Monday, August 19, 2019

Brass Federacja – Go, Go, To Be On Time! (2019)

Brass Federacja

Maurycy Idzikowski - trumpet
Marcin Malarz - trumpet
Andrzej Rekas - trombone
Bartek Lupinski - trombone
Szymon Wojdak - trombone
Piotr Wrobel - sousaphone
Maciek Wojcieszuk - drums

Go, Go, To Be On Time!

REQUIEM / LYDIAN 2019/5

By Adam Baruch



This is the debut album by Polish Brass ensemble Brass Federacja, led by sousaphone player / composer Piotr Wrobel, which also includes trumpeters Maurycy Idzikowski and Marcin Malarz, trombonists Andrzej Rekas, Bartek Lupinski and Szymon Wojdak and drummer Maciek Wojcieszuk. Six additional brass players guest on one of the tunes. The album presents eight original compositions, all by Wrobel, and one arrangement of a standard. There is also a humorous hidden bonus track! Wrobel might be familiar to the Polish Jazz buffs as the sousaphone player of the fabulous Jazz Band Mlynarski – Masecki, which also works without a bass player in its ranks.

The music is on the Funky side of the Brass ensemble music spectrum, offering straight forward melodic themes, which serve as vehicles for all the brass mania around, spiced by wonderful soloing by the ensemble members. The entire sound of the ensemble works wonderfully with the unique sousaphone / drums "rhythm section", which adds full bodied bottom range and swings wonderfully.

The music is somewhat similar to what the Brass Rock ensembles of the 1960s and 1970s were doing at the time, missing of course the guitar / keyboards / bass guitar Rocky side of things, but still being quite attractive to lovers of that idiom, which sadly disappeared from the face of the earth. The music displays an affinity to Traditional Jazz on some of the tracks, and an entire album of more Traditional Jazz oriented music might also work excellently – perhaps sometime in the future?

Overall this is an absolutely delightful piece of music, very different from everything else appearing on the Polish Jazz scene and showing the limitless extent of the genre. It is full of originality and passion and is of course wholeheartedly recommended!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Sundial feat. Irek Wojtczak - Sundial III (2019)

Sundial feat. Irek Wojtczak

Wojciech Jachna - trumpet
Grzegorz Tarwid - piano
Albert Karch - drums, percussion
Irek Wojtczak - tenor & soprano saxophones

Sundial III

HEVHETIA 0186


By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by the excellent Polish Jazz trio consisting of trumpeter Wojciech Jachna, pianist Grzegorz Tarwid and drummer Albert Karch. This time the trio is expanded into a quartet with the inclusion of the veteran saxophonist Irek Wojtczak. The album, recorded live, presents nine original compositions, all composed or co-composed by the trio members.

It is quite a challenge to follow the two superb albums which the trio recorded earlier with another extraordinary piece of music, which will continue the same level of emotional depth and sophistication. This is perhaps the reason why the trio members decided to reinforce their ranks with the addition of Wojtczak, who has achieved a remarkable level of respect and appreciation on the Polish scene, being one of the most creative and open-minded musicians on the scene. In retrospect this decision proved to be most fruitful and successful musically.

The music on this album is even more open and adventurous than on the two earlier albums, still offering a pre-composed skeleton but relaying more on spontaneous improvisation than ever before. It is therefore further removed from the Contemporary Classical tendencies followed earlier on and moves toward Avant-Garde contemporary music, with an emphasis on both group and individual improvisation. The melodic themes become more minimalist and nebulous, strongly related to the Krzysztof Komeda legacy he defined in the mid-1960s. I am pretty sure this music would put a smile on his face.

As usual, the individual contributions by the trio members are highly inspired and perfectly executed. Wojtczak integrates with the trio completely and unconditionally, becoming entirely naturally an integral part of the music making unit. Obviously his presence enhances and deepens the overall sound and adds new possibilities, which are immediately sized upon by the trio members. One could hardly hope for a more innate combination of improvising powers than this. The future will tell weather Wojtczak joins the trio on a permanent basis, turning it into a quartet or this was just a one time only collaboration, but the potency of this ensemble is fully exposed on this album.

