środa, 29 lutego 2012

Adam Baruch's introduction to Polish Jazz Series

"Polish Jazz" Series 
A Historic Perspective 

Check our page for list of all (one day...) Polish Jazz Series releases": 
The "Polish Jazz" series of releases, a milestone episode in the history of Jazz in Poland, will soon celebrate its 50th birthday. It's almost impossible to refer to the development of Jazz in Poland without referring to the recordings released in that series, as they encompass a major part of the Jazz heritage and history as well as document the unique and incredible achievements of the Polish Jazz from its early days to full maturity.

 The "Polish Jazz" series must be seen always, even in retrospect, in the proper historic perspective, which involves the understanding of political / social circumstances in Poland between the end of WWII and the collapse of the Soviet-ruled Eastern-European Block, of which Poland was a part. The fact that Poland had a nondemocratic Socialist government, centralized economy and strict censorship over all aspects of life, art included, is a major consideration, which had its influence on the unique way the Polish Jazz developed, survived and triumphed against all odds. 

The series was launched in 1964 by the only record company active in Poland at the time, the State-owned Polskie Nagrania (Polish Recordings) and released under the company's main label "Muza". Its instigators were Ryszard Sielicki (label's artistic director) and Andrzej Karpinski (label's executive producer). The great Polish photographer / graphic designer Marek Karewicz was responsible for most of the photographs appearing on the covers and the design of the cover art itself of the individual albums in the series. Albums continued to be released as a part of the series until the end of 1989, and during the 26 years of its existence, the series amounted to 76 releases, a staggering amount of music by any standard.

In retrospect one must respectfully admit, that the series includes some of the most important music ever recorded in Poland, Easter-Europe, Europe and even the World. With musicians / performers / composers / arrangers / bandleaders / visionaries and prophets such as Krzysztof Komeda, Andrzej Kurylewicz, Andrzej Trzaskowski, Zbigniew Namyslowski, Tomasz Stanko, Michal Urbaniak, Adam Makowicz, Czeslaw Bartkowski, Janusz Muniak, Jan "Ptaszyn" Wroblewski and many, many others, the entire contents of the series is a goldmine of exquisite musical achievements. One should truly admire the series for many reasons; for example the decision to make the cover art bilingual (in Polish and English) was really unprecedented at the time (in view of the East-West relationships), but on the other hand the Polish government often used Polish Jazz as a propaganda tool to "sell" the human face of Socialism outside of the country's borders. Regardless of what the initial intention was, the English texts enabled many listeners in the West to get at least some information about the music and the musicians, which trickled continuously outside of Poland. 

Another extremely important characteristic of the series was its honest and again unprecedented policy to include all possible forms of Jazz as part of the series: from Dixieland to Free, from Big Band to solo performances, vocal and instrumental, established artists and newcomers, etc. This policy proved to be especially significant in the long term, as many of the recordings in the series would have been never realized otherwise. Of course the fact that Polskie Nagrania were a State-owned monopoly had its implications; some of Poland's great musicians, especially those who were associated with anti-government political affiliations, were never included as part of the series. Others, especially those more avant-garde inclined, with less social skills and "elbows" were also ignored. Obviously ego trips, personal preferences and other typical human relationships feuds also played part in the overall decision making, as to who's going to be recorded and included in the series, which resulted in somewhat uneven artistic level / aesthetic quality of the music. Some of the wrongs that were made at the time were later vindicated, others remind unrepaired. In retrospect one must admit that the series managed to achieve infinitely more positive things for Polish Jazz than the collateral damage it caused. 

It should also be noted that during the period the "Polish Jazz" series was active, Polskie Nagrania released some Jazz albums, which were not part of the series. It was never completely clear why that happened, but in many respects these recordings were in reality also part of the "Polish Jazz" scene even if not formally part of the series itself, and should be seen as closely related. To see an accurate picture of the history of recorded Jazz in Poland, one must also remember that the monopoly of Polskie Nagrania ended in 1973, when the Polish Jazz Society (PSJ, an organization formally uniting Polish Jazz musicians, but in fact a full fledged business venture – another improbability in a Socialist country, which was allowed by the government to flourish for political reasons) established its own record label called Poljazz. Starting as a record club for PSJ members, the label swiftly developed, under the management of Marek Cabanowski, into a full fledged business. However, what started as a label dedicated to Polish Jazz, soon lost its focus and moved into other musical areas in parallel to its Jazz activity, mainly for commercial reasons. Poljazz albums often suffered from poor production, questionable quality of the music and other tribulations, which seriously damaged the overall quality level of its releases. Nevertheless Poljazz did release a substantial amount of excellent Polish Jazz albums, but that is another story altogether. 

The "Polish Jazz" series has been remastered and reissued on CD in the mid-2000s mainly by Polskie Nagrania and Polskie Radio (Polish Radio) labels, but also by several smaller labels like Power Bros, Metal Mind, etc., but promptly disappeared from the shelves. These reissues, although properly remastered, suffered from poor packaging and most importantly missed an updated liner notes, presenting the music in a proper historic perspective. Many of the albums in the original series were never released on CD yet. This sad state of affairs is a shame for Polish Cultural heritage and should definitely be remedied as soon as possible. Of course the state of the music industry today is hardly encouraging as to the possibility this will happen any time soon. 

Adam Baruch 
February 2012 

Sing Sing Penelope – Music For Umbrellas (Monotype Records, 2006)

Sing Sing Penelope (band)

tomasz glazik - tenor & baritone saxophones, flute, synth 
rafał gorzycki - drums
wojciech jachna - trumpet, flugelhorn
daniel mackiewicz - electric piano, synth, organ, tabla, percussion
patryk węcławek - bass, double bass, kalimba, percussion
sebastian gruchot - violin (track 2)

Music For Umbrellas (Monotype Records, 2006)

This is the 2nd album by the incredible Polish Jazz ensemble Sing Sing Penelope, led by drummer Rafal Gorzycki and also including trumpeter Wojciech Jachna, saxophonist Tomasz Glazik, keyboardist Daniel Mackiewicz and bassist Patryk Weclawek. Violinist Sebastian Gruchot guests on one track. They play all original music, composed mostly by Gorzycki and Jachna or credited to the ensemble. Stylistically this is an incredible mixture of many elements from Jazz, Rock, Ambient, RIO and other areas, completely eluding any attempt of pinpointing or categorization. They are definitely one of the most interesting and most consistently excellent ensembles currently active on the Polish scene, which of course is a major compliment. All these players are excellent instrumentalist, the music is fresh, unusual and truly intelligent, but in spite its complex nature manages to embrace the element of melody, which is often mostly lost in adventurous attempts tried by others. I suppose that if Frank Zappa was alive today, he'd have loved to play with these young musicians behind him, but so would a lot of other great musicians. In any case this, and the other recordings by this group, is a beacon of hope that not all is lost in music in the 21st Century. Absolutely not to be missed!

