środa, 24 marca 2010

Wojtczak, Mazolewski, Gos - Freeyo (2009)

This is one of the best efforts in the field of free and improvised music in Poland last year. And to no surprise as musicians creating this band are still young but not in the least beginners. Wojtek Mazolewski (b) is  leader of famous Pink Freud (check such records as "Alchemia" (2007) or "Monster Of Jazz" (2011),   Irek Wojtczak (s) played in Tymański Yass Ensamble while Michał Gos (dr) in Maszyna Do Mięsa (Meat Machine). They either collaborated with artist such as John Zorn, Time Berne, Dave Douglas or were influenced by the likes of Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton, Jimmy Hendrix which is defining quite well what kind of music they intend to pursue.

All this is delivered in impeccable form, not a rhythm, pulse or sound is too obvious or predictable. The soul of this music is to engage the listeners in creative process, to surprise them and allow them to transcendent the boundaries of jazz, music and perhaps life itself. Surely this music is rather difficult and by definition directed to small audience but it also proves that there is enough listeners in Poland to appreciate such a direction in jazz and first of all that we do not lack talented musicians, young and creative, who want to devote their talent to this challenging but noble form of jazz. My strong recommendation to all lovers of what is free and improvised in jazz!

sobota, 20 marca 2010

Contemporary Noise Sextet - Unaffected Thought Flow (2008)

I already wrote about this band on occasion of their previous recording Pig in Gentleman. This time they changed format a little adding to the previous quintet of musicians (Kuba Kapsa - p, Tomasz Glazik - sx, Wojtek Jachna -tr, Paweł Urowski - b, Bartek Kapsa - dr) Kamil Pater (g). He already appeared on PIG but now plays CNS on permanent addition. He is excellent player who was part of famous progressive rock band  called Ecstasy Project and recorded Dziki Jazz last year, the album regarded by many as one of the most important ventures in the field of mainstream, avant-garde and free jazz in Poland.

Although many fans of CNS were afraid whether they will be able to keep the standard they attained in their first album this band proves by this issue that they are able to deliver high quality and creative jazz on regular basis. This album not only continues good job they started in PIG but they even pushed the whole further including into their music idiom not only jazz and film music but also rock, drum&bass or trip hop. This is exactly a mixture you would like to hear while being in some good club with nice and intelligent girlfriend on Saturday evening in one of big european cities. Cool and sexy stuff from Poland, definitely not to be missed!!!

By Maciej Nowotny

sobota, 13 marca 2010

Obara, Alessi, Waits, Helias - Four (2010)

This is the album I bought after concert that took place on 7th March in Warsaw at Teatr Wytwórnia. It concluded short tournee of only three gigs in Poland, including Wrocław and Katowice, given day by day by these FOUR truly exceptional artists. Ralph Alessi, Nasheet Waits and Mark Helias all work together in School Of Improvisational Music and play important role in New York avant-garde scene playing with musicians of such a renown as John Zorn, Uri Caine, Steve Coleman, Don Byron, Ravi Coltrane, Fred Hersch or Jason Moran to name just a few.
Maciej Obara on the other hand is very promising young Polish altoist who up to this date recorded two albums Message From Ohayo  and I Can Do It  showing consistently over years dedication to free and improvised side of jazz. This recording owes a lot to the key figure on Polish jazz scene that is Tomasz Stańko with whom Obara worked together 2 years ago in his New Balladyna Project. On the recommendation from Stańko he was invited to New York for scholarship where he met above mentioned musicians and so it began.
The music on the album is first class in all possible aspects and I can only cite Tomasz Stańko who commented on it with following words: „As early as I heard first sounds from the newest Maciej Obara album I felt deeply moved and echanted by this music. (...) His music is strong, mature, deep, full of charm and beautiful. It is his own".
Finally let me write few words about the concert who took place in excpetional venue, small post-industrial scene, located on the verge of famous Warsaw factory of vodka and liquers called "Koneser". The audiance was small, of approximately 100 persons, but I think that all of them carefully decided to be present at this specific concert. Famous Polish jazz pianist Marcin Wasilewski emerged, together with Maciej Grabowski and Krzysztof Gradziuk who play in excellent RGG trio and who worked together with Obara in aforementioned Tomasz Stańko New Balladyna Project.
Unfortunately musicians showed up late due to problems with delayed train and from the beginning they seemed a bit disconcerted. The gig had its great but also weak moments, generally speaking it did not match the level of interplay we could find on the CD. Nonetheless it was pure pleasure to listen to this FOUR although they are still in process of becoming ONE team. It would be great if they can continue their work together in future because the potential that lies in their cooperation is obviously immense.
To sum up it is clear that Maciej Obara has tremendous talent and can accomplish great things in future.  I am also sure that his new FOUR album will be seen as one the most importantd recoding in free jazz in 2010 in Poland.