It is only natural that musicians of this caliber refuse to stand still and keep searching constantly, and therefore it is completely normal to see the music evolving and developing from one album to the next. As long as they manage to keep it interesting, inspiring and deeply satisfying, like in this case, we should be grateful and feel blessed that such music is being made. Overall this is a remarkable album, certainly marking a noteworthy event in the 2019 list of Polish Jazz releases and deserving the admiration and respect reserved only for the very best of its kind. Thank you for the music, as always!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tercet Kamili Drabek – Muzyka Naiwna (2019)

Tercet Kamili Drabek

Marcin Konieczkowicz - alto saxophone
Kamila Drabek - double bass
Kacper Kaźmierski - drums

Muzyka Naiwna

SOLITON 951



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by young Polish Jazz trio led by bassist/composer Kamila Drabek, with saxophonist Marcin Konieczkowicz and drummer Kacper Kaźmierski. The album presents eleven tracks, ten of which are original compositions by Drabek and one is a standard arranged by her. The music was recorded at the Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki and offers a wonderful natural sound quality.

The album's title (Naïve Music in English) is a most appropriate description of its musical contents, which is a collection of seemingly simplistic and minimalist compositions, played without much panache or exhibitionism. All this is an obvious and fully conscious approach by the composer and the trio, trying to keep the music down to is bare components, without polluting it with unnecessary adornment, which is the modus operandi of Naïve Art. Naïve is sadly often confused with primitive or underdeveloped, but in Art it simply means natural/honest/direct rather than limited.

The music presented here is by all means fully developed as are the technical skills of the trio members, and the minimalist approach is extremely effective as far as getting the message through, especially in today's noise polluted musical environment. As a result the album offers a completely innovative path, which of course is commendable, especially in view of the young age of the musicians involved. It takes a few listening sessions to get to the bottom of these compositions and discover their full blossom, but the effect is definitely worth the effort.

The recording quality of the music allows the listener to hear clearly every nuance of the instrumental work, which under these circumstances is even more important than usual, as every note played counts. As already stated, this kind of natural sound complements this music perfectly. Overall this is a splendid and very unique debut, which certainly deserves to be heard and rises high hope as to the future if its creators. Very well done!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Polonka - Poemat Konfesyjny (2018)

Polonka

Michał Górczyński - contrabass clarinet
Piotr Zabrodzki - clavichord, positive organ
Jan Emil Młynarski - drums

Poemat Konfesyjny

BRLP06


By Jędrzej Janicki

Jakże nierozsądnie głosił włoski poeta Filipo Tommaso Marinetti i jego koledzy futuryści, gdy wspólnie i w porozumieniu nawoływali do brutalnego zniszczenia tradycji. W swym rewolucyjnym szale nie zauważali pewnej bardzo ciekawej prawidłowości – wszak tradycja to nie tylko zamierzchła przeszłość, lecz również trampolina inspiracji do stworzenia dzieł świeżych i skrajnie oryginalnych. Spojrzenie w przeszłość może być zatem bardzo odważnym krokiem w... przyszłość. Tworzący formację Polonka zdają się to doskonale rozumieć, a ich zatopienie się w muzykę dawną i odległą od naszego kręgu kulturowego stało się pretekstem do nagrania zachwycającej płyty zatytułowanej "Poemat Konfesyjny".

Polonka nie od zawsze była Polonką. Początkowo zespół (w takim samym składzie jak obecnie) nazywał się Pole. Właśnie jeszcze jako Pole trio wydało debiutancki album "Radom". Po taktycznej zmianie nazwy i wydawcy (obecnie nastawione na awangardę Bôłt Records) oraz kilku długaśnych latach milczenia nareszcie doczekaliśmy się "Poematu Konfesyjnego". Stworzyli go niezwykli muzycy, którzy zdołali już sobie wyrobić markę wytrawnych poszukiwaczy nieoczywistych improwizowanych dźwięków. Tymi orędownikami niekoniecznie jazzowej awangardy są perkusista Jan Emil Młynarski, klarnecista Michał Górczyński oraz grający na potrzeby "Poematu" na klawikordzie oraz pozytywie organowym Piotr Zabrodzki. 