Tracklisting: 1. Chickens [5:33]; 2. Fis & Love [10:22]; 3. La Couchette [7:53]; 4. Black Minority [7:26]; 5. Walce Bydgoskie [9:20]; 6. Summa Musica [10:16]

By Adam Baruch

wtorek, 28 lutego 2012

NOVI – Rien Ne Va Plus (Polish Jazz Extended vol..82, 1973)

NOVI Singers (band)

Ewa Wanat - vocals
Bernard Kawka - vocals
Janusz Mych - vocals
Waldemar Parzyński - vocals


Zbigniew Namysłowski - alto sax
Janusz Muniak - alto & tenor sax
Tomasz Szukalski - tenor sax
Waldemar Kurpiński - baritone sax
Stanisław Cieślak - trombone
Stanisław Mizeracki - trumpet
Tomasz Stańko - trumpet
Włodzimierz Nahorny - piano
Marek Bliziński - guitar
Wojciech Bruślik - bass guitar
Janusz Stefański - drums
Tadeusz Szostak - trumpet (6, 10)
Paweł Jarzębski - bass guitar (6, 10)
Kazimierz Jonkisz - drums (6, 10)
Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski - conductor 

Rien Ne Va Plus (1973)

This is the 4th album by the sensational Polish vocal quartet NOVI, which was one of the greatest Polish Jazz acts in the 1970s. Continuing the tradition of Jazz vocal groups like the French Les Double Six and Swingle Singers, NOVI expanded the borders further on into more experimental areas and used more instrumental backing, provided the best Polish Jazz musicians at the time. The quartet was led by singer / arranger / composer Bernard Kawka and included also the incredible female vocalist Ewa Wanat and two additional male vocalists Janusz Mych and Waldemar Parzynski. Together they created beautiful vocal harmonies of exceptional sophistication and unique style, unparalleled to this day. The performed a mixture of original material, mostly composed by Kawka, and standards or contemporary Pop material, but the incredible arrangements turned everything into a distinctive NOVI vocal signature. On this specific album they are accompanied by an all-star band, led by saxophonist Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski, which includes such luminaries as saxophonists Zbigniew Namyslowski, Janusz Muniak and Tomasz Szukalski, trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, guitarist Marek Blizinski, pianist Wlodzimierz Nahorny, drummer Janusz Stefanski and many others. This is definitely one of the climax moments of the Polish Jazz in the 1970s and an absolute must for every vocal jazz connoisseur!

Side Note: This is one of those Polish Jazz albums, released by the Polskie Nagrania / Muza label, which should have been released as part of the "Polish Jazz" series at the time, but somehow never made it. From the historic perspective it definitely belongs to be a part of that series and this was partially corrected by this edition, as it is one of the items in the expanded "Polish Jazz Deluxe" series of reissues.

Track listing: 1. Oh Woman (W. Parzyński - A. Więcko) [04:05]; 2. The Look Of Love (B. Bacharach - H. David) [04:02]; 3. My Own Revolution (B. Kawka - A. Więcko) [04:26]; 4. The Fool On The Hill (J. Lennon - M. McCartney) [04:37]; 5. Second Sight (B. Kawka) [04:34]; 6. Blue Moon (R. Rodgers - L. Hart) [03:25]; 7. Like A Dream In The Sky (B. Kawka - A. Więcko) [06:01]; 8. Rien Ne Va Plus (B. Kawka - A. Więcko) [04:08]; 9. Canto Triste (E. Labo - Eng., Hall) [04:00]; 10. Introduction (Z. Namysłowski)

By Adam Baruch

Stanislaw Sojka – Blublula (Polish Jazz Vol.63, 1981)

Stanisław Soyka - vocals

Wojciech Karolak - piano, leader
Zbigniew Wegehaupt - bass
Czesław Bartkowski - drums

Blublula (Polish Jazz Vol.63, 1981)

This is the 2nd album by the excellent Polish Jazz vocalist Stanislaw Sojka, who dominated the male vocal spot on the local scene since the early 1980s and is still very much active today. Always in the gray area between Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Rhythm And Blues and even Pop, Sojka is a first rate interpreter and lately also composer. His live performances are legendary and his versatility is awe inspiring. This early album finds him in a superb company of top Polish Jazz players: pianist Wojciech Karolak, bassist Zbigniew Wegehaupt and veteran drummer Czeslaw Bartkowski, a fantastic trio by any standard. He performs eight Jazz standards, but performed with flare and outstanding originality, using scat singing, playing with words and other improvisational techniques. This is a breathtaking performance, from start to finish, which every Jazz fan should be exposed to at some point. An absolute must!

Track Listing: A1. I’m just a lucky so and so (D. Ellington – M. David); A2. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning (R. Rodgers – O. Hammerstein II); A3. Satin Doll (D. Ellington – J. Mercer); A4. Blue Monk (T. Monk – S. Sojka); B1. I’ve Known Rivers (G. Bartz – G. Bartz); B2. Doxy (S. Rollins); B3. Naima (J. Coltrane); B4. P.S. (All Blues) (M. Davis)

By Adam Baruch

Ewa Bem – Be A Man (Polish Jazz Vol.65, 1981)

Ewa Bem - vocal

Henryk Majewski - leader, flugelhorn, trumpet
Henryk Miśkiewicz - clarinet, alto saxophone
Zbigniew Jaremko - tenor saxophone
Zbigniew Konopczyński - trombone
Andrzej Jagodziński - piano
Jerzy Stawarz - bass
Henryk Stefański - guitar
Tadeusz Federowski - drums
String Orchestra conducted by Zbigniew Jaremko
Zbigniew Wodecki - vocal

Be A Man (Polish Jazz Vol.65)
This is the 2nd album by the excellent Polish Jazz vocalist Ewa Bem, who dominated the female vocals spot in her country in the late 1970s and 1980s and is still active today. The five songs, which were included on side A of the vinyl LP are standards, which she sings in English and the six songs on side B of the vinyl LP are all originals, written especially for her, which she sings in Polish. She is accompanied by a wonderful octet, called Swing Session, led by Polish Jazz icon, trumpeter Henryk Majewski, who also wrote the wonderful arrangements. The octet members include also reedmen Henryk Miskiewicz and Zbigniew Jaremko, trombonist Zbigniew Konopczynski, guitarist Henryk Stefanski, pianist Andrzej Jagodzinski, bassist Jerzy Stwarz and drummer Tadeusz Federowski. Male vocalist Zbigniew Wodecki guests on two songs and three songs have also string arrangements. Whatever Bem misses as a virtuoso vocalist, she fully compensates by her wonderfully warm tone and exceptional musicality. Her interpretation and delivery are first-rate and she is definitely a world-class performer. Although pretty mainstream, this music is done with elegance and taste, which is why it stands the test of time wonderfully. Warmly recommended to fans of female Jazz vocals!

Track listing: 1 Medley: Them There Eyes, Love Is Here To Stay, Exactly Like You, The Days Of Wine And Roses, When The Saints Go Marching In (arr. H. Majewski) [06:26]; 2 Misty (E. Gerner - J. Burke) [04:31]; 3 The Man I Love (G. Gershwin - I. Gershwin) [03:47]; 4 Oh What A Beautiful Mornin' (R. Rodgers - O. Hammerstein II) [03:29]; 5 Grovin' High (C. Parker) [01:21]; 6 Badz mezczyzna (H. Majewski - M. Czubaszek) [02:56]; 7 Czy powie mi pan dzien dobry (Z. Jaremko - M. Wojtaszewska); Zbigniew Wodecki [03:30]; 8 Dzien dobry Mr. Blues (J. Wasowski - G. Perkun) [05:39]; 9 Wyznanie wieczorne (Z. Jaremko - K. Trębacz) [02:52]; 10 Tylko dni (Z. Jaremko - M. Czubaszek) [02:47]; 11 Rob co chcesz (H. Majewski - M. Czubaszek) [02:42]

By Adam Baruch

poniedziałek, 27 lutego 2012

Foton Quartet - Zomo Hall (Not Two Record, 2011)

Foton Quartet (group)

Gerad Lebik (sax)
Artur Majewski (trumpet)
Jakub Cywiński (bass)
Wojciech Romanowski (drums)

Zomo Hall (Not Two Record, 2011)

In the manner of a heart-to heart conversation defined by leisurely pace and thoughtful exchange of views, the Polish Foton Quartet navigates its way through a loosely lyrical though unscripted 59-minute program. None of the participants are well-known outside their home country, but that might not stay the case for long, based on their strength as a unit; full of sensitive listening which puts the group first, there is empathy in abundance here. While placement and color of sound is important, they reside within the jazz vernacular, even slipping into tempo at times, slightly melancholic though with barely a trace of the blues. Oceanic currents come to mind as lines drift to and fro, coming together and apart within the overall tide.

