Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Artur Majewski/Patryk Zakrocki - Czas Panowania Traw

Artur Majewski/Patryk Zakrocki

Artur Majewski - cornet, delay
Patryk Zakrocki - viola, mbira, ring modulator

Czas Panowania Traw

Fundacja Kaisera Söze 2018




By Maciej Krawiec

Przysłuchując się albumowi Artura Majewskiego i Patryka Zakrockiego "Czas Panowania Traw", sięgnąłem po towarzyszący temu wydawnictwu odautorski komentarz. Znalazły się w nim między innymi takie zdania: "[Muzyka] zdaje się oddychać, jest pozbawiona formy, po prostu trwa, jak szum lasu, do którego się wchodzi czy szmer strumienia, który w tym lesie płynie". To w mgnieniu oka przypomniało mi niezwykły stan, w jakim znalazłem się przed kilkoma miesiącami podczas letnich wakacji. Leżałem wówczas właśnie w środku lasu, słońce hojnie ogrzewało moje ciało. Miałem zamknięte oczy, by świadomie jak najszerzej otworzyć... uszy i jak najpełniej oddać się pasjonującym dźwiękom, intensywnie mnie otaczającym. Zastanawiałem się wówczas, jaką muzykę przyrównać do takiej improwizacji lasu. Może Meredith Monk? Może Arild Andersen? Na pewno – Majewski i Zakrocki.

Bardzo mądrze połączyli oni zajmujące muzykowanie z wykorzystaniem kornetu, altówki, mbiry oraz elektroniki z obecnym bez nachalności przyrodniczym tematem. Duet nie szuka jednak dźwiękonaśladownictwa; artystom chodzi raczej o kolektywne, subiektywne i spontaniczne odbicie pewnej organicznej brzmieniowej aury, którą natura może w sobie zawierać. Majewski i Zakrocki zapraszają do swoistego laboratorium dźwięków, gdzie – poza wyrazistą grą instrumentów – tworzą się zamglone tła, ledwie zarysowane horyzonty, barwne plamy, echa tego, co już niewidoczne. Wyobraźnia pracuje: słychać mikrokosmos ściółki leśnej, naprzykrzające się owady, klangor żurawi, szum smukłych sosen na wietrze nad schowanym pośród borów jeziorem...

Jednocześnie "Czas Panowania Traw" to po prostu bogata i sugestywna muzyka improwizowana. Budzi powyższe skojarzenia bez dosłowności, eksponuje szereg motywów i epizodów, prezentuje zarówno indywidualizm, jak i dialog. Artyści badają dźwięki, odnajdują frazy o rozmaitym natężeniu, dzielą się emocjami. Niepokój, rezygnacja, groza, melancholia, namiastka ładu, niepewna uroda – ja wyczytuję między innymi takie treści w muzyce duetu, ale wiem, że każdy, kto w skupieniu wysłucha tego albumu, odnajdzie tam odmienne myśli i emocje. I po to właśnie – by pozwolić, by w naszym wnętrzu zapanował tytułowy, intymnie przeżywany Czas Traw – warto sięgnąć po płytę Majewskiego i Zakrockiego.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Marian Pawlik Quartet – Old Bass Line (2018)

Marian Pawlik Quartet

Kuba Płużek - piano, fender rhodes
Bartłomiej Noszka - tenor saxophone
Marian Pawlik - double bass
Michał Heller - drums

Old Bass Line



PRIVATE EDITION

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album as a leader by veteran Polish bassist/composer Marian Pawlik, renowned as a member of the legendary Polish Jazz-Rock ensemble Dżamble, which recorded just one cult album "Wołanie O Słońce Nad Światem". This album, recorded in a quartet setting, finds Pawlik in the company of the young generation Polish Jazz players: pianist Kuba Płużek, saxophonist Bartłomiej Noszka and drummer Michał Heller.

The album presents nine tracks, five of which are originals: two by Pawlik and three by Płużek and four are by celebrated Jazz bassists: two by Paul Chambers and one each by Ron Carter and Oscar Pettiford. The music was excellently recorded and the up-front bass presence is a delight to the many enthusiast of the instrument.

