środa, 31 sierpnia 2011

Leszek Kulakowski Quartet feat. Eddie Henderson - Cantabile In G-Minor (Multikulti, 2011)

Leszek Kułakowski Quartet feat. Eddie Henderson
Leszek Kułakowski - piano
Eddie Hederson - trumpet
Piotr Kułakowski - doublebass
Jacek Pelc - drums

Cantabile In G-Minor (Multikulti, 2011)

Right now in Hollywood all kinds of pre-quels are trendy and this CD is kind of such project not from one but even from two perspectives. First, although released by Multikulti label in 2011 it was actually recorded in 2006. It therefore evidences an earlier stage in Kułakowski artistic development before magnificent "Code Numbers" (2010), the album where he ventured on very subtle and personal dialogue with modern avantjazz aesthetics. This CD however is wholesome mainstream effort with all spatiality and demureness of late ECM style augmented by bop notes from time to time coming from Eddie Henderson's trumpet.

And this is that second perspective as brought into recording by powerful Henderson presence who took lessons from legendary Louis Armstrong and had personal relationship with such luminaries of bop era trumpet as Miles Davis or Lee Morgan. Henderson saturates this recording with deep and wide legacy of Blue Note golden years  which sounds surprisingly fresh though more than 50 years has passed since its peak!

In the end this album, like best Hollywood pre-quel movies, though definitely predictable and nothing-new, still is executed with such mastery, maturity and musicality that few mainstream recordings of this year 2011 could withstand comparison with it! The high level of muscianship it owes not only to above mentioned Eddie Henderson's trumpet or Leszek Kułakowski's piano but also to extremely timely and sensitive pulse as supplied by Piotr Kułakowski's double-bass and Jacek Pelc drums.

Speaking shortly, this one swings like hell and if you love mainstream jazz you should not let this CD pass unlistened to.  

Check concert version of tune titled "Taniec świetej krowy" (Dance of holy cow"). Great music!

Author: Maciej Nowotny

poniedziałek, 29 sierpnia 2011

Robotobibok - Instytut Las (Vytvornia Om, 2003)

Artut Majewski - trumpet
Adam Pindur - saxophon, Moog
Adam Bączyk - guitar, ARP Oddysey
Marcin Ożóg - doblebass
Kuba Suchar - perkusja

Vytvornia Om, 2003
(Editor) Few years has passed since this album was released but music is still fresh and I see now Robotobibok as one on the most important bands in Polish jazz history. If you want to continue from this point check Mikrokolektyw ("Revisit"), Slug Duo ( "Organic Stone") or Foton Quartet ("Zomo Hall")...

It's been a while ago since I heard such a great new jazz record! The last album I reviewed for KindaMuzik was the latest from Roy Hargrove. At the time quite enthusiastic, relatively quick came the feeling that it was all a bit to soft, a bit to smooth. 'Real' jazz should be rougher and more radical, I felt.

But then come this second album by Polish jazz-formation Robotobibok. A while ago I saw this band at the Sergey Kuryokhin International Festival in Berlin and already there I was seriously impressed. "Not with a 'standard' jazz-line-up, but with trumpet, saxophone, piano, two Moogs, guitar, bass and drums, they succeeded in developing this music and at the same time staying at a safe distance from over-consciously hip jazz-beats projects," I wrote in the article to this festival. Having said all this, I did not expect this album to make such an impression. I feared they might use to many electronics (read: Moog) and end up with an average electrojazzmix. Nothing could be further removed from the truth however. Jazz, jazz, and jazz is what you will find here! The first song starts with a creaking that reminds you of the intro to Michael Jackson's Thriller, but then suddenly shifts to swingbop. Not for long however, you wouldn't want to be caught dead listening mainstream jazz of course. Instead, let's throw the Moog in and add some saxophone-layers for good taste!

Through all this, a light psychedelic groove organizes the whole. What does this mean? It means that you are constantly being wrong-footed and yet never annoyed with the amount of experimentation. It means that you listen amazed to the complexity of freaking going on and still are able to submerge yourself in some sort of repetitive groove. It means that we are dealing here with an album that often border on the genius. It means that it's about time that we can enjoy this band live in the Netherlands. And it means that this album really should be picked up by a distributor in Holland. 

(Editor) Check hi-octane title "Wymiana tlenu na stacji Mir" (The exchange of oxygen at station Mir) from this album:

Author of text: Bas van Heur

sobota, 27 sierpnia 2011

Piotr Melech / Fred Lonberg-Holm - Coarse Day (Multikulti, 2011)

Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello, electronics
Piotr Mełech - clarinet

Coarse Day (Multikulti, 2011)

This is full-throttle avant-garde duo of quality as good as any great free jazz duos of the past or present times. Mature, deep and resonant this music is indeed "coarse" since it is wholesome, edgy, massive. It has all irritating qualities of modern free jazz that it is difficult, ambitious, even repulsive at first. But I keep returning to this CD over and over again while many other nicer and well-trimmed albums though more attractive at first listen are already long gone from stack of CDs I keep close to my Marantz CD player for daily use.

Musicians standing behind this recording are cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and clarinetist Piotr Mełech. Lonberg-Holm is a well known figure on American free jazz and improvised scene. He studied at Julliard School  and later was taught by Anthony Braxton. His bio abounds in great names of musicians with whom he cooperated: Joe McPhee, Peter Brotzmann or Ken Vandermark. Among his many projects stands out the Valentine Trio where he plays together with Jason Raebke (bass) and Frank Rosaly (drums), both excellent players.

Therefore Piotr Mełech may count himself fortunate to have such a powerful, creative and charismatic partner. However he met the challenge and to no surprise: his recent streak of recordings is impressive indeed! Check at least those two described on our blog: "W Pustyni i w puszczy" (2010) by Yazzbot and "Love Communication" (2011) by Tfaruk. In both these projects he played significant role but this album as well as CDs by his band called Enterout Trio (review of albums by this band soon on our blog) may serve as best examples of his great talent. 

