sobota, 30 czerwca 2012

Meadow Quartet - Unexpected (2012)

Meadow Quartet

Marcin Malinowski: clarinet, bass clarinet
Michał Piwowarczyk: viola
Piotr Skowroński: accordion
Jarosław Stokowski: bass

Unexpected (2012)

It has always puzzled me that God relishes so much in paradoxes. There are plenty of them all around us. They only require keen eye. And age eventually bring one. Good example of such a phenomenon may be in Polish-Jewish relationships. When before II World War Jews in Poland were counted in millions there was very little sympathy for them in this country. But now more than half century later when almost all of them vanished from here this hatred and rejection become somehow replaced by universal love and great longing. Maybe I am too cynical but both these feelings seem evenly suspicious to me.

I am perhaps therefore not best person to describe recent wave of fascination in klezmer music by Polish artists. There are so many such projects that it is pointless to list them here as they would take all space required for review of this album. And it shouldn't happen since music on "Unexpected" deserves attention. It is very well played as usual in case of Polish artists who benefit from high-level education in specialized musical schools. The collective called themselves Meadow Quartet and consists of Marcin Malinowski playing on clarinet, Michał Piwowarczyk on viola, Piotr Skowroński on accordion and Jarosław Stokowski on bass.

As you might notice this type of instrumental set-up is very characteristic for bands playing Jewish-inspired music and so is style of this music. I found this field so well plough that it does not appeal to me very much. But I cannot deny it is charming. I can imagine it might sound marvellously in some "shtetl" lost in "endless Polish steppe". But the problem is no such shtetls exist any more and there is no steppe in Poland either. There is very difficult, sometimes tragic, sometimes incredibly inspiring history of Polish-Jewish relationships that calls for a voice which will be able to transcend the past. I personallly find such voice in works like provided for example by Ircha Clarinet Quartet led by Mikołaj Trzaska or in projects by Raphael Rogiński. Or like on this disc, in some rare moments however, where true emotions prevail as exemplified by "L'Automne" on this generally not so bad record.

Track list:
1. Das Schloss [05:19]
A tribute to F. Kafka
2. Goldene Medina [07:09]
3. Nature's Tool [04:05]
4. Le Printemps [04:18]
5. L'automne [05:15]
6. Immersion [08:17]
7. Form No. 1 [05:33]
8. Extinct [05:18]

By Maciej Nowotny

Zbigniew Namyslowski Modern Jazz Quartet - Lola (Decca, 1964)

Zbigniew Namyslowski Modern Jazz Quartet

Zbigniew Namysłowski - alto sax
Wlodzimierz Gulgowski - piano
Tadeusz Wójcik - bass
Czesław Bartkowski - drums

 Lola (Decca, 1964)

However good European jazz musicians might be, seldom if ever are they likely to initiate any new jazz directions. During the last decade and a half we have had Swedish George Shearing-style quintets, Danish Mulligan-like quartets, and innumerable other imitation's. Poland's Zbigniew Namyslowski MJQ comes close to an original sound, yet it is obvious that this unit would never have existed in this present form without the work of John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman. 

One nameless British jazz critic is quoted on the sleeve as saying that Namyslowski's own alto playing "almost makes Ornette Coleman sound like George Lewis". On the strength of the music heard here this is nonsense, for although Zbigniew Namyslowski's approach is 'new', he observes chord sequences and improvises in a more conventional manner than Coleman. At the same time Zbigniew has made quite astonishing progress when one considers that his experience of jazz has probably been limited to records and Voice Of America broadcasts heard in Poland. His playing transcends the expected type of phrasing, splaying across the 'traditional' breaks in the chorus construction. His tone, incisive with a cutting edge, brings to mind the attack of Sonny Criss and Jackie McLean. 

The writing is by members of the quartet, with the exception of Kern's 01' Man River, of course, and takes in a variety of moods. Generally speaking, the work of the pianist, bass player and drummer is adequate rather than inspired, but the deep-rooted intensity of the leader's alto compensates for this. It would be interesting to hear Zbigniew Namyslowski after he had spent, say, six months working in New York with men such as Billy Higgins, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison. This LP was made in London last summer during the Polish quartet's visit to this country. Readers may recall their appearances at the Ronnie Scott Club, the Richmond Jazz Festival and on a BBC broadcast, all of which opened a few eyes—and ears—to the advanced state of jazz in Poland. A.M. 

1. Piękna Lola, kwiat p [06:37]
2. Leszek i Ludwik [03:36]
3. W 5/4 czasu [08:00]
4. Blues Shmues [03:50]
5. Rozpacz [07:19]
6. Tkotkonitkotko [04:44]
7. Woźny Najważniejszy [03:54]
8. Piatawka [06:45]

source: Gramophone

Pieces Of Brain - Arythmic Visible Music (2004)

Pieces Of Brain (band)

Jerzy Mazzoll - clarinet, bass clarinet
Jon Dobie - guitar, alto sax
Sławek Janicki - double bass
Jacek Majewski - drums, percussions

Arythmic Visible Music (2004)

This is another album recorded by cooperative of clarinetist Jerzy Mazzoll, double bassist Sławek Janicki and drummer/percussionist Jacek Majewski. Their first record was released in 2001 under title "Crash The Car, Daddy" with "From The Beginning To The End" following in 2003 and this one in 2004. With one album to follow the whole project was then put on hold by artist, at least in terms of releasing new recordings, to be continued only this year by new disc "Minimalover" (2012). 

All these albums are similar to each other as they develop idea of "arythmic brain". What is is? I have no idea idea and honestly I don't care. I believe it is simply kind of style as displayed by this ensemble, mostly imposed by Mazzoll charismatic presence. It can be described as experimental, spiritual and ecstatic. At best moments though! At less succesfull it is simply chaotic, with no direction, unintelligible. Fortunately on all this recordings these is enough those first moments to reedem occasional present of the second. Eventually they remain testimony to group of probably most tiresome avantgardists on our scene. Who however paid for their intransigence with very little understanding for their ouvre among fellow musicians, even less among critics and audience.

The highlight of this album is Jon Dobie presence. He is known for long term collaboration with Peter Brotzmann. His work on guitar fits perfectly with full ensamble. Total focus on producing landscapes of scratches, squeaks and wheezing is balanced with similarly total negligence of any structure or direction. I admire the effort but from tone of my text you probably already see that I am not great enthusiast of such a language...

City Of Bones; Darker Than Night; Our Homeland: Goodness, Goodness, Goodness; Crash The Car, Daddy; A Murder Of Crows; Mischief Of Rats; Indications Of Trauma; Accidents And Emergencies.

By Maciej Nowotny

RGG - One (2011) by Adam Baruch


Przemyslaw Raminiak (piano)
Maciej Garbowski (bass)
Krysztof Gradziuk (drums)

One (Fonografika, 2012)

This is the 5th album by the excellent Polish Jazz piano trio RGG, which comprises of pianist Przemyslaw Raminiak, bassist Maciej Garbowski and drummer Krzysztof Gradziuk. Its release marks the trio's tenth anniversary and adds a new direction to the remarkable body of music already recorded by the trio. In contrast to its predecessor, that included only spontaneously improvised music, most of the music on this album is composed, either by the trio members or other well known Jazz composers like Carla Bley and Richie Beirach. Of the thirteen compositions presented here only two are free improvisations, which is unusual for them. 

