niedziela, 29 lipca 2012

Gamid Group - Fragments (2011); Beyond Tranquility (2012)

Fragments (2011) 

Beyond Tranquility (2012)

Gamid Group

Gamid Ibadullayev - percussion, sounds, effects, keys
Wojciech Kwapisiński - tar, guitar, sounds, effects

Music of Gamid Group is completely unique on Polish scene. It is partly explained by an identity of artists who are Gamid Ibadullayev from Azerbeijan and Wojciech Kwapisiński from Poland. As much as the name of the band its musicial idiom seem dominated by Ibadullayew who brought to it Orient flavour. But this flavour is very distant from typical folk associations utilized quite straighforwardly in, say, world music. Surprisingly it is totally transformed and deconstructed in fashion of modern European improvised music. There are no melodies, no rhythms but, as suggested by title of their first album, only fragments, scraps, pieces, sounds barely hinted which suggest no definite direction but leave a lot of freedom for listener to do whatever he wants with this material. It reminds me of some disfragmented DNA helix which floated in primal ocean unsure what is his destiny: to revert back to dead matter or to chain up reaction leading to creation of living cells and, eventually, a human being.

The second album by this group is adequately titled "Beyond Tranquility" and though obviously coherent with minimalistic style of the first one it brings indeed much denser and complicated structures. Of course it cannot be called action-packed but it evokes stronger emotions through ample use of dissonaces, mostly electronically generated. Eastern instruments like tar (kind of mandolin) are in more frequent use as well on this album counterbalancing well electronically generated sounds.

All in all, this is certainly music for connoiseurs of improvisation and Orient influenced spiritual music. But I must admit there is something in this music which succesfully kept my attention for long enough to rehearse whole album. This especially applies to second album which surprised me strong enough that I do not exclude to come back to it one day or another...

By Maciej Nowotny

The Quartet - Loaded (1979)

The Quartet (band)

Tomasz Szukalski - tenor & soprano saxophone
Sławomir Kulpowicz - keyboards
Paweł Jarzębski - double bass
Janusz Stefański - drums

Loaded (1979)

Tomasz Szukalski nicknamed "Szakal" (Jackal) is a legend of Polish jazz. His contribution to its development and eventual glory is no less valuable than Komeda, Stanko or Namysłowski's. It is however very difficult to describe his carreer. He was so creative and simultaneously prolific that it would require a whole book to provide a reader with an extensive information about different projects he took part in. Let us then note that on Polish scene he worked with every significant player (and many insignificant) but the most fruitful relationship he established with Tomasz Stańko. He appeared on most of Stańko outstanding recordings of 70ties which are arguably his best at all notwithstanding glorious discs he recorded for ECM afterwards. It is important to note that as much on these albums as on any other Szukalski, who rather seldom acted in the role of leader on his own, was somebody far more valuable than just a very good sideman. His personality was so unique, powerful and charismatic that he co-created every project he was involved in. 

But this album is by no means dominated by Szukalski only. Musicians taking part in its recording are partners of an equal status. Pianist Sławomir Kulpowicz is a rare example among excellent stock of Polish jazz pianists of the artist interested as much in musical as in spiritual side of jazz. He travelled extensively world-wide fascinated by folk music, for example to Africa and the Middle East, where both those components are still alive and closely interwoven. It comes as no surprise then that in jazz he felt particularly interested in experiments conducted by John and Alice Coltrane.

Janusz Stefański is one of view drummers in classical period of Polish jazz (60ties and 70ties) who could keep up with rhythmic innovations that came from the US scene in those times. He is present on countless recordings of this era made by such giants as Seifert, Stańko, Urbaniak, Kosz and others. What should be stressed is his incredible versality since he was able to provide equally empathic support for Seifert bop, Kosz cool and Stańko free jazz lines. Bassist Paweł Jarzębski is perhaps the least known of all four but he should be remembered at least from his collaboration with Zbyszek Namysłowski on some of his best recordings including "Kuyaviak Goes Funky" (1975). And Namysłowski is famous for picking up for his ensambles only creme-de-creme of Polish musicians. Many of those he invited to his bands and who debuted with him made afterwads stunning careers as much on Polish as on international scene with Jarzębski no exception to this rule.

This album is second and last recorded by this band after self-titled "The Quartet" issued a year before. Although The Quartet did not survive martial law imposed on Poland in 1981 by gen. Jaruzelski, its input to Polish jazz phenomenon is crucial. It embodies what was best in this classical era of this music in Poland: fantastic proficiency of musicians, authencity, straighforwardness and creative relationship with such masters of American jazz as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins or McCoy Tyner. With its passing completely new period in Polish jazz began, time of obvious decadence but not without certain interesting signs of life. Life which eventually has come back to Polish jazz in its full glory in 90ties. It is clear that without such a legacy as created by "Loaded" of The Quartet this renaissance would be impossible or at least less inspiring...

01. Mr. Person
02. Macondo
03. The Promise
04. Train People

By Maciej Nowotny

sobota, 28 lipca 2012

Kenneth Dahl Knudsen - Clockstopper (2012)

Kenneth Dahl Knudson - bass

Jaleel Shaw - saxophone (1, 4, 9)
Jonas Lindh - trombone (1, 4, 9)
Gilad Hekselman - guitar
Soren Moller - piano
Johnathan Blake - drums
Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet.