Speaking shortly, certainly not a easy morsel to swallow this one is like late love: complicated, troublesome but shall leave your music soul "shaken not stirred"...

Check fantastic tune from this album titled "Mildrew Gourmet"... 

Author: Maciej Nowotny

piątek, 26 sierpnia 2011

Great news from Marcin Oles!!!

Thanks do direct info from Polish top avant-garde double-bassist Marcin Oleś we may inform you about his new projects that are really breathtaking!!!

First, quite soon in Spring 2012 we may expect new album titled "Transgression" recorded by Oles Brothers & Theo Jörgensman which will be released by excellent HatHut Records.

Second, again with Theo Jörgensmann with Oles Brothers but in quartet a CD is planned for Canadian label Red Toucan Records. This CD will feature as well Chris Dell but a date of its issuing is not yet set...

Third, Oles Brothers also think about new album as Oles Duo plus they also plan project with Gregory Tardy. But both ideas are still in early stage...

Best news however we saved for the end of this note! Marcin Oles plans new recording sessions in near futore: one with Jorgos Skolias for November and, listen carefully, the other one with Matthew Shipp again for HutHut Records!!!

We keep fingers crossed for safety landing of all these projects with emphasis on last one of course...;-)

Check music of Theo Jörgensmann Quartet music featuring Oleś Brothers and Chris Dell ....

Author: Maciej Nowotny

czwartek, 25 sierpnia 2011

Leszek Mozdzer – Komeda (ACT, 2011) by Adam Baruch

Leszek Możdżer - piano

ACT, 2011

Adam Baruch (check his music boutique www.jazzis.com) finds some flaws in universally acclaimed newest Leszek Możdzer CD...

Polish pianist / composer Leszek Mozdzer enjoys a superstar status in his country and his albums are listened to not only by the hardcore Jazz enthusiasts, but by a wide music-loving audience, which otherwise avoids listening to Jazz recordings. Mozdzer keeps changing his stylistic and aesthetic approach to music in general and Jazz in particular, expanding the boundaries of the genre, often quite dramatically, with excursions into ambient, neo-romanticism and new age, which of course results in much broader circles of potential listeners. But in spite of his chameleonic nature, his abilities as a piano player are beyond reproach: he is a virtuosic and exceptional player in every sense. The instrument seems to surrender itself completely to him and his hands on the keyboard often make an impression of belonging to a superhuman four-armed Shiva. 

This album finds Mozdzer interpreting the music of another Polish Jazz Legend, pianist / composer Krzysztof Komeda. He performs eight of the better known Komeda's compositions, alone at the piano, which for him is a well-proven setting. He successfully repeats his dazzling achievements, with deeply personal rendition of Komeda's legacy, which surely will again find many enthusiastic listeners and overall acclaim. 

However, as much as I like Mozdzer as a musician and this album as a showcase of superb solo performance, I must admit that his interpretation of Komeda's music is in my opinion completely misguided. As far as I understand Komeda and his work, it is all about essence and spirit, almost minimalistic in nature, allowing for the intellectual interpretation to fill the gaps and build upon the skeletal outlines. Traditionally, Polish Jazz musicians interpreting Komeda, tried to stick to the basics, for what they were: pure essence, with Komeda's cohort Tomasz Stanko leading the way as prominently evident in his recordings of Komeda's music. Mozdzer almost completely covers up Komeda's brilliant simplicity by dressing the music with layer upon layer of musical adornments and trinkets, which overwhelm the listener, but suffocate the essence. But again, that is only my opinion, which I'm sure will be quite different from what most people think. All things considered, this is still a grand solo piano album!

Please listen to Możdżer's interpretation of famous "Sleep Warm And Safe" from Roman Polański's movie "Rosemary's Baby":

Author: Adam Baruch

środa, 24 sierpnia 2011

Daktari - This Is A Last Song About Jews, vol. 1 (Multikulti, 2011)

Olgierd Dokalski - trumpet
Mateusz Franczak - tenor saxophone
Miron Grzegorkiewicz - guitar
Maciej Szczepański - bass
Robert Alabrudziński - drums

Multikulti, 2011

This is a debut album of band named Daktari led by young trumpeter Olgierd Dokalski accompanied by Mateusz Franczak on tenor saxophone, Miron Grzegorkiewicz on guitar, Maciej Szczepański on bass and Robert Alabrudziński on drums. One must admit that they are talented instrumentalists and bright future probably lays ahead of them. On this record they showed courage, free spirit and dedication to avantgarde music. I very much appreciate it!

However as far as music is concerned it has all typical advantages and disadvantages of debut recordings. It definitely sounds attractive, it's energetic and spontaneous. Moreover it is coherent showing that Dokalski has had clear artistic vision for Daktari: it's music is comfortably meandering between modern klezmer, noise, rock and indie pop aesthetics. It therefore may sound very attractive especially for less experienced ears of popular music lovers. I believe this may be one of the reasons why this CD got almost unanimously (for rare exception check this one by Bartek Adamczak) positive reviews all over Polish musical blogosphere. But although I share many authors sympathy for this recording I want to stress that from jazz point of view, jazz understood as improvised and free music, this recording is promising yet far from being mature, advanced or complete.

It shares all sins of recent disc ("Ghostwriter's Joke") by famous Contemporary Noise Sextet to which it is very, very similar. All that separates Daktari from CNS is its Tzadik-like Jewish-like component which is unfortunately rather duplicate and so often used all around Poland that it may be called anything but fresh and creative. In fact if I assessed Dakatari so high at the beginning of this text it's for those moments which are probably the least appreciated by artists themselves since those moments are well too rare and first of all too short. These are unhurried, unconstrained, unbound dialouges between instruments, especially between Dokalski trumpet and Grzegorkiewicz guitar, aptly counterpointed by infra-red Szczepański bass (check "Greetings From Ashood" the best track on this album). Were it not for these splendid moments I would call Daktari CNS-clone and advise to skip it...