As the album's title suggests, it is primarily a tribute to the double bass, its heroes and history, and as a result the music is mostly within the boundaries of American Bebop tradition, albeit the majority of it was composed by the Polish members of the quartet. There is no doubt that the three compositions by Płużek are the most interesting musical endeavors, even if they are still closely related to the Bebop spirit, as they offer typical twists and turns Płużek often employs in his compositions, which make the cognoscenti smile.

The music is executed perfectly, with a lot of soloing space offered to the leader, who obviously displays first-class technique and feel for the music. Noszka and Płużek solo extensively as well, always according to what is expected in this kind of music. Heller keeps the time like clockwork and stays mostly in the shadows. Personally I find this kind of music uninteresting, but listeners who still listen to Bebop should be able to enjoy this music and since this is an opportunity to listen to a legendary musician still in great form, it is a source of joy.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Piotr Schmidt Quartet feat. Wojciech Niedziela – Tribute To Tomasz Stańko (2018)

Piotr Schmidt Quartet feat. Wojciech Niedziela

Piotr Schmidt - trumpet
Wojciech Niedziela - piano
Maciej Garbowski - double bass
Krzysztog Gradziuk - drums

Tribute To Tomasz Stańko

SJ 038


By Adam Baruch

This is an album by Polish Jazz trumpeter / composer / bandleader / entrepreneur Piotr Schmidt, recorded in a quartet setting with pianist Wojciech Niedziela, bassist Maciej Garbowski and drummer Krzysztof Gradziuk. The album presents twelve compositions, eight of which are credited to all four members of the quartet, two were composed by Schmidt and one each were composed by Krzysztof Komeda and Bartek Pieszka.

The death of the Polish / European Jazz icon, trumpeter / composer / bandleader Tomasz Stańko, in June of 2018, marked an end of a chapter, or rather an end of an era in European Jazz. Although in recent years many of the most prominent representatives of post WWII European Jazz sadly departed, Stanko was in many respects more than most an epitome of modern European Jazz and his life and career exemplified the most important characteristics of the idiom. His relentless search of uncharted territory, complete disregard of fads and fashions, his open-mindedness and chameleonic, often extremely dramatic changes in his stylistic approach to Jazz and above all his aesthetics, with reminded uncompromising till the very end, were all also often characteristic of many other leading European Jazz Masters, who managed to create an entirely new form of the Jazz essence, completely free of the limitations and shackles enslaving the genre in the past.

Tributes are a tricky business, especially so in the case of iconic figures, which were active for decades and managed to produce not only a rich legacy of recorded music, but more importantly were constantly groundbreaking and innovative. How can a "tribute" album express a respectful and artistically coherent picture of an icon? It takes a lot of courage and determination to attempt a tribute recording, which will be meaningful and offer some intrinsic value beyond being just a reflection of the light of a Giant, with the possibility of failure always lurking in the background.

Considering the fact that Stanko's legacy was to a large extent involved with Avant-garde, Improvised Music and Free Jazz, whereas Schmidt consistently dedicates his career to more mainstream manifestations of the Jazz idiom, always emphasizing melody, harmony, ambience and lyricism, the first reaction to the idea of Schmidt recording a Stańko tribute might be that of disbelief and surprise. But Schmidt already proved to be a mastermind of invention in the past and this time he has surely outdone himself, by finding an ingredient of Stańko's legacy that fits like a glove to his own modus operandi. As a result Schmidt, rather than creating a "general" tribute to Stańko, decided to put the spotlight on the gentler side of the Stańko's heritage – Stańko the charmer, the balladeer, the weaver of heartbreakingly beautiful melodies, in short Stańko the Gentle Giant.

