Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jerzy Małek Group - Bop Beat (2009)

Jerzy Malek is trumpeter which is good example of the strong wave of young Polish jazz musicians coming one by one to the scene over the last few years. Regardless of his young age, 29 years, he already recorded seven albums and is assertively looking for his own, individual sound in jazz. Not all of those albums were immadietely printed after recording. This cd is for example waited nearly three years to be issued. Nonetheless it sounds very well and freshly proving that Małek and his companions are able to create music that may last longer than few days or months after premiere. First I shall write few words about Małek, then about musicians that accompany him on this record and finally about the program and music itself.

Jerzy Małek started his musical education in his native city of Elbląg and completed it in excellent jazz faculty of Music Academy at Katowice (in class of Polish virtuoso trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik). He quickly made his name in polish jazz through participating in jazz competishions and through playing as sideman with such renown polish jazzmen like Jarosław Śmietana, Zbigniew Namysłowski or Zbigniew Wegehaupt to name just a few. He feels very well at concerts, like plays live and is able to fit in almost any squad or type of music. This is basically what is his strongest side: great universality and width of his musical interests. And to some extent  his weakness also because he clearly has not yet developed his individual style, he is still looking for it.

Another strong side of him is that he is able to gather around himself excellent musicians. Look at the personnel playing on this record: Tomasz Grzegorski (1,4,7,8), Dariusz Herbasz (2,3) and Radek Nowicki (6,7) are all very promising tenor saxophone players. Dominik Bukowski plays vibes. Jan Smoczyński - hammond, rhodes and electrical piano. Konrad Zelmer on guitars. Sławek Jaskułke rhodes (7). Adam Kowalewski (1,3,4,5,8) and Krzysztof Pacan (2,6,7) bas. Roman Slefarski drums. Bogusz Wekka percussion (1,2,4). And Mika Urbaniak vocal (3).

I believe that so many polish names at once may be puzzling for foreign listeners but the fact is that nearly all of them are very promising players, winners of country and international jazz competitions and many of them already recorded interesting albums on their own. Simply speaking these are all names to remember and one should pay tribute to Małek that he was able to persuade them to play together. The sligltly funny side of such a success is that quite ofhen on this album Małek sounds not as a leader but rather like average band member. Other musicians take over from him and dominate one song or the other like Jan Smoczyński whose play on this record is especially noteworthy.

All music on the record is composed by Malek. So what is its style? Up to this date Malek was known for playing mainstream jazz, in this cd however he deviates (as the title of the album suggests) toward fusion, funky and neobop, therefore music is jazz but also easy-to-listen, communicative. To sum up I want to say that although is some respects this record could be better, for example in my opinion it lacks idea that would keep music together, securing its integrity and cohesion, it is so attractively composed and played that I return to it over and over again.

Author: Maciej Nowotny

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