Please listen to second track from this album titled "Zanussi":

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

wtorek, 23 sierpnia 2011

Maciej Fortuna Quartet - Lost Keys (2010) by Adam Baruch

Maciej Fortuna Quartet
Maciej Fortuna - trumpet
Przemysław Raminiak - piano
Andrzej Święs - doublebass
Frank Parker - drums

Adam Baruch's (check chis music boutique www.jazzis.com) review of this successful project by Maciej Fortuna, one of the most talented young trumpeters in Polish jazz...

This is the debut album as a leader by Polish Jazz trumpeter Maciej Fortuna, recorded with his quartet, which comprises of pianist Przemyslaw Raminiak, bassist Andrzej Swies and American drummer Frank Parker. Fortuna has been one of the recognized talents on the local Jazz scene for a few years and this recording serves as the "formal" act of entering the major league of Polish Jazz musicians. The quartet performs nine original compositions, seven of which are credited to all four band members; of the two remaining one is by the pianist and the other by the bassist. The music fits perfectly the modern Jazz mainstream, but is very interesting and aesthetic, with beautiful melodic themes and perfect arrangements.

The execution is also absolutely first class, from start to finish. Most solos are performed (not surprisingly) by the leader and the pianist, but the rhythm section is firmly present throughout, playing confidently, accurately and with a lot of imagination. Pianist Raminiak is definitely one of the best among the young generation of Polish Jazz players, which erupted in the last couple of years forcing its way towards the top and his other recordings (with his RGG trio) are all worth investigating. As to the leader, his playing is both beautiful and perfect in every respect, with great sense of melody and technical proficiency.

Stylistically  Fortuna is still distilling and purifying his personal and unique voicing, with his many influences even now quite apparent – mostly Miles Davis and other American Bop players, but also several notable Europeans. Of course every young Polish trumpeter is expected to follow and is judged by comparison to the mentor of Polish trumpet – Tomasz Stanko, which of course is not fair and quite absurd. Even if Fortuna should in the future lean more towards less structured music, his voice and sound will be his own, so let's give him a fair chance. It definitely sounds as we'll hear quite a lot about him in the future. This is definitely a brilliant debut album, which should make all the participating musicians proud. Wholeheartedly recommended!

Check this squad playing material from this CD recently during in concert:

Author of text: Adam Baruch

poniedziałek, 22 sierpnia 2011

Paul Band - Second Face (Soliton, 2011)

Paul Band
Krzysztof Paul - guitars
Artur Jurek - keys
Karol Kozłowski - bass
Adam Golicki - drums

Soliton, 2011

Frank Gambale or Alan Holdsworth, great virtuoso players of rock guitar in jazz, one might thought that their times are long gone. But no! Recently on my desk has landed new album of Krzysztof Paul (leader of the group) who plays on guitars with Artur Jurek - accompanying him on keys, Karol Kozłowski on bass and Adam Golicki on drums. Athough jazz rock seemed to me dead and last Polish jazz rock band I listened to with pleasure was Laboratorium approximately 20 years ago, I must confess that listening to newest album by Paul Band titled "Second Face" was pure pleasure. Although you may attribute my positive feeling toward this record to a long period of deprivation from good jazz rock music, I prefer to turn your attention to lively and energetic performances this CD contains. 
Once I start to dig in the net to learn more about these artists, previously completely unknown to me, I discovered that Paul Band has indeed quite long history. It existed already in 2003 when they won some minor jazz competion in Poland but at some point in following years Krzysztof Paul disbanded it. Fortunately it was reactivated in 2009 and in 2010 they recorded CD titled "Wanted" and very soon after that CD at the beginning of 2011 this album "Second Face". I cannot execute routine comparison of those two recordings since up to few days ago I was totally unaware of this band's existence. However judging from level of music recorded on "Second Face" I come to conclusion that it seems like effect of long process of maturation as music is perfect in every aspect: composition, interplay, internal coherence.
"Second Face" was therefore very pleasant surprise and I expect it will be very warmly welcomed by large group of lovers of sound of electrical guitar in Poland. As for my jazz soul it is perhaps too constrained  and predictable to stay longer in my CD player but that is why I also rather seldom reach to even such masters of this genre as above mentioned Gambale or Holdsworth. If however Paul Band ever moved closer towards Miles Davis jazz rock period as exemplified by "Bitches Brew" I would probably reconsider my position...

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

sobota, 20 sierpnia 2011

Undivided - Moves Between Clouds (Multikulti, 2011) by Stephan Moore

Undivided (group)

Klaus Kugel (drums)
Perry Robinson (clarinet)
Waclaw Zimpel (clarinet, bass clarinet)
Bobby Few (piano)
Mark Tokar (bass)

Moves Between Clouds (MultiKulti; 2011)

(Editor) One of most awaited free jazz albums in Poland this year x-rated by Stephan Moore (http://jazzwrap.blogspot.com/):

This is a fascinating live recording. One that should be listened to at night to get the full experience. Undivided is a collective born from the mind of clarinetist, Waclaw Zimpel, who has worked with Ken Vandermark, Robert Kusiolek and Aram Shelton to name a few.

On first listen you may automatically get the feeling of late 60's free jazz floating throughout the pieces. But as you continue to absorb the music you will grasp hold of the experiments that quintet are reaching for on their second release, Moves Between Clouds (MultiKulti Records). It reminds of when hard bop began its transition towards free jazz. There's still shadows of expressive melody but there is more of an introspective quality to the music that is rich and rewarding.

With three long tracks the audience and you the listener get a much more in-depth experimentation in sound than the rolling epic of their debut, The Passion. As with late Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Jimmy Giuffre and even some Donald Byrd records of the time period,Moves Between Clouds has a spiritual and almost folkish element to it.