Clockstopper (2012)

Not much is known about Danish bassist Kenneth Dahl Knudsen, even his own website reveals little about his personal story, only that he has won several awards, including being voted "Jazz musician of 2010 in northern Denmark," has been fortunate to have performed the music he loves for most of his life and claims inspiration from the music of John Coltrane and Igor Stravinsky. Delivering his second album as leader on Clockstopper, Knudsen leads a core quintet of international players, which he later turns into a skilled septet by adding saxophone and trombone. The musicians interpret a select repertoire of sophisticated and intricate pieces making for an album of pure modern jazz.

Recognizing that starting off with your best effort is a positive move, Knudsen's septet begins with "Hadeans Arrival," a forceful hard-driving tune employing the horn section of Polish trumpeter Tomasz Dabrowski, fellow Dane, trombonist Jonas Lindh and saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, from Philadelphia, who delivers a wonderful solo as the center-piece of the tune. Knudsen then sets the stage for renowned Danish pianist Soren Moller and Israeli-born jazz guitarist Gilad Hekselman, who provide further highlights of the piece. There are some stark moments on the melodically moving "Couchophobia," while the music takes a different turn on the slow-paced and dark-toned "Tucked In."

The modern sounds of the disc continue on the challenging "Time Trip," and "Sheeps and Raptors," where deliberately strong statements from the bassist offer some of his best work on the album. The music continues to evolve on "Glimpse" and "Beautiful Behavior," which featureGrammy nominated drummer Johnathan Blake. The set comes to a close on another of the bassist's intricate compositions with "Time To Go."

Kenneth Dahl Knudsen may not be a household name in the jazz genre outside of Denmark, but his Clockstopper is indeed an accomplishment deserving attention from modern jazz enthusiasts—not so much for his chops on the bass but rather, for his talents as a composer. Knudsen refuses to play it safe by performing standards or treading on the familiar jazz landscape here, instead he journeys down a more progressive road with compositions that move the music forward —on Clockstoppers, jazz moves to a modern beat.

Track Listing:
1.Hadeans Arrival
2. Couchophobia
3. Tucked In
4. Sheeps & Raptors
5. In Our Night
6. Glimpse
7. Beautiful Behaviour
8. Time To Go.

By Edward Blanco

Alte Zachen - Total Gimel (2012)

Alte Zachen (band)

Raphael Roginski - guitar
Bartek Tyciński - guitar
Macio Moretti - bass
Ola Rzepka - drums
Milosz Pekala - silent percussion

Total Gimel (2012)

The group was founded by Raphael Rogiński (known from Shofar, Wovoka and Cukunft) and the line-up was complete when Ola Rzepka (Drekoty, Wovoka), Bartek Tyciński and Macio Moretti (Mitch and Mitch, Baaba, Paristetris) joined. All these musicians are known for their typically hectic musical activities and this time around they met to perform Chassidic music mixed with rock'n'roll, surf and psychedelia.
Their first album – entitled Total Gimel – is meant to be a tribute to surf culture which is being observed by band members (without their active participation, though). The band name itself is derived from the slang of Israeli scrap metal collectors and reflects Alten Zachen's attitude: nowadays they play music that sounds as if it was made in the 60's even though it's been part of the culture for 150 years now. And its roots are 5000 years old. (source:

Who doesn't know the Beach Boys' hit "Surfin' USA'? Who hasn't dreamed of wide Californian beaches as a child?
Today however, getting one's brain fried in the West Coast sun seems to be somewhat pretentious.
Raphael Rogiński, one of the most creative Polish musicians of the last decade, along with his friends, proposes a much more exciting adventure. He himself calls it Jewish 'surf-religious' music. 
Hats off to whoever who knows what that's supposed to mean.
The secret is partially unveiled by Szmuel Luria, known as 'the surfing Rabbi', whose concept of waves as the roots of the cabbalistic tree of life Geburah inspired Rogiński. 
Rogiński and the other group members have meanwhile accustomed us to the fact that they defy pigeonholing by producers, critics or audience. Most of their projects are unique and stamped by every individual musician.
Jewish 'surfing' refers once again in Rogiński's career to Jewish tradition. It is not surprising therefore that his guitar reminiscent of Marc Ribot is mixed with enchanting Jewish motives and American psychedelic music from the 70's. (source:

1. 222
2. 236
3. 111
4. 31
5. 82
6. 99
7. 91
8. 96
9. 170
10. 65
11. 64

Wojciech Staroniewicz – Conversession - Live (2006)

Wojciech Staroniewicz - tenor & soprano saxophones

Piotr Lemańczyk - bass
Brian Melvin - drums, tablas, kanjira

Conversession - Live (2006)

This is the first album in the trio format by Polish saxophonist / composer Wojciech Staroniewicz, with bassist Piotr Lemanczyk and US drummer Brian Melvin. It was recorded live by the trio during two of their concerts and includes three original compositions by the leader, two originals by Melvin and two standards and one traditional tune. Staroniewicz has a wonderfully warm tone reminiscent of the old Masters and his improvisational skills are spotless. Although fairly mainstream, the music is fresh and interesting and often quite surprising with the rhythm section supporting the leader splendidly and contributing remarkable solo spots as well. Although Staroniewicz does not "cross the line" towards Free Jazz, his playing is often full of tension and marginally touches, at least spiritually, the free spirit of the music. The bassist has also a wonderful tone, which complements the leader's sound perfectly and Melvin's skillful and versatile drumming technique adds a lot to the overall effect. This is a kind of album one can return to at any time and always find something new and worth one's while with each listen. Warmly recommended!