All three RGG members are brilliant instrumentalists, but their performances together clearly create an outcome much bigger than the sum of its parts. The level of interplay, cooperation, mutual respect and understanding is truly phenomenal and the resulting music is able to move emotional mountains. To an attentive listener it is quite clear that even when they play relatively close to the original composition, RGG members display a high level of spontaneity, which is present only within the best piano trios in the world, like that of Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. Another rare quality of RGG is the active involvement of the bass player and drummer in the process of music creation. This is definitely not a pianist with a rhythm section, but an organic three-headed body making music together. 

This album can be a great service to the group as an introduction to their universe; surely anybody listening to it will want to explore their music further. People familiar with the Polish Jazz scene will immediately make the inevitable comparison between RGG and the "other" great Polish piano trio: Simple Acoustic Trio (or Marcin Wasilewski Trio). Comparisons of this sort are futile and have absolutely no sense, as both these trios play great music, each differently from the other. RGG are definitely closer to the Free / Improvised spirit of the music whereas Wasilewski's trio is more disciplined and conventional, but both are examples of human talent and ingenuity of the highest ranking, which gives us all the immense pleasure of music. 

It's worth to mention that the album was recorded at the Studio Tokarnia, the best sound studio in Poland, and engineered by the studio's owner (and a gifted musician himself) Jan Smoczynski, which explains the incredible sound quality of this album. This is an absolute must to every Jazz piano trio connoisseur and of course anybody with a right pair of ears to appreciate great music. Not to be missed under any circumstances!

01 One 6:18
02 Around Again 3:06
03 Bell 3:42
04 Spring Walk 6:03
05 Elm 7:51
06 From The Other Hand 5:17
07 Almost Blues 2:38
08 The Truth 4:56
09 Out Of A Row 4:45
10 C.T. 2:00
11 Stop And Think 7:41
12 When My Anger Starts To Cry 4:29
13 On The Way To Road 11 6:11

By Adam Baruch

Andrzej Olejniczak & Apertus String Quartet - Different Choice (2011)

Andrzej Olejniczak - tenor & soprano saxophones

Apertus String Quartet:
Joanna Łuczak - violin
Marta Kaliska - violin
Joanna Krysicka-Gwarda - viola
Marta Katarzyna Filipiak - cello

Different Choice (2011)

Veteran Polish saxophonist Andrzej Olejniczak, who was a member of such legendary ensembles as Extra Ball, Sun Ship and String Connection, left Poland in the mid 1980s and disappeared completely from the local scene for many years. He continued his career as a musician and educator in Spain, which is quite successful and fruitful. 

The idea to record an album featuring the saxophone playing with a string quartet and improvising to its accompaniment fascinated Olejniczak for many years and was finally realized in 2010, when this album was recorded in Poland with the Polish Apertus String Quartet. The music was mostly composed and arranged by the great Polish violinist / composer Krzesimir Debski, the leader of String Connection, with Olejniczak contributing three compositions and two additional compositions being by other composers. The overall concept is to create a synthesis between Jazz and contemporary Classical music, with Olejniczak, who plays tenor and soprano saxophones, improvising at length over a pre-arranged background performed by the string quartet. 

This is definitely "serious" music, which has absolutely nothing to do with the popular sax & strings muzak, a music which requires attentive listening and quite an intellectual effort to follow. Olejniczak is a very experienced improviser and his tangled and convoluted solos are often challenging, and with the complex layers of the music played by the strings the total musical experience might easily prove a bit too much for a casual listener. Serious music connoisseurs however, should be able to enjoy this music profoundly. It does require several listening sessions, but the effort is definitely worth it. Such musical journeys are rare and Olejniczak (and Debski, who is definitely a major force behind this music) deserves praise and respect for pulling it through and making "different choices" indeed. It won't probably prove to be a very "popular" album, but this is exactly the reason why such music should be made, especially at a time when Artistry is fighting for its very existence. Wholeheartedly recommended!

Track listing:
1. Poise
2. New Romantic Expectation
3. Radkowi
4. Viuda Negra
5. Reminiscence
6. Cantabile in h-moll
7. Music for Soprano Saxophone and String Quartet
8. Canzonetta
9. New Romantic Temptation

By Adam Baruch

czwartek, 28 czerwca 2012

Piotr Lemanczyk - Freep (2005)

Piotr Lemanczyk

Piotr Lemańczyk - double bass
Maciek Grzywacz - guitar
Jacek Kochan - drums
Jakob Dinesen - tenor sax
Zbigniew Namysłowski - alto sax (3, 8)

Freep (2005)

Piotr Lemańczyk belongs to best musicians in Poland playing mainstream jazz. All his projects are very similar to each other in terms of concept and sound. It is basically one album even if issued on many CDs and featuring different line-up. This changes in personell are thus very important and Lemańczyk being aware of that carefully picks up his collaborators. He already recorded with Jerry Bergonzi, Tim Hagans or recently Dave Kikoski. His Polish companions are no less prominents with such illoustrious musicians as Maciej Sikała or Adam Pierończyk taking part in his projects. This album is no less interesting from this point of view as others. From abroad Lemańczyk invited saxophonist Jacob Dinesen, one of the leading musicians on Danish scene who recorded with, for example, Paul Motian. As for Polish artists this disc features legendary saxophonist Zbigniew Namysłowski and just such info should persuade anyone to pay attention to this diisc. Apart from them excellent drummer Jacek Kochan and talented guitarist Maciej Grzywacz appear.

Music produced by this team does not dissappoint. Its perfectly played, deep, refined. Basically cool in mood, it clearly draws inspiration from ECM jazz. Soothing, relaxing, yet no spurficial I shall appeal to many lovers of mainstream jazz.  

Track listing:
1. Inner urge
2. Interference
3. First trip/ for k
4. P. mood
5. Things neverdone
6. Homeless
7. Explorer
8. Fascination c

By Maciej Nowotny

Perplex - Newborn (1995)

Perplex (band)

Yeshy Mazzoll - Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone
Heinrich 'Doc' Chastca - Bass
Stefan Hölker - Percussion

  Newborn (1995)

Jerzy Mazzoll, a bass clarinetist, improviser, leader of such significant bands as Artythmic Perfection and Niebieski Lotnik, one of creators of yass movement is basically unknown outside Poland. The closest to changing this situation he probably was when recorded this album. In 1995, at the hayday of yass movement, he left Poland for some time and went to Western Europe. He met there with famous avantgarde drummer Tony Oxley and established connection with his then ongoing project called Celebration Orchestra. This meeting resulted in Mazzoll creating a band called Perplex which comprised muscians related to above mentioned Orchestra that is a drummer Stefan Hölker and bassist Heinrich Chastca. Tony Oxley has produced this album. 

The outcome of this cooperation is interesting and marks important stage in development of Mazzoll ideas. This stage may be described as departure from punk rock influenced beginnings of yass movement toward modern improvised music rooted in atonal classics as well as in avant jazz and... Mazzoll own ideas. Interesingly unlike other protagonists of yass movement grouped in Miłość band Mazzoll decided not to use in this music typical mainstream or free jazz language. By making such a decision he may be seen as forerunner of today's revival of improvised music in Poland which clearly goes in direction he so many years before pointed out.