Otwierająca płytę kompozycja "Pogadanka" znów nieco przywodzi na myśl futurystów i ich bruityzm z szerokim zastosowaniem "generatorów hałasu" imitujących warkot, charczenie i świst maszyn. W "Wirze" słychać agresywną strukturę niczym z berlińskich klubów techno, na tle której ogromne wrażenie wywołują klarnetowe jęki Górczyńskiego. Z drugiej strony najbardziej skoczny i taneczny na płycie Kantyk przypomina troszeczkę "Watermelon Man" z ponadczasowego albumu "Head Hunters" Herbie'ego Hancocka. Kończący wydawnictwo "Drobnicowiec" swoim posępnym charakterem śmiało mógłby stać się ozdobą niejednej ścieżki dźwiękowej filmu grozy absolutnie najwyższej jakości.

Można opisywać bogate inspiracje Polonki, kulturowy mariaż pod znakiem muzyki jazzowej czy sięganie po dawne struktury utworów – prawdziwa siła tego niezwykłego tria tkwi jednak w czymś zupełnie innym. Jakkolwiek wyświechtane miałoby być to sformułowanie, to Polonka naprawdę brzmi jak jeden muzyczny organizm. Panowie się doskonale rozumieją, a każdy dźwięk "Poematu Konfesyjnego" brzmi jak świadectwo nieograniczonej wręcz pasji i zaangażowania muzyków. Polonka to niespotykana machina, która dziką wręcz siłę przekazu opiera na łączeniu stylów i przeróżnych nurtów muzyki ludowej. Jak się okazuje tradycja nie zawsze musi być nudna i zbutwiała, lecz przy odpowiedniej dozie wyobraźni i przekształcenia może okazać się kopalnią oryginalnych i świeżych inspiracji.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Quartado – Quartado 2 (2019)

Quartado

Jan Rejnowicz - keyboards
Marcin Wądołowski - guitar
Karol Kozłowski - bass
Tomasz Łosowski - drums

Quartado 2

SOLITON 938



By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish Fusion quartet Quartado, which comprises of keyboardist Jan Rejnowicz, guitarist Marcin Wądołowski, bassist Karol Kozłowski and drummer Tomasz Łosowski. The album presents eight original compositions; four by Rejnowicz, two by Wądołowski and one each by Kozłowski and Łosowski.

The music continues exactly where the debut left off, with the same Fusion feel based on highly melodic compositions and full of typical Fusion riffs, which have been around for the last fifty years, which means that this album might have been recorded anytime between 1970 and now and nobody would be able to pinpoint the recording date. This of course proves that Fusion is one of the most stable (or stale is one wants to be nasty) Jazz idioms out there. Having said that, this music is really quite excellent as far as Fusion is concerned, full of great tunes, excellent playing and "positive energy", as the quartet states on the album's cover.

The technical level of the performances is much better than on the debut, especially the keyboards, which offer a diverse sonic kaleidoscope of instruments between acoustic and electric pianos, organ and synthesizers. The soloing is solid and very well structured this time. The only pity is that the keyboards completely dominate the proceedings, and the role of the guitar is sadly much less prominent. Wądołowski is obviously a growing force on the Polish guitar scene and his playing is significantly superior, which is an asset the quartet could have explored more efficiently. The rhythm section does a perfect job all the way through, doing exactly what is expected in the Fusion environment, i.e. keep the beat steady and the groove swinging.