1. PFM
2. Blues Connotation
3. Wintertime
4. Drumstrikin
5. Jana Gana Mana
6. Karolina
7. Triste

By Adam Baruch

środa, 25 lipca 2012

Tzadik Poznań Festival 2012

Revival of Polish-Jewish cultural relationships is one of the most fascinating phenomenon in today's Poland. Not least part in this renaissance is played by musicians who explore relentlessly what is long forgotten musical tradition of Jewish community in Poland. Spurred by works of John Zorn and projects realized by his legendary Tzadik recording label, Polish (mostly young) artists deny cruel history that intended to separate both great nations forever. Check it out now on your own if you happen to be in Poznań at the beginning of August. Tzadik Poznań Festival 2012 is dedicated entirely to this new movement. 

niedziela, 22 lipca 2012

Resonance Ensemble - What Country Is This? (NotTwo, 2012) by Stephan Moore

Resonance Ensemble (band)

Ken Vandermark (sax, clarinet)
Mikolaj Trzaska (sax, clarinet)
Michael Zerang (drums)
Tim Daisy (drums)
Steve Swell (trombone)
Per -Ake Holmander (tuba)
Dave Rempis (sax)
Magnus Broo (trumpet)
Waclaw Zimpel (clarinet)

What Country Is This? (Not Two Records; 2012)

One of Ken Vandermark's larger ensembles, Resonance, has always expressed itself with poetic vibrancy. On the groups latest, What Country Is This?, they again explore sound through a series of rising arches and steady calms. And as usual, spanning three long epic pieces that investigate some of the influences of Vandermark.

"Fabric Monument" (dedicated to Polish poet, Czeslaw Milosz) drops down like an anvil with intersecting horn sections opening up in fine Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler fashion while later settling down into a dark sprawling, almost New Orleans funeral celebration. The second piece "Acoustic Fence" illustrates a series of ascending themes with the ensemble in devilish marching mode. Dedicated to the great Polish composer, Witold Lutoslawski, this piece has multiple layers and varying harmonic structures. Broo and Swell lead the group through a series of crackling improvised movements off-set by some terrific work on the drums by Daisy and Zerang.

The final piece is dedicated to the late, Fred Anderson. "Open Window Theory," is a great showcase of how the American and European free form ethos has evolved over the last two decades. Opening brightly and hovering just overhead, Vandermark and company deliver a message that has a chamber ensemble quality to it. The sound is broken into jagged chords and quickly electrified by Trzaska and Zimpel. Rempis, Vandermark and Holmlander each pour a great deal of haunting muted tones across the canvas before the rest of the group rejoin and turn the piece into a funky, Chicago blues style portrait. While Anderson was never a funky player, Resonance show the explosive and exploratory nature that embodied Anderson's music for over four decades.

Vandermark's Resonance Ensemble continues to astound with each record. "What Country Is This?" is just another brick in the foundation of one his best ensembles outside of the Vandermark 5. Definitely an album of the year on our desk. But isn't every Ken Vandermark record!?!

Track listing:
1. Fabric Monument (for Czeslaw Milosz) [18:52]
2. Acoustic Fence (for Witold Lutosławski) [15:58]
3. Open Window Theory (for Fred Anderson) [12:49]

By Stephan Moore

Jacek Kochan - Man of No Words (Gowi, 2008)

Jacek Kochan - drums, electronics, additional bass

Gary Thomas - tenor saxophone
Dominik Wania - piano
Michał Barański - bass

Andrzej Bauer, Adam Simmons, Dag Einar Eilertsen, Marek Konstantynowicz, Michał Moc, Krystyna Stańko, Kuba Badach 

Man of No Words (Gowi, 2008)

Polish drummer / composer / arranger Jacek Kochan is one of the country's most active music leaders with an impressive and prolific career in both Jazz and contemporary experimental music. Kochan spent considerable periods of time living, studying and performing in the USA and Canada and upon his return to Poland in the mid 1990s he swiftly established his position as a central figure on the local scene. Since then he recorded a considerable number of albums as a leader, co-leader and sideman with many musicians from around Europe and the US as well as local musicians of course. This is a document of one of such projects, which features alongside the leader the US saxophonist Gary Thomas with excellent young Polish pianist Dominik Wania and bassist Michal Baranski. This quartet is expanded on several tracks by guest musicians playing various instruments or vocalizing. 