The resulting concept presents an album full of beautiful, melodic, lyrical Jazz, which strongly resembles that gentle side of Stanko that we all love, but at the same time is completely original as far as the music itself is concerned. The atmosphere and ambience of the album are wonderfully coherent and the music flows serenely penetrating directly the very soul of the listener. The decision of not using and specific tunes composed by Stańko, but creating instead music that "might have been composed" by him is of course brilliant in every respect.

The quartet performing the music is ideal for the task. Garbowski and Gradziuk played with Stańko in the recent years and know his music intimately, and their position as one of the leading Polish Jazz rhythm sections is fully justified. They add the ingredients of space and freedom to the quartet's playing, which is exactly what this music needs to make it completely unwavering and related to Stańko's musical spirit. Niedziela is beautifully romantic and expressive, with each and every note he plays being exactly what is needed to make the overall sound perfect. Schmidt plays delightfully as well, rather sparingly and delicately, again exactly right for what this music needs. At times, with the eyes closed, his trumpet sounds exactly like Stanko's, but obviously Schmidt is not trying to imitate Stańko's playing but, as the entire album does, reproduce the very Stańkoish ambience and spirituality.

Overall this is a wonderfully executed and cleverly planned piece of music, which achieves the ambitious goal assigned to it in full. It is also a textbook example of what "tribute" albums should sound like, as well as a wonderful example of a bridge over a chasm of the infamous generation gap, which enables a smooth transition of the heritage from one generation to another. Polish Jazz at its best!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Fiil Free – Everything Is A Translation (2016)

Fiil Free

Lars Fiil - piano
Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet
Henrik Pultz Melbye - tenor saxophone, clarinet
Henrik Olsson - guitar
Martin Fabricius - vibraphone
Casper Nyvang Rask - double bass
Bjørn Heebøll - drums


Everything Is A Translation

FILL FREE 0916

By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by Danish Jazz pianist/composer Lars Fiil, this time recorded with an international septet called Fiil Free, which features also Polish trumpeter Tomasz Dąbrowski, Swedish guitarist Henrik Olsson and four Danish musicians: saxophonist Henrik Pultz Melbye, vibraphonist Martin Fabricius, bassist Casper Nyvang Rask and drummer Bjorn Heeboll. Together they perform five original compositions, all by Fiil.

The music is a typical European Free Jazz/Improvised Music endeavor, which in spite of its many degrees of freedom is wonderfully well composed, organized, structured and played, presenting a challenging yet coherent listening experience. The individual compositions develop slowly, starting with single notes or chords, gradually increasing in intensity and complexity, taking the listener on a ride along the process of its development.

All the participants contribute their personal input, playing solo passages, which often are very different from typical Jazz solos, but play in fact a similar role. These young musicians are amongst the finest European improvisers and can be heard on many other recordings. This particular setting is actually very minimalistic and there is little place to show the individual skills in a very expressive way, but this minimalism pushes the players to their limits and makes them to reinvent their performing techniques. Dąbrowski, as usual, plays some stunning passages, proving again that his diversity and talent know no borders, but as already said earlier, this album is not about individual statements, but deals with collective improvisation and cooperative performance.

One of the pieces starts off with the septet playing a swinging Bebop tune, which has a wonderful small Big Band feel about it, but of course it soon disintegrates into Free Form collective improvisation, which is sort of decomposing the initial structured statement, only to return to it at the very end. There are many such wonderful surprises as the music progresses and when it finally ends, one is definitely left with a wish for more.

Overall this album is another proof that the young European Improvising scene is alive and kicking like never before, creating a melting pot of influences between Scandinavian, East and West European cultures, forging a strong Jazz Culture, which hopefully will last for a long time and keep developing in the process. Not to be missed by any Free Jazz fans anywhere in the world!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Jorgos Skolias/Piotr Rachoń – Free (2018)

Jorgos Skolias/Piotr Rachoń

Jorgos Skolias - vocals, electronics
Piotr Rachoń - piano

Free

V 014




By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish duo comprising of vocalist Jorgos Skolias and pianist Piotr Rachoń. The album presents ten original compositions, spontaneously created during the recording session and credited to both participants, with the "lyrics" credited to Skolias. The album was recorded at the Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki, with the expected superb sound quality.

