojciech Jachna, so playing with a trumpet is certainly not unfamiliar to him. Dąbrowski, who recorded dozens of albums in many different musical environments, proved that he can handle virtually anything. Therefore it is not surprising that their collaboration on this album works smoothly and effectively.

As with all Improvised Music the most important test is if the music makes sense in recorded form. Improvised Music almost always makes some kind of sense live, as it is able to express the mutual relationship between the musicians and the listeners in the audience, but when captured on record it has to make sense to a random listener, who does not hear the musicians playing live and the sound captured on the album is his only source of cerebral information.

Thanks to the incredible versatility of Dąbrowski, who can create a myriad of sounds and moods on his trumpet, and the clever usage of electronics Mazurkiewicz employs in addition to his imaginative bass playing, this music works in its stand-alone recorded version and constitutes an interesting aesthetic experience to the listener, presenting a very varied and fascinating musical adventure.

Of course a priori this music appeals to a tiny minority within the minority of Jazz listeners, who are open minded enough to even try and listen to Improvised Music to start with. One has to admire the musicians who consistently tread on this treacherous path against all odds, disregarding popular trends and often facing open animosity not only from ignorant listeners, but even from other musicians. Admittedly not for everybody, this album offers some fascinating Improvised Music, which is as good as Improvised Music gets. Certainly worth investigating!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Ignacy Jan Wiśniewski + Kamil Dominiak – Kantata Jazzowa (2018)

Ignacy Jan Wiśniewski + Kamil Dominiak

Ignacy Jan Wiśniewski - piano
Adam Żuchowski - double bass
Paweł Osicki - drums
Kamil Dominiak - vocals

Kantata Jazzowa

MOOD AND WOOD 0011


By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish Jazz pianist/composer Ignacy Jan Wiśniewski, recorded with the same trio he used to record his debut, which includes bassist Adam Żuchowski and drummer Paweł Osicki. In addition the album features also vocalist Kamil Dominiak. Together they present eight "songs", all composed by Wiśniewski to the lyrics written specifically for this project by Polish Poet Michał Rusinek. The entire song cycle is called a "Jazz Cantata" and of course firmly belongs to the marvelous Polish Jazz & Poetry tradition. The album was beautifully recorded at the now legendary Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki.

The music presents an ambitious amalgam of cross-genre modern Jazz, with roots in contemporary Classical music, melodic mainstream Jazz and Avant-Garde improvisation, all tastefully put together with the lyrics, creating an impressive and powerful statement. Wiśniewski, who concentrates mainly on composing music for theatre, has definitely a very strong theatrical "streak" as a composer, which comes to full bloom herein.

The music is wonderfully executed, both on the instrumental and the vocal layers. Dominiak, who is not a Jazz singer, stands up to the challenge with flying colors, using his vocal abilities and more importantly theatrical expressionism to the max. The piano trio offers some excellent instrumental passages, shifting between melodic/rhythmic statements and Free Improvised moments with grace and elegance. The album offers a perfect balance between the instrumental and vocal contents, without one or the other being dominant, which is a rare quality in such projects.

The poetry, which sadly is only accessible to native Polish speakers, is a wonderful example of the thriving contemporary Polish Poetry scene. Rusinek (well-known as the private secretary of the great Polish Poetess Wisława Szymborska) is an accomplished writer/translator/poet and his brilliant plays on words are a true delight. Overall this is another valuable addition to the Polish Jazz & Poetry legacy, which is being kept alive by the new generation of Polish Jazz composers/musicians, with the same passion and dedication as that of the pioneers of the genre six decades earlier. Definitely highly recommended!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Escalator na dwóch koncertach w Polsce !!!


Ken Vandermark – saksofony
Mark Tokar – kontrabas
Klaus Kugel – perkusja 

Wszyscy trzej muzycy współtworzący trio, to postaci znane i cenione przez miłośników swobodnego podejścia do dźwiękowej materii, czasem zaledwie w symboliczny sposób odnoszącej się do jazzu.

Ken Vandermark – od ponad dwudziestu lat najbardziej twórczy przedstawiciel chicagowskiej muzyki improwizowanej. Jest liderem lub co-liderem zespołów: Vandermark 5, Bridge 61, the Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet, FME, Sonore, The Nilssen-Love/Vandermark Duo, the Territory Band and Free Fall, DKV. W 1999 roku został laureatem nagrody fundacji McArthura – prestiżowego wyróżnienia przyznawanego corocznie najwybitniejszym twórcom z różnych dziedzin sztuki. Nagrał kilkadziesiąt znakomicie recenzowanych płyt. Nagrany w 2005 roku w krakowskiej Alchemii 12-płytowy box zatytułowany „Alchemia” uznany został przez krytyków największego światowego portalu jazzowego allaboutjazz.com za jedną z pięciu najwybitniejszych płyt roku.

Mark Tokar – na stałe mieszkający we Lwowie basista, czołowy przedstawiciel muzyki improwizowanej na Ukrainie. Często współpracuje z polskimi muzykami, jest zapraszany na festiwale i koncerty klubowe w całej Europie. Ma na koncie kilka wydanych płyt, głównie na Ukrainie, a jego najnowsze nagranie (z Klausem Kuglem i Juri Yaremchukiem) wydała krakowska wytwórnia Not Two.