All the music on the album (ten listed and one unlisted "hidden" track) was composed and arranged by Kochan and presents his talents as a composer in their full glory. The music is a mixture of contemporary, melodic mainstream Jazz, with some almost contemporary Classical music arrangements on one hand and a lot of free space on the other, which allows for expanded improvisations by the soloists. Kochan's brilliant and as usual completely unusual drumming and his electronic sound effects complete the overall sound and atmosphere, which is full of tension and sense of urgency, which keeps the listener on edge at all times. Thomas and Wania play breathtaking solos and the entire ensemble sounds completely focused around the convoluted melody lines and tricky rhythm patterns, which just keep coming at the listener mercilessly. Listening to this music attentively is so intense, that one feels actual physical exhaustion by the time the music is over, as a result of the effort to get it all in one take. This music exists beyond any reasonable categorization, being intrinsically completely cross-genre. Jazz buffs and contemporary Classical music connoisseurs might find this to be just the cup of tea they love. In any case this music is simply too good to be ignored and if it happens to be available, should be consumed at once. Brilliant stuff!

Sample of music from this album may be found here:

Example of music from Jacek Kochan latest projects:

1. Absynthminded
2. Man of No Words
3. Manufactured Edge
4. Guru Bob
5. Authorized Future
6. Pre-smoked Cigarettes
7. Kowloon
8. Absinthe
9. Acidminded
10. World of Shined Shoes

By Adam Baruch

Robert Kubiszyn - Before Sunrise (Uniwersal, 2010)

Robert Kubiszyn - bass,electric guitar,rhodes,synth,arranging

Anna Maria Jopek - voc(4)
Grzegorz Turnau - voc(7)
Gregoire Maret - harmonica(2,4)
Robert Majewski - flugelhorn(8,10)
Henryk Miśkiewicz - soprano saxophone(6)
Adam Pierończyk - soprano saxophone(5)
Łukasz Poprawski - alto saxophone(3)
Krzysztof Herdzin - acoustic piano(3,4,5)
Dominik Bukowski - vibraphone(1)
Tim Miller - electric guitar(9)
Marek Napiórkowski - electric(2)and acoustic guitars(4,6,7)
Mino Cinelu-percussion(4,6)
Sławomir Berny - percussion(3,5,7,8,10)
Michał Dąbrówka - drums(2,5,9)
Cezary Konrad - drums(4,7,8,10)
Robert Luty - drums,udu(3)

oboe: Joanna Żmijewska
violins: Mateusz Smoczynski,Wojciech Proniewicz, Adam Roszkowski,Michal Osmycki.
violas: Michal Zaborski,Wojciech Walczak.
cello: Anna Wrobel

Before Sunrise (Universal, 2010)

Robert Kubiszyn has appeared already on more than 60 albums of stars from different musical genres. Bearing in mind an experience he gathered while cooperating with pop, poetic song and jazz artists, bassist Robert Kubiszyn on his debut disc is moulding all these different languages in order to express what his soul sings about. [...] On "Before Sunrise" he seems to be a kind of contractor, a man implementing certain specific vision, looking for a definite sound which he hopes to attain by careful choice of collaborators who are able to accomplish this task best. That is why there is such a line-up of artists on this record and no other. Even big names may appear sometimes just in one song or two... [...] I am kind of a calm as far as next albums by Robert are concerned. This effort is so multicoulour that I cannot escape impression he may have enough ideas for many more of them...

1. Short Story 1:38
2. Son Of The Sun 6:23
3. Life's Journey 7:08
4. Tak Wyjsc 6:23
5. Last Call 6:00
6. Before Sunrise 6:24
7. Mozesz Zyc 5:10
8. Nothing More Than Illusion 4:33
9. The Dreamcatcher 5:39
10. Event Horizon 3:40
11. Closed Chapter 3:58

By Piotr Iwicki (transl. Maciej Nowotny)

Pink Freud - Horse & Power (2012) by Adam Baruch

Pink Freud (band)

Wojtek Mazolewski - bass guitar
Tomasz Duda - baritone sax, bas clarinet
Adam Milwiw-Baron - trumpet, trombone, vocal, electronics
Rafal Klimczuk - dr

Horse & Power (2012)

This is the 8th album by Polish ensemble Pink Freud, one of the country's top acts both in the Jazz and non-Jazz spheres. Formed in 1998 by bassist / composer Wojciech Mazolewski, the group changed its lineup several times over the years but succeeded to maintain its popularity and gradually achieved a cult following and a large fan base home and abroad. This album was recorded in a new quartet lineup, which features, alongside the leader, trumpeter Adam Milwiw-Baron, saxophonist Tomasz Duda and for the first time new drummer Rafal Klimczuk. All the ten tracks on this album are original compositions by the group members with Mazolewski being credited or co-credited for all but one composition. 

In full contrast to their last album ("Monster Of Jazz"), recorded almost three years earlier, this album is a complete stylistic "about face", marking the group's return to almost acoustic Jazz, with the electronic, dub and other non-Jazz elements completely gone. Of course this is still Pink Freud, with their unique brand of post-Yass, characterized by non-Jazz rhythm patterns, nonchalant treatment of chord changes and other signs of the "coolness" poise, but also full of passion and surprising ventures into Free Jazz soloing and funky bass parts, all of these happening out of the blue, which of course is absolutely marvelous, if one likes such atypical musical approach. And those great melodies, which were almost completely lost on the preceding album, are back, haunting the listener, turning him into a humming zombie. 