Let me finally add a few words by Tony Oxley about this album:"Whilst you are contemplaiting this disc, you might already have at least some idea of what you wont hear. This is always a most important moment - what will I hear? ... Each piece taking on its own identity, sudden shift of sound and texture, the essence of improvised activity."

Track listing:
1. Jump On One Leg 3:14
2. Sp - One 0:15
3. Sp - Two 0:31
4. Sp - Three 0:21
5. Sp - Four 0:24
6. Sp - Five 1:09
7. Sp - Six 0:52
8. Frolic 4:31
9. Newborn 3:30
10. Picnic 4:50
11. Tibet 7:03
12. Mister T:O 1:48
13. Arhytmic 3:11
14. Cosmic 0:26
15. Nostalgia C 6:53
16. Ceciliade 5:10
17. Pulsate 2:28
18. In Ourselves 3:03
19. Puzzle 4:27
20. No Stress 3:27
21. Scorpians Dance 3:43
22. Sanctify 3:01
23. Jewish - Polka 1:57

By Maciej Nowotny

wtorek, 26 czerwca 2012

Lech Wieleba Poetic Jazz Concept - Open The Heart (2002); Danzarina (2005)

Lech Wieleba Poetic Jazz Concept

Jan-Peter Klöpfel - Flugenlhorn
André Morner - Piano
Ali Husseini - Drums
Lech Wieleba - Doublebass
String Quintett

Open The Heart (2002)

Lech Wieleba Poetic Jazz Concept

Jan-Peter Klöpfel - Flugenlhorn
Vladislav Sendecki - Piano
Pawel Wieleba - Drums/Percussion
Lech Wieleba - Doublebass

 Danzarina (2005)

There's Cool Jazz, Free Jazz, Bebop, Swing ... and now there is Poetic Jazz. The brainchild of bassist and composer Lech Wieleba, POETIC JAZZ is a collaboration between four superb musicians in search of ways to let their jazz roots flower. Their latest program and CD, Danzarina, features 12 tracks that invite listeners into a world of "musical short stories." 

A sultry breeze on a Brazilian shore, leaves falling on a rainy New York afternoon, an intoxicating serenade in North Africa, a cabrio ride through Paris.... Danzarina creates these inner landscapes ... Wieleba's selection of his three collaborators was very precise. "Everyone brings a certain color to the picture that is POETIC JAZZ," says Wieleba. He met Jan-Peter Klöpfel at a funeral for a fellow musician and found his way of "creating" tones instantly appealing. Pianist Enno Dugnus has shared with Wieleba "a long musical friendship." Completing the group is Wieleba's son, Pawel, who, as the youngest member, has helped the ensemble "break borders." "I looked for these musicians for a long time," says Wieleba. "They are the soul I needed for POETIC JAZZ." POETIC JAZZ beckons to a new audience, not only to those from the jazz corner, but to anyone who can feel these "musical short stories" from the heart. 


sobota, 23 czerwca 2012

Oles, Trzaska, Oles - Mikro Music (2001)

Oles, Trzaska, Oles

Mikołaj Trzaska - alto & soprano saxophone, basson clarinet
Marcin Oleś - double bass
Bartlomiej Brat Oleś - drums

Mikro Music (2001)

"(...) serious playing, serious, impetuous music in which there are less and less unnecessary notes. Almost an essence of the musical content; a real pleasure. All the musicians play with no haste, allowing us to listen to the smallest fragments and giving a chance to get into the music, they do not try to catch the listener with one reach and give a chance to slowly built his own contact with what he listens to and be lead with the sonic events."

"(...) everything is subordinated to discipline here and everything happens as part of the discipline. The music calmly goes on, not pushed forward by any classical drum break or a double bass ostinato. Individual compositions have no distinct melodies or rhythm. They are simply happening. Interrelation of musicians, individual sounds, are far more interesting."

"The ex-yass scene has not put out such great record for a long time. Miko'aj Trzaska found sensational partners - brothers Ole' - I swear they are the best rhythm section one can currently listen to - faultless as mathematicians and colorists, performing rhythmic meditations on the move. It is the pulsating rhythmic spider web that defines the meditative, chamber, intimate mood and space of the record (...). Superb album, where traces of sacral ethno, jazz, contemporary chamber music and improvisation bear fruit in the form of individual atmosphere, which communicates with the listener and seduces him as direct, intimate transmission of emotions. One of the Polish albums of the year. A step towards completely unexpected areas." 
(Aktivist/Antena Krzyku)

Track listing:
1. Cztery zioła
2. Psie pola w Polsce
3. Radiowozy w słońcu
4. Interzone
5. Partyzanttt
6. Koszer
7. Mikro muzik I
8. Mikro muzik II
9. Morski
10. Senn

piątek, 22 czerwca 2012

Niebieski Lotnik - Love Surprise (2000)

Niebieski Lotnik (band)

Mazzoll - clarinet, tao te bells
Tomasz Gwinciński - drums
Wojciech Mazolewski - bass guitar

Love Surprise (2000)

I guess that title which may be translated as "Blue Pilot" refers in typical for Mazzoll ironic way to Holy Spirit. And it is fully justified! As on best recordings with "black jazz" this music is authentic, spontaneous and free. Yet it is very important to underline that this affinity with great recordings of Afroamerican jazz is only in spirit not in form of music which is something original and by no means imitation or counterfeit (as in many cases in European version of jazz). This is what we call in Poland yass: distantly rooted in jazz, sometimes directly opposite to it, taking very much from European classics but also rock, pop and folk. Probably the most interesting music phenomenon in Polish music in twenty or so years. If you are interested in it this is perfect starting point as this album maybe be seen as one of the most important for the movement (together with albums by groups like Miłość, Maestro Trytony or Arhytmic Perfection). 

The band consists of three musicians of whom dominant remains Jerzy Mazzoll playing on bass clarinet. If you ever listened to Eric Dolphy you will immadietely recognize by whom he is inspired. His improvisations are free but not without directions. He is an accomplished musician in every sense and his charsima keeps all these material together. But the success of this album would be impossible without excellent rhythm section which follows his meandering line. On bass guitar we find his younger brother Wojtek Mazolewski who later made stunning carrer with his band Pink Freud and guitarist Tomek Gwińciński who however on this album plays mainly on drums. Their support is first class and these three gentlemen rock and roll so hard that I cannot do anything else than wholeheartedly recommend this album!

Track listing:
1. Gdze jest B
2. Nabożeństwo godzi
3. Ryba piła
4. Sypiając z wrogiem
5. Stare dobre czasy?
6. Goły okiem
7. Spruty ja sweter
8. Nowa rasa ps
9. Bezołowiowa woda
10. R
11. Święta lutownica
12. Morskie potwory powracają do domu
13. Podkoszulki mistrz
14. Twarz kt
15. Zwierzęta domowe (kr
16. Nie wierzę skąd jestem
17. Boże ofiara (śmierć w

By Maciej Nowotny

Andrzej Jagodziński / Marcin Masecki - Tribute To Marek & Wacek (Polonia Records, 1998)

Andrzej Jagodziński / Marcin Masecki

Marcin Masecki - piano
Andrzej Jagodziński - piano
Wojciech Pulcyn - bass
Grzegorz Grzyb - drums

Tribute To Marek & Wacek (Polonia Records, 1998)

That is kind of enterprise in Polish Jazz one could only dream of. Old generation master Andrzej Jagodziński meets young prodigy Marcin Masecki. But instead of dreams-come-true music it resulted in nightmare. Their styles so competely do not fit each other that in order to save this session they had to make music as shallow, unimaginative and trivial as possible. I am witing all this without satisfaction. I had great expectances towards meeting of both these artists, the more so the idea of this project is very interesting. Marek & Wacek was legendary piano due in Polish music which was verging gracefully between pop, classical and jazz music. Imagination and flair they displayed in their music surely deserves tribute but... not of that kind...