On tenor saxophone, Gerard Lebik adds occasional eastern European harmonies, and expands into squawks when the backing becomes heated. Often in tandem with Artur Majewski's poised trumpet, the reedman spirals into animated convocation. Both horns lodge predominantly in the conventional registers, making their impact more through what they say than how they say it. For bassist Jakub Cywinski and drummer Wojciech Romanowski, responsiveness appears the prime concern, both proving particularly attuned to Majewski's riffs and flurries. All convince as technically assured, and though lacking that distinctive edge which separates out the upper echelons, their perfectly judged contributions—knowing when to play and when not to play—make for subtle but purposeful communion.

Each of the six cuts traverses a lot of ground, offering ample space for the foursome to stretch out. By way of example, on "Five," the longest piece, Cywinski's sinewy pizzicato intro leads into relaxed dialogue with the horns, before Romanowski's unhurried and spacey percussion shadows meandering contralto clarinet. Later he sparingly accompanies another darkly voiced bass feature, eventually joined by limpid trumpet and clattering percussion. But it's not all quite so mazy: the short concluding "Six" provides an emphatic and spirited finale.

Track Listing: One; Two; Three; Four; Five; Six.

Personnel: Gerard Lebik: tenor saxophone, contralto clarinet; Artur Majewski: trumpet; Jakub Cywinski: bass; Wojciech Romanowski: drums.

By John Sharpe 

Bartek Adamczak interviews Mikolaj Trzaska

Bartek Adamczak: For many years you've been playing almost exclusively with foreign musicians, now ever more often you work withyoung polish ones. From my perspective it seems the improvised music scene here is growing strong, do you agreewith that, do you feel you've contributed to this development?

Mikołaj Trzaska: It is fascinating what's been happening in Poland in recentyears. There are so many musicians so I will use the exampleof the Clarinet Quartet. Those guys have very differenteducational backgrounds. Michał Górczyńsk i and WacławZimpel are classicaly trained. Wacek (Wacław) comes fromMozart, Michal studied Stockhausen and Xenakis. Szambi(Paweł Szamburski) is a klezmer music master. Those areyoung cats, each one's a distinct character. All perfectlyeducated, quite unlike me. When I play with such people I find Istill have a lot of energy in stock, and I learn so much fromthem. You wouldn't find guys like these 10 years ago, withsuch musical conscience and skills set.

My contribution is maybe more the intellectual and energeticinput, but the language, its richness – this is all young guysnow, or young in spirit at least. What's happening in Wroclaw – the things done by Artur Majewski and Kuba Suchar(Mikrokolektyw duo), what's Rafal Mazur doing in Kraków, all things happening in Warsaw – Paweł Szpura, RaphaelRogiński, and he's alltogether a different case, all those things are incredibly inspiring, cause those guys don't just playimprovised music but they do a whole lot of other stuff.

You know, we played with Ircha (Clarinet Quartet) in Prague, Trevor Watts and Veryan Weston had played before us. AndTrevor said afterwards he could hear this was music from Poland. In our sound, in our attitude, he said it was unbelievable.

I understood also what does Slavic sensibility mean, it's very profound, very special. And the reason is our culture was a'victim' of so many changes, so many new influences. Maybe we don't have jazz, I mean it's not our base. I'm inclined nowto think that Jewish music is my jazz, my base. Jewish melodies are a mine „My Funny Valentine”, „Adon Olam” is mine„You don't know what love is”. This is my standard. Mosha Bieregowski's collection is my Real Book. Because that's themusic I feel, I understand better. When I listen today to jazz standards I'm not particularly interested, but when I listen to THISmusic that's when I think : „this is mine”.

And I think that polish music begins to sound loud in us. This is something we don't control, we don't have any power overthe culture, we're trying to deny it but it is there. This struggle, this effort to cancel one's own cultural history – Russian jazzmusicians do it, Romanian jazz musicians do it, it's a mistake. Countries with such rich cultures, and they've given thissupposedly so cool jazz thing.

Only now I see this, when I play with guys from the States – they've grown with this music, it's something utterly different, it'sa natural thing to them, the language, the form, and we have yet to learn it all. Meanwhile we have our own form. And I find itvery important that, the thing we're doing with Ircha, that this is Slavic, that this is really our own music.

Full text of interview available at: http://jazzalchemist.blogspot.com/

Adam Makowicz - Naughty Baby (Novus, 1987)

Adam Makowicz - piano

Charlie Haden - bass
Dave Holland - bass
Al Foster - drums

Naughty Baby (Novus, 1987)

Recorded in 1987, with Charlie Haden (bass) and Al Foster (drums) on 5 tracks, and Dave Holland (bass) added on the other 6. This is quite simply a supreme piano album. The album's subtitle "Honoring George Gershwin" is substantiated by the witty arrangements of material ranging from "They All Laughed" to "Rhapsody in Blue", as well as by the playing of all four participants.

The album is included in "The Essential Jazz Records vol. 2" by Max Harrison and others, [my reason for seeking it out] where Harrison gives a full review and places it in relation to the pianist's other early recordings. To summarise, Makowicz is usually credited with phenomenal technique, but with little discussion of the use to which he puts it, but this of course is to miss the point. To quote Harrison, "Nowhere does the individuality of expression arise solely from complexity of method, as the toccata-like "Fascinatin' Rhythm" shows. This is close to a straightforward trio performance, at least at first; but as it unfolds this gesture towards conventionality serves to emphasise the personal nature of Makowicz's ideas in themselves and of the pianistic forms in which he casts them."

Track listing: 1 Somebody Loves Me (DeSylva, Gershwin, MacDonald) 4:30; 2 They All Laughed (Gershwin, Gershwin) 5:53; 3 Prelude, No. 2 (Gershwin) 5:47; 4 Maybe (Gershwin, Gershwin) 5:57; 5 Fascinating Rhythm (Gershwin, Gershwin) 3:15; 6 Naughty Baby (Gershwin, Gershwin) 4:24; 7 Oh Bess, Oh Where's My Bess? (Gershwin, Gershwin, Heyward) 2:35; 8 Embraceable You (Gershwin, Gershwin) 6:07; 9 Rhapsody in Blue (Gershwin) 6:13; 10 My Man's Gone Now (Gershwin, Gershwin, Heyward) 4:20; 11 Summertime (Gershwin, Gershwin, Heyward) 4:00

By T. A. King

Hagaw – Do You Love Hagaw? (Polish Jazz Vol.12, 1967)

Asocjacja Hagaw (band)

Grzegorz Brudko - banjo, leader
Henryk Kowalski - violin
Wlodzimierz Ciuk - trumpet
Jerzy Kowalski - trombone
Ryszard Kula - alto sax
Wlodzimierz Halik - bass
Krzysztof Adamek - drums, washboard

Do You Love Hagaw? (Polish Jazz Vol.12, 1967)

The Polish traditional Jazz ensemble Hagaw was one of several excellent groups formed in the 1960s, when traditional Jazz enjoyed an enormous revival in Poland, especially among students, co-existing peacefully with modern Jazz, which flourished in parallel. This is their debut album on which the ensemble plays a set of fifteen wonderful original compositions, most of all written by their primary composers: leader / banjoist Grzegorz Brudko and trumpeter Wlodzimierz Ciuk. Other band members include violinist Henryk Kowalski, trombonist Jerzy Kowalski, saxophonist Ryszard Kula, bassist Wlodzimierz Halik and drummer Krzysztof Adamek. Their music is a unique mixture of early Jazz; New Orleans, Dixieland and Swing, mixed with Eastern-European influences and spiced with a great sense of humor. The group enjoyed enormous success in their country and all over the world, and they continued to tour for many years. Any true Jazz fan, even if his musical preferences lie elsewhere, should be able to appreciate how good this music is, how well it withstood the tides of time, and how enjoyable it is, transcending artificial categorization by genre. Wholeheartedly recommended!

