poniedziałek, 28 lutego 2011

Some tunes from RGG trio new album!!!

Recently in this post I have annouced new RGG trio album coming. Now it's getting near and we already know its title: "One" plus we are able to listen to six tunes from this album:

sobota, 26 lutego 2011

Piotr Lemańczyk announces new album!

Piotr Lemańczyk (source) is excellent double bass player who recently recorded two great albums: "Naha Poeple" (2009) with Tim Hagans and "Three Point Shot" (2010) with Jerry Bergonzi. So I am very happy being able to inform you that for 2011 he plans another album titled "Able To Fly". This time he join forces with excellent saxman Maciej SIkała and drummer Tyler Hornby. The CD will be published by Canadian label Chronograph Records. Accordingly concert tour will follow in Canada (info about venues here).
As for Polish fans they had opportunity to listen to this trio recently in Gdańsk during concert series called "Jazz Nad Mołtawą" and thanks to effort by Kazimierz Zagórski  and his "Radio Patrycjusz" radio station you can listen to podcast of the WHOLE concert. I would like to thank Kazimierz  and artists for such a wonderful present!!!

piątek, 25 lutego 2011

Maciej Tubis Trio - Live in Luxembourg (2010)

About pianist Maciej Tubis I wrote a lot when reviewing his first album titled "Fulfillment".  So this time I would skip bio data (you can find it at above mentioned link) and answer only question: what music contains his second disc?
His first album did not appeal to me very much because it contained very little of jazz music, mostly classical playing inspired by Arvo Paart and the likes. However in those rare moments when he played jazz it was obvious that his potential is great. So I was very happy upon hearing than in this album, recorded live in Luxembourd, Maciej Tubis went full-scale into jazz. And the outcome of such decision is magnificent! Especially if you happen to like great piano trios as led by Keith Jarrett, Esbjorn Svensson or Tord Gustavsen. Narrative power of Maciej Tubis play stands comparison with those giants of mainstream piano and listening to this album is simply  joy ride from one beautiful melody to another, all performed in best possible way. Maciej Tubis is supported by Marcin Lamch on double bass and Przemek Pacan on drums. Plus at a certain moment this three musicians are joined by Andre Mergenthaler whose play on cello enlivens the trio format and makes music even more original.
Speaking shortly, this is step in right direction by Maciej and his partners who were capable of producing very high quality mainstream play that remains very rewarding one rehearsal after another.
Check this link for incredibly beautiful song titled "Retrospekcja".
PS. More information about Maciej Tubis you can find as well on AAJ.

czwartek, 24 lutego 2011

Where to buy records with Polish jazz???

Many requests from people all around the world make me to ask this question: where to buy records with Polish jazz? Up to a very recent times I could only suggest two internet shops, both operating in Poland:
1) http://wsm.serpent.pl/sklep/eng/ - best Polish online shop with avantgarde music and
2) http://www.empik.com/ - biggest online shop with books, music, videos.
Both these sites offer interface in English which makes the process of buying much more comfortable for foreign customers. However a question of high delivery rates remains (I know it well since I am regular customer of Amazon.com). 
Recently Steve Dolan has contacted me and I can now recommend his site http://www.stevesjazzsounds.co.uk/. His is focusing on Polish and Scandinavian jazz so I believe for customers from the UK this may be an interesting option. BTW his story is really interesting: he first became aware of Polish jazz through listening to Mike Chadwick's radio (Jazz FM) show the Cutting Edge. Then he managed to get a CD called the best of Polish Jazz 2005 and that is how, using his words, "he was hooked". It costed him a lot of patience and perseverance to get hold of his favourite discs using sometimes private contacts in Poland or through checking artists' or recording labels' pages. Fortunately he decided to use his so gathered experience to open online store to give others the chance to buy this wonderful jazz without all these problems. Good luck Steve with your project :-) 
But to be honest that does not solve the problem as unfortunately none of these web shops cover ALL significant recordings. What we need is site fully dedicated to Polish jazz, with a scope broad enough to comprise its outskirts (pop, rock, avantgarde, etc.) as well as mainstream, both new and old records. For the time being unfortunately I don't see such one-stop-shop...

środa, 23 lutego 2011

Michał Tokaj Trio - Bird Alone (2004)

A very strange recording, of utmost beauty, which unfortunately remains in obscurity. Classic cool jazz trio featuring pianist Michał Tokaj, double bass player Darek Oleszkiewicz and drummer Łukasz Żyta. Michał Tokaj career had splendid beginning, he went from one prize to another, and was playing with all the greatest in Poland, concerting extensively here and abroad. This record, issued in Japan (Gats Production), but recorded in Poland, is kind of climax of this early period: accomplished in every detail, it brings music as flawless and perfect an one can expect from one of the best piano trios in a world. Surprisingly, however, it turned out never to be continued. Sadly it remains great but the only Michał Tokaj's album recorded as a leader.  
Why it is that Michał Tokaj stopped recording as leader is beyond me! He is so, so good it is with great loss to Polish jazz indeed. He is active as educator working as scholar in famous Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw and is also appearing on some recordings as sideman like for example on good disc by Aga Zaryan  "Looking Walking Being" recorded for Blue Note last year. Still if he ever read this post by chance, let me tell him in a name of many thousands of jazz lovers in Poland and abroad: Michał we are waiting for your new album far too long!
For more information check artist's web page http://www.michaltokaj.com/.
Finally let me invite you to check this link for one of the gems of this record: Michał Tokaj Trio interpretation of tune from film series "Chłopi" (Peasants) based on novel by Władysław Reymont, who for this novel received Nobel Prize in literature in year 1924.

wtorek, 22 lutego 2011

Oleś Brothers with Andrzej Przybielski on new record!!!