The addition of Perry Robinson to the quartet gives this live recording it's cultural feel. The title track bares this out. "Moves Between Clouds" has Robinson and Zimpel sharing and intertwining passages. Few's playing underlines the contemplative nature of the piece. It's a slow, droning number that only hits heavy notes when Tokar and Kugel raise the pulse (only slightly) keeping the listeners sense of adventure engaged.

"Moves Between Clouds" is blissful and hypnotic in its delivery. Few's repetitive tones are matched by Robinson and Zimpel beautiful rising arpeggios on both "Hoping The Morning Sky" and the closing number "What A Big Quiet Noise". Kugel as always makes an impact with crisp and exploratory timing.Undivided have presented one of those solid live performances that you wish you were in the audience that night. Thankfully the date was recorded and we can all experience it. Excellent stuff.

(Editor) Check this video which features different personnel (Wacław Zimpel with all-Polish line up) but nonetheless gives an idea of what kind of energy Undivided delivers during concerts:

Author: Stephan Moore

piątek, 19 sierpnia 2011

Good news from Piotr Lemanczyk!

One of my favourite double-bassists in Poland Piotr Lemańczyk who recently recorded such a splendid mainstream albums as "Three Point Shot" (2010) or "Able To Fly" (2011) do not slow pace down even for a moment. We have recently learned that he is involved in two interesting projects:

First, on 28th May 2011 in Radio Gdańsk, Piotr Lemańczyk recorded material for his new project accompanied  Maciej Sikała (tenor sax), Cezary Konrad (drums) and Maciej Fortuna (trumpet). Addition of Maciej Fortuna is especially noteworthy as this young trumpeter distinguished himself recently by such successful albums as "Lost Keys" (2010) and it will be great opportunity for him to play with such all-star squad. Special guest of this session was famous American pianist Dave Kikoski. CD will be published by Soliton.

Simultaneusly Piotr Lemańczyk plays in recently re-activated combo named Orange Trane Acoustic Trio with vibraphonist Dominik Bukowski (they played together on fantastic "Naha People") and drummer Tomasz Łosowski. After reactivation they already played couple of gigs like for example during Bass Days Poland 2010 festival. At present moment they are working on new album for which they invited Finnish saxophonist  Joonatan Rautio, trumpeter Marcin Gawdzis, well-known vocalist Krystyna Stańko and promising guitarist Marcin Wądołowski.

Please, listen to tune "From Alberta" from above-mentioned "Naha Poeple" album featuring, among others, saxophonist Maciej Sikała and vibraphonist Dominik Bukowski:

Author: Maciej Nowotny

czwartek, 18 sierpnia 2011

Warszawa Kyiv Express - Huculski Blues (ViVi Sound, 2011)

Warszawa Kyiv Express
Cat Donskoj - trumpet, trombone
Mariusz Kozłowski - tenor, baritone, alt saxes
Piotr Karol Sawicki - piano
Paweł Pańta - doublebass, electric bass guitar
Witek Wilk - percussion
Adam Lewandowski - drums, percussion
Rastamaniek - guest

ViVi Sound, 2011

Adam Baruch (check his music boutique www.jazzis.com) about recent Polish-Ukrainian etnojazz joint venture:

This is the debut album by the Polish / Ukrainian Jazz-World Fusion ensemble Warszawa Kyiv Express, comprising of five Polish and one Ukrainian musicians, playing what they describe as a tribute to the musical traditions of Eastern Europe, which is a mixture of Polish, Ukrainian, Jewish, Gypsy and other influences. The ensemble is co-led by Polish pianist Piotr Karol Sawicki and Ukrainian trumpeter Konstantyn Donskoj, who are also credited for writing all the music on this album except for one track, which is a folk song with a Jazz arrangement. Although it´s obvious that these musicians can play, the entire concept just doesn´t work well for me. The connection between the folkloristic motifs and the Jazz arrangements sound completely artificial and simply dishonest. It seems this album was made to measure rather than a result of a spontaneous intellectual effort. My Polish friends tell me that this album was received enthusiastically by local Jazz critics and the public… well what can I say, except perhaps that the reasons for liking it rest outside the musical sphere (political perhaps, with some Poles still mourning the loss of the Eastern territories?) In view of the splendid Polish Jazz heritage as far as Ethno-Jazz is concerned, which goes back many years into the past, this album is dangerously close to being a fad, following the trends rather than an artistic truth. However, I can understand the fact that some people like this music, as it is after all well and skillfully played, and touches on many nostalgic notes, with very many pretty notes… Go figure…

More about this band and their musc: http://wkexpress.bandcamp.com/releases

Author of text: Adam Baruch 

środa, 17 sierpnia 2011

Legendary Makowicz in Chicago!!!

(Editor) If you want to get acquainted with legend of Polish jazz, pianist Adam Makowicz, there is unique opportunity by attending his concert in Chicago, Chopin Theatre, Wednesday, 7th September 2011, 8:0o pm. For more details:


Sample of his music:

wtorek, 16 sierpnia 2011

Andrzej Sawik & Jakub Rutkowski - Nucleon (Tone Industria, 2007)

Andrzej Sawik - piano
Jakub Rutkowski - drums
Franz Hautzinger - trumpet
Aleksander Korecki - tenor bas
Dominik Strycharki - blockflutes
Tomasz Głuc - electronic percussion

Tone Industria, 2007

To my surprise I don't find any reviews in English for this excellent album, let me therefore first introduce players before I move to description of music itself. Two leaders, Andrzej Sawik and Jakub Rutkowski, are relatively young musicians, both born in 1976 in Cracow where they live and work. Andrzej Sawik is pianist, composer and arranger who started by playing within mainstream jazz and slowly moved towards free jazz and contemporary improvised music. In his play on piano resound influences of John Cage, Paul Bley or Matthew Shipp music. 