From the very onset of the music it becomes immediately obvious that this album is unlike anything one might have come across before. As the album's title suggests, this music is completely free from any preconceptions and genre limitations. Skolias and Rachoń let themselves to be led by their respective instincts and the telepathic rapport they manage to establish during the session's duration. They are clearly listening to each other very carefully, and yet they take turns in pushing the music from one plane to another, moving forward and backwards and sideways constantly.

Despite the seemingly directionless aura, the music is perfectly coherent and even "organized" and "melodic" most of the time, certainly in the abstract gist of these idioms. With Skolias using almost completely unconventional vocal techniques, Rachoń sticks to almost conventional chords and scales, keeping the overall result "in check", which helps to avoid havoc and confusion. Both players are of course equally inventive at all times.

Skolias uses his voice in a multilayered and multidirectional manner, utilizing single words and phrases, Multilanguage and gibberish, natural and distorted vocals and harmonized vocal effects, screams and whispers, in short an amazing array of human-produced natural and unnatural effects, which only he is capable of creating. Rachoń skillfully and incredibly sensibly manages to insert his piano sounds to harmonize perfectly with the barrage of sounds produced by Skolias, creating a symbiotic whole.

In fact describing this music in words is an a priori futile effort, and listening to it is the only proper way to treat it. Having said that, one must admit that this music is so extraordinary and Avant-garde that it can be considered groundbreaking, certainly as far as Improvised Vocal Music is concerned. The Giant Step taken by Skolias from his Rock, Blues and Jazz roots towards this revolutionary modus operandi is astonishing in its boldness and ingenuity. Although I have always considered Skolias as a superbly talented and multifaceted artist, this time he truly managed to knock my socks off! Hats off to you my Friend!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Gloria Campaner/Leszek Możdżer - Live At Enter (2018)

Gloria Campaner/Leszek Możdżer

Gloria Campaner - piano, synthesizer, stones
Leszek Możdżer - piano, synthesizer, celeste
Magdalena Kordylasińska-Pękala - percussion
Miłosz Pękala - percussion



Live At Enter

OUTSIDE MUSIC CD 009

By Krzysztof Komorek

Bywalcy koncertów Leszka Możdżera otrzymali właśnie niespodziewany i interesujący podarek w postaci płyty z rejestracją koncertu pianisty z Glorią Campaner, zarejestrowanego podczas Enter Enea Festival w Poznaniu w roku 2017. Możdżer dość aktywnie angażuje się w zróżnicowane projekty, cały czas pamiętając, by była to propozycja atrakcyjna dla słuchaczy. Niektórzy czynią z owej atrakcyjności zarzut, jednak większość z niemalejącą przyjemnością słucha kolejnych nagrań.

Koncert z Glorią Campaner jest materiałem wręcz idealnym na przebojową jazzową płytę. Włoska artystka skupia się głównie na muzyce klasycznej, jednak chętnie współpracuje z jazzmanami czy nawet DJ-ami. Stąd może dość oryginalny układ programu, koncentrujący się na nie jazzowych kompozytorach. Artyści mogli pójść po linii najmniejszego oporu, wykorzystując wyłącznie chwytliwe i sprawdzone w bojach utwory Możdżera. Wybrali jednak ambitniejsze rozwiązanie, sięgając między innymi po Debussy’ego, Prokofieva, Albéniza i Lutosławskiego.

Album rozpoczyna "She Said She Was A Painter" znany z ostatniej płyty tria Możdżer/Danielsson Fresco. Potem na siedem minut słuchacz zanurza się w delikatną, piękną interpretację "Clair De Lune". Bardzo oryginalnie i ciekawie wypada fortepianowy duet w "Libertango" Piazzolli, po którym artyści zabierają nas w podróż nieco bardziej abstrakcyjną. W "Lady Stoned" pojawiają się bowiem instrumenty elektroniczne oraz… śpiewające kamienie (przygotowane przez Pinuccio Sciola), z których dźwięki wydobywała Gloria Campaner. Finałowe "Paganini Variations", jak przystało na podsumowanie całości, zabrzmiały dynamicznie, miejscami z lekką nutką szaleństwa, acz niewątpliwie porywająco. Na scenie do pianistów dołączyła wówczas dwójka perkusjonalistów – Magdalena Kordylasińska-Pękala i Miłosz Pękala.