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny (http://kochamjazz.blox.pl/html)

To make you feel the touch of Obara style I recommended to see first video:

while second one is an interesting evidence of the collaboration between Obara and Stańko:

wtorek, 9 marca 2010

Jarosław Śmietana Band - A Tribute To Zbigniew Seifert (2009) by Maciej Nowotny

Zbigniew Seifert, born in 1946, lived only 33 years, but nonetheless he earned himself a reputation of the best polish jazz violinist ever (contended only by Michał Urbaniak). In this short span of time he had fruitous collaboration with Tomasz Stańko and also managed to play with Joachinm Kuhn, Charlie Mariano and Oregon group, which was quite exceptional back in 70ties when communist goverment virtually locked up Polish artist from Western world. His brilliant carrer was interrupted by cancer with which he was figthing for long time. Just 3 months before death he recorded his farewell album titled Passion accompanied by Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield, Eddie Gomes, Richie Beirach and Nana Vasconselos.
Guitarist Jarek Śmietana is no less prominent person in Polish Jazz and he worked together with Seifert on another of his legendary recording called Kilimanjaro. Thirty years after the departure of his friend he decided to venture on this specific project which turn out to be as succesul as it is ambitious. Jarek Śmietana Band consists of excellent pianist Piotr Wyleżoł, legendary bassist Zbigniew Wegehaupt and Janusz Grzywacz (keybord), Adam Czerwiński (drums) and Sławek Berny (percussion). But apart from these top musicians we encounter on this recording ten foreign and polish jazz violinits:
1. Kilimanjaro (with J. Goodman)
2. Where Are You Fron (with M. Smoczyński)
3. Passion (with. D. Lockwood)
4. Quo Vadis (with K. Dębski)
5. City Of Spring (with Ch. Howes)
6. Way To Oasis (with M. Felman)
7. Taniec Garbusa (with M. Strzelczyk)
8. Untitled Song (with A. Bałdych)
All compositions are Seifert's but newly arranged by Śmietana.  Addition of different violinist to each song makes the rehearsal of this album similar to the riding on the rollercoster but the one you really like to be on, in short it is simply pure joy. Great recording for the lovers of jazz violin!

Author: Maciej Nowotny

poniedziałek, 1 marca 2010

Pater, Kamiński, Urowski, Gorzycki - Dziki Jazz (2009)

Dziki Jazz (Wild Jazz) is new project of young but already well recognized musicians. Kamil Pater (guitar), Aleksander Kamiński (saxophone), Rafał Gorzycki (drums) and Paweł Urowski (bass) know each other well bacause they play together in excellent Contemporary Noise Quartet/Quintet/Sextet. This is creme de creme of Polish young jazz, rock, alternative and avant-garde scene. Wherever they move something new and inspiring arises. Dziki Jazz is no exception as they propose again something contradictory do what audience expected from him.

Typically they were associated with rock or even punk rock (Ecstasy Project, Something Like Elvis), further with free jazz (Sing Sing Penelope) energetic and spontaneus, in tradition of Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler or Archie Shepp but with this recording they go as close as never before toward mainstream. And still they manage to retain in their music this provocative and intriguing feature that was present on their other albums. So contrary to the title of the album the music is definitely less wild but much more communicative and is appealing to emotions they up to this date rather neglected. What are this emotions? This I think you should prefer to discover on your own. I simply recommend this album to you as I feel any sensitive and open-minded jazzman should enjoy it very much.

A small sample of what you may encounter on this cd:

By Maciej Nowotny

Krzysztof Popek - Estate (2009)

Since first rehearsal I started to love this record! First because we have hard winter this year, plenty of snow, minus 30 Celsius degree cold, but this music has warm and delicate climate of summer in itself, the mood we all long for very much here.  Estate (summer in italian), comes second in the album, is song composed in 1960 by Bruno Martino and Bruno Brighetti which became popularized as jazz standard by Joao Gilberto. Recently I heard it in great interpretation of Micheal Petrucciani (Live In Acireale) and Chris Botti (Italia). It truly deserves to be highlited as album's title as it beams with energy and musician's interplay is remarkable.
The choice of compositions is very strong point of this album. Please look at the repertoire:
1. Forest Flower (K. Jarrett), 
2. Estate (B. Martino - B. Brighetti)
3. Highway  One (B. Hutcherson)
4. Stolen Moments (O. Nelson)
5. Air Dancing (B. Wiliams)
6. Melting Pot (F. Hubbard)
7. Lazy Afternoon (J. Latouche - J. Moross)
So we are deeply in jazz tradition and mainstream here but we do not regret it as it is all perfermed on highest level owing to the group of excellent musicians that took part in this recording. Krzysztof Popek is arguably the best polish jazz flutist who in 1987 created Young Power, a band that in 80ties was the vehicle by which a new generation of polish talented jazz musicians became known to the audience. That was also a band where Popek met Piotr Wojtasik who sice then became leading polish trumpeter and influential teacher at jazz faculty in Katowice Music Academy.
Foreign musicians appearing on this album are no less prominent. I do not know Stephen Scott (piano) very well but I read that he played with Sonny Rollins, Roy Hargrove and Bobby Hutcherson. On the other hand I am quite well acquainted with bassist Cameron Brown who was very solid sideman present on more than 80 recordings with many jazz best names. His play is top class. The same may be said about drummer Victor Lewis who has very consistent career behing himself. This record stands out as one of most fruitious collaborations of polish and foreign muscians in recent times in mainstream jazz in Poland.
Title tune below:
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