Overall this is a splendid Fusion album, perfectly in the middle of the Fusion mainstream, which should keep most of the fans of the genre perfectly happy. It is certainly as good as anything produced by American Fusion bands that are still around, if not better than most. Highly recommended to Fusion-heads the world over!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Mełech/Majewski/Królikowski/Buhl – Kwartet (2019)

Mełech / Majewski / Królikowski / Buhl

Piotr Mełech - clarinet & bass clarinet
Jakub Królikowski - piano
Jarosław Majewski - bass
Jacek Buhl - drums

Kwartet



PLEXUS OF INFINITY

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the Avant-Garde Polish Jazz quartet led by clarinetist Piotr Mełech, which also includes pianist Jakub Królikowski, bassist Jarosław Majewski and drummer Jacek Buhl. The album presents ten tracks, all co-composed by the members of the quartet.

The music is typical Avant-Garde/Improvised Music project, which offers spontaneously created music not based on any clear melodic threads and which relays the spur of the moment mutual exchanges between the musicians. For people from outside of the Improvised Music circle this music is completely non-communicative and bizarre, and only a tiny group of connoisseurs is able to listen to it and enjoy it for what it is. Such is the sad fate of any Avant-Garde Art.

However, for people familiar with the Polish Avant-Garde Jazz, which enjoys an extraordinary renaissance in the last decade, the name of Mełech is pretty familiar as a result of about half a dozen of his earlier recordings, all of which made a mark on the local scene. His wonderful clarinet work, which often sounds very Klezmerish, is very unique and often resembles the work of the Israeli clarinet Master Harold Rubin. Mełech firmly controls the flow of the music, setting the structural and rhythmic ambience, with the rest of the quartet following his lead.

Buhl, who is perhaps the leading Polish Avant-Garde drummer and a true musical persona, adds a wonderful layer to the music. He is obviously the most experienced musician on this album and his superb technique and sensitivity are a natural counterbalance to Mełech's clarinet work. Królikowski and Majewski, who are lesser known, keep up with the two veterans and contribute their parts without a hitch.

Overall this album offer depth and remarkable teamwork between the musicians, which of course is not surprising considering the excellent musicianship present on the Polish Avant-Garde Jazz scene. Although obviously not for everybody, this music is exactly what connoisseurs of Improvised Music look for in an album. Well done!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Bandonegro – Hola Astor (2019)

Bandonegro

Michał Główka - bandoneon
Jakub Czechowicz - violin
Marek Dolecki - piano
Dawid Kostka - guitar
Marcin Antkowiak - double bass
Mateusz Brzostowski - drums

Hola Astor



SJ 043

By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by Polish Tango ensemble Bandonegro, which consists of bandoneónist Michał Główka, violinist Jakub Czechowicz, pianist Marek Dolecki and bassist Marcin Antkowiak. On this album the quartet was expanded to a sextet with the addition of two young Polish Jazz players, guitarist Dawid Kostka and drummer Mateusz Brzostowski. The album presents eleven tracks, six of which are compositions by Astor Piazzolla and five are original compositions by Antkowiak, all arranged by the ensemble. The album was recorded at the celebrated Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki with the usual spectacular sound quality.

Bandonegro formed in 2016 and over time established an international reputation with tours around the world, including Argentina, the cradle of Tango. Musically this album takes the ensemble closer to the Nuevo Tango of Piazzolla and its proximity to Jazz. Both the ensemble's interpretation of Piazzolla's compositions and even more so their original compositions are remarkable, especially in view of the idiosyncrasy of the Tango, which one does not expect to be performed authentically by East European musicians, who have culturally nothing in common with the original idiom. Bandonegro prove that love of the music and talent are able to conquer the seemingly impassable cultural gap, which enables them to sound as bona fide Tango performers.

The addition of the Jazz elements is very subtle and quite elegant, and does not impede the natural Tango spirit of the music. To the trained ear, the original compositions by Antkowiak, which constitute the more Jazzed up portion of the album, hide also some understated elements of Slavic origin, which of course is a fascinating element of the music. Whatever this music misses in Argentinean passion, it more than pays back in elegance and subtlety of European origin.