Track listing:
1. Wesoły wieśniak (Schumann)
2. Symfonia nr 4 „Włoska” (Mendelssohn-Bartholdy)
3. Uwertura do opery „Wilhelm Tell” (Rossini)
4. What'll I Do (Berlin)
5. 24 Kaprys (Paganini)
6. Koncert a-moll (Grieg)
7. Blues (Masecki)
8. Suita „Peer Gynt” (Grieg)
9. Badineria (Bach)
10. America (Bernstein)
11. Kołysanka (Brahms)

By Maciej Nowotny

Maciej Grzywacz - Forces Within (2006)

Maciek Grzywacz - guitar

Maciej Sikała - saxophone
Piotr Lemańczyk - double bass
Tyler Hornby - drums

Forces Within (2006)

To be perfectly honest, it seems as if the amount of excellent jazz groups appearing practically every year now throughout the world, including in Poland, is enough to make fans dizzy ( - and where's this 'death of jazz' one hears about?!), while that of reviewers - particularly those who constantly strive to stay on top of it all, as well as the ever more rancorous ones - is capable of causing states of depressive anxiety. Not only is there not enough time in a lifetime to listen to all of the music out there that's worth listening to - from time to time, at least, one would like to get a hold of something that deserves a solid panning and pan it, but there's nothing of the sort here! 

A group that doesn't by any means deserve panning is the quartet of guitarist Maciek Grzywacz. The album's character is conveyed well by its title - the music is impressive in its boldness, energy and clarity. Its communicative power comes from a mastery of those elements that are specific to jazz, primarily a rhythmic unity among all of the musicians, that specific sort of togetherness in time that isn't present in European art music or in rock. Besides that there are the dynamics, sound, phrasing - everything on a high level of quality.

It's difficult to praise any of the musicians specifically - they all work together excellently, and shine in their improvisations. It's hard not to point out, however, that it's good that Tyler Hornby - as opposed to anyone else - was in the drummer's chair. I don't recall having had the occasion to hear this drummer prior to this, so a natural question that came to my mind was - why was an imported musician brought into the quartet for this project? After all, Poland has a few drummers now that aren't bad at all. The issue was clarified for me immediately at the beginning of the album, after which I only became more and more convinced that the line-up was ideal for this project. Hornby performs the fundamental tasks of a jazz drummer perfectly, maintaining the rhythmic nucleus of the music with an iron hand, while being constantly active, supportive, and filling out the background with sensitivity and imagination. In tandem with Lemańczyk, Tyler Hornby creates a stable and powerful fundament for Grzywacz and Sikała, leaving them free and unfettered to build their improvisational tales. "Forces Within" is an excellent album, worthy of recommendation to all mainstream jazz lovers. 

Track listing:
1. Right Balance [08:43]
2. Forces Within [06:58]
3. Chinook [06:19]
4. 26-2 [05:39]
5. More Than Four [06:37]
6. Central Park West [05:35]
7. Half an Apple [05:44]

By Robert Buczek

czwartek, 21 czerwca 2012

Mateusz Kolakowski - Ad Libitum (2007)

Mateusz Kołakowski - piano

Ad Libitum (2007)

Mateusz is 21 years old and currently studying classical piano at the music Academy of Katowice. He was the winner of 3rd prize at the International Chopin Competition in Antonin, Poland (1996), and at the Padereweski Competition in Katuuzy (1997). In 1997, he was made a laureate of "Vertuosi per musica di pianoforte" (Usti). He has also performed Beethoven & Mendelssohn concertos with the Polish Youth Symphony Orchestra in Erkelenz, Germany.

Mateusz toured the USA every year from 1998 to 2005, playing in places such as The Knitting Factory in New York City; The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, California; Sandy's in Chicago, Illinois; and the 7th Vail Jazz Festival in Vail, Colorado. In 2002, he received a scholarship for the summer Jazz program at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

At the 2002 Martial Solal competition in Paris, Mateusz won the prize for "The most promising pianist." He has participated in the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland twice, receiving an honorable mention in the Jazz Piano Competition in 2002 and playing with the Oles brothers as the house pianist. During his run as house pianist, Mateusz performed in 14 trio concerts in the "Montreux Jazz Club," playing with Stanley Jordan, among others.

In 2003, his solo recital in Prague was recorded by Czech Radio during the "8th International Festival of Jazz Piano." A CD of the performance "14th Spring" was released in Poland by Jazz Forum. He won the "Jazz Frederyk" in 2002, a prize awarded by the Polish Ministry of Culture. Mateusz has received wide acclaim from leading jazz critics:

"![Mateusz] has accumulated and been blessed with the wisdom to use his harmonic knowledge to achieve believable jazz ends." -Doug Ramsey, Jazz Times (2003)"I was impressed with his touch, harmonic sense, and in particular, his poise-remarkable for one so young."-

Track listing:
1 Nardis 4:48
2 Landmark 9:24
3 14th Spring 9:03
4 Sophisticated Lady 8:45
5 Well You Needn't 12:02
6 Double Kiss 4:15
7 Free for Two 7:17

By Dan Morgenstern

Kulenty / Masecki - Przeslanie (2006)

Kulenty / Masecki

Michał Kulenty - soprano, alto & tenor saxophones, flute
Marcin Masecki - piano

Przeslanie (2006)

I am great admirer of pianist Marcin Masecki talent. I can recommend to everyone his last album "Chopin Chopin Chopin" (2011) as much as many of his other projects, especially his astonishing piano solo recordings "Bob" (2009) and "John" (2010). Starting back from his latest discs I decided to discover what he recorded in times when I did not know him. I found there true peals like by many regarded as his best album "Live in Mińsk Mazowiecki" (2006) recorded with Garth Stevenson and Ziv Ravitz or "2525252525" (2008) where he was accompanied by Macio Moretti and very talented guitarist Raphael Rogiński. Saying all these positive things I must add that not all his albums which I listened to were equally interesting. It is important to note that there are not among them totally bad recordings. His talent is of such calibre that even on very doubtful projects he can somehow survive. And such is unfortunatekly the case with this album. 

It is typical piano-saxophone duo where Masecki has Michał Kulenty as partner. Kulenty style may be described as lyrical when you like such a music or weepy and sentimental if you (like me) are less interested in such moods. Unfortunately Kulenty style dominates this music which results in yet another sad and gloomy piece of jazzy music while Masecki sharp talons are showed by him very, very rare. The outcome of this meeting is therefore rather disappointing though I admit that for lovers of such "sentimental moods" listening to this album probably could be satisfactory experience as musicianship is great and tunes well-written.