People familiar with Mazolewski's activities should not be taken by complete surprise by this album, since his excellent solo album "Smells Like Tape Spirit", released in between the two last Pink Freud albums, already hinted as to the return of the prodigal son to Jazz. So here we have a group that changes like the proverbial chameleon, adopting to contemporary developments and returning to the tradition, and yet managing to keep their musical originality and integrity intact, which is definitely a great accomplishment. Above all, this music, apart for its quality, intelligent compositions and excellent execution, manages to be such fun. Imagine hearing this stuff live and one can understand why the group mesmerizes audiences all over the world taking no prisoners. So regardless if this music is driven by horse power, steam power or nuclear power, it is worthy of music connoisseurs attention and should not be missed, for fun's sake. Brilliant stuff!

Track listing:
1. Konichiwa
2. Bourbon
3. Pink Hot Loaded Guns
4. Promised Land
5. Flying Dolphy
6. G-Spot
7. Vinegar Pauper
8. Tickets, Buttons And Flyer
9. Horse And Power
10. Zero Ending Story

By Adam Baruch

sobota, 21 lipca 2012

Artur Dutkiewicz - Mazurki (Pianoart, 2012)

Artur Dutkiewicz - piano

Mazurki (Pianoart, 2012)

These are NOT interpretations of Mazurkas by Fryderyk Chopin but Artur Dutkiewicz own compositions.   [...] "I like rhythm at three-quarters. I feel well when playing and improvising in it. These mazurkas of mine simply has multuplied themselves over years" - says Dutkiewicz. Nineteen of them finally made their way to the disc. But during concerts new ones constantly come. They are ephemeral as if they fall down from the sky as for example "Mazurek z nieba" (Mazurka from the sky). [...] There are also mazurkas dedicated to Dutkiewicz homeland "Pińczowski" and "Kielecki" but also inspired by African rhythms or dedicated to John Coltrane. [...] Mazurkas are generally short forms but Dutkiewicz managed to show in them the talent of  brilliant composer and  accomplished virtuoso. [...]

Track listing:
1 mazurek oberek 5:48
2 mazurek inspirowany 1 1:59
3 mazurek inspirowany 2 2:21
4 mazurek Africa 3:54
5 mazurek kielecki 2:39
6 mazurek pogodny 3:30
7 mazurek satwiczny 5:51
8 mazurek blue 3:43
9 mazurek mazowiecki 3:52
10 mazurek "Trane" 3:44
11 mazurek goniony 1:59
12 mazurek przydrożny 3:24
13 mazurek Hanusi 3:35
14 mazurek pińczowski 2:59
15 mazurek improwizowany 3 2:55
16 mazurek księżycowy 3:53
17 mazurek polski 2:54
18 mazurek bold 4:07
19 mazurek poranny 1:47

By Marek Dusza (transl. Maciej Nowotny)

Pink Freud - Monster of Jazz (Uniwersal, 2010) by Adam Baruch

Pink Freud (band)

Wojtek Mazolewski - bass
Tomek Duda - sax
Adam Milwiw-Baron - trumpet
Jerzy Rogiewicz - drums

Monster of Jazz (Uniwersal, 2010)

This is the 7th album by Polish ensemble Pink Freud, which managed to gain considerable popularity on the local scene, both with Jazz and non-Jazz listeners and critics alike. Formed in 1998 by bassist / composer Wojciech Mazolewski, the group changed its lineup several times over the years but succeeded to maintain its popularity and gradually achieved a cult following and a large fan base. Musically the group offers a unique amalgam of genres and musical directions, originating with Jazz and improvisation, but also encompassing elements of Punk Rock, dub, jungle, drum and bass and electronic music. In many respects it is a direct continuation of the Yass movement, which flourished in Poland in the 1990s, and could be referred to as post-Yass. 

Since Yass was initially intended as an expression of rebellion against the established Jazz canons, which many young musicians felt to be stagnant, post-Yass took the rebellion a bit further out, emphasizing the cross-genre trend, groove and even dance elements, which resulted in the music being much more widely accessible. As opposed to the intellectual image that Jazz is usually associated with, this music is intelligent fun music, with some Jazz associations, and should be treated as such, no more and no less. This album was recorded by an expanded sextet version of the group, which includes, apart from the leader, trumpeters Adam Milwiw-Baron (son of the great Polish saxophonist Piotr Baron) and Tomasz Zietek, saxophonist Tomasz Duda, vibraphonist Jerzy Rogiewicz and drummer Kuba Staruszkiewicz. 

Of all the Pink Freud albums, this is the most "radical" one, with the electronics, dub and jungle elements taking the lead, pushing the Jazz improvisations aside considerably. As a result this album will be probably the least "appealing" to listeners with a strong Jazz background. Of the twelve tracks present on the album, eleven are original compositions by the group members and the remaining one was adopted from a composition by the British electronic duo Autechre, a choice which hints as to the general direction of this album. 