Jakub Rutkowski, drummer and composer, has a bit different background: he is associated mainly with  Polish rock scene since he plays with Maciej Maleńczuk and his well-known band Homo Twist. That's why his style is very energetic, extravertic, daring in which he reminds me a bit Jim Black. But Rutkowski never left jazz or avantgarde track for long and was playing in very good band called Pulsarus (check its album "FAQ") led by flutist Dominik Strycharski who also appears on this album along with Franz Hautzinger on trumpet, Aleksander Korecki on tenor sax and Tomek  Głuc on electronic percussion.

The sound of this band is very intriguing: intellectual, classical piano of Rutkowski fits unexpectedly well with rock pulse as supplied by Rutkowski while other players create enough space for fascinating meandering in typical free jazz style. All this sounds fascinating, every tune is challenge, musicians prove that improvisations may be very subtle, sublime, filigree (piano) yet full of almost kinetic energy (rhythm section).

But the best I left for now since after 4 years waiting a new record was issued by Nucleon this year! You should definitely check this album first before moving to this new one as this band creates one of the most interesting improvised music in Poland at this moment!  

Check first track from this album titled "Icebrg". Excellent!!!

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

poniedziałek, 15 sierpnia 2011

Grzech Piotrowski announces "Archipelago"...

(Editor) Grzech Piotrowski is very talented Polish saxophonist which already recorded many albums (check on our blog his "Sfera Szeptów"). Up to his last album he was associated by me with smooth side of jazz, yet of the highest quality, with good drop of ambient and cools moods. His last album however titled "Emotronica" though retaining all above mentioned strong sides of his style was much less smooth and thus interesting affair. Therefore I became very excited upon reading (http://grzechpiotrowski.com/grzech/home) that Grzech Piotrowski plans new album for autumn this year. It will be titled "Archipelago" and be published by Dutch label Challenge Records thus available through its distribution in no less than 30 countries. Apart from Piotrowski playing on sax in recording took part Bram Stadhouders on guitar, Michał Barański on bass and Onno Govaert on drums. I am very curious what will be the outcome of this session!?

Check this film for Grzech Piotrowski in concert with recently described on our blog fantastic Atom String Quartet:

niedziela, 14 sierpnia 2011

Czeslaw Bartkowski - Drums Dream (Polish Jazz Vol. 50, 1977)

Czesław Bartkowski - drums
Tomasz Stańko - trumpet
Tomasz Szukalski - soprano saxophone
Adam Makowicz - electric piano
Wojciech Karolak - keyboards
"Studio Jazzowe PR" Orchestra conducted by Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski

Polskie Nagrania, 1977

Series of vinyls which were issued as Polish Jazz series  (check this fantastic website for more info) by Polskie Nagrania is indeed inexhaustible for its hidden treasures. This record is excellent example of this truth for three different reasons: two are pretty much obvious, one - a bit unexpected.

First, this album features all-star band with Tomasz Stańko on trumpet, Tomasz Szukalski on saxophone, Adam Makowicz on piano and Wojciech Karolak on keyboards. Tomasz Stańko presence alone justifies enough careful examining of this album especially since mid-seventies were perhaps most creative period in whole Stańko career as evidenced by such his recordings described on this blog as "Music For K" (1970), "Purple Sun" (1973), "Twet" (1974) or "Balladyna" (1976). Taking into account that other players are no less brilliant and they subsequently developed significant careers on their own (like Adam Makowicz for example), one must not be puzzled that music on this album is simply breathtaking, forward thinking and very rewarding regardless many years that passed since its creation.

Second, and perhaps even more important is that this album stands out among many other great Polish jazz albums of that period because it's main focus is rhythm, pulse, groove. It's of course all due to fantastic play by leader, Czesław Bartkowski, one of the best Polish drummers in that age which is evidenced not only by this issue but by many others (check for example recently re-issued Zbigniew Namysłowski "Live At Kosmos").  Bartkowski talent shines throughout whole album in a manner of old masters of jazz drumming like Art Blackey, Billy Higgins or Tony Williams. Splendid achievement!

Third, most unexpected is that although 33 years passed since this album was printed, it is still carefully listened by young generation, both in Poland (as evidenced in "Polish Jazz" by duo of Polish DJs named Skalpel) and, more surprisingly, abroad. I have received recently clear evidence of that when on my mail box landed "Drums Dream" mixes made by Jason McGuiness based in Los Angeles, US. That's why I love jazz: music which appeal lays as well in respect for tradition as in strive for novelty.

Check title track from original album:

and one of Jason McGuiness remixes (more about this project here):

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

piątek, 12 sierpnia 2011

Atom String Quartet - Fade In (Jazz Forum, 2011)

Atom String Quartet
Dawid Lubowicz - violin
Mateusz Smoczyński - violin
Michał Zaborski - viola
Krzysztof Lenczowski - cello

Jazz Forum, 2011

Bielska Zadymka Jazzowa has risen in recent years to a status of one of the most renown jazz festivals in Poland which is partly due to contest for young jazz musicians which quickly become as famous as much older Jazz Nad Odrą competition. There are many great bands among winners of this contest among whom perhaps the most illustrious is RGG trio. Their album "Scandinavia" recorded in 2002 as an award for winning in 5th contest was a springboard for their great career making them eventually one of the most recognized jazz combos in Poland.

However when in February (Zadymka=Blizzard) this year news came that winner is Atom String Quartet I made long face. Why did jury choose classic-sounding quartet from 18 fantastic bands and artist among whom were such great talents as (my personal favorites) Michał Wróblewski Trio ("I Remember") or Kuba Płużek Zkwintet ("Lilla Chezquiz" or "Detour Ahead")? But I remained critical only as long as I was not able to listen to their debut album.

