Sunday, April 15, 2012

Judy Bady & Piotr Wojtasik - Blackout (2009)

Judy Bady - Vocals

Piotr Wojtasik - Trumpet and Arrangements

Francesca Tanksley - Piano
Wayne Dockery - Bass
Newman Taylor Baker - Drums

Blackout (2009)

This is one of the most interesting albums with vocal jazz recorded in Poland for years. Unfortunately it remains virtually unknown even to to local audience which is for me very difficult to comprehend. It contains everything to spark fire in every jazz man and woman soul: great musicians, marvelous tunes and most importantly freedom. This is to some degree surprising if someone is acquainted with what trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik recorded so far. Check such his albums described on this blog as 'Lonely Town' or 'Hope'. They made Wojtasik one of champions of mainstream jazz in Poland. What he displayed on these and other albums is absolute command of his instrument. Lee Morgan, Fats Navarro, Booker Little, Clifford Jordan to name just a few influenced him and he paid homage to them in one album after another as much as educator (his faculty in trumpet at Wrocław Music Academy being the best in Poland). But regardless all this perfection his music remained for me too academic, too intelectual, too turned toward the past. But this album changes that and I hope it marks major shift in Piotr Wojtasik art. Shift toward freer forms of jazz, toward more spontaneous play, more intimate interactions between members of the band.

Surely he owes a lot to his collaborators on this record. These musicians were almost totally unknown to me before I listened to this CD but they are of the highest caliber. Judy Bady has only one album released under her own name so far that is 'Blackbird'. Nonetheless she is accomplished singer bringing at least as much to this album as a leader, perhaps even more. She does not have great voice but she has what is most important in jazz that is a feeling. Emotions are abundant in her singing. She is a pure, natural, mighty force behind music on this album. This force however would never start to flow if not for rhythm sections standing behind Bady and Wojtasik back. Pianist Francesca Tanksley is known for being member of Billy Harper ensambles as much as drummer Newman Taylor Baker is. Bassist Wayne Dockery recorded with artists so very different from each other like George Benson, Eddie Henderson or Archie Shepp. 

Music on album is mostly standards with important exception of title track 'Blackout' penned by Wojtasik and 'Prayer' by Tankslew. It is clearly inspired by so called 'black jazz', full of spiritual connotations and trance grooves as evidenced by Bady's modest yet suggestive version of famous 'The Creator Has A Master Plan'. But every tune brings something unexpected and surprising, be it Duke Ellington's 'Come Sunday' or 'As One' with Bady's text and Barnaby McAll music. They are all contributing to very satisfactory listening experience indeed which I can do nothing else than strongly recommend!

Track listing: 
1. „Blackout” – muz. Piotr Wojtasik / tekst Judy Bady
2. „Prayer” – muz. / tekst Francesca Tanksley
3. “Sugar” – muz. Stanley Turrentine / tekst Jon Hendricks / extra tekst Judy Bady
4. “The Creator Has A Master Plan” – muz. Pharoah Sanders / teskt Leon Thomas
5. “As One” – muz. Barnaby McAll / teskt Judy Bady
6. “Vukani” – muz. / tekst Bheki Mseleku
7. “Come Sunday” – muz. / tekst Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington

By Maciej Nowotny

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