Track listing: 01. Czy Pani Kocha Hagawa; 02. Meloniki na gorąco; 03. wesoła Pioseneczka; 04. Bardzo szkoda mi zajączka; 05. Pamiętnik pewnego impertynenta; 06. Taniec z czasów Górnego; 07. Tułaczka Wija Drewniaka; 08. Chlau, Chlapu; 09. Będę Gangsterem; 10. Oj - Biada!; 11. Swawole lokomtyw, czyli wspomnienia pomocnika masztynistki; 12. Koty na poddaszu; 13. Być może...; 14. Mówiłaś, że lubisz kije samobije; 15. Zachciało Ci się Grzesiu prać o tej porze

By Adam Baruch

Jaroslaw Smietana – Sounds & Colors (Polish Jazz Vol.73, 1987)

Jaroslaw Smietana – electric guitar, acoustic Fender guitar, keyboards, voices

Jacek Pelc – premier drums, paiste cymbals, percussions
Antoni Debski – Fender bass, synthesizer
Piotr Baron – Selmer Mark VII tenor saxophone, soprano, clarinet, keyboards

 Sounds & Colors (Polish Jazz Vol.73, 1987)

This is an excellent album by Polish guitarist / composer Jaroslaw Smietana, his first recording under his name in the legendary Polish Jazz series, although he already released two albums with his group Extra Ball a decade earlier. Undoubtedly the best Polish Fusion guitar player, Smietana is also a great tunesmith; this album includes six of his wonderful compositions (and one standard), performed by a superb quartet, which includes side by side with the leader saxophonist Piotr Baron (one of future best Polish sax players), bassist Antoni Debski and drummer Jacek Pelc. The music is very similar to what one might expect from the best Fusion groups around at the time, especially Weather Report, which is a clear model. The guitar (and occasional keyboards) - sax exchanges could be very easily mistaken for another Joe Zawinul / Wayne Shorter dialog. But there is enough originality here, both in the compositions and the performances, to dismiss any accusations of plagiarism. These excellent musicians are not to be taken for granted and overall this album is as good, if not better, that any other Fusion album recorded anywhere on this planet. Fusion fans will definitely enjoy this album with no reservations, but the general Jazz loving public should be able to have a great time with it as well. It lost nothing of its charm over time!

Tracj listing: 1 Sounds And Colours; 2 Okapi, Pekari, Karibu; 3 Flashing Dance; 4 Every Day Niagara; 5 Turtle Song; 6 Days Of Wine And Roses; 7 Try To Make It Belter

By Adam Baruch

niedziela, 26 lutego 2012

Lora Szafran – Lonesome Dancer (Polish Jazz Vol.76, 1989)

Lora Szafran - vocal

Wojciech Niedziela - piano
Jacek Niedziela - bass
Piotr Wojtasik - trumpet, fluegelhorn
Adam Czerwiński - drums

Lonesome Dancer (Polish Jazz Vol.76,  1989)

This is the excellent debut album by female Polish Jazz vocalist Lora Szafran, the best new arrival on the local scene in the 1980s in the vocal department. She was blessed with great musicality, versatility and superb vocal abilities, which are rare and precious. On this album she is accompanied by an exceptional quartet called New Presentation, consisting of the best young Polish Jazz musicians at the time: pianist / composer / leader Wojciech Niedziela, his brother bassist Jacek Niedziela, drummer Adam Czerwinski and the excellent trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik. Together they perform nine songs, two of which were composed by Wojciech Niedziela, two others are by other Polish composers and the rest are Jazz standards. The overall level of performance is truly excellent from start to finish and for people who love mainstream Jazz delivered with taste and virtuosity, this is a must.

Side Note: This is the last album released under the "Polish Jazz" series, and as the volume number suggests the entire series consists of 76 albums released between mid-1960s and late 1980s. Some of the best European Jazz ever recorded can be found in this exceptional collection of recordings, which is often collected by Jazz fans around the world. A giant box set with all the 76 albums in mini-sleeve replicas would be a "dream come true" for true lovers of Polish Jazz. Hopefully soon!

Track listing: 1. Summertime; 2. Sweet Love To Keep; 3. New York Lament; 4. New York Lament; 5. My Funny Valentine; 6. Lonesome Dancer; 7. Kiss Me Right; 8. Sleep Safe And Warm; 9. A melancholy 

By Adam Baruch

Jerzy Milian – Milianalia (Polish Jazz Extended Vol.88 , 2005)

Jerzy Milian  - vibraphone], marimba, percussion, strings, harmonium, voice

Milianalia (Polskie Nagrania, 2006)

This is a beautiful solo album by the virtuoso Polish vibraphonist / composer Jerzy Milian, one of the godfathers of modern Jazz in Poland, which was recorded to celebrate his 70th Birthday. Milian started to play in the 1950s and was a member of the legendary sextet led by Krzysztof Komeda, who persuaded him to move from piano to vibraphone. In time Milian became one of the top vibraphone players in Europe as well as an excellent composer with highly personal style. His music was always quite sophisticated and unusual, quite ahead of its time. The early Komeda influence was replaced later on by his own original compositional direction, which flirted with Cool, Third Stream, contemporary Classical and World Music. This album presents eight of his original compositions performed solo on a variety of instruments including vibraphone, marimba and various percussion and string instruments. Not an easy listen, this music requires attentive listening and concentration, since the melodic motifs are quite elusive at times. But altogether this is a charming album, which I enjoy listening to very much. Highly recommended!

Track listing:  A1 Sheik of Urology (2:04); A2 Go down Felix (8:22); A3 Moon Hustler (3:23); A4 Salam-Talam (5:26); B1 Needful Sounds (2:37); B2 Kamikadze - Divine Wind (10:50); B3 Mother-In-Law Pranks (1:08); B4 Blues Holzbein Waltz (4:24)

(Editor) Not from this album but representative for Milian style:

By Adam Baruch

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski / Wojciech Karolak – Mainstream (Polish Jazz Vol.40, 1973)

Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski - tenor saxophone

Wojciech Karolak - Hammond organ

Marek Blizinski - guitar
Czeslaw 'Mały' Bartkowski - drums

Mainstream (Polish Jazz Vol.40, 1973)

This album presents a meeting between two Polish Jazz veterans: saxophonist / composer Jan "Ptaszyn" Wroblewski and keyboardist Wojciech Karolak. The two cooperated in various Jazz ensembles since the late 1950s and until mid 1960s and this album marks their reunion in the studio after several years of not playing together due to Karolak's residence in Sweden in the late 1960s / early 1970s. The two are joined by another veteran, drummer Czeslaw Bartkowski, and excellent guitarist Marek Blizinski and together they play six tunes, five of which are standards and one id a Wroblewski original. Karolak plays the Hammond Organ, a sound that would be associated with him for his entire future career, and his passion fro that instrument is clearly evident here. Wroblewski and Blizinski play fire solos and Bartkowski drives the quartet forward at all times. Although typically mainstream, this is still great Jazz, performed with passion and considerable talent, which should be enjoyable to all Jazz connoisseurs. Recommended!

Track listing: 01. I Hear Music; 02. My Favourite Things; 03. Dookoła Wojtek; 04. Walkin'; 05. I got it Bad; 06. It Could Happen To Sou

By Adam Baruch

Undivided - Moves Between Clouds: Live in Warsaw (Multikulti, 2011)

Undivided (group)

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

Moves Between Clouds (MultiKulti, 2011)

Polish composer/clarinetist Wacław Zimpel is one of the most promising musicians from the European continent. He leads the pan-European-American quintet Undivided, collaborates regularly with key musicians from the Chicago scene such as Ken Vandermark, Tim Daisy and Dave Rempis, and is a member of other local outfits.