Titled aptly "Fade In" and recorded live in Radio Katowice this album is a very rare example when so called "third stream", that is a blend of jazz and classical music, sounds neither secondary or duplicate. In language this is typical string quartet but in heart this is pure jazz: played meticulously, minutely, smoothly but with free and adventurous spirit. Although as typical for debut recording it is uneven yet it announces a band that may in future bring new and original voice not only to Polish but also to European scene. Whether they play Polish (Komeda's "Svantetic" and "Sleep Safe And Warm") or world jazz standards ("Beautiful Love" by Victor Young) but most of all in their own, very lively compositions as inspired by jazz (like for example in wamp "Too Late" by Michał Zaborski) as by classical music (for example marvelous "Fugato & Allegrina"), it sounds fresh, it brings something new, both for jazz and classical music lovers. Hard task rarely successfully accomplished even by more famous artists..

Summarizing, this is definitely very succesful debut of Atom String Quartet, that is Dawid Lubowicz (violin), Michał Zaborski (viola), Krzysztof Lenczowski (cello) and Mateusz Smoczyński (violin) whose excellent "Simultaneous Abstractions" I also strongly recommend to you...  

Courtesy of Atom String Quartet you are able to listen to two tracts from this fantastic album:

Atom String Quartet - Fade In (promo) by Mateusz Smoczynski

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

środa, 10 sierpnia 2011

Godzina gwiazdy...

Ivo Perelman / Matthew Shipp / Joe Morris / Gerald Cleaver - The Hour of the Star (Leo Records, 2011)

Tłumaczenie z tłumaczenia, ale nie ma rady, nie czytam po portugalsku, w którym to języku pisała Clarice Lispector:

„Nie oczekujcie gwiazd, gdzie nie ma niczego, co mogłoby błyszczeć. Z ciemnej materii stworzone jest to, co ze swej natury przez wszystkich jest odrzucane. Ta opowieść nie ma w sobie żadnej melodii, która byłaby cantabile. Rytm nieuporządkowany ma często. (…) Słowa są dźwiękami pomieszanymi z cieniami, które przecinają się pod nierównymi kątami, są stalaktytami, tkanymi koronkami, przetworzoną muzyką na dudniące organy. Przyznaję, z trudem znajduję słowa, by opisać ów wzór, wibrujący, bogaty i niezdrowy, niejasny, jego kontrapunktem głęboki będzie bas smutku. Allegro con brio. Złota spróbuję dobyć z tych węgli…”.

Tych kilka zdań pochodzi z jej ostatniej powieści, wg wielu najlepszej, zatytułowanej „The Hour of the Star”, wydanej w roku 1977. Jej pisarstwo jest szeroko znane na świecie (dziwi, że żadna z jej książek nie doczekała się tłumaczenia na język polski), a przede wszystkim w Brazylii, do której wyemigrowała (z Podola) wraz z rodziną jako dziecko. Stąd już w miarę prosta droga do tego, by również pochodzący z Brazylii saksofonista oraz malarz (i to jaki! Zajrzyjcie na jego stronę: http://www.ivoperelman.com/) Ivo Perelman użył jej powieści jako inspiracji dla swej płyty pod tym samym tytułem, wydanej w tym roku przez Leo Records. 

Otoczony muzykami, od których w światowej jazzowej awangardzie nie ma lepszych, czyli Matthew Shippem na fortepianie, Joe Morrisem na akustycznej gitarze basowej i Geraldem Cleaverem na perkusji, udał się, jak unurzani w krwawych mitach greckich Argonauci, po złote runo współczesnego jazzu, którym jest piękno w muzyce wyzwolonej od jakiejkolwiek formy. Nie będę ukrywał, że muzyka jest trudna. Nie będę namawiał do jej słuchania tych, którzy do tej pory słuchali jedynie piosenek: Dody, Czerwonych Gitar, Komedy czy melodii Milesa Davisa. Nie będę udawał, że po jednym przesłuchaniu płyta ta zachwyci Was tak bardzo, że odtąd będzie słuchali jej non-stop, w samochodzie, w kuchni czy na party ze znajomymi.

Ta muzyka jest dokładnie taka, jak słowa użyte przez Clarice Lispector powyżej, Ivo Perelman oraz jego towarzysze wiedzieli dobrze, jakie ryzyko podejmują. Chociaż kocham free jazz i jestem z nim nieźle osłuchany, przyznam, że po paru pierwszych przesłuchaniach chciałem spalić ten krążek, rozbić go na atomy w najbliższym reaktorze atomowym, potraktować go jak Nietsche przesądy filozoficzne - czyli młotem!

Minęły nie dni, nie tygodnie, ale miesiące, zanim muzyka ta zaczęła odsłaniać przede mną swoją głębię, swoje wyrafinowanie, swoje piękno. Bo ta nowa muzyka, wymaga od słuchacza nie tylko odbioru, lecz współtworzenia! Podczas obcowania z nią najpierw czeka nas wysiłek, „krew pot i łzy” -cytując skrzydlate słowa Churchilla, by pojawiła się nagroda, niepewna zresztą, jaką jest co? Wolność od znanego…? Nie zdziwię się, jeśli zareagujecie na to niedowierzaniem…

Nie z tej płyty, ale pokazuje format tego grajka:

Autor tekstu: Maciej Nowotny

Slawek Jaskulke - Hong Kong (JMJ, 2009)

Sławek Jaskułke, pianist, though still young is serious player in Polish jazz. Just recently he took part as a sideman in such notable albums like "Alternations" (2008), "Bop Beat" (2009), "Nice And Easy" (2009) or "Facing The Challenge" (2011). Just few weeks ago he issued very good "Duodram" (2011) in duo with pianist Piotr Wyleżoł - highly recommended! But Jaskułke has also a significant streak of discs he recorded as a leader among which one of the most interesting is his solo album recorded during a concert in Hong Kong. 

Almost every jazz pianist in Poland dreams about recording solo album since most of them were educated on Chopin compositions and they kind of consciously or unconsciously imitate romantic manner of this classical music genius pianist. Sometimes such excursions bring great jazz as was in case of Adam Makowicz or Leszek Możdżer (albums like "Chopin" or recently "Komeda"). More often such a task reveals to be too difficult. This solo disc by Jaskułke proves that his aspirations to join the elite of Polish jazz piano players are not without foundations. Highlights of this disc are: excellent version of Coltrane's "Giant Steps", wild "Ludawka" based on Polish folk music and "Chopinada" with Chopin moods first rehearsed than totally transformed in Jaskułke own, individual way. All in all it's definitely worth-checking! 

