Monday, April 4, 2011

Arek Skolik Checkmate Quintet - Mirror Gambit (2002)

The ranks of Polish jazz are deep which is evidenced in Arek Skolik case: although known by few he is top drummer deserving to be counted among the best, not only in Poland. It is his second album as leader after first "Checkmate" (1998) and before third "Detour Ahead" (2010).  Musically it is straight ahead jazz, it may sound even a bit old-fashioned but God! that's well played indeed. It's smooth as a silk, as stylish as Aston Martin among ordinary cars, as smart as Gucci clad gentleman among Chinese party members from era of Mao.
As any good music, this one is as good as sidemen who are playing, and in this case they are outstanding: Michał Walczak (guitars), Paweł Smorąg (saxophones), Krzysztof Pacan (bass), Bogusz Wekka ( percussion, congas) Paweł Rozkrut (bells),  Piotr Biazik (accordion) and Irena Kijewska (vocal) singing in very interesting version of Komeda "Sleep Safe And Warm" from Polański's film "Rosemary's Baby".
From line-up one can even draw conclusion that the strongest side of music is rhythm: all is bouncing here, leaping and thudding in a most attractive manner. Some of players involved in creating this wonderful pulse have made thereafter big careers like bassist Krzysztof Pacan whose last album "Facing The Challenge" (2011) is outstanding and Bogusz Wekka who is recognized as excellent sideman and played, among many other projects,  in Paweł Kaczmarczyk Audiofeeling Band on his "Compelexity In Simplicity" (2009), the record of the year 2009 in Poland accordin to Jazz Forum magazine.
The program contains all originals except aforementioned standard by Komeda, it's superbly played, it's optimistic, it's fresh so I can only say that if you like good old jazz just go for it without hesitation!
Check Arek Skolik site for music samples from his last album and this film for one song from "Mirror Gambit":

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