Although there is plenty of inspired blowing by the horns, the overall mood is somewhat hectic and lacks a clear musical direction. There is an apparent absence of well formed melody lines, which characterized the groups' earlier outings. As much as the group's intention to continue their restless journey in search of new expressions is commendable and admirable, it often is a treacherous path which could lead to disaster if moderation is not applied. One must hope that they will re-invent themselves anew with their future efforts, leaving this one behind as a document of their quest. Of course there is plenty of music here to be enjoyed and the album is worth listening to, even if one somehow expects something more from such a great group.

1. Pink Fruits
2. Warsaw
3. Little Monster
4. Polanski
5. Bald inquisitor
6. Red eyes, blue sea and sand
7. Pierun
8. Goz Quarter
9. Braxton
10. Diamond Way
11. Spreading the sound of emptiness
12. Monster of Jazz

By Adam Baruch

Piotr Zabrodzki / Artur Lawrenz - Trylobit (Multikulti, 2007)

Piotr Zabrodzki / Artur Lawrenz (duo)

Piotr Zabrodzki - piano
Artur Lawrenz - drums

Trylobit (Multikulti, 2007)

[...] Artur Rubinstein argued with Igor Stravinsky about the nature of the piano. "Piano is utility instrument which sounds exactly like drums" - said Stravinsky to the horror of Rubinstain. Young pianist Piotr Zabrodzki would probably take Stravinsky side in this argument. He had showed it already on recording documenting his project with Japanese drummer of legendary Ruins duo Tatsuya Yoshida. In this duo called Trylobit his place is taken by Zabrodzki friend from Bydgoszcz Artur Lawrenz whose beat is dense, watchful and inspiring. Parallels with Ruins may be found in two jazz-noise torpedoes which open and close this disc. The other four songs are less swift with improvisations meandering mostly along McCoy Tyner paths with typical for him powerful attacks on left side of the keyboard. Trilobites are extinct arthropods covered with calcareous shell. Zabrodzki and Lawrenz music aims to break fossilized heads and tastes. [...]

Track list:
1. Otoczak 2:43
2. Banda Skorupiaków 6:56
3. Ordowik 12:29
4. Nil Admirandum 8:51
5. AX 900-C 6:30
6. Tadek Niejadek kontra Jurek Ogórek 4:15

By Jędrzej Słodkowski (transl. Maciej Nowotny)
source: Gazeta Wyborcza

Skalpel - Skalpel (Ninja Tune, 2004)

Skalpel (duo)

Marcin Cichy & Igor Pudło (Boxx)

Skalpel (Ninja Tune, 2004)

After over a decade operating under a distinct musical aesthetic, Ninja Tune's electrified nu-jazz template is so well established that it's now become a reference point for most downtempo breakbeat releases. Signature artists like Amon Tobin, Cinematic Orchestra and Coldcut have set the mold by which the London-based label combs for artists, and for the most part, it's been uncannily successful in tracking down their ilk wherever they lurk. Their latest project dips into the unlikely breeding grounds of Wroclaw, Poland to spotlight an emerging duo who've gained major acclaim in their homeland but not much further beyond. Skalpel, first "discovered" by Ninja Tune's Russian futurist DJ Vadim on an Eastern European tour, is comprised of Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudlo, two jazzophile DJs whose slinky, filmic debut fits perfectly into the Ninja Tune template.

The question is whether or not that's a good thing. Skalpel are certainly more than adept at what they do; their seamless blend of dusty 50s and 60s Polish jazz records is technically flawless and their subdued, dramatic compositions are stirring. If you're looking for a new kick, however, you won't find it here-- the recipe, though originating from an ethnically left-field kitchen, is tried and true. You've heard it done before by their labelmates and others, a reverence for fantasy basement jam sessions peopled by the likes of Miles, Elvin, Herbie and Shorter, processed through a funky breaks blender to yield a sonic frappe both thoroughly modern and strangely reminiscent, something almost completely subliminal.

Perhaps Skalpel's four shows for Ninja Tune's Solid Steel radio program over the past couple years set the album on its beeline course; right out of the gates it bumps and jostles into warmly familiar territory a la Cinematic Orchestra's seminal Motion. A uniquely playful sense of kitschy humor first surfaces within the rubbery double bass and old-time vocal samples of "Not Too Bad" and "1958", where a staid female voice instructs, "Let them play their jazz albums, and dance all night if they want to." Actually too subdued for all but the most blunted dance floors, these songs possess an understated bounce and horn-led levity best suited for a headphone symphony. The voluptuous sound of hard-plucked upright bass and perfectly crisp snare keeps the pulse just above comatose, floating in a comfortably lullabied middle ground.

But most of all, it's the album's fluid, meandering solo samples that help push Skalpel above decaffeinated café jazz. The inclusion of liner notes detailing the original players they've sampled here gives some insight into their modus operandi, and a pleasant effect of the duo keeping enough of the original players' bars intact is that the music absorbs some of the soloists' stylistic overtones, without ever feeling like shameless plundering.