Please listen to this very interesting version of Coltrane's standard "Moment's Notice":

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny 

poniedziałek, 8 sierpnia 2011

Michal Zygmunt - Muzyki (Port Bankok, 2011)

I owe this CD to Adam Domagała who described it gracefully on his blog Z dżezem lżej and without his note it would most probably slipped out of my focus. Not surprisingly since "Muzyki" places itself on a very fringes of jazz music to the same extent as for example Bill Frisell's "Nashville". Similarities to great American guitarist do not end on strong folk element present in Michał Zygmunt music, they extend further to things much more important because they share similar sensivity, musicality, creativity. As Frisell Zygmunt creates open structures in which he blends folk, jazz, classic, pop and electronic music, all spoken in language entirely his own, because his affinities to Frisell are only in ideas not in style.

Another record of Frisell that comes to my mind when I think about Muzyki is his famous "History, Mystery" which is intimate travel to his own cultural origins, somewhere in deep blue grass of American Mid-West. Michał Zygmunt on the other hand explores dream-like landscapes of sounds so similar to black and white old family photos: deep, resonant and yet impossible to grasp, as elusive as water running in a swift stream, full of memories, phantasies, nightmares. Musically speaking we find here Polish folk tunes trasformed, all these sweet melodies (kujawiaks, oberkas, polkas)  of our childhood, so moving and so dear to any Polish musician since Frederic Chopin times.

From this short review you may easily see that I am under spell of this music in creation of which Michał Zygmunt (acoustic guitars) was assisted by Roli Mosimann (drums, percussion, responsible also for mixing) and special guest: Zdzisław Jamborski (accordion). Album was meticulously published, sound is very well mixed and I would also like to underline a role played in financing this project by Mirosław Wróbel Foundation, a private fund raised to support cultural projects by daughter of this recently deceased businessman from Wrocław. Recommended!

Check samples of music from this album:

Michal Zygmunt "Musics" ("Muzyki") - Live at Saraswati from Patryk Kizny on Vimeo.

Michał Zygmunt, "Musics" ("Muzyki") - "Na Kujawach Pięknie Graja" - a music video from Patryk Kizny on Vimeo.

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

niedziela, 7 sierpnia 2011

Soundcloud w/ broadcast about Polish Jazz best mainstream albums in 1Q 2011

Soundcloud w/ broadcast about Polish Jazz best mainstream albums in 1Q 2011!!! Though commentary in in Polish you can enjoy great music. Check this link for playlist so you can follow what music and in what order was played: http://kochamjazz.blox.pl/2011/07/Kocham-Jazz-w-radiojazzfm.html

  Kocham Jazz w radiojazz.fm - I kwartał 2011 w polskim mainstreamie by Maciej Nowotny

Aired at radiojazz.fm on 5th July 2011.

Check my broadcasts every Tuesday at radiojazz.fm on 9.00-10.00 p.m. (GMT+1) or (repeats) on Sunday 5.00-6.00 p.m. (GMT+1).

Maciej Nowotny

sobota, 6 sierpnia 2011

Piotr Domagała - Slavonic Tales (Kaan Studio Jazz, 2009)

Piotr Domagała  - guitar
Adam Kawończyk - trumpet, kalimba
Sławek Berny - perkusja

Kaan Studio Jazz, 2009
With great surprise I discovered that this album not only has no reviews in English but also in Polish just a handful and not as good as they should be. Mine also would not be perfect but I can do at least one thing and assure you that this disc contains very gracious music indeed!

The leader - Piotr Domagała - is one of big wave of strong and creative flock of guitarists coming in recent years to our market. Moreover his voice is individual and like no other player on Polish scene and can be described as having roots in tradition of great virtuoso classical guitarists but speaking in language of jazz with strong blues and cool jazz accents.

On this album he is accompanied by musicians perfectly matching his cool and relaxed style. On trumpet Adam Kawończyk, one of those players in Polish jazz that though unknown and underrated is indeed first class instrumentalist. He produces sound so filigree, delicate and minute that I cannot imagine better complement to Domagała poetic style. Rhythm background is pictured by Sławek Berny drums who succeeded in making his instruments sound sensitive enough not to even for a moment overshadowing refined lines produced by his companions. 

Very strong side of this album are compositions: all originals by Piotr Domagała, very, very melodic, merry, yet far from being superficial or trivial. Summarizing I can only wholeheartadly recommend this album to any lover of mainstram jazz.

Finally please listen to the only tune not written by Piotr Domagała on this album, a famous standard by Eden Abhez titled "Nature Boy":

More music from this album is available on Piotr Domagała web page: http://www.piotrdomagala.eu/slavonictales.html

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny 

czwartek, 4 sierpnia 2011

Piotr Baron - Kaddish (Celestis, 2011) by Maciej Nowotny

Piotr Baron (tenor & soprano saxophone, bass clarinet)
Adam Milwiw-Baron (trumpet, flugelhorn, didgeridoo)
Michał Tokaj (grand piano)
Michał Barański (doubles bass)
Łukasz Żyta (drums, percussions)

celEsTis, 2011

Polish young musicians often mock older generation saying: they kind of stop developing 20 or 30 years ago, they are living fossils, dinosaurs! In most cases I willingly agree with them, there are great names in Polish jazz which sadly have nothing more interesting to say although they keep on recording one new album after another. Fortunately there are exceptions, Tomasz Stańko being the most obvious one, almost 70 years old he nonetheless still keeps firmly the standard of Polish avant-garde (what is unfortunately only reflected in his concert activity, not in CDs as published by ECM). 