Klaus Kugel – studiował w Szkole Jazzu w Monachium. Od 1989 brał udział w wielu projektach z wybitnym litewskim saksofonistą Petrasem Vysniauskasem. Współpracował także z takimi postaciami jak: Karl Berger, Tomasz Stańko, Charlie Mariano, Kent Carter, Michel Pilz, Theo Jörgensmann, Kenny Wheeler, Vyacheslav Ganelin, Bobo Stenson, Glen Moore, Steve Swell, Sabir Mateen, Robert Dick, Peter Evans, Perry Robinson, Hilliard Greene, Charles Gayle, John Lindberg, Louie Belogenis, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Bobby Few, Roy Campbell, Jemeel Moondoc, Wacław Zimpel, Mars Williams i innymi. W ciągu ostatnich 30 lat zagrał liczne koncerty i pojawił się na festiwalach w całej Europie, Kanadzie, USA, Syrii, Japonii, Meksyku, Rosji, Chinach, Ukrainie, czy Izraelu.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Zawartko/Piasecki – Leć Głosie (2015)

Zawartko/Piasecki

Magdalena Zawartko - vocals
Grzegorz Piasecki - bass
Piotr Wojtasik - trumpet
Tomasz Wendt - saxophone
Artur Tuźnik - piano
Wojciech Buliński - drums
Marek Kądziela - guitar
Jose Torres - percussion



Leć Głosie

PRIVATE EDITION

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz duo comprising of vocalist Magdalena Zawartko and bassist Grzegorz Piasecki, recorded with other top Polish Jazz musicians: trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik, saxophonist Tomasz Wendt, pianist Artur Tuźnik, guitarist Marek Kądziela, drummer Wojciech Buliński and percussionist Jose Torres. The album presents eight compositions (one repeated twice as intro and outro) which include Classical and Folklore pieces and two original compositions, one each by Zawartko and Piasecki, also inspired by external sources.

The concept behind the music is the amalgamation of Folklore and Classical Music with Jazz, which of course has been already attempted numerous times before, but in this case the selection of the music, the arrangements and the entire production of the project, which were entirely in the hands of the duo, as well as the superb execution of the music by the excellent team generate a wonderful and entirely successful outcome.

Zawartko sings occasional lyrics but mostly uses vocalese and her voice is by and large used as another instrument within the instrumental environment. Piasecki plays brilliant bass parts and naturally gets more exposure than bassists usually get in ensemble projects. The rest of the instrumentalists, mostly veterans of the scene, perform accordingly, without a hitch.

Overall this is an excellent piece of music from start to finish, intelligent, elegant and highly sensitive, tastefully conceived and brilliantly executed, in accordance to the usual high standards of the Polish Jazz scene. I have no idea why this album landed on my desk years after it was released, but better late than never. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Sendecki & Spiegel – Two In The Mirror (2019)

Sendecki & Spiegel

Władysław Sendecki - piano
Jürgen Spiegel - drums

Two In The Mirror

SKIP 9143





By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the duo comprising of Polish (resident in Hamburg) pianist/composer Władysław Sendecki and German drummer/composer Jürgen Spiegel. The album presents eleven original compositions, five composed by Spiegel, four composed by Sendecki, one co-composed by them both and one is an old composition co-composed by Sendecki and Polish Jazz guitarist Jarosław Śmietana, while they were both members of the celebrated Extra Ball band.

The music is quite diverse, moving between romantic ballads and energetic explorations, all of which are only marginally related to Jazz, but have a strong Jazzy undercurrent. The piano/drums setting is by definition somewhat limited and in this specific case the attempt to present the drums on the same level with the piano creates a strange sonic balance that takes time to get used to.

Sendecki gets of course plenty of opportunity to display his virtuosic technique as much as his typically Polish melancholic streak, which works like a charm every time. Spiegel plays atypically, trying to stay with the melody more than traditionally be in charge of the rhythm, which is quite innovative. They are working together well, as appropriate for musicians of their statue, obviously having fun.

Overall since both these musicians don't have to prove anything more as far as their careers are concerned, it is great to see them exploring new territory, which moves beyond the strict Jazz circle, creating music accessible to a wide audience without compromising artistic values.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Paweł Kamiński Quartet – Let's Do It (2019)

Paweł Kamiński Quartet

Paweł Kamiński - tenor & soprano saxophones
Adam Jarzmik - piano
Jędrzej Łaciak - bass guitar
Michał Dziewiński - drums

Let's Do It

SJ 041


By Adam Baruch

This is a debut album by young Polish Jazz saxophonist/composer Paweł Kamiński recorded in a quartet setting with pianist Adam Jarzmik, bass guitarist Jędrzej Łaciak and drummer Michał Dziewiński. The album presents eight tracks, seven of which are original compositions by Kaminski and one is a standard.

The music is all within modern Jazz mainstream, strictly melody based but diverse enough to present the proficiency of the leader as a composer and the band as a performing init. Overall the original compositions are all coherent and well rounded, and sound much more mature than what one might expect from such a young composer.

The performances are also excellent, especially those by Jarzmik, who is clearly the most experienced player on this album and who also has previous recording experience. His soli are all perfectly fluent and are classic examples of Jazz piano at its best. Kamiński also plays very well, with a steady and clear tone and interesting soloing abilities. The rhythm section is amicable and sympathetic, doest not stand in the way of the music and is also given opportunity to solo occasionally.

Although the presence of a bass guitar usual pushes the music towards Fusion, both stylistically and sound-wise, it is not the case here. There is some more fusion oriented music here, but its character is defined by the usage of electric piano rather than the bass, which stays conventionally Jazz oriented.

Overall this is an excellent debut effort, which as usual on the Polish Jazz scene surprises with its high standard of compositions and the ability of the players, who sound as if they have been playing Jazz for decades. The youthfulness and energy are well tamed by restrain and self discipline, resulting in a tasteful showcase of young Polish Jazz at its best. Well done indeed!

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