"Live At Enter" to godzina czystej radości obcowania ze świetnie wykonaną muzyką. Stanie się zapewne miłą pamiątką dla tych, którzy mieli przyjemność posłuchać duetu na żywo, ale także ostatnią deską ratunku i pocieszeniem dla osób, które na koncert nie dotarły (mnie się nie udało) i mocno tego żałują (ja osobiście żałuję bardzo).

Friday, November 30, 2018

Krzysztof Herdzin – Look Inward (2017)

Krzysztof Herdzin

Krzysztof Herdzin - piano

Look Inward

UNIVERSAL 602557947120






By Adam Baruch

This is a solo piano album by Polish Jazz pianist/composer/arranger Krzysztof Herdzin, who is a highly respected musician on the local scene, known for his professionalism and perfectionism. The album, which is Herdzin's first solo piano venture, presents nine improvised pieces, which as the album's title and the liner notes describe, are highly personal reflections of his musical life's experiences, impulsively created on the spur of the moment.

In the last few years of his career Herdzin gradually moved away from Jazz towards other musical areas, mostly contemporary Classical Music and stage music. This album follows the same pattern, perhaps subconsciously, but it has very little to do with Jazz per se, and is much closer to Classical forms of expression. Although the melodic content is very fragmented, the overall mood is mostly lyrical and romantic, often quite minimalist. Herdzin uses mostly single notes and chords are being used sparingly, which creates tension and anticipation, but on the other hand makes the music somewhat difficult to follow after a while.

Overall this is an interesting experiment, which offers a unique glimpse of Herdzin's complex musical personality. His customary listeners might find this music a tad too difficult to swallow, surely in the initial attempt, but this album grows on the listener in time. Herdzin is unquestionably a highly talented composer and performer, but he is often more appreciated by his peers than by the general public. It is good to see him let go of his disciplined approach and indulge in improvisation, even if the improvisation is somewhat imprisoned by his subliminal sense of order. I hope this album gets the exposure it deserves, and music connoisseurs will discover another facet of Herdzin's music. Recommended!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Gorzycki/Pawlicki/Ziołek – Ensemble Tuning (2018)

Gorzycki/Pawlicki/Ziołek

Tomasz Pawlicki - flute, electronics
Jakub Ziołek - guitar, electronics
Rafał Gorzycki - drums, piano

Ensemble Tuning

AUDIO CAVE 2018/011



By Adam Baruch

This is an album by a Polish Jazz trio led by drummer/composer Rafal Gorzycki, who also plays piano, with flautist Tomasz Pawlicki and guitarist Jakub Ziołek, both of which employ also electronics. The album presents ten original compositions, eight of which are credited to all the trio members and two are by Gorzycki. This album is a second part of a triptych of trio recordings by Gorzycki, continuing the "Playing" album released a couple of years earlier. The music was excellently recorded at the RecPublica Studios and engineered by Łukasz Olejarczyk.

The music is an esoteric mixture of various elements, acoustic and electronic, combining modern Classical Music vistas with improvisation and Ambient music and creating a magical impressionist aura of anticipation and mysticism. There are also elements of Serialism and Minimalism, all wonderfully weaved into a coherent but hard to pinpoint continuity, which tends to flow as if propelled by its own will. This music is more about form and sound than about melody or harmony, very abstract and almost involuntarily creating images of impressionist paintings before the listener's eyes.