Recent departure of great trumpeter Andrzej Przybielski (to whom I dedicated this post) left all jazz lovers in Poland in a state of deep shock. This sadness may be little soothed by recent news from Bartłomiej Brat Oleś revealing plans for issuing CD containing music recorded by Andrzej Przybielski with Oleś Brothers duo. The title of the album will be "De Profundis" suggesing sombre and deep music, with possible spiritual connotations. Providing that Oleś Brothers are one of the best Polish free jazz rhythm sections I am sure this will be one the most interesting records of this year. Available through Fenomedia Records.   

poniedziałek, 21 lutego 2011

Atom String Quartet rulez at Bielska Zadymka!

This could be a surprise not only for me: Atom String Quartet won Grand Prix of the Lotos jazz Festival (Bielska Zadymka Jazzowa)! David Lubowicz and Mateusz Smoczyński on violins, Michał Zaborski on viola and Krzysztof Lenczowski on cello advertise themselves as first ever (in Poland) string quartet playing jazz. I doubt but still one may feel in their playing this adventurous spirit so characteristic for jazz. Check it yourself here in their interpretation of  famous composition by Chick Corea titled "Spain".

niedziela, 20 lutego 2011

Foton Quartet - Zomo Hall (2010) by Maciej Nowotny

This time it will be very short because it's simply must-have. Would this record arrive a little earlier, not just at the end of the last year, it could very well be a winner in Best Polish Free Jazz album of 2010. But who cares about all this Grammy-like nonsense-talk: good music is good music so trust me and go for this one without hesitation! 

Recorded in some post-industrial production hall among piles of garbage, rubble and twisted reinforcing steel it sounds like. Deep breath. Like 50 or more years ago Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Julian Cannonbal Adderley, Paul Chamber and Jimmy Cobb in "Kind of Blue" when they laid foundations for what was to became cool jazz. As Marcin Kiciński noted in his Polish review it is impossible to describe what music on this album is but it very easy say what it is not: jazzy playing imitating hundreds times over reproduced cliches invented more than half century ago. This is JAZZ as Miles defined it: "any kind of music in process of discovery something new". 

So please remember those names: Gerard Lebik (tenor saxophone, contra alto clarinet), Asrtur Majewski (trumpet), Jakub Cywiński (double bass), Wojciech Romanowski (drums). If you do not know them from bands like Mikrokolektyw, Robotobibok, Slug Duo, Ziemia Planeta Ludzi, it is now the highest time for Foton Quartet or some extraordinary music would pass you by. Let me end this post with word of stef as posted in English review of this record on his blog: "Extremely beautiful! The year has only just begun, and this is to me already a strong contender for the best of the year lists".

Please, it is OBLIGATORY now for you to check this video! Enjoy :-)

PS. The disc was recorded for best Polish recording label Not Two and is available worldwide through its catalogue.

sobota, 19 lutego 2011

Tomasz Stańko - Leosia (2000)

Of all days in a week I like Saturday most. At least I have enough time to listen to music without haste and with relaxed mind not being distracted by usual worries of private or work life. Additionally in the evenings I often go to concerts with friends which doubles the pleasures of the day. This Saturday I go back to album of Tomasz Stańko titled "Leosia" and continue my unofficial discography of this colossus of Polish jazz. Previous parts of this cycle were (in chronological order): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
"Leosia" is in my opinion the best album Tomasz Stańko recorded for ECM: the sound he conjured on his trumpet is truly magical: slow, pensive, meditative. Support he enjoyed from pianist Bobo Stenson and bassist Anders Jormin is exemplary: the level of empathy between them rise to standard as set by great Bill Evans trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian. 
However the man of the day is here Tony Oxley. His play is "parsecs" (again bow to M.L.) away from what other percussionists call "jazz drumming". I find no words appropriate to describe his performance on this record and I would strongly recommend you to simply listen to this music through drums perspective. Follow each beat, each tap, each touch of his drumsticks and your idea of rhythm, this power-base of modern jazz music, will be eventually completely upgraded.   
Here is a link to song from this album titled "Hungry Howl"... 

piątek, 18 lutego 2011

Krystian Zimerman - Grażyna Bacewicz Piano Quintets (2011)