Other example is Piotr Baron, saxophonist, better to say reedist because he plays as well on saxophones as on clarinets. On Polish scene he functions as main player in mainstream jazz and yet he managed to record an album with Wadada Leo Smith ("Salve Regina"), a dream never-to-be-fulfilled for all these young lions of our avant-garde who are so keen on criticizing mainstream jazz. Moreover, Piotr Baron makes a lot of people irritated because of his flamboyant Catholicism and many declarations that all nuances of fashion, vogue and style are secondary to him when confronted with religious message he regards as the most important. And yet, in my humble opinion (and I am not religiously fervent at all!), this religious madness saturates his music with such spontaneity, authenticity and emotionalism that he is able to evoke reactions all these young free jazz worshipers can only dream of.

I therefore prefer to put Baron in his own class, he is neither mainstream or avant-garde, he is madman, as other great jazz madmen of the past in persons of John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders or Bennie Maupin, all reedist, all going their own way, all great sorcerers, producing sounds in order to conjure demons, succuba, revelations rather than just music some disillusioned DJ may play in radio between washing powder and dog food commercial. 

Before I end this extended apology let me add that in this noble errand Piotr Baron (tenor & soprano saxophone, bass clarinet) is accompanied by dream-team rhythm section - Michał Tokaj (piano), Michał Barański (bass) and Łukasz Żyta (drums) and his son Adam Milwiw-Baron providing excellent support on trumpet. Album's program ranges from "Kaddish" (threnody over recent death of journalist Jan Mazur), to set of fully improvised duos titled according to quotations from Bible, Darek Oleszkiewicz composition "Prayer" and "Soulfood" dedicated to Benny Maupin (both "Kaddish" and "Soulfood" are composed by Piotr Baron and are the best tracks on this album), to famous "Pescador de Hombres" favourite tune of Pope John Paul II (the weakest on this album, I would expect from Piotr something more adventurous as far as this tune is concerned). 

All in all, fantastic music, one of the best albums in Polish jazz this year and I can only hope that we will not have to wait for new Piotr Baron's record another 36 months!!!

Check one of those above-mentioned improvised duos titled "Psalm 51":


Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

wtorek, 2 sierpnia 2011

Wierba & Schmidt Quintet feat. Dante Luciani - Black Monolith (SJRecords, 2011)

Wierba & Schmidt Quintet
Piotr Schmidt - trumpet
Marcin Kaletka - tenor saxophone
Michał Wierba - piano
Michał Kapczuk - double bass
Sebastian Kuchczyński -drums
Dante Luciani - trombone

SJRecords001, 2011

I read and hear so many positive opinions about this record that I assume it must be good but my review will be a little bit more balanced. Certainly I see many strong sides but there are also some flaws in this music which make this album a disappointment, at least as far as I am concerned.  That's crucial here, my point of view is specific, though I am enamoured in jazz but jazz means for me freedom. That's why when I listen to jazz as played by for example Branford Marsalis I simply yawn and soon fall asleep. I admire technical perfection but I see no point in imitating what is already long gone in jazz. 

The same may be said about Wierba & Schmidt Quintet: Piotr Schmidt (trumpet), Marcin Kaletka (tenor saxophone), Michał Wierba (piano), Michał Kapczuk (double bass), Sebastian Kuchczyński (drums). Their play is as impeccable and meticulous as possible but it somehow does not move me, I remain indifferent. I believe at Music Academy exams they cartainly shall get highest marks for this performance. Perfect sound they produce (Piotr Schmidt trumpet being always a focus of attention throughout this record) is augmented by Dante Luciani on trombone who adds depth to sweetness of Schimdt trumpet, emphasis to Wierba subdued piano and liveliness to crystal-clear play by rhythm section.

But regardless all this well-deserved praise this music somehow does not fulfill its promise. I associate "Black Monolith" with Stanley Kubrick's "Oddysey 2001" and famous shot with astronaut approaching black monolith which symbolizes something alien, mysterious, metaphysical, perhaps in ourselves, but music on this album never indeed touches this sphere. 

Never except one moment which I want especially high-lite that is Stepanka Balcarova composition "Profoundity of the Badger" (more about Balcarova debut album "Inner Spaces" here). On this track technical craftmanship of players meet with right material and their message reaches deep into my jazz soul. I expect more such moments on their next recordings since I am sure that there is great potential in this band yet uncovered...

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

poniedziałek, 1 sierpnia 2011

Live Show: Rafal Sarnecki & Adam Baldych - Brooklyn

(Editor) Courtesy of Dave Summer we may inform you about approaching concert of two promising young Polish jazzmen now residing in New York... 

August 20th - Rafal Sarnecki & Adam Baldych

Fireplace-Cheminee Bistro
216 Norman Ave.
11222 Brooklyn, NY.
Off the G Train (which apparently doesn't run to Manhattan)

No cover.

I only became familiar with both of these musicians in the last couple of weeks. Both musicians have put out spectacular albums out this year. Rafal Sarnecki (guitar) released "The Madman Rambles Again" on the Fresh Sound New Talent label and Adam Baldych (violin) released "Magical Theatre" on Eleet Records. Both albums absolutely blew me away. Sarnecki's album (which I own) I've listened to repeatedly over the last two weeks and the Baldych album (which I don't yet own) but was able to listen to almost the whole thing the other day and individual songs on his reverbnation and artist site and they're just amazing. I highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to see them both live together. Please someone take pictures and post them here.
Rafal Sarnecki, as it so happens, is tomorrow's (Wednesday) AAJ free mp3 of the day. Adam Baldych will be the featured dotd on August 31st.

Here's Adam's site and reverbnation pages where you can listen to music from the album...

The song "Room of Fear" slays me every time. It's about the closest thing to hit me the same way Todd Sickafoose's "Tiny Resistors" did.

And here's a site for Rafal to listen to music...

I thought I already was as jealous as I could be at all the jazz going on in Brooklyn far far away from me. I was wrong.

Author of text: Dave Summer (source
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