Pawlicki stands in the very epicenter of this music, since his magic flute produces most of the directly audible sound, creating short melodic threads and swirls, all of which are simply irresistibly beautiful. In complete contrast the guitar played by Ziołek sounds nothing like a guitar, producing a plethora of sound layers and ambient noises in the background, which is the foundation upon which the flute parts float, similar to a wind which carries the golden autumn leaves. Gorzycki also hardly ever plays any straightforward rhythms and his pulses are more pointers than actual rhythmic patterns. His piano parts are also quite atypical and serve as accents rather than harmonies.

There is no doubt that this album constitutes a new stage in the long and prolific career of Gorzycki, taking him into a new realm unlike anything else he attempted earlier, although definitely being a logical extension of his earlier works. This music is more complex and more abstract than his earlier efforts but also much more concentrated and expressive. It is definitely much closer to cotemporary Classical Chamber Music than to Jazz, and will probably be received as such by the listeners. Absurdly perhaps, it is also more accessible and universal than many of his earlier efforts.

Overall this is a stunning piece of music, which offers novel approach to music making, unusual usage of the instruments and explores unchartered territory as far as improvisation and composition are intertwined and is additionally spiced with the sensational flute playing, altogether offering a sensational musical experience. Wholeheartedly recommended!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Krzysztof Kobyliński feat. Erik Truffaz – Give Me November (2018)

Krzysztof Kobyliński feat. Erik Truffaz

Krzysztof Kobyliński - piano
Erik Truffaz - trumpet

Give Me November

JAZOVIA 2018




By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by a duo comprising of veteran Polish Jazz pianist / composer / bandleader / entrepreneur Krzysztof Kobyliński and French trumpeter Erik Truffaz. The album presents nine original compositions, all by Kobyliński.

The music is all based on the strongly melodic themes, which are Kobyliński's trademark, full of typical Polish melancholy and lyricism and often reflecting references to Polish Folklore. Some of these compositions appeared on earlier recordings by Kobyliński, but this intimate duo setting puts them in a different light and mood, and makes them worth revisiting.

Most of the improvisational artistry on this album is naturally performed by Truffaz, who is a proven Master of his instrument. On this album Truffaz demonstrates a mellow, melodic mood, as appropriate for the circumstances, but his playing is full of artistry and sensitivity. Kobyliński stays mostly in the background, accompanying the trumpet lead amicably, taking occasional solos as well. The duo works together well and manages to create a full musical experience, proving that the unusual piano / trumpet instrumentation is completely viable and artistically convincing.

Overall this is a enjoyable album, which emphasizes the gentle side of the Jazz idiom, well within the mainstream tradition, but offers an unusual instrumental setting and deeply melodic contents, which is accessible to a wide range of Jazz and Jazz related listeners.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Czwartek Jazzowy z Gwiazdą - Rafał Gorzycki Ensemble Tuning - Gliwice, 29.11.2018


Tomasz Pawlicki - flet
Kuba Ziołek - gitara
Rafał Gorzycki - perkusja


29 listopada, godz. 20:00, COK Perełka, Gliwice
Bilety: 20 zł przedsprzedaż/25 zł w dniu koncertu

Ensemble Tuning tworzą wyjątkowi muzycy: Tomasz Pawlicki - flecista i kompozytor, jeden z największych instrumentalistów w Polsce, koncertmistrz Opery Nova w Bydgoszczy, oraz Kuba Ziołek – laureat Paszportu Polityki 2016, lider wielu ważnych projektów i zespołów z pogranicza muzyki eksperymentalnej, elektronicznej i improwizowanej – multiinstrumentalista, obsługujący tutaj elektronikę . Lider projektu i perkusista, kompozytor – Rafał Gorzycki, jest zaliczany do grona najważniejszych i najbardziej twórczych, płodnych artystów współczesnego jazzu oraz kameralistyki w Polsce. Nagrał do tej pory 22 autorskie albumy i jest laureatem wielu nagród, wyróżnień oraz stypendiów. Założeniem tria jest praca nad brzmieniem, jego transformowanie i ekspozycja jako głównej składowej muzycznej kreacji. Pierwsze koncerty formacji odbyły się jesienią 2017 roku.

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