A few tracks midway through Skalpel raise the album to its peak. The rolling cymbals and electronic atmospherics of "So Far" pair with minor-key piano and horns to progress through nighttime byways; "Break In" leads off with a psychedelic flourish before delving into an indiscernible horn current broken by ethereal vibraphone and dubby studio tricks; the kinky organ run on "Quiz" steadily builds and changes as the song progresses. On these songs, Skalpel smudge the line between organic and electronic effortlessly, like a landscape artist working with charcoal, creating deep nuances of light and shadow that give the work its overall depth. The Polish language samples on "Theme from Behind the Iron Curtain" are a welcome reminder of the music's origins, coming right before the serene dream of "Sculpture" that gently closes the album.

With Skalpel, Ninja Tune adds to its roster another peddler of dreamy, jazzy breaks-- the kind of innocuous, idealized electro jazz that smacks to some people of played-out formula. But for fans of the style, there's a whole lot of to enjoy on this debut. Its rhythmic dexterity and melodic sweep are hard to deny-- as long as you can swallow that sense of having heard it all before.

01. High
02. Not Too Bad
03. 1958
04. Together
05. So Far
06. Break In
07. Quiz
08. Asphodel
09. Theme from 'Behind the Curtain'
10. Sculpture

By Jonathan Zwickel

poniedziałek, 16 lipca 2012

Co Grek Zorba powiedział po koncercie Hancocka czyli sobota i niedziela na WSJD

Zastanawiacie się pewno co się zdarzyło w sobotę i niedzielę na tegorocznym Warsaw Summer Jazz Days? Otóż, ja też się zastanawiam... Zasadniczo miało być pięknie: stadiony, wielkie gwiazdy, telewizje i zadowoleni kibice z całego świata. O, przepraszam! Zrobiło mi się kopiuj/wklej z innego tekstu. Wracam do wątku: niestety wyszło inaczej. I podobnie jak w przypadku Euro nie jest to wina organizatorów. A przynajmniej nie w 100%. Widać było ich pasję, determinację, chęć by rozpuszczonej jak dziadowski bicz stołecznej publiczności dostarczyć produkt jazzowy na najwyższym poziomie. Tym, który zawiódł był nie kto inny jak ja. Ale po kolei...

Sobota zapowiadała się doprawdy świetnie, bo jak określić inaczej wizytę dwóch młodych super-gwiazd światowego mainstreamu czyli trębacza Ambrosa Akinmusire i saksofonisty Miguela Zenona. Wystarczy jak w google wpiszecie te nazwiska, a peanom w 100 językach nie będzie końca. W niemal wszystkich branżowych podsumowaniach ich ostatnie płyty, odpowiednio "When the Heart Emerges Glistening" i "Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook", są blisko topu albo na samym topie. Płyty te należą także do moich ulubionych! Koncerty na żywo na WSJD nie były jednak nawet w przybliżeniu tak wspaniałe. Lepiej zaprezentował się Akinmusire, który chociaż nie zagrał materiału z "Heart" to ma ciągoty w kierunku struktur bardziej otwartych, wielopłaszczyznowych, głębokich. Jest to jednak tendencja ledwie zaznaczona w tej muzyce, której forma w niczym się nie zmieniła od wielkich jazzowych kombo lat 50-tych i 60-tych. U Zenona nawet tego zaznaczenia nie ma, jest to prosty jak budowa cepa latynoamerykański jazz, zagrany trzeba przyznać z pasją, lecz śmiertelnie nużący dla kogoś kto to wszystko już 100 razy słyszał przeżute i przetrawione przez daleko orginalniejszych od Zenona muzyków. Ciekawe jak skutecznie wielka machina marketingowa (Blue Note, Grammy, klan Marsalisów, etc.) zrobiła z tych ludzi półbogów. Tymczasem są to tacy sami muzycy jak nasi młodzi i podobnie jak oni zmagają się z trudnym zadaniem powiedzenia czegoś orginalnego od siebie. Niektórzy z młodych polskich muzyków robią to zresztą z lepszym skutkiem...

Całe szczęście, że podładowałem na maksa bateryjki na piątkowym występie kwartetu Alessi/Black/Helias/Mitchell i kwintetu Berne/Malaby/Halvorson/Parkins/Smith, bo ciężko byłoby mi wytrwać do końca. Tej energii zabrakło mi już jednak w niedzielę na koncercie Herbiego Hancocka w legendarnej Sali Kongresowej. Do której wszedłem na miękkich nogach, oszołomiony jazzową tradycją związaną z tym miejscem. I wierną, warszawską, jazzową publicznością, która tłumnie stawiła się na ten koncert. Jednak nie zdzierżyłem długo. Zresztą gdzieś w zakamarkach duszy siedziała mi taka obawa. Znam przecież ostatnie nagrania Hancocka. Jednak liczyłem na cud. Cud się nie zdarzył. Hancock zagrał muzykę inspirowaną fusion lat 70-tych. Bez żadnych formalnych zmian. Nawet kawałki te same co niegdyś. Atmosfera była benefisowa. Hancock więcej mówił jak grał, prawił komplementy publiczności, opowiadał żarciki, wynosił pod niebiosa swoich widocznie zażenowanych partnerów (Lionel Loveke, James Genus, Trevor Lawrence). Moje zakochane w jazzie (i Hancocku) serce nie mogło tego znieść długo. Przeprosiłem towarzystwo i ze łzami w oczach opuściłem Kongresową. Wiem, że potraktujecie to jako herezję, ale nie było tam już jazzu pomimo, że został tam wielki Hancock. Jazzu w jaki wierzę, a który bez autentyczności, szczerości i kreatywności zmienia się w taki sam chłam jak współczesny dajmy na to pop czy disco polo. Stałem jak ogłuszony wśród drapaczy chmur, które w ostatnich latach wyrosły wzdłuż ulicy Emilii Plater. W końcu podarłem bilet na strzępy i wyrzuciłem w powietrze. I uśmiechnąłem się znowu! Bo z drugiej strony, mówiąc słowami Greka Zorby: "Jakaż piękna to była katastrofa"...