Track listing:
1. Wierność[07:22]
2. Siwy baran, czorny baran[04:24]
3. Klasyczny romantyzm[04:34]
4. Eat Slow, Think Fast, Die Happy...[03:59]
5. Always And Forever[07:31]
6. Żeńże wołki żeń[06:25]
7. Jeszcze chwila[04:03]
8. Strumień miłości[06:06]
9. Wszystko jest możliwe[03:24]
10. Zawieja[06:52]

By Maciej Nowotny

Gaba Kulka - Hat, Rabbit (2009)

Gaba Kulka 

vocals, piano, keyboards - Gaba
drums - Robert Rasz
guitar - Piotr Aleksandrowicz
bass, cowbell - Kornel Jasiński
violin (Lady Celeste) - Konstanty Kulka
additional vocals (Aaa, Niejasności) - Czesław Mozil
saxophone, flute - Tomasz Duda
trumpet - Tomasz Ziętek
trombone - Marcin Muras

Hat, Rabbit (2009)

'Hat, rabbit' went gold the year it was released (2009), it was also nominated for Best Alternative Album (at the Polish record industry awards - Fryderyki), garnered high critical praise, and won over a great number of fans, beginning a new chapter for Gaba. 

Most notably, it was her first departure from solo-piano sound - 'Hat, rabbit' is most of all a band record (recorded with her longtime stage allies, Raalya), and a live-band energy permeates almost every song. And while it has its share of mysterious, dark ballads, the over-the-top-cabaret-rock prevails. Think 'Queen', and you won't be far from the mark! 

This time, we've included an extra track - 'Devil's Headlights', which was recorded for the album but dropped shortly before release (mostly because we wanted to keep the album a certain length, and partly because it didn't fit in). And now here it is! 

Track listing:
2. Heard the Light
3. Aaa
4. Niejasnośc
5. Love Me
6. Challenger
7. Emily
8. Kara Niny
9. Lady Celeste
10. Propaganda
11. Bosso
12. Słuchaj
13. Over

środa, 20 czerwca 2012

Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz, Michal Miskiewicz - Trio (ECM, 2005)

Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz, Michal Miskiewicz

Marcin Wasilewski piano
Slawomir Kurkiewicz double-bass
Michal Miskiewicz drums

Trio (ECM, 2005)

Out of left field. Check. Three Poles, who form the backup group to trumpet genius, Thomasz Stanko. But who would've predicted that they'd move the music beyond their boss and master? (Well, setting modesty aside, I did say, in my review of Stanko's Suspended Night, "As impressive as Stanko is here . . . the real heroes are his Polish [backup group].")

Weird intersection of ravishing beauty and hardcore rigor. Check. These guys, although they can and do hang with the most gorgeous of the recent ECM trio outings, e.g., the Tord Gustavson Trio, Anderson/Tsabropoulos/Marshall, and Taylor/Johnson/Baron, also have a similarly rigorous, deeply delved jazz sensibility. Where they got it from, who knows. Endlessly listening to Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett sides clandestinely available in Poland? Tuning in to Radio Free America jazz broadcasts? Encountering likeminded musicians as they toured the Free World with their trumpet master? Somehow connecting with, absorbing, and transmuting Ryuichi Sakamoto's unique musical vision? It matters little. The important thing is, they've got it.

Absolute assurance in the conceptualization and execution of their unique musical vision. Check. This is jazz that I've never heard before, but, paradoxically, have heard my entire adult life. Shades of past and present masters (Evans, Jarrett, Werner, Lafaro, Baron, Haden, Motian, Erskine, Higgins), dancing, lilting, singing, swinging in their own glorious idiom, resonating with jazz icons of the first water, but somehow uniquely showing forth their own hard-won musical insights.

Music that's just too beautiful, but that you don't want to quit listening to (unlike saccharine sweet jazz lite, that initially beguiles but soon wears out its welcome). Check. I, literally, can't get this stinkin' disc off my player. It keeps working its way back in, no matter how hard I try to listen to other stuff.

Music that continually surprises, even as it becomes more and more listener-friendly. Check. Each time I hear this astounding disc, I get something new out of it. But, weirdly, not as some kind of jazz LESSON; just as the consequence of listening with ears open and encountering music of great generosity clothed in almost simplistic garb. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis: The door to jazz is low, and you must stoop to enter. And its foremost practitioners have mastered the off-hand grandeur that characterizes this music at its, paradoxically, most exalted and most humble moments.

Seldom does any disc, no matter from what genre or idiom, rise to the heights this music naturally walks in and among. One thinks of Omar Sosa at the summit of his ecstatic expression (Mulatos and Pictures of Soul), or, perhaps, of Peter Epstein's magical The Invisible or Nascer, or the Egberto Gismonti of Magico or Sanfona, or Safa. And few others. For me to include this altogether marvelous music among these masters means I have placed it in some kind of veritable musical Pantheon.

And I have.

So if you don't pick up on it, don't blame me. I gave you fair warning. 

Track listing:
1. Trio Conversation (introduction)
2. Hyperballad
3. Roxane’s Song
4. K.T.C.
5. Plaza Real
6. Shine
7. Green Sky
8. Sister's Song
9. Drum Kick
10. Free-bop
11. Free Combinations For
12. Three Instruments
13. Entropy
14. Trio Conversation (the end)

By Jan P. Dennis

Maciej Sikala Trio - Maciej Sikala Trio (2009)

Maciej Sikala Trio

Maciej Sikała - soprano, teno & c-melody saxophones
Piotr Lemańczyk - bass
Tomasz Sowiński - drums

Maciej Sikala Trio (2009)

Saxophonist Maciej Sikała belongs together with Piotr Baron or Wojtek Staroniewicz to first league of Polish mainstream saxophonists. His every project is on the highest possible muscial level and although albums which he records do not differ much from each other they always brings some joy into my heart and I am waiting for them impatiently. Especially when he is accompanied by musicians of similar calibre and that is the case with this album. Both bassist Piotr Lemańczyk and drummer Tomek Sowiński are among the best on his position in Poland (and would be anywhere). Not to be missed by all maisntream lovers.

Track listing: B Natural, Please; Just Two of Them; Moonlight Caravan; Like Joe; Steve Is Coming; Slow 12; Thanks Daddy; Gdańsk 2008 

By Maciej Nowotny

Maciej Grzywacz - Fourth Dimension (2009)

Maciek Grzywacz - guitar

Maciej Obara - alto saxophone
Michał Barański - bass
Łukasz Żyta - drums

Fourth Dimension (2009)

As on other albums of combos led by guitarist Maciej Grzywacz (check "Things Never Done" or "Black Wine") we may find here creatively treated mainstream jazz. Elegant, sophisticated, intellectual are adjectives that come to my mind when I think about his music. All are positive according to me. But one more should be added to stress its collective character. Always being the landmark of best jazz efforts this recording stands out for perfect interplay between muscians. Musicians who are by the way among most prominent on Polish scene. Bassist Michał Barański and drummer Łukasz Żyta create one of three best rhythm sections in Poland and can be heard on innumerable amount of discs. Maciej Obara is still rather young but his career has gained momentem since he collaborated with Tomasz Stańko on his New Balladyna Project. All in all, this is at least satisfactory listening experience.