On Univided's Moves Between Clouds: Live in Warsaw, Zimpel demonstrates a unique sonic aesthetic and musical vision. His compositions are multilayered, possess strong thematic structures and feature an expansive compositional vocabulary. Revealing great spiritual depth, the group's music is informed by free chamber jazz legacy of Jimmy Giuffre and the extended techniques and innovative harmonic approach of Eric Dolphy, as well as elements from 20th century European composers who include folk motifs in their compositions, such as Béla Bartók and Igor Stravinsky. On this sophomore recording, all three long compositions draw their inspirations from poems of American poet Laure Winter.

But the most remarkable effect is the intensity and the emotional impact and of the music, though this is a disciplined and restrained collective ensemble. Zimpel's beautiful compositions are built like dramatic suites that emphasize an inner turmoil and search for spiritual quietude. His writing covers a broad spectrum of feelings, from melancholy and fragility on "Hoping the morning say" and meditative, modest reverence on "Moves between clouds," to the peaceful joy and spiritual elation of the concluding "What a big quiet noise."

The quintet is comprised by experienced musicians. The addition of clarinetist Perry Robinson, who did not played on Undivided's debut, contrasts Zimpel playing and contribute deepness to the interplay on "Hoping the morning say." Pianist Bobby Few's light, sensitive chords are the backbone of the hypnotic title piece, and enable the music take off majestically. Drummer Klaus Kugel and bassist Mark Tokar embrace Zimpel, Robinson and Few's passionate flights on the loosely structured "What a big quiet noise."

This most beautiful live recording is a remarkable achievement.

Track Listing: Hoping the morning say; Moves between clouds; What a big quiet noise.

Eyal Hareuveni

sobota, 25 lutego 2012

Jan "Ptaszyn" Wroblewski – “Flyin` Lady" (Polish Jazz Vol.55, 1978)

Jan “Ptaszyn” Wróblewski – tenor sax

Marek Bliziński – guitar
Witold Szczurek – bass
Andrzej Dąbrowski – drums

“Flyin` Lady" (Polish Jazz Vol.55, 1978)

This is an excellent album by Polish veteran Jazz saxophonist / composer / arranger / bandleader Jan "Ptaszyn" Wroblewski. One of the great pioneers of the Polish Jazz movement since the 1950s, Wroblewski remained very active on the local scene in many capacities, which included leading his own ensembles, directing the Polish Radio Jazz Studio Orchestra and teaching generations of Polish Jazz musicians. Wroblewski always firmly stood for the Jazz tradition, keeping the mainstream Jazz in Poland on a very high level. He was rarely associated with the Polish Jazz modernists and avoided Free Jazz excursions, even when these were fashionable. Nevertheless his unique and innovative approach to Jazz composition and virtuosic ability as a player make his very extensive legacy an infinite source of superb Jazz moments. This album presents six original compositions by Wroblewski, superbly performed by a quartet, which includes guitarist Marek Blizinski, bassist Witold Szczurek and drummer Andrzej Dabrowski. Blizinski should be noted as one of the greatest Polish guitarists and perhaps the Jazziest one, who avoided getting into Fusion at all costs, keeping his sound in the Wes Montgomery / Barney Kessel tradition. Altogether this is a great example of the versatility of the Polish Jazz scene and its excellence, regardless of the specific sub-genre in question. Highly recommended!

Track listing:  A1. Pastuszek Stomp; A2. Grzmot nad ranem; A3. Bossa Nostra; B1. Pani Ptakowa; B2. Dlaczego małpa...; B3. Licheć Checioł Dana

By Adam Baruch

TAQ – Live In Minsk Mazowiecki (Rubicon Records, 2006)

TAQ (trio)

Marcin Masecki - piano
Garth Stevenson - double bass
Ziv Ravitz - drums

Live In Minsk Mazowiecki (Rubicon Records, 2006)

TAQ is a superb international piano trio consisting of Polish virtuoso pianist / composer Marcin Masecki, Canadian bassist / composer Garth Stevenson and Israeli drummer / composer Ziv Ravitz. The trio was formed in 2002 when all three were students at the Berklee College of Music in Boston as a result of an unusual rapport that developed between these young and highly talented musicians. Later the trio begun touring and during the 2005 tour in Poland recorded live this, their debut album. In the six years since this album was recorded all three musicians established their careers, which are all pretty unusual and extremely successful, especially in view of the difficult times Jazz is going through. This album clearly points out why: they are all simply different, unique and completely individual in their musical approaches. Masecki is a "crazy" genius, completely ignoring all rules and regulation, re-inventing scales and harmonies, Ravitz revolutionizes Jazz drumming by incorporating Middle-Eastern rhythmic patters and the use of hands rather that sticks or mallets as well as usage of additional percussion instruments. Stevenson is the most "conventional" of the three, which of course is a blessing, as without him the music might have crossed the chaos line easily. In retrospect this is a completely unknown little album, which shines more brightly than most of the other stuff that the promotional apparatus puts on the shelves – a pure gem of an album which should not be ignored under any circumstances!

Track listing:   1. Improvisation I (TAQ) 18:36; 2. Improvisation II (TAQ) 9:19; 3. Improvisation III (TAQ) 8:03; 4. Improvisation IV (TAQ) 13:11; 5. Bolero (M. Masecki) 10:08

By Adam Baruch

Cracow Klezmer Band (plays the music of John Zorn) - Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass: A Tribute to Bruno Schulz (Tzadik, 2005)

Cracow Klezmer Band 

Jaroslaw Bester – bayan
Oleg Dyyak – bayan, clarinet, percussion
Wojciech Front – double bass
Jaroslaw Tyrala – violin
Grazyna Auguscik – vocals

Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass: A Tribute to Bruno Schulz (Tzadik, 2005)

John Zorn's Masada songbooks have surrendered themselves to many modern genres and styles—free jazz with the original Masada Quartet, contemporary improvised music with the Masada String Trio and the duo of Mark Feldman and Sylvie Courvoisier, 1970s electric fusion meets today's electronica with Electric Masada, power rock with Rashanim, and a dozen others in the various tributes to the first Masada songbook (Masada Guitars; Voices in the Wilderness; and The Unknown Masada, all Tzadik, 2003). But only now, with the release of the Polish Cracow Klezmer Band's fourth disc on Tzadik, are they interpreted in the Old World Eastern European klezmer form. Many Masada interpretations have referenced, abstracted, or suggested new readings of this genre which is so identified with Jewish music.

The four members of the Cracow Klezmer Band—leader, arranger, and bayan (accordion) player Jaroslaw Bester; violinist Jaroslaw Tyrala; bayan player, clarinetist, and percussionist Oleg Dyyak; and violinist Jaroslaw Tyrala—are augmented by singer Grazyna Auguscik, who has collaborated with them before, not only to tackle John Zorn's Masada Songbooks One and Two, but also to use these tunes to paint a heartfelt tribute to the Polish-Jewish writer and artist Bruno Schultz (1892-1942), whose character still inspires contemporary writers like the Israeli author David Grossman (See Under: Love) and Americans Cynthia Ozick (The Messiah of Stockholm) and Phillip Roth (The Prague Orgy). This release is named after Schultz's second collection of short stories, published in 1936, and its official title is The Cracow Klezmer Band plays the music of John Zorn—Sanatorium Under Sign of the Hourglass: A Tribute to Bruno Schultz.

The Cracow Klezmer Band's beautiful arrangements are faithful to the original versions. In the opening track, "Meshakh," and on "Regalim," these four musicians even manage to capture the same dynamic telepathic coordination that is so identified with the original Masada quartet. But soon as Tyrala begins his magnificent solo on "Galgalim," you realize that their music is more faithful to the klezmer tradition than any other Masada incarnations or interpretations: klezmer music as a high art concert music that must be performed with subtlety, finesse, and great passion.