Overall this is a superb album, full of great compositions and superb performances, passionately executed and intelligently put together. For Tango connoisseurs this is an absolute must, but even listeners who would not usually listen to Tango music, this album is both special and beautiful enough to win them over. As a great lover of the Tango I can't help but recommend this album wholeheartedly, hoping it will find a warm place in the hearts of as many listeners as possible.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Wojtek Kurek & Anna Jędrzejewska - Copy Of Pianodrum (2018)

Wojtek Kurek & Anna Jędrzejewska

Anna Jędrzejewska - piano
Wojtek Kurek - drums

Copy Of Pianodrum

PLAŻA ZACHODNIA 2018




By Andrzej Nowak

Oto i kolejna w naszym zestawie istotnie swobodna improwizacja, silnie zakorzeniona we free jazzie i czerpiąca pełnymi garściami z historii gatunku, acz przy tym ożywcza, świeża, niebanalna i doskonale przyswajalna nawet dla mniej obytych. Wojtek Kurek - zwinny, aktywny perkusista i perkusjonalista, stopa, która wybija rytm w świat, kocia przebiegłość. Obok pianistka Anna Jędrzejewska, która mieści się w każdym niemal idiomie współczesnej pianistyki. Wyczulona na niuanse minimalistyki, obyta na salonach pełnych kameralnych incydentów, ale także pełnokrwista, free jazzowa torpeda, której obawiać się mógłby nawet Alex von Schlippenbach, i to w kwiecie wieku. Pomiędzy zaś muzykami dobra komunikacja, wyczulenie na narracyjne drobiazgi i fura radości ze wspólnego grania.

Jeśli w pierwszym fragmencie szukamy korelacji między jazzem a kameralistyką, to w drugim płoniemy już prawdziwym ogniem free. W trzecim dokładamy duży stelaż preparacji, w których bogactwo Kurka kontrapunktowane jest skromnością Jędrzejewskiej. W czwartym muzycy realizują się w krótkich, nerwowych frazach, gonią za skrawkami szczęścia i często je odnajdują. Fajerwerki i kocie pląsy na płocie. Emocje w fazie silnego wzrostu, a z twarzy recenzenta nie znika uśmiech zadowolenia. W piątym muzycy ślą moc pozdrowień dla wspomnianego już wcześniej niemieckiego pianisty, ogień buzuje, werbel wrze, a klawiatura piana skacze pod sam sufit. 

Wreszcie rozbudowany, niemal epicki finał. Fortepianowe preparacje z samego dna pudła rezonansowego, echo po nieboskłon i cisza jako ważny element dramaturgiczny. Obok szmery i małe dźwięki perkusji, która aż boi się odezwać. Prawdziwe królestwo mikrobiologii dźwięków. Anna czyni honory gospodarza domu, Wojtek skromnie łyżeczkuje. Narracja nadyma się i wygasa, pulsuje i stawia stemple jakości w każdym zakamarku sceny. Na ostatniej prostej zmysły kipią, a dźwięki tańczą aż do nagłej śmierci całej płyty.

Tekst pierwotnie opublikowany na blogu Trybuna Muzyki Spontanicznej.


Friday, August 2, 2019

Wolność - Outlines (2018)

Wolność

Adam Witkowski - guitars, synth
Wojciech Juchniewicz - bass
Krzysztof Topolski - drums, synth
with
Paweł Kulczyński - synth
Tomasz Ziętek - trumpet
DJ Paulo - turntable
Mikołaj Trzaska - bass clarnet
Maciej Bączyk - synth, looper


Outlines

THISISNOTARECORD 2018

By Piotr Wojdat

Poprzedni studyjny album zespołu Wolność został wypuszczony na światło dzienne przez wytwórnię Kilogram Records. Wydawać by się zatem mogło, że pod kuratelą Mikołaja Trzaski o rozgłos będzie dużo łatwiej, a potem to w ogóle będzie już z górki. Niestety, nadzieja prysła jak bańka mydlana. Gdańska grupa nie odniosła na tym polu znaczących sukcesów i nowa zeszłoroczna płyta zatytułowana "Outlines" niewiele w tej sytuacji zmienia. Z Wolnością jest taki problem, że, używając żargonu specjalistów od SEM i SEO, ich muzyka słabo się pozycjonuje. Nie jest skrojona pod gusta konkretnych grup odbiorców i nie wpasowuje się w wąskie szuflady stylistyczne. 