Track listing:
1. Element Of Truth[08:17]
2. More Than Six[10:18]
3. At The Beginning[08:25]
4. Fourth Dimension[11:34]
5. Formula[08:01]
6. Part Of The Plan[09:37]
7. I Know It When I See It[08:05]

By Maciej Nowotny

Konrad Kucz, Gaba Kulka - Sleep Walk (2009)

Gaba Kulka - vocal

Konrad Kucz - electronics

Sleep Walk (2009)

Kucz/Kulka is a project of three artists. Intriguing and unique Gaba Kulka, one of the most talented and talked about young Polish singers who accepted an invitation two years ago by Konrad Kucz to join the project he has been working on. Konrad is composer, producer and the master of ambient. They were working on the Album for several months, putting the pieces together, when the project was joined by Bogdan Kndracki (one of the most popular producers in Poland) who added the final flavorse and put the finishing touches to it.

Album Kucz/Kulka Sleepwalk is 40 minutes of music difficult to categorize in any way. It is one of the most interesting albums created in the past several years, unque and very special as it stands at the crossing where niche/alternative meets pop.

Track listing:
1. "Electric Sheep" – 3:02
2. "Dead Yet" – 3:49
3. "The Clock" – 3:37
4. "Got a Song" – 3:14
5. "International Man of Misery" – 3:35
6. "Keep It Down" – 2:32
7. "Island" – 2:37
8. "Recurring" – 4:04
9. "Maestro" – 2:10
10. "Celluloid" – 3:47
11. "Your Drum" – 3:32
12. "Man of Winter" – 4:13


wtorek, 19 czerwca 2012

Postaremczak, Wojcinski, Kugel - Affinity (2012)

Postaremczak, Wójciński, Kugel

Paweł Postaremczak - soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
Klaus Kugel - drums
Ksawery Wójciński - bass

Affinity (2012)

Musicians taking part in this recording appeared on arguably most interesting free jazz and avantgarde albums of last year 2011: saxophonist Paweł Postaremczak on Hera's "Where My Complete Beloved Is" (2011) and drummer Klaus Kugel on Robert Kusiołek's "Nuntium" (2011). It is interesting to note however that basssist Ksawery Wójciński was involved in both these projects. Then it may be no surprise that he is spiritus movens behind this project although he stresses it is partnership not leadership. 

In purely musical terms music on this disc is much closer to Hera than to Kusiołek. Both extremely interesting they however differ from each other as day and night. While Hera took us on ecstatic journey where eruptions of energy are accompanied by spontaneus and forceful improvisations. Kusiołek was minimalistic effort where time and space wele laid apart as much as possible to allow listener to enjoy the silence. 

Regardless these obvious differences there is yet something both these memorable recordings and "Affinity" have in common. I like to think that it is something which is becoming distinctive feature of music created by young Polish artists who play free jazz. Yes, it is free, spontaneuous and creative. But at the same time it is not without some plan, not without control, not without direction. It somehow tries to combine water and fire. And not without a success! That why it goes to elite class of our recommended albums of the month.

Track listing:
1. Transcend The Nearness 8:59
2. Too Close To Be Close 33:35
3. Amalgamation 15:14

By Maciej Nowotny

poniedziałek, 18 czerwca 2012

Andrzej Przybielski - W sferze dotyku (In the sphere of touch) (1984)

Andrzej Przybielski - trumpet

W sferze dotyku (In the sphere of touch) (1984)

I was always fascinated by a person of Doubting Thomas. Unlike majority of people he seemed to me no stupid and vulgar man who could not believe in Jesus resurrection. I felt that in deepest sense his desire to actually touch his Master is the essence of humanity. Because in the sphere created by touch all most important human affairs are taking place. Starting from mothers hug soon after our birth. To first kiss exchanged between lovers. First blow you receive from enemies. And so on until the end when we can only pray to have some friendly soul to eventually close our eyes.

But can one somehow touch music? Well, I may surprise you, but I think it is possible. When music really touches me not only my mind answers but my body resonates as well. Honestly without my body answering to such a call by stepping, dancing, moving around I feel a bit like Doubting Thomas. I simply do not believe in music which leave me bodyless, ethereal, unreal. I am flesh and bone. I live and one day I will die. Music invades my soma and we are both in kind of erotical relation.

Well, I believe I will stop here. What is the point of talking about all these things? No point obviously. It is only a pretext to cast more light on music whose rehearsal is no ordinary experience. Music which touches innermost of my soul and trancends this moment into. Into what? Check it for yourself. Confront yourself with piece of art that is overstepping all boundaries of muscical genres, of space, of time. Clearly one of the most powerful recordings in history of Polish Jazz remains uknknown almost to everybody as much in Poland as abroad. Obscure to the absurd point that it is impossible for me to reconstruct the full line-up of of musicians who took part in this astonishing session. I know for sure only that it featured trumpeter Andrzej Przybielski. If you want to get to know more about him check my review of his "Open Session" (2011) or Adam Baruch's text about "De Profundis" (2011). Hero he was and damned, cursed, rejected. Two years after his death no less than throughout his whole life.

Track listing: 1. Promotion 2. Krzykousty 3. Free Bop Towarzyski 4. Big Jack 5. W Sferze Dotyku 6. On

Full album:

By Maciej Nowotny

Sopot-Hamburg Jazz Quintet - Sopot-Hamburg Jazz Quintet (Not Two, 2002)

Sopot-Hamburg Jazz Quintet 

Maciej Sikała - saxes
Tadeusz Jakubowski - saxes
Dirk Bleese - piano
Olaf Casimir - bass
Tomasz Sowiński - drums

Sopot-Hamburg Jazz Quintet (Not Two, 2002)

The Sopot-Hamburg Quintet is a band formed by musicians well-known in their native country’s. “The Polish side” is represented by Maciej Sikala and Tomasz Sowinski, and partly also by Tadeusz Jakubowski who was born in Poland but living in Germany, and “the German side” by Dirk Bleese and Olaf Casimir.

The Polish fans of jazz probably do not need any close information on Maciej Sikala. It’s enough to mention, that he was a member of the first formation of legendary Milosc group, which recorded two records with the contribution of the late famous Lester Bowie (“Not Two” and “Talking about Life and Death”). He collaborated with innumerable Polish and other players, initially being noted in the yass circles, but for a few years focusing his musical sensitivity on jazz and in the first place on mainstream. He has also been the leading Polish tenor sax player in annual readers pool at Jazz Forum magazine for years. On this record he is accompanied by the other sax player – Tadeusz Jakubowski, his school mate, who emigrated to Germany and has been very successful there, wining international awards.

The pianist is Dirk Bleese, and the double bassist is Olaf Casimir. These are again two well-known musicians in Germany. It’s enough to mention that Olaf Casimir collaborated with a great number of recognised players like Mercer Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Chico Freeman, Arthur Blythe, Idres Muhammad, Till Bronner, Tal Farlow czy Buddy de FrancoSo, the interests of Dirk Bleese are not only jazz and performing with such famous players as Gary Thomas and Walter Morris, but also working on theatre performances and musicals.

The youngest participant of this session is promising Tomek Sowiński, who is known as Maciej Sikala’s collaborator (playing together with his trio on “The Sheep is Found”), and recently on “Sanktoria” which he recorded with together Emil Kowalski, Piotr Lemanski and Darisz Herbasz. From time to time he is a drummer in The Leszek Mozdzer’s Trio.