"Tirzah," with Auguscik's dreamy wordless vocals, and "Hamadah" both succeed in capturing the sensual atmosphere of Schulz's fantastical stories. Tyrala introduces "Adithaim" with a virtuosic, lyrical violin solo, slowly turning the piece into a gentle dance tune. "Pagiel" is the only tune from Zorn's second Masada songbook, Book of Angels, and is performed as a passionate Astor Piazzolla tune. "Meholalot" is interpreted slightly differently than the version the Cracow Klezmer Band did on Voices in the Wilderness, this time stressing its driving rhythms, as its Hebrew title suggests, and highlighting the captivating vocals of Grazyna Auguscik.

A brilliant release that blends Old World with New World, an almost vanished culture with a vital resurrecting one, by one of the world's most extraordinary new klezmer outfits.

Track listing: [1] Meshakh 4:55; [2] Galgalim 5:14; [3] Tirzah 10:39; [4] Yesod 4:44; [5] Pagiel 7:33; [6] Adithaim 6:44; [7] Hamadah 6:17; [8] Regalim 4:43; [9] Demai 9:07; [10] Meholalot 5:39

source: www.allaboutjazz.com

Jerzy Milian – Baazaar (Polish Jazz Vol.17, 1969)

Jerzy Milian -  vibraphone, marimba

Jacek Bednarek - double bass
Grzegorz Gierłowski - drums
Janusz Mych - flute
Ewa Wanat - vocals

Baazaar (Polish Jazz Vol.17, 1969)

This is the debut album by veteran Polish Jazz vibraphonist / composer Jerzy Milian, one of the godfathers of modern Jazz in Poland. Milian started to play in the 1950s and was a member of the legendary sextet led by Krzysztof Komeda, who persuaded him to move from piano to vibraphone. In time Milian became one of the top vibraphone players in Europe as well as an excellent composer with highly personal style. His music was always quite sophisticated and unusual, quite ahead of its time. The early Komeda influence was replaced later on by his own original compositional direction, which flirted with Cool, Third Stream, contemporary Classical and World Music. This album presents eight of his original compositions (one co-composed with Komeda) performed by a trio, which includes bassist Jacek Bednarek and drummer Grzegorz Gierlowski. Two members of the legendary Polish vocal group NOVI: vocalist Ewa Wanat and flautist Janusz Mych also participate. This is a splendid example of European Jazz, which was rapidly developing in Eastern Europe by late 1960s and which still sounds great regardless half a century later. Highly recommended!

Track listing: 01. Memory of bach; 02. My Favourite Band; 03. Rewelacyjny Luciano; 04. Szkice Ludowe; 05. Tempus Jazz 67; 06. Bazar w Aszchabadzie; 07. Serial Rag; 08. Velse Ex Cathedra

By Adam Baruch

piątek, 24 lutego 2012

Adam Makowicz – Live Embers (Polish Jazz Vol.43,1975)

Adam Makowicz - piano

Live Embers (Polish Jazz Vol.43, 1975)

This is the 2nd album in the legendary Polish Jazz series by the brilliant Polish pianist / composer Adam Makowicz, his first solo piano recording (a format he loves very much as documented in future recordings) and the first solo piano album in the entire series. By the time this album was recorded, Makowicz was the top piano Player on the local scene and one of the best European Jazz pianists. In the late 1970s Makowicz left Poland and settled in USA, like several other Polish Jazz players, escaping the socialist regime. His wonderful musicality, deep lyricism and typical European way to combine the Jazz tradition with the European Classical tradition (mainly Romanticism) make him a unique voice, which is always worth listening to. On this album he performs mainly his own wonderful music, spiced by his interpretation of a couple of Scott Joplin and John Coltrane tunes. This is a brilliant album and a must for Jazz piano lovers. Highly recommended!

Track listing: 01. Żarzące się węgielki I; 02. Raz tak, raz nie; 03. Passiflora; 04. Pociecha; 05. Ballada dla R; 06. Licznie do końca; 07. Tańcząca Panda; 08. Milowe Kroki; 09. Opalizacja; 10. Artysta Kabaretowy; 11. Żarzące się węgielki II

By Adam Baruch

Janusz Muniak – Question Mark (Polish Jazz Vol.54, 1978)

Janusz Muniak - sax

Jerzy Bezucha - drums, percussion
Marek Bliziński - guitar
Andrzej Dechnik - bass
Paweł Perliński - piano, electric piano

Question Mark (Polish Jazz Vol.54, 1978)

This is the debut album as a leader by the great Polish saxophonist / composer Janusz Muniak, one of the forefathers of modern Polish Jazz. His legacy includes the membership in such legendary Polish ensembles as those led by Andrzej Trzaskowski, Krzysztof Komeda and Tomasz Stanko as well as leading his own groups. He is accompanied here by his quintet, which includes pianist Pawel Perlinski, guitarist Marek Blizinski, bassist Andrzej Dechnik and drummer Jerzy Bezucha, all excellent players themselves. Muniak has a completely unique, natural style of improvisation, which is passionate and highly expressive, putting him somewhat aside in a class of his own besides the other distinguished Polish saxophonists, like Zbigniew Namyslowski for example. His compositions incorporate beautifully Polish folklore and the Jazz tradition, often unintentionally, but always brilliantly. This is on of the strongest albums in the legendary Polish Jazz series, which is a very high distinction by any standard. This is a must to lovers of Polish and Eastern-European Jazz and a timeless masterpiece.

Track listing: A1. Przejażdżka walcem [12:10]; A2. Taniec Pawia [07:27]; B1. Obertas [09:50]; B2. Znak zapytania [10:12]

By Adam Baruch

czwartek, 23 lutego 2012

Zbigniew Namyslowski – Open (Polish Jazz Vol.74, 1987)

Zbigniew Namysłowski - alto & sopranino saxophones

Kuba Stankiewicz - piano, keybords
Dariusz Oleszkiewicz - bass
Jerzy Głód - drums
Jose Torres - percussion

Open (Polish Jazz Vol.74, 1987)

This is a superb album by Polish Jazz veteran, saxophonist / composer Zbigniew Namyslowski, recorded with a great quintet which includes pianist Kuba Stankiewicz, bassist Dariusz Oleszkiewicz, drummer Jerzy Glod and percussionist Jose Torres. All the music, except for one standard, was composed by Namyslowski, who seems to be completely untouched by time, full of creative and performing powers and always at the edge of latest Jazz developments. It is his music, which is the true magic here, and although his performances as well as those of the other players are all excellent, the music is immediately recognizable as Polish Jazz, which is hardly surprising when coming from one of the Godfathers of the genre. It was always Namyslowski's ability to create a perfect link between the Jazz tradition and Polish folklore, which is deeply embedded in his cultural background, which made him a model for a new breed of European Jazz players, those who would stand proudly and say that they can contribute something new and fresh to the already established tradition of American Jazz and make it their own. In retrospect this is another milestone recording in the long and glorious recorded legacy that Namyslowski managed to bestow upon us, and hopefully will be also enjoyed by future generations. A must!

Track listing: 1. Double Trouble Blues; 2. Cuban Tango Mohito; 3. Bop-Berek; 4. 3xSpagetti; 5. Rachitic March; 6. Who Can I Turn To; 7. Very Sad Bossa; 8. Cy To Blues, Cy Nie Blues

(Editor) Based on Polish folk dance oberek "Bop-Berek" may be also translated as "bop hide-and-seek". Typical Namysłowski sense of humour... This tune is featured on this album although here played in different casts and few years later...