Gdy słucham drugiego albumu Wolności, przypominam sobie o dokonaniach nowojorskich zespołów z końca lat 70. i początku kolejnej dekady, które wychodząc od punk rocka, zainspirowały się free jazzem, elektroniką i funkiem. I właśnie ten undergroundowy sznyt jest wyczuwalny w muzyce gdańskiej formacji od pierwszych taktów "Poollowers". Brudne brzmienie syntezatorów, tnące jak brzytwa dźwięki gitary elektrycznej oraz zdekonstruowany groove są obecne niemal przez cały czas trwania "Outlines".

Za muzykę zawartą na recenzowanej przeze mnie płycie odpowiedzialny jest Adam Witkowski, którego można kojarzyć z zespołu Nagrobki. Z perkusistą Krzysztofem Topolskim, znanym także jako Arszyn, (kto pamięta jego świetny duet z saksofonistą Tomaszem Dudą?) współpracuje też w projekcie Woda. Skład uzupełnia basista Wojtek Juchniewicz realizujący swoje pomysły w zespole Trupa Trupa. 

W kilku utworach towarzyszą im goście. W najdłuższym na płycie "Thom Tom Tohome" i zamykającym "Raport w Founded" słyszymy charakterystyczne dźwięki klarnetu basowego Mikołaja Trzaski. Ukłonem w stronę fanów jazzu jest też udział trębacza Tomasza Ziętka w "Weather Trip". Najbardziej z całego zestawu przekonuje mnie jednak "Wełniacz", gdzie DJ Paulo znakomicie wpasowuje się w koncept z old schoolowymi skreczami na gramofonie.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Sasha Strunin – Autoportrety (2019)

Sasha Strunin

Sasha Strunin - vocal
Gary Guthman - flugelhorn
Filip Wojciechowski - piano
Pawel Pańta - bass
Cezary Konrad - drums

Autoportrety




SOLITON 943

By Adam Baruch

There is no doubt that Jazz and Poetry were meant for each other. Both are, after all, the enfants terribles of their respective Art Forms, music and literature. Both embody the impossible balance between intellectual and emotional, both led the Avant-Garde movements in their respective fields and their amalgamation into the Jazz & Poetry idiom was simply inevitable. Therefore it is hardly surprising that Jazz & Poetry played a pivotal role during the 1960s Renaissance of the post WWII Culture in Poland and continues to be a vital ingredient of the local milieu ever since. 

The music and the poetry present on this album are a wonderful example of the vivacity of the contemporary Jazz & Poetry idiom in Poland and in many respects one of the most ambitious attempts of its kind to date. The poetry of Miron Białoszewski, one of Poland´s twentieth Century most important literary figures, is not only expressive and profound but also difficult, complex and often controversial. His unconventional usage of language structures, word games and other idiosyncratic characteristics of his Avant-Garde approach to poetry make his poems extremely awkward to combine with music, requiring an acrobatic ability both from the composer and the vocalist. 

Gary Guthman, an American composer/arranger/trumpeter and a Jazz veteran living in Warsaw, deserves the highest praise for coalescing Białoszewski´s words with his music, presenting a coherent, harmonious musical flow which compliments the poetry wonderfully. What is even more astonishing is that the music is beautifully melodic and swinging, in contrast to the Avant-Garde spirit of the poetry itself. Perhaps it is a reflection of Białoszewski´s passion of music, which is inherently embedded in his poetry, despite its external enmity. 

Sasha Strunin is of course the absolute Diva of this project, singing the thorny, complicated texts with elegance, flair and incredible passion. Her depth of expression and the power of phrasing are truly hair-raising, blood-curdling and spine-chilling. Her total and unconditional dedication to this project is a beacon other Artist should follow. A relative newcomer to the Polish Jazz idiom, Sasha is today surely one of its greatest treasures.

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