So, the instruments used during the session is the return to the above mentioned band Milosc. However, the music presented by this record is different from what the Milosc made. There are seven compositions by the members of the group (three by Sikala and by Jakubowski and one by Casmir) which refer in their character to mainstream. Nearly all the compositions are relaxing at the highest level; mostly being of slow-tempo, frequently bluesy and quiet, slow improvisations. I am sure that this music will find quite a lot of listeners looking for a respite in the best, possible musical surroundings.

Track listing:
1. Antoni's Blues
2. Palatino
3. One For John
4. Lonely Boy
5. November '99
6. Vincent's Blues
7. Pu-Puu

transl. Tadeusz Kantor & Pawel Baranowski

Michal Urbaniak – Fusion III (Columbia Records, 1975)

Michał Urbaniak - electric violin, violin synthesizer

Urszula Dudziak - voice, percussion, electronic percussion
Wlodek Gulgowski - electric piano, Moog, and electric organ
Anthony Jackson - bass guitar
Gerald Brown - drums
Steve Gadd - drums
Larry Coryell - guitar
John Abercrombie - guitar
Joe Caro - guitar
Bernard Kafka - voice

Fusion III (Columbia Records, 1975)

This is the 3rd and last album released in the US on the Columbia label by Polish violinist / composer Michal Urbaniak. In retrospect it is also one of the best Fusion albums ever recorded on this planet. Urbaniak, a veteran of the Polish Jazz scene, first came to prominence as the member of the legendary groups led by the Godfather of Polish Jazz, pianist / composer Krzysztof Komeda. While with Komeda, Urbaniak played the saxophone and switched to violin only after founding his own group in the late 1960s, when he also changed his musical direction from Modern / Free Jazz to Fusion, inspired by the groundbreaking innovations created at the time by Miles Davis. 

In his group he included his wife, the extraordinary singer Urszula Dudziak and together they quickly developed a completely unique type of Fusion, which was light-years ahead of anything else happening in that genre at the time anywhere in the world. Mixing Jazz, Rock, Folklore and Avant-Garde vocals, they established a completely new approach to composition and multilayered complexity, as documented on the two albums the group recorded as part of the legendary "Polish Jazz" series of albums, which was simply brillant.

Frustrated by the state of affairs in his country, which suffered under a Socialist Regime and harsh economic conditions, Urbaniak, like most of his colleagues, constantly looked for an opportunity to leave Poland and establish a career behind the Iron Curtain. He managed initially to record a couple of albums in West Germany, but the real break came when Columbia offered him a recording deal. He and his wife left Poland and settled in the USA, as did several other Polish Jazz musicians at the time, like his ex group member pianist / composer Adam Makowicz for example. The three albums Urbaniak recorded for Columbia (and several more for other US labels, especially the dazzling "Funk Factory" album recorded shortly after this one and also reissued on Wounded Bird) were outstanding and simply much better than anything the local scene could muster, but unfortunately Urbaniak's US career never really took off, same as the careers of all other Polish Jazz musicians who tried to make it there, in spite of their immense talents. The reason was simply the narrow-mindedness of the US Jazz community (listeners and critics alike), which considered Jazz to be exclusively an American Art Form and failed to recognize anything originating outside of the US as artistically valid and meaningful, even if it hit them in the face. 

On this album Urbaniak is accompanied by top US Fusion players like guitarist John Abercrombie, bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Steve Gadd, as well as Polish compatriot Keyboardist Wlodek Gulgowski. Guitarist Larry Coryell guests on one track, guitarist Joe Caro guests on another and Polish vocalist Bernard Kafka guests on yet another track. Drummer Gerald Brown replaces Gadd on two tracks. Dudziak's vocals are simply out of this world and alone are worth listening to this album repeatedly. Urbaniak wrote almost all the dazzling music except for three tracks: a Dudziak improvisation, a superb composition by Polish saxophonist Zbigniew Namyslowski, which fits this album's mood like a glove and one tune by Gulgowski. As already said, this is timeless, heavenly, unparalleled music, which I've been listening to in the last almost 40 years without any trace of getting tired by it any time soon. This is an absolutely essential Fusion music, and anybody who has not heard this music does not know the true meaning of Fusion. God bless Wounded Bird for finally releasing this divine album on CD!

Track listing:
1. Chinatown (part 1) (Urbaniak)[05:24]
2. Kujaviak Goes Funky (Z. Namysłowski)[06:12]
3. Roksana (Urbaniak)[05:42]
4. Crazy Kid (Dudziak)[02:35]
5. Prehistoric Bird (Gulgowski)[05:19]
6. Bloody Kishka (Urbaniak)[04:21]
7. Cameo (Urbaniak)[04:41]
8. Stretch (Urbaniak)[06:20]
9. Metroliner (Urbaniak)[04:44]
10. Chinatown (Part II)[03:56]

By Adam Baruch

niedziela, 17 czerwca 2012

Kurylewicz, Warska, Niemen - Muzyka teatralna i telewizyjna (1971)

Kurylewicz, Warska, Niemen

Jacek Bednarek - double bass
Władysław Jagiełło - percussion
Andrzej Kurylewicz - piano
Andrzej Przybielski - trumpet
Czesław Niemen, Wanda Warska - vocals

Muzyka teatralna i telewizyjna (1971)

A true labour of love which covers Niemen's "affair" with the theatre & TV dating back to the 70s. Niemen's music and singing, easy and classy conducting by maestro Kurylewicz, a bit sad and melancholic but clear voice of Wanda Warska. Plus poetry of Norwid, Slowacki, Mickiewicz... A bit jazzy, nostalgic, old fashioned maybe - but tons of class and style! Must for any admirer of Niemen.

Track listing:
1. Wieczory Niekochanych (The Night Of The Unloved)
2. Czułość (Tenderness)
3. Pietrucha
4. Mazurek (Mazurka)
5. Zapytaj (Do Ask)
6. Romanca Cherubina (Cherubin's Romance)
7. Pan Tadeusz
8. W Weronie (At Verona)
9. Taka Głęboka Przy Fontannach Cisza (The Silence At Fountains)
10. Mój Psalm (My Psalm)
11. Przy Kościólku (At The Country Church)
12. Jesień (Autumn)
13. Dobranoc (Goodnight)
14. Kołysanka (Lullaby)

By Alexey Golovanov

Kose, Holownia, Jonkisz, Suchanek - Just Friends (2009)

Kose, Holownia, Jonkisz, Suchanek

Sibel Köse - vocal
Bogdan Holownia - piano
Bronislaw Suchanek - bass
Kazimierz Jonkisz drums

Just Friends (2009)

Turkish singer Sibel Kose backed by Polish top rhythm section in persons of double bassist Bronisław Suchanek and drummer Kazimierz Jonkich, together with pianist Bogdan Hołownia, deliver what may be described as perfect piece of classical jazz music. What I mean by this term? Music that does not pretend to be living and contemporary but reproduces with love and dedication what jazz was in golden era during 50ties and 60ties last century. To rehearse this music is as to listen in philharmony to works of Mozart, Beethoven and Mahler. We do not expect novelty but a reproduction as close to the spirit of the original as possible. And looking from such point of view this music in really damn good! 