By Adam Baruch

Laboratorium – Quasimodo (Polish Jazz Vol.58, 1979)

Laboratorium (band)

Janusz Grzywacz – Acoustic Piano, Rhodes Piano, Arp Oddessey
Marek Stryszowski – Vocalm Vocal by "Space Chorus Rolland" Alto Sax, Soprano Sax
Pawel Scieranski – Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Krzysztof Scieranski – Bass Guitar
Mieczyslaw Gorka – Drums, Percussion

Quasimodo (Polish Jazz Vol.58)

This is the 2nd album by Polish Jazz-Rock Fusion ensemble Laboratorium, which was one of several great Polish bands (like Extra Ball for example) playing in that vein during the 1970s. Founded by keyboardist Janusz Grzywacz, the band's founding members included also saxophonist / vocalist Marek Stryszowski and drummer Mieczyslaw Gorka. After an initial period of trying to find a musical identity, the band was joined by brothers Pawel Scieranski on guitar and Krzysztof Scieranski on bass (one of the greatest Polish bass players) and settled into the Fusion genre, with a musical approach and sound not far away from Weather Report. This, their second recording, presents them in their full power and the recording is quite stunning in its sophistication and instrumental aptitude. The music includes pieces composed by all members of the group. As opposed to most American Fusion at the time, which was mostly based on simplistic melodies and endless instrumental doodling, this music is atmospheric, intelligent, sophisticated, well developed and coherent, clearly well rooted in the European musical tradition. Fusion fans are well advised to try this out and explore this wonderful music, which is expanding the genre's limitations to the max. This music will also interest fans Prog fans, as it is close in spirit to the Canterbury genre. Superb stuff!

Track listing: A1 – Przejazd / The Journey; I'm Sorry, I'm Not The Driver; A2 – Etiudka / Little Etude Sniegowa Panienenka / The Snow Girl; A3 – Lady Rolland; B1 – Quasimodo; B2 – Kyokushinkai; B3 – Ikona / An Icon – in memory of Zbigniew Seifert

By Adam Baruch

String Connection – 2012 (Polskie Radio, 2012) by Adam Baruch

String Connection (band)

Krzesimir Dębski - violin, keys, Hammond
Andrzej Olejniczak - soprano and tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Janusz Skowron - piano, Fender
Krzysztof Ścierański - bass guitar
Krzysztof Przybyłowicz - drums, percussions
Anna Jurksztowicz - vocal (6 i 8)

2012 (Polskie Radio, 2011)

Over 20 years after the Polish Jazz ensemble String Connection ceased to exist after several years of leading the local Jazz scene, here they are again, reunited, rejuvenated and recharged with new energies. Led by the violin virtuoso / composer Krzesimir Debski, who founded the original group in 1981 and who was also responsible for group's breakup due to his mounting commitments as a composer for film and contemporary Classical music, the group also includes original members: saxophonist Andrzej Olejniczak, keyboardist Janusz Skowron, bassist Krzysztof Scieranski and drummer Krzysztof Przybylowicz. Female vocalist Anna Jurksztowicz guests on two tracks. The music was composed mostly by Debski (six of the eight tunes on the album) with Olejniczak and Scieranski contributing one composition each. All these players are of course masters of their trade and their performances are always top notch, as expected. The music covers a wide spectrum of compositions, from World Music influences to Fusion, with the typical Eastern-European awareness of somewhat quirky melody lines and rhythmic patterns. There are no surprises here or groundbreaking innovations, but a lot of excellent and enjoyable music. For Jazz violin connoisseurs this is a must of course, as Jazz albums with violin are unfortunately a rarity, especially those of such quality like this one. Recommended!

Track listing: 1. Istrian Sideways; 2. Croatia On My Mind; 3. El Juguete; 4. Das Salzperlspiel; 5. Obsession; 6. Saranjeet Kaur; 7. Cien Kilos De Papas; 8. O Czym Marzą Dziewczyny

By Adam Baruch

środa, 22 lutego 2012

Andrzej Kurylewicz – Trio (Polskie Radio, 2007)

Andrzej Kurylewicz - piano

Paweł Pańta - double bass
Cezary Konrad - percussion

Trio (Polskie Radio, 2007)

(Editor) Recorded on 2001.

The legendary Polish Jazz pianist / composer Andrzej Kurylewicz is one of the godfathers of the great Polish Jazz movement, starting from the 1950s. Sadly his role is often almost forgotten and certainly much less appreciated that that of his counterpart pianist / composer Krzysztof Komeda, who managed to achieve some international exposure and prominence. Kurylewicz is a formidable force and his skills as pianist / composer / arranger / conductor are truly admirable. He also composed music for cinema, theatre and TV as well and contemporary classical music. 

Unfortunately his recorded legacy of Jazz performances is rather limited and therefore the outmost importance of this superb album, which documents his return to Jazz piano after several years of absence, with his brilliant trio with bassist Pawel Panta and drummer Cezary Konrad. These absolutely stunning recordings present the trio playing a set of original compositions and standards, played with finesse and taste completely unmatched. Of course the age and experience of the veteran musician have a lot to do with this (he was almost 70 by the time of this recording) but the talent and above all his incredible feel for Jazz, melody and improvisation, which are simply beyond what most other musicians have to offer. In his own compositions Kurylewicz is deeply rooted in the Polish musical tradition, which incorporates folklore and Classical music. His interpretation is typically European; elegant, sophisticated, clever and moving and this music simply uplifts the listener to another plane. The album also includes several video clips taken during the recording sessions of this album, which are also a great pleasure to watch. In short this is a great example of Polish (and European) Jazz at its finest moments, which should be treasured by Jazz connoisseurs around the world. A must!

Track listing:

CD 1
1. Polskie drogi / The Polish Pathways
2. My Bonnie...
3. Juz kocham Cie tyle lat / I've been loving you for so many years
4. W cieniu Szymanowskiego / In the Shadow of Szymanowski
5. Czulosc / Tenderness
6. All The Things You Are - in up tempo
7. Sophisticated Lady
8. Przybyli ulani / The Cavalry Have Knocked on the Window
9. The Autumn Leaves

CD 2
1. Laura i Filon / Laura and Filon
2. Body and Soul
3. Bye, Bye Blackbird
4. The Man I Love
5. La Valse Minime
pliki filmowe video / video files:
6. Polskie drogi / The Polish Pathways
7. W cieniu Szymanowskiego / In the Shadow of Szymanowski
8. Rozmowa w studiu podczas nagran / A conversation during the studio recording

By Adam Baruch

Sing Sing Penelope / Andrzej Przybielski – Stirli People – In Jazzga (Monotype Rec., 2009) by Adam Baruch

Sing Sing Penelope (band)

Andrzej Przybielski - trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, pocket trumpet

Wojtek Jachna - trumpet
Tomasz Glazik - tenor & baritone saxophones
Daniel Mackiewicz - electric piano, organ, percussion
Patryk Węcławek - bass
Rafał Gorzycki - drums, percussion

Stirli People – In Jazzga (Monotype Rec., 2009)

This phenomenal recording presents a somewhat unlikely cooperation between young Polish ensemble Sing Sing Penelope and the dark prince of Polish Jazz avant-garde, genius trumpeter / composer Andrzej Przybielski (now sadly departed). Sing Sing Penelope, formed by Polish drummer / composer Rafal Gorzycki also includes brilliant trumpeter Wojciech Jachna, saxophonist Tomasz Glazik, keyboardist Daniel Mackiewicz and bassist Patryk Weclawek. They recorded three albums since the mid-2000s, all of which are excellent, and this is their fourth release. 

Przybielski was a key figure on the Polish avant-garde scene since the 1960s, and his scarce, but mostly brilliant recorded legacy is a prime example of the Eastern-European Jazz at its most creative best. The music created by the young members of the ensemble and the veteran trumpeter is a wonderful surprise, completely unexpected not only due to the age and musical background differences but mainly because of the vibrancy and vitality of the result, which resembles the power and verve of the early electric Miles Davis ensembles. The sound is very modern and up to date, mostly up tempo and sometimes quite Rock oriented, but always within the Jazz aesthetic and always simply radiant. Of the seven composition presented on the album Przybielski is credited with three, another three are co-credited to him and the group and the last one is by the group. 