Before I moved to jazz I was immersed totally in classical music for more years than I remember. But even then I was always hungry for what was avantgarde and improvised in classical music. It must be in my genes  since my stepbrother Witold Nowotny, living in Holland, was composer of avantgarde classical music. So although I went through all usual steps of being affascinated by Mozart, Beethoven and Bach, I then traveled   by Wagner and Mahler stations straight to Schoenberg, Webern, Berg and other demigods of European avantgarde of the first half of the previous century. They all came too early: misunderstood, disrespected and despised they became rejected by audiences. But fortunately some people carried on their work among them many Polish composers like Witold Lutosławski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Grażyna Bacewicz and others.
Of all those Polish excellent artists music of Bacewicz has always appealed to me most, especially her strings quartets, which for their restrained, elegant and open form were simply unsurpassed as far as Polish modern music is concerned. Listening to this highly refined music I never imagined that one day I will dedicate all my heart to jazz and that I will discover there the same adventurous, all-or-nothing and radical novelty-seeking attitude. 
As Paweł Baranowski likes to say, whose point of view on modern jazz is very close to mine, there is no jazz other than forward thinking and experimenting. That means that all stylistic boundaries between genres are insignificant and all that counts is simply GOOD MUSIC. From such a perspective you should not be at all surprised that today I recommend to you one of the best Polish jazzman Krystian Zimerman improvising on standards by legend of Polish jazz Grażyna Bacewicz... 
Check this link for a fragment of above mentioned quartets of her. Stellar!

czwartek, 17 lutego 2011

Maciej Fortuna Quartet - Lost Keys (2010) by Maciej Nowotny

I would surely overlooked this debut CD if my friend Tomek Łuczak did not turn my attention to this album. Lost among so many splendid mainstream debuts of 2010 (great year for Polish jazz!), it features trumpeter who may become key player on Polish jazz scene in following years. His style may be described as virtuosic, melodious and spontaneous. I've read that this album was recorded on spot during one recording session without many rehearsals and it becomes evident when you start to listen to it. It provides us with massive energy, joy of life and great optimism. What is even more important this youthful attitude is accompanied by the highest level of musicianship and to no surprise because if we look into the names of sidemen we will find there top quality artists indeed.

The man whose play most deserves praise on this recording is Przemysław Raminiak. We know him well from excellent RGG trio which is one of the best cool jazz bands in Poland. But here apart from his usual sensitivity and thoughtfulness he proves being equally et ease with both bop and swing elements of jazz. He finds compassionate support in great rhythm section created by Andrzej Święs who may challenge as far quality of play on double bass is concerned any other mainstream player in Poland and by Frank Parker whose style blending not only jazz but also funk, r&b and pop influences adds a very special flavour to this music.

How does Maciej Fortuna's trumpet present itself on this very interesting background? The best moments are when he is himself but it is obvious that with such young player he is still paying hommage to his influences: be it Miles Davis whose style he sometimes imitates or super-star of smooth jazz Chris Botti whose mellowness and sweet tone is often present on this album or Nils Peter Molvaer whose openness combined with accessibility appeals to me most. And this third Scandinavian path seems to me especially promising as far as this young virtuoso is concerned. As Molvaer's Fortuna's trumpet feels best in the territory of avantgarde but communicative enough to be able to appeal to jazz fans interested not exclusively in free jazz and improvised music. Fare well Maciej on this or any other path you decide to take in years to come...

Finally, please check music samples: first, a title track from above described album and second,  a tune from concert with Norwegian band called Urban Tunnels WAMP indeed!!!  (very fresh taking place just 4th February this year).      

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

środa, 16 lutego 2011

Lotos Jazz Festival - Bielska Zadymka Jazzowa 2011

One of signs of renaissance of jazz in Poland is real flood of jazz festivals coming through our country. It's great to see how jazz lovers from all over Poland dedicate their hearts and resources to organize jazz life either in big cities or in small towns. Historically the most important of such enterprises in Poland was Jazz Jamboree in Warsaw. Unfortunately petty quarrels and personal wars waged by people who no longer are real jazzmen but only care about a dough efficiently destroyed the tradition of this fantastic event. Only a little less eminent is Jazz Nad Odra which luckily flourish up to this day attracting the best (especially young) Polish and foreign jazz musicians. However, surprisingly, the position of number one jazz festival of today goes to none of those two the oldest and most renown but to Bielska Zadymka (blizzard...) Jazzowa sponsored by Lotos oil company. It is just 12 years old but it begun to move up 8 years ago when Lotos became its strategic sponsor and when  Tomasz Stańko commited himself to help organizers with his artistic advice. 
Starting today it will last 5 days during which Bielsko Biała and its neighborhood will be visited by not only the best Polish jazz musicians like Piotr Wyleżoł Quartet and Tomek Grochot Quintet feat. Eddie Henderson but also famous guests from abroad like Avishai Cohen Trio, Joshua Redman Trio and Ahmad Jamal Quartet. A line up a bit too mainstream for my actual taste perhaps but even for such die hard free jazz lover as I am Ahmad Jamal concert seems obligatory. See you there then :-)

wtorek, 15 lutego 2011

Premiere of new Marcin Wasilewski Trio album set for 4th March 2011!!!

This is information for which all Polish jazz fans waited for so long: great Polish cool jazz trio led by pianist Marcin Wasilewski is issuing their new record. Titled "Faithful" after a song  from Ornette Coleman's "The Empty Foxhole" album, it was recorded in August and comprises compositions by Hermeto Pascoal, Hans Eisler and Paul Bley (source: Piotr Iwicki's JazzGazeta). Available worldwide through ECM distribution.

niedziela, 13 lutego 2011

Seifert music celebrated in Trzcianka!