Autor: Maciej Nowotny

niedziela, 15 lipca 2012

Sisters (Raphael Roginski, DJ Lenar) - The Mono (Multitikulti, 2012)

Sisters (duo)

Raphael Rogiński: electric guitar
DJ Lenar: turntables, loops

The Mono (Multitikulti, 2012)

It must be quite a challenge walking into a recording session, looking directly across the room, and seeing nothing but a set of eyes and cables, lots and lots of cables linking and powering electronics of every possible conceivability. Compared to all the firepower that DJ Lemar (turntablist) brings to the sonic soup, Raphael Roginski (guitar) is relatively effect free mostly relying on a clean tone to cut through whatever he is faced with. It must have been similar to what Garry Kasparov saw when he sat down to face Deep Blue; seemingly unlimited moves to defend against by a machine with it's programmer looking on.

But it isn't as cut and dry as that. Like a well seasoned and experienced musician playing a traditional instrument, DJ Lemar's muscle control and speed in changing a mood as the song dictates is up there with anybody while never letting the machines control him. He is molding the arrangement with a confident hand the same as Roginski is doing with his guitar, and considering the nature of duos, this is a positive arrangement.

Despite Lenar's turntables, samplers, and loopers, there is a personalized sound coming from all the machines. He uses a vinyl scratch effect on multiple tracks very effectively, grounding the listener in the familiar. From here he adds his own flare. On the opening number, Wait Till The End, for example, he uses orchestral samples to give it a bright ending. On Windmill Love, his percussion manipulation is the track's excitement. Roginski keeps it all in the pocket as Lemar ramps the drum's tempo until it becomes a single sound. 

Roginski very much has his own voice. Whether it be recreating a tone from a spaghetti western soundtrack, Can I Die With You? or experimenting with some simple effects of his own like the very understated Death Left On Pavement. 

They save the best for last as both musicians come together to stretch the blues as far as they can take it. It is on Between Zone Settler, that a thin twangy guitar meets a processed vocal full of pain and hurting mixed over a bed of rumbling beats. The voice gets shifted in both time and pitch squeezing everything out of it. Sometimes making it sound more human, sometimes less. The guitar keeps to a relative blues blueprint but emotionally keeps up with the vocal with ease.

This recording was not the man versus machine battle I was first expecting. When it comes to expectations in music, it is sometimes really good to be wrong. There was no winner here or "I told you so", just an album I found myself putting on again and again, and with each listen appreciating just what a DJ can bring to this type of setting. A musically satisfying stalemate as it were.

Track listing:
1. wait till the end 5:15
2. windmill love 5:10
3. can I die with You? 4:02
4. death left on pavement 2:19
5. sister's rage 4:24
6. tears from hell 5:31
7. the oldest sister's weeding 2:12
8. soldier's melancholy 4:54
9. between zone seller 8:44

By Philip Coombs

Tomek Choloniewski - Un (Mathka, 2011) by Bartek Adamczak

Tomek Chołoniewski - percussion, drums

Un (Mathka, 2011)

Tomek Choloniewski is one of the most active figures on the Krakow improv scene and his name appeared often on this blog on the many occasions of his live performances. Which makes it even a more distinct pleasure to present his solo performance cd.

5 tracks, a play on words ("Unit", "Untitled", "Untilted", "United", "Unlitted") and a play on sounds as he presents the range of his instrumental vision. Choloniewski does what the best performers strive to do, he managed to create his own musical language, a collage of sound and strategies that, inspired by percussion traditions of world, jazz, improv, avant guarde music(s) are an expression of his own artistical identity. First track is wonderfully melodic meditation on his array of pots and plates (remind me sometimes of a marimba sound or thumb piano). The second one is a paradoxical arythmic organisation of short hits and shouts, in the latter part opposing thin tin fast sounds against bass static noise. The third one is a exploration of drones and gongs and every kinds of suspended, eerie, even nightmare sounds. The fourth brings back the melodic, ethnic sounds of his pottery set, looped to create an ever-shifting mirage, finished with a tribal roll, heavy on the toms and bass drum. Which is probably the first moment of the album which is easily identifiable as being played by a drummer on a drums set. The last track unveils slowly and graciously, sparing, modest drumming just gliding over an otherwordly static white noise.

This album is not even 20