The most striking feature of the album is of course the double trumpet front line, which is simply phenomenal. Jachna already proved his ability as a player on several albums featuring his unique talents and playing alongside a genius such as Przybielski must have proven a unique inspiration, which is evident from the result. Przybielski himself simply plays beautifully all the way and this recording is definitely one of his best moments. As much as two saxophones lineups are very popular in Jazz, a two trumpets ones are almost inexistent, which is a great pity, as this recording proves beyond any doubt. But of course all the participants of this recording deserve to be praised, as everybody contributes towards the unprecedented success. Overall this is one of the strongest Polish Jazz albums recorded recently and a grand memorial to the talents of Andrzej Przybielski, who received almost no recognition before his untimely and tragic death. Definitely a must to every connoisseur of Polish and Eastern-European Jazz!

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]

By Adam Baruch

Sun Ship – Follow Us (Polish Jazz Vol.61, 1979)

Sun Ship (band)

Władysław Sendecki - piano, el. piano, polymog, arp omni
Zbigniew Jaremko - soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
Henryk Miśkiewicz - soprano saxophone
Witold Szczurek - bass, violoncello
Marek Stach - drums

Follow Us (Polish Jazz Vol.61, 1979)

This is the only studio recording by the excellent Polish Jazz ensemble Sun Ship, founded in 1978 by two ex-Extra Ball members: virtuoso pianist / composer Wladyslaw Sendecki and saxophonist Andrzej Olejniczak, with bassist Witold Szczurek and drummer Marek Stach. Olejniczak left son after the group was founded, to be replaced by a double saxophone front line consisting of Zbigniew Jaremko and Henryk Miskiewicz. Miskiewicz was the group's second composer and contributed two of the five compositions present on this album in addition to the three compositions by the leader, Sendecki. Sun Ship was the first of the Polish ensembles, which tried to leave behind them the Jazz-Rock Fusion, which was the predominant genre in the 1970s and return to mainstream Jazz, with more advanced chord changes and extended improvisations, which they did extremely well. Sendecki's keyboard wizardry is plainly evident on this beautiful album, as are the highly developed skills as improvisers. In retrospect this is one of the most interesting Polish Jazz recordings of that turbulent period. Highly recommended!

Track Listing: 01. Prymka; 02. Ballada na wiosnę; 03. Szipson; 04. Mrówka, jak wiemy; 05. Należy się wykupić

By Adam Baruch

Levity - Afternoon Delights (Lado ABC, 2011) by Stef Gijssels

Levity (band)

Jacek Kita - keys
Piotr Domagalski - bass
Jerzy Rogiewicz - drums

Afternoon Delights (Lado ABC, 2011)

Following on from Headbrain and Dorota posts one may ask the question ... is their much of interest to be found in the 'never mind the tune, watch my technique' jazz (Berkley, Banff, Conservatory) movement? Or maybe you're wondering whether Peter Brotzmann or Matts Gustafson could blow a little louder? Or should you just dig out a rock album and turn up the volume, then look no further 'Levity' is here!

As Headbrain and Dorota weren't really jazz albums (and who cares, if the music good and pushes at boundaries) this isn't a jazz album either. However Levity's previous albums were, although slightly left of center at that. The album confirms that this band is a restless searching unit, constantly looking for new takes on music.

This is Levity's 3rd album to date and a very nice one at that, an album with many elements coming together in a singularly mature way. 'Afternoon Delights' comes at you from all sides in a similar way that early Genesis or Pink Floyd albums did, touching on jazz but only it's elements. From the albums opening track 'Clap your hands, Pikku Myy', a prolonged intro to what you're about to hear (almost like Genesis' 'The Lamb lies down on Broadway'), to the closing 'Everyone survived', the music never stops. 'Clap your hands, Pikku Myy' also introduces you to the sound world you'll be visiting for the next 52 minutes, a slightly old sounding piano (later on synths, loops etc), heavy bass sounds, and drums that could be post-rock meets free-jazz! This very original mixture of beats and grooves, melodies and sound effects is quite unclassifiable, at times minimal and at others dense. Listeners of pure jazz should be wary (or embrace) the music which has little (if any) in the way of solos as such, however one can hear immediately the complexity of the music which seems to have a balance between planned and loosely improvised sections which constantly surprise.

You could comment on each individual track, but since the whole album seems (to me) to be composed and recorded as one, it makes little sense to deconstruct something that has been so carefully put together. Every possible angle is taken on this music from old sounding synths to hard rocking drums, trip-hop grooves, etherial floating ghost music, distorted bass melodies, and the occasional traditional - almost - piano trio, something which actually has to be heard to be believed.

Tags for this excellent album could be - Bad Plus meets Genesis meets Tortoise meets Deerhoof meets ... to name a few.
Levity is : Jack Kita (kbds), Piotr Domagalski (bass), Jerzy Rogiewicz (drms).

Buy from either (download) Bandcamp or (buy a hard copy at) Serpent.

Track listing: 01. Clap your hands, Pikku Myy; 02. Tak; 03. Little symphony no.2; 04. La vitesse; 05. i; 06. Przygoda w garażu; 07. ii; 08. Over the rainbow; 09. Komunia; 10. Slightly different otherness; 11. Wrzesień; 12. Everyone survived

By Stef Gijssels

wtorek, 21 lutego 2012

Splatter - Scraffiti (Citystream, 2011)

Splatter (band) 

Anna Kaluza - alto saxophone
Noel Taylor - clarinets
Pedro Velasco - guitar
Michael Caratti - drums

Scraffiti (Citystream 2011)

As you can read in the liner notes: scrafitto is a decorative technique in which, after applying a number of layers, one stratches through the outer surface to reveal the different surfaces hidden underneath. It's a sort of a negative drawing, where the artist instead of adding the marks removes material in order to reveal the possibilities. Since most often used in ceramics and pottery it's an art that demands swiftness and allows no mistakes - there are no do-overs, and the smallest one can ruin the whole success. All that makes it not only a perfect metaphor of an audio recording (immagine the needle etching the music onto the vinyl or a wax cylinder) but also of the nature of improvisation.

The disc contains 16 tracks (just one over 4 mins) and the band seem to flourish within this miniature form. There's a clear chemistry within the group, a close interplay, as all the instruments complete each other's sound. Take 'd-lite' with delicate tin percussion, breathing whisper of the saxophone and gentle unisono by guitar and clarinet. There's something pure, pristine about the way the band plays, as improvisations share the same level of clarity of structure, completely self-conscient of its compact form. They emerge as a shape slowly appearing in a mist, just to dissappear again.

There are some frenetic moments of fiery exchanges ("Alarums & Ecursions", "Fresh Squalls", tricky lines of "Lobster Quadrille"), but otherwise there's a peacefull, soothing quality to this music. Listen to the gentle percussive shadings and elegant melody in "The Far Side" (by Taylor), followed by a spiralling lines of alto and clarinet ("Feeding Frenzy"). The delay effect of Velasco's guitar slows down the passing of time, as if it was suspended, and this effect is only enhanced by Caratti modest playing as he tends to just add colours instead of rhythm. And within this suspended time in there's a space for intimate dialogues between Kaluza's sax and Taylor's clarinet ("Low Thoughts"). Splatter seems to be a four-bodied one-mind entity, the communication, the mutual understanding, the almost hypnotic ability to follow each other's ideas - it's all here, crystal clear.

This music soothes your soul, it allows you to travel slowly between the stars. In fact it's quite uncanny how subtle and melodic those improvisations are, how accessible this music remains, while mantaining this elusive, emotionally gripping quality of the improvisation. Or maybe the term of a real-time composition would fit better? Never mind the terms, poetry doesn't need words.

A sample of Anna Kaluza play:

By Bartek Adamczak

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