Introduction: this text appears courtesy of jazz photographer Piotr Siatkowski. His photographs in unique way reflect personalities of jazz musicians and reproduce the atmosphere of concerts: http://slojazz.net.

A new jazz festival in Trzcianka in northwest Poland is going to take place very soon (Feb. 18-19). As you can see looking at the dates, it's not a big one, but I think it will be very interesting. It is organized only by one person - a great jazz fan Bogdan Ratajczak and he wants to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of Zbigniew Seifert's death. I am sure all of you know this incredible jazz violin player but if you don't, it can be a good occasion to change it. Two good young bands led by Mateusz Smoczynski and Adam Baldych will play at the festival presenting music by, and influenced by the fantastic player. The organizer also plans a lecture devoted to Seifert's life and music, you will see fragments of a new film titled "Zbigniew Seifert in Memoriam - Passion" by the American director Erin Harper. Another interesting offer is an exhibition of very rare photographs, documents, posters, record covers etc. related to Zbigniew and his work. A wonderful chance to learn or remember the music of one of the greatest jazz musicians.

Please, check Piotr Siatkowski web site http://slojazz.net for more interesting texts and photographs.

piątek, 11 lutego 2011

Robert Majewski - My One And Only Love (2011)

Once I heard that Robert Majewski (trumpet) is going to record new album with Bobo Stanson (piano), Palle Danielsson (bass)  and Joey Baron (drums) my reaction was simple: wow!!! However when I today have had opportunity to listen to this music I must say: oh no!!! Let me clarify my point quickly as I was always of the opinion that unpleasant job is best done without hesitation: this is simply not jazz. Surely jazz musicians are taking part in this recording session (which took place between 10-12 December 2010), surely tunes are all jazz standards (almost exclusively ballads), surely it has this jazzy feeling that would make it perfectly matching for gourmet restaurants, high standard office buildings elevators or high brow parties of Warsaw snobs. It is so meticulously played, so awesomely executed, so astonishingly delivered that it would easily make all believe it is some extraordinary piece of jazz. But sorry, it isn't. It's extraordinary piece of classical music. Yeah, classical. It's like connecting dead body of John Coltrane more than 40 years after his death  to some black magician electric apparatus and make him play, dance and smile the way Louis Armstrong did. Obscene!
As one of my friends Marek L. likes to say this album is "parsecs" away from what is now most valuable in modern jazz. And yet I am sure it will scoop all positive reviews and I am afraid some people will terminate their Facebook friendship with me upon reading this text. So let me confess one thing: I am raving mad, mentally unstable, out-of-control being in consequence completely untrustworthy in my opinions up to the moment of last full stop in this text (check out this link for sample of music from this album) """."""

czwartek, 10 lutego 2011

Sing Sing Penelope + Andrzej Przybielski - Stirli People in Jazzga (2008) by Maciej Nowotny

I am not a professional jazz critic, I make money elsewhere. But if I were one, I would choose always to listen to music from concert first before issuing my opinion about musician or band. Best example is Tomasz Stańko music as recorded for ECM: I am not that great fun of it. It's too monotonous for me, too monochromatic and monosyllabic. Yeah, that was a joke but to be honest I always find Stańko during concerts many times better than on any CD. If music is well played live it engages not only our mind but also body, down to its smallest cell, every part of it begin to resound, sway, dance, illuminate! I believe true jazz lovers know what I mean... Do you?

So speaking shortly if I have a choice I shall always go for live recordings. And that's why out of all albums of excellent Sing Sing Penelope band I choose this one as the best (the same story is with Pink Freud's live CD titled "Alchemia"). But that's not everything which makes this album so extraordinary, because apart from being recorded live in legendary Mózg (in Bydgoszcz) and Jazzga (in Łódź) clubs, its musical appeal is augmented by presence of trumpeter Andrzej Przybielski.

He is known in Poland under nick name "Major". His style formed in 70ties when he collaborated with giants of Polish pop scene like Czesław Niemen and SBB. His sound is most influenced by Miles Davis trumpet as we know it from such legendary albums as "Bitches Brew" or "Tribute to Jack Johnson". He finds himself best when surrounded by musicians who love to play together producing trance-like rhythms, an atmosphere of other-worldness, of spiritual detachment and trip to outer space. That is at least how he sounds on this recording where he not only follows steps of Great Mage from his 70ties period but is also pushing boundaries much further entering free jazz dimensions never or rarely visited by Miles. Can you imagine attitude more faithful to the soul of jazz than one displayed by Przybielski and his young companions?

I am sure we will hear more great music from Tomasz Glazik (sax), Rafał Gorzycki (drums), Wojciech Jachna (trumpet), Daniel Mackiewicz (piano & percussion), Patryk Węcławek (bass) but unfortunately not from Andrzej Przybielski any more. He departed as of yesterday - 9th Februrary 2011 - leaving all jazz lovers in Poland in state of deep shock. Regardless of countless recordings he made so far and his 65 years, we hoped to hear still more fantastic music in future from him. But it ends here ... or perhaps not as stated his long time companion Piotr Baron who on Facebook wrote on this occasion: "Farewell in Heaven Major". This short note in its humbleness is the only tribute I can offer to this man of note...