Track listing:

1. That old feeling
2. Tis autumn
3. Indian summer
4. Just friends
5. Reminiscence
6. If you never come to me
7. For all we know
8. I've got the world on a string

By Maciej Nowotny 

Jerzy Malek - By Five (Not Two, 2001)

Jerzy Małek - trumpet, composer

Tomasz Grzegorski - tenor saxophone
Michał Tokaj - piano
Romuald Twarożek - bass
Sebastian Frankiewicz - drums
Marek Romanowski - trombone

By Five (Not Two, 2001)

Though relatively young Jerzy Małek may be seen as one of champions of maisntream jazz trupet in Poland along such musicians as Piotr Wojtasik or Robert Majewski. His line as virtuosic as play by above mentioned masters but at the same time may be characterized as lighter, effortless and bolder. While Robert Majewski and Piotr Wojtasik like to play on blue note like say Miles Davis. Małek prefers more energetic style highly indebted in type of music as performed by Lee Morgan, Fats Navarro or Booker Little. In general his play is much more "black", emotional and straight-forward than any other trumpeter in Poland and that is perhaps why he sounds so attractive to my ear.

As I said before Małek is already key player on our scene which may be evidenced by his latest album "Air" (2011) recorded with star pianist Marcin Wasilewski. But this album issued in 2001 and being his debut shows that he was playing very well from the beginning. Regardless of years that has passed it sounds fresh and brings fully satisfactory listening experience. Big merit in it shall be claimed by Małek partners, then as young musicians as he himself, who subsequently made significant careers on their own like first of all excellent pianist Michał Tokaj. But the same applies to saxophonist Tomek Grzegorski and drummer Sebastian Stankiewicz. Trombonist Marek Romanowski and bassist Romuald Twarożek has somewhat vanished from our scene but on this recording they prove to be no worse musicians than their more fortunate colleagues. All in all, listening to this one is no less but pure joy.

1. Kolo Look For The Chicken
2. Parnas Mood
3. Say Yes
4. Olivia
5. Day Of Dusk
6. By Five
7. Quite Unaware
8. Confession

By Maciej Nowotny

sobota, 16 czerwca 2012

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski - Made In Poland (1995)

Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski - tenor & bass saxophones, leader, arranger

Henryk Miskiewicz - alto saxophone
Piotr baron - tenor saxophone
Robert Majewski - trumpet
Piotr Wojtasik - trumpet
Henryk Majewski - trumpet
Sławomir Rosiak - trombone
Andrzej jagodziński - piano, keyboards
Wojciech Karolak - keyboards (4, 6, 7)
Adam Cegielski - bass
Jacek Olter - drums

Made In Poland (1995)

Easy-going mainstream jazz as usual for Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski but of the highest quality in terms of purely musical performance. When I am listening to it right now it strikes how much it is indebted in best arangements written for ensambles led by legendary Art Blackey or by then young Charles Tolliver. I mean of course arrangements from 70ties last century, it is therefore more than obvious that music on this disc by no means discovered anything new. It is nonetheless more than just able copy mainly because of musicians who at moments play notes with true authencity and enthusiasm so characteric for jazz music. Piotr Baron on saxophone deserves most praise in this context but Henryk Majewski and Piotr Wojtasik on trumpets, Andrzej Jagodziński on piano and Jacek Olter on drums made no worse impression on me. All in all, I do not regret time spent on rehearsing this oldie. 

Track listing:
1. Go Right
2. Mr. Olek
3. Moment Musical
4. For Joseph
5. Drivin'
6. Chcha muzyka objawowa
7. Final Theme / Polka Oj-ra

By Maciej Nowotny

Laboratorium - Zdrowie na budowie (2006)

Laboratorium (band)

Janusz Grzywacz / piano, Fender Rhodes, Arp Odyssey synthesiser
Marek Stryszowski / vocal, alto sax, soprano sax
Paweł Ścierański / guitar
Krzysztof Ścierański / bass guitar
Mieczysław Górka / drums
Wacław Łoziński - flute (11, 12)
Maciej Górski - bass (11, 12)

Zdrowie na budowie (2006)

Laboratorium is legendary band in Polish Jazz and by no accident. In terms of moulding together pop, rock, funk and jazz influences it outpaced all other bands in Poland by light years. Listening to their music is as travel in time when all of sudden one finds itself back in 70ties. Great period generally for Polish culture if not somewhat surprisingly especially when taking into account that it was not then fully independent and democratic country. This travel is made possible by this astonishing disc which issued in 2006 comprises previously unreleased material recorded between 1974-78. Its quality is absolutely stellar! All is perfect here: musicians, tunes, mood. It swings, it rock, it rolls. Like hell! And regardless of years passing... Wholeheartadly recommended!

1. Zdrowie na budowie (8:05)
2. Północna samotnia (4:44)
3. Cichy kącik (4:29)
4. Dove (4:40)
5. Brzózka (2:24)
6. Za piętnastą górą (5:30)
7. My z Julkiem (3:06)
8. Madonna z Poręby (7:28)
9. Długie zimowe wieczory (6:05)
10. Złota rybka i lustereczko (6:12)
11. Nowe szaty króla (4:33)
12. Lolokuki (5:18)
13. Euschaustor (6:22)

By Maciej Nowotny

piątek, 15 czerwca 2012

Stodola Big Band – Let`s Swing Again (Polish Jazz Vol.28, 1971)

Stodola Big Band

Henryk Majewski, Wiesław Ejssmont, Jerzy Florczak, Jan Kluska, Zenon Wachowicz - trumpets
Stanisław Cieślak, Zbigniew Konopczyński, Piotr Michałowski, Wiesław Żukowski, Ryszard Borowiecki - trombones
Janusz Zabiegliński, Henryk Miśkiewicz - alto saxophone
Zbigniew Jaremko, Andrzej Lipiński - tenor saxophone
Waldemar Kurpiński - baritone saxophone
Paweł Perliński - piano
Marian Komar - bass
Henryk Stefański -guitar
Wojciech Kowalewski - drums
Jerzy Bojanowski - manager

Let`s Swing Again (Polish Jazz Vol.28)

This is the only album by the Polish Stodola Big Band, one of the relatively few Big Bands active in that country over the years. The logistic and economic complexity of sustaining a working Big Band without continuous and frequent performing opportunities is simply to much in most cases anywhere in the world, and even more so in a country under a Socialist regime, where Jazz opportunities were limited. The fact that this Big Band managed to exist for several years and make this album is a rare treat indeed. The band was conceived and founded by the veteran Polish Jazz trumpeter / composer Henryk Majewski, who managed to enlist some of the best Jazz players on the local scene, such as saxophonists / composers Janusz Zabieglinski and Zbigniew Jaremko. The band was named after the Warsaw's Jazz club Stodola, which was the bastion of traditional Jazz in Poland for many years. They played a very original brand of Swing, based on the American tradition, but much more adventurous as far as the compositions and improvisations are concerned. Of the eleven tracks on this album only two are standards and the rest are originals, mostly composed by Zabieglinski, Jaremko and Majewski. In retrospect the music lost nothing of its swing and freshness and is a great document of the era. Big Band fans will love this stuff!

Track listing:
1. Dogrywka (3:58)
2. Sweet Georgia Brown (2:40)
3. Salaam Alejkum (4:53)
4. Skwar (3:54)
5. Riff Blues (5:10)
6. Osik (2:48)
7. Agata Na Sprzedaż (3:49)
8. Przez Rzekę (3:32)
9. After You've Gone (3:46)
10. JA Z.Z. (2:33)
11. Słodka Izabella (4:17)

By Adam Baruch

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