Track listing: Track listing: 1. No, a reszta gdzie? [00:25]; 2. W arce [06:19]; 3. Stirli People [18:57]; 4. Do krwi [04:16]; 5. Góru [09:38]; 6. Talkin' Part II [06:05]; 7. Hosanna SSP [10:45]

Check this fragment of concert with material from the album to get to know how great loss we are forced to accept:

By Maciej Nowotny

środa, 9 lutego 2011

Zbigniew Namyslowski Quartet w/Joachim Kuhn - Live at Kosmos, Berlin (2008) by Maciej Nowotny

This is simply an invaluable disc! First and most important of all it contains splendid music. Recorded in 1965 it proves how forward thinking was Polish jazz at those days. Almost everybody knows what Komeda or Stańko did but there were others doing equally interesting things like Trzaskowski, Kurylewicz, Seifert and Zbigniew Namysłowski. Namysłowski is a legend in Poland, great hero and master of Polish jazz but unlike Stańko he never was recognized enough outside Poland. In 1964 he was first EVER Polish jazz musician who made recording for foreign label, namely for Decca with album titled "Lola", containing a truly fantastic piece of music. And only year later he made this recording which is going another step forward because by inviting German pianist Joachim Kuhn he injected into his top-notch mainstream a drop of avantgarde placing this music among one of the most interesting recordings of all European jazz in second half of sixties. 

Unfortunately we are given an opportunity to get to know with this album only after 44 years since its recording!!! What could be Namysłowski career if he would live in West rather than in communist Poland is perhaps evidenced in story of Joachim Kuhn life. One year after this recording he left East Germany and settled in its Western part. Being since then able to move freely around world he became colossus of European jazz immortalized by such sessions as 1996 duo with Ornette Coleman titled "Colors". He remains  active up to this date his latest incredible "Out Of Desert" being more than necessary proof for that.

PS. Namysłowski and Kuhn are accompanied on this album by Janusz Kozłowski (bass) and Czesław Bartkowski (drums).

Please listen to a piece of music from this album, a song titled "Bye Bye Black Cat".

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

poniedziałek, 7 lutego 2011

Jaskułke & Wyleżoł together in DuoDram project!!!

Two Polish charismatic jazz pianist joined   forces to record new album titled "DuoDram". The premiere of CD and promotional concert are due on 13th March 2011 in Warsaw (Studio Muzyczne im. Agnieszki Osieckiej) and will be aired on 3rd channel of Polish Radio (Radiowa Trójka) at 20.05 as well.

niedziela, 6 lutego 2011

Krzysztof Pacan - Facing the Challenge (2011)

Solar system, Earth, Central Europe, Poland, Warsaw, Domy Towarowe Centrum, Empik is my favourite music shop. It's kind of ritual we got with my daughter: after solemn  Sunday midday meal (which is Polish tradition), we pack ourself into my car and drive to the downtown. Then for about one hour I am digging around shelves in music store while my 12 years old daughter watches my every step and marvels at oddities of my behaviour. "Dad?" - she asks. "What?". "Why did you choose this record without trial listening? It's your habit to trial listen everything". "Well, I know it's good" - I answer. "How? If you have not listened to it, how can you know whether it's good or bad? It's not logical!" - she pinpoints me.

How to answer that? I could tell her that with music it's like with women. A man just needs one look at how woman is swaying while walking to know everything he needs to know.   

With music it's more or less the same, you just need one quick glance. First you see names of musicians: Jurek Małek (trumpet and flugelhorn), Radek Nowicki (tenor and soprano saxophones), Jan Smoczyński (fender rhodes and acoustic piano), Sławek Jaskułke (acoustic piano), Arek Skolik (drums). Not only I know them all well from many good recordings but I know as well that they played with each other since eduction in Music Academy in Katowice and simply can conjure great sound when working together. Second, I see that album was recorded in Tokarnia, which is at the moment one of three best recording venues in Poland, so I am sure that they will not spoil sound that musicians supplied. And my Marantz CD + amp and Tannoy loudspeakers will deliver great sound to my ears once I start rehearsal of this album.

Finally, last but not least as they say in England, a leader, Krzysztof Pacan (bass guitar) though he is relatively unknown but I heard about him enough (like about  Juno project where he collaborated with Robert Cichy and Jan Smoczyński and recorded  "That What I Like" album for good Kayax label) to be curious what he is providing to us this time. The fact that Krzysztof Pacan composed all material on this CD finally persuades me that I probably shall hear something fresh, worthy of time of such a spoiled child as I am as far as jazz music is concerned.

So we return home, I go to living room, unpack CD and turn on audio system. Music is beginning to flow. And you know what? It is good to hear: "Your are right again, Daddy..." 

Check yourself samples of music from Krzysztof Pacan's My Space web page. 

Author: Maciej Nowotny


piątek, 4 lutego 2011

Piotr Baron - Salve Regina (2007)

If Piotr Baron was not such  a good reed player, I would love him anyway. The reason is that I love crazy people who nonetheless have some idea, go their own way, follow some inner directive they believe in. In his case this is Christian faith in its Catholic form and JAZZ. He's expressing his musical beliefs in a same vehement, extravagant, all-or-nothing way as he demonstrates conviction that somewhere there must be entity which created everything else except itself. 

Once I read some interview with him held by a Catholic priest: it was like discussion of two theologists, I have not understood a single word but I must say it is not necessary. Because fortunately Piotr Baron's music speak for itself,  there is everything in it: passion, faith, confidence and hope. You do not have to know all this complicated religious notions to feel that there is only one question relevant to ask: what is human being relation to God? And by pursuing an answer to this question all other matters begin to resound with each other, be it ethics, politics, science or art.   

For such a spiritual enterprise Baron found perfect partners: great (no exaggeration at all with respect to this musician) Leo "Wadada" Smith on trumpet, Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums and Darek "Oles" Oleszkiewicz on double bass. And now Maciej "No Nickname" Nowotny shall write few words what is the program this disc contains: this is mixture of Baron's compositions and traditional religious tunes all set in free jazz idiom. But it nonetheless has little in common with typical free jazz "noise'. Surprisingly, although this music is so avantagarde and free improv it is also fitting to be played during a regular mass or some other religious ceremony. It has this feature of "gravitas" as ancient Romans called certain type of seriousness: a trait of human, religious or artistic deeds that have "sacrum" quality in itself. Hidden pearl among treasures of Polish jazz.

A great tune "Joshua 6" from this album, composition by Piotr Baron.

Author: Maciej Nowotny

czwartek, 3 lutego 2011

Krzysztof Komeda Quintet - Astigmatic (Polish Jazz vol. 05, 1965)

Linear notes by Adam Stawiński from this probably the most significant Polish jazz recording ever (source chazzforjazz.com):

"Innovator with a complex of tradition, romanticist expressing himself in the contemporary idiom, poet of piano - this is KRZYSZTOF KOMEDA, one of those musicians who have widened the essence of jazz. 
He has proved that the world of emotions hitherto remaining within the scope of symphony music could manifest itself in jazz as well. He did it by introducing into it dramatic lyricism and pathos which in their ecstatic, even mystic intensity are in the late-romantic, Promethean, Skriabin-like modes of expression. 
This new aesthetics in jazz required its new form. Instead of the static conventional sets of variations, preceding without direction, he has initiated a dramatic form which develops from the exposition towards culmination and final solution. This form, let us call it roughly "the bow form", has been used in two major pieces by Komeda recorded on this disc: Astigmatic and Svantetic (after Svante Forster, Swedish poet and writer, friend of the composer). The solo parts have ceased in it to be blowing choruses and have taken on instead a definite function, while the simple construction of the piece, concentration on a single idea (one movement, one theme), as well as much scope for improvisation and the psychic contact between the players contribute to the fullest realization of the composition. 
The dramatic and constructional elements are not the only characteristics of Komeda's style. The particular "Slavonic" feeling of his pieces results from the fusion of all sorts of stuff: beside contemporary technique of composition (sound spots, clusters, aleatoric and poliagogic structures) there are structures getting out of fashion (modalism or the extinct harmonics of the last century) or the "fossilized", long forgotten forms of the musical prematter (as for instance the simple drum beating - the obsessive rhythm, how very fresh and revealing nowadays!, or the uncontrolled instrumental "cry"). 
The force that unifies these elements is the jazz rhythm and sound. It must be said, however, that the sonority and articulation have been here considerably widened. 
Komeda's pieces are outlines to be performed by a group of chosen instrumentalists. No wonder that Komeda selects his partners carefully. 
Among the musicians connected with him there is RUNE CARLSON, a distinguished Swedish percussionist, extraordinarily musical, with a rapid reflex and an unusual sensitivity to the quality of sound. Though in his style similar to Anthony Williams, in details completely different from him. 
Then there is in Komeda's group TOMASZ STANKO, a leading Polish trumpeter, a striking individuality. Since recently he has been playing on the flugelhorn, extracting from it a fine, voluminous sound. 
As guest performers appear with Komeda: GUNTER LENZ, playing double-bass with the West-German Albert Mangelsdorff ensemble, a musician of rich technique and imagination; and ZBIGNIEW NAMYSLOWSKI from Warsaw, one of the leading alto axophonists of the younger generation (b. in 1939), known in numerous countries in Europe and in USA. 
KRZYSZTOF KOMEDA himself (born on April 27, 1931) is a pianist, a musician whose career has been very rich. He has been playing as jazz musician since 1959, appearing in many European countries and having a particularly great success in Scandinavia. He has written music to over thirty films both Polish and foreign. Among others to "Two Men with a Wardrobe", "Mammalia", "Knife in Water", "Cul-de-sac", all by Polanski, to "Innocent Sorcerers" by Wajda, "Hvad Medos" and ?Kattorna" (Cats) by Henig Carlssen. Just from the latter comes the second of the pieces recorded on this disc. of the four individualists appeals strongly to our imagination. And that is what they are aiming at".

Author: Adam Stawiński (original line notes from the album's back cover). 

PS. Sample of music from this album:

Możdżer gra dla Lutosławskiego!

Po ostatniej jazzowej niedzieli wszystko wskazywało na to, że w chodzeniu na koncerty nastąpi przerwa. Bo było jak w tym starym kawale: mąż wraca do domu w środku nocy, a tu czeka na niego żona i pełnym wyrzutów głosem pyta: "Aaa! To o której się wraca do domu, co???". Na to mąż: "Kto mówi, że wracam? Wpadłem tylko po gitarę...". Kiedy zatem oznajmiłem mojej lepszej połowie, że właśnie dostałem zaproszenie na koncert inauguracyjny VIII Międzynarodowego Konkursu Wiolonczelowego im. Witolda Lutosławskiego i że bardzo chciałbym tam pójść ze względu na anonsowany występ Leszka Możdżera, sytuacja w domu zaczęła przypominać tę w Egipcie. Postanowiłem jednak sięgnąć do starej polskiej tradycji, zasiedliśmy przy okrągłym stole i udało mi się wynegocjować zielone światło na dalsze jazzowanie pod warunkiem, że towarzyszyć mi będzie nasza cudowna latorośl czyli moja 12-letnia córka.

"Tato!!! Gdzie??? Na jazz???" - ofuknęła mnie moja mała miłość, gdy złożyłem jej tę propozycję i wiedziałem już, że czekają mnie kolejne trudne rozmowy. W końcu stanęło na tym, że ona może i pójdzie pod warunkiem wszakże, że w mojej kiesie znajdą się brzęczące dukaty na tak obecnie modne wśród płci pięknej kozaczki EMU (rodzaj walonek, które z niezrozumiałego dla mnie powodu są obecnie tak pożądane i niestety drogie).

Trudno o lepsze "okoliczności przyrody" niż te w jakich odbywało się samo to wydarzenie: Zamek Królewski, cudowna Sala Balowa jakby wyrzeźbiona z marcepanu i złota, gdzie ponad naszymi głowami szybowały nagie boginki i bogowie Bacciarellego, także najwidoczniej szykujący się na ten koncert. Publiczność wspaniała, brylantowe kolie, perły, tiule, a co najważniejsze sala pęka w szwach, pełno młodzieży jak i takich starych koni jak ja, zatem wszystko gra, a obok moja córeczka wodzi pełnymi przejęcia oczami to po sali, to po pełnej dostojnych gości publiczności.

Wreszcie zaczęło się! Pominę pełen swady wstęp przedstawiciela organizatorów przedsięwzięcia, przed którymi chylę czoła, że potrafili wspólnym wysiłkiem powołać do życia tak wspaniałe wydarzenie i utrzymać je przy życiu przez lat kilkanaście, na tyle długo, że nabrało cech instytucji. Brawo, brawo!

Jako pierwsza występowała Agata Zubel (głos) z towarzyszeniem Cezarego Duchnowskiego (fortepian, komputer) i Andrzeja Bauera (wiolonczela), która wykonała "wizje szlagierów Witolda Lutosławskiego pisanych pod pseudonimem Derwid". Owe szlagiery były podlane sosem elektroakustycznym a la Evan Parker, Rob Mazurek czy Autechre, co moja córka i publiczność przyjęła dość ciepło oklaskami, a co mnie przyprawiło o lekki ból głowy. Ale jak mawiali starożytni:de gustibus non est disputandum.

Następnie usłyszeliśmy prawykonanie utworu Aleksandra Nowaka "Ulica Spokojna 3 na 8 wiolonczel", które wykonała warszawska Grupa Cellonet pod dyrekcją wspomnianego wyżej Andrzeja Bauera.

Leszek Możdżer (autorem tego wspaniałego zdjęcia jest Maciej Moskwa)

Wreszcie on! Słuchajcie! Coś niesamowitego! Możdżer wkracza do olśniewajacej Sali Balowej Zamku Królewskiego, natychmiast podchodzi i siada do wspaniałego fortepianu i zanim umilkły oklaski, a publiczność zdołała umościć się na swoich krzesłach, zaczyna grać, jednocześnie preparując fortepian. Widzę zdezorientowane spojrzenia: czy to początek czy dopiero przygotowanie do recitalu? Ach! to już początek, nagle publiczność zostaje wrzucona w zupełnie inny muzyczny wymiar, przestrzeń wielkiej muzycznej indywidualności, która potrafi niby czarodziejską różdżką kreować z dźwięków jedyny w swoim rodzaju, niepowtarzalny i nieskończenie piękny wszechświat.

Słuchamy kompozycji samego Możdżera zatytułowanej "Siedem miniatur na fortepian i smyczki" (pochodzącej z płyty nagranej z AUKSO w roku 2004), a towarzyszy mu wspomniana wyżej Warszawska Grupa Cellonet pod wodzą Andrzeja Bauera. Jak to zwykle u Możdżera muzyka jest bardzo emocjonalna: stąpamy po wzorzystej łące pełnej rozkwitających krystalicznie czystymi dźwiękami kwiatów, nad którą przeciągnie niekiedy ciemna chmura romantycznej rzewności i żalu jakby żywcem wyjęta z tak drogiego naszemu sercu dzieła Szopena. Możdżer trzyma już swoją publiczność w aksamitnym uścisku, nasze myśli, uczucia, pragnienia biegną szlakiem nut, które podsuwa jego wyobraźnia. Chciałbym podkreślić wspaniały dialog jaki pianista nawiązał z zespołem młodych wiolonczelistów, którzy pod czujnym okiem Andrzeja Bauera współtworzyli niezapomnianą atmosfere tego występu. Aż tu nagle: trrrrach! Możdżer wstaje i szykuje się do wyjścia! To już koniec? Jak to możliwe? - pytają setki zdziwonych oczu. Niemożliwe, żeby czas tak nagle, tak szybko przyśpieszył swój bieg...

Ogłuszające oklaski nie milkną pomimo, że artysta opuścił już salę, lecz w końcu z ociąganiem wraca do fortepianu by zagrać jeden utwór na bis. Jest to bez wątpienia moment kulminacyjny koncertu, przynajmniej dla mnie, bo jak wiecie moje serce bije dla jazzu, a szczególnie dla tego polskiego, dlatego już pierwsze takty "Kołysanki Rosemary" Krzysztofa Komedy sprawiają, że po prostu łzy same cisną się do mych oczu. Kołysanka w wersji Możdżera i Cellonet jest bardzo bluesowa, pełna zadumy, wręcz trwogi i skutecznie gasi nadmierny już może entuzjazm publiczności, by pogrążyć ją w skupieniu, jakże odpowiednim dla dobiegającego końca koncertu.

"Mieliśmy okazję uczestniczyć w wyjątkowym wydarzeniu..."- usiłuję coś wyjaśniać mojej córce, ale słowa nie są tu potrzebne. Wystarczy mi rzut oka na jej błyszczące oczy, by stwierdzić, że następnym razem, na hasło "jazz", nie trzeba będzie już składać żadnych kosztownych dla ojcowskiej kiesy obietnic. Jaka ulga...

Autor: Maciej Nowotny

środa, 2 lutego 2011

Tricphonix Street Band - The Dudes (2010)

Introduction: Free Jazz Alchemist continues with his cycle about saxophonist Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski:

With its children's game layout, 'bad boys' photo on the cover and "The Dudes" title (and most of the tracks beginning with some fx cartoon/game effects) this is clearly a whole-lot-of-fun project. This is Bielawski's 'dirty dozen' rocking, funking or swinging forward through another set of nice tunes and tight arrangements. Be it fast rock beat of first on the track list "Scooters" or Latin groove (conga driven) of the next "Mutant Parade". Trifonidis loves big (7 horns!) sax section, and, while it doesn't offer the sound palette of a true big band horn section (1 tuba getting lost in the mix) it certainly can deliver a good punch and kick. The overall sdxssound reminds me a bit of some Frank Zappa bands with huge horns section. Bielawski likes to orchestrate whole chords for saxes as if there were guitar riffs (check the ready-made soundtrack for some heroic battle in a comic movie - "Mad Dude"). "Secret Agent "Dude" " would be a great introduction to a James Bond (one with Roger Moore) as it features great groove (finally I can hear joyful and funky sound of the tuba) and a nice old-school counterpoint line. "Lonesome Cowboy" is a melancholic tune, slowly dancing, Balkan influence maybe (definitely lacking the brass sound in this one). And it's hard not to smile while reading/listening to such titles as "Dudes go for a party", "Golota dancing" or "I will show you karate".
If you like big sound, tight arrangements, grooves and fun tunes chasing one another, or you're looking for a soundtrack to some kind of a cartoon game, this one is quite enjoyable, though not really earth-shaking. Like a good 80's action movie. With a nice tempo and some surprising twists of the action you don't really mind if there are some flaws in the whole picture. And to me the biggest downside is - while relying so heavily on composed and tightly arranged material this band can groove easily putting you into foot-tapping and humming mode, yet most of the solos are nice, but not so memorable.
Link to music from project with band called Kerd but it shows energy and vitality of young musicians!

Author of review: Bartek Adamczak vel (Free) Jazz Alchemist
Find him on his blog http://jazzalchemist.blogspot.com/ or on air http://radiofrycz.pl/ at 20.00 on Monday.

wtorek, 1 lutego 2011

Obara, Lindberg, Sorgen - Three (2010)

Maciej Obara is one of the most interesting young musicians playing free jazz in Poland. It is his third album after no less interesting second one titled "Four" issued earlier in 2010. He recorded that one with Ralph Alessi, Mark Helias and Nasheet Waits, top avantgarde musicians from New York. But on this record Obara is accompanied by no less prominent sidemen: John Lindberg on double bass and Harvey Sorgen on drums. These are great musicians and they provide for Obara's alto saxophone truly stellar rhythmic support. And he uses this support in best possible way: his alto meanders between aggressiveness and lyricism. This hard-to-attain equilibrium slowly becomes his stamp of quality, something that makes his voice so individual and unique.  For more information please consult Stef review at his fantastic Free Jazz web site. 
As usual please check following link for a sample of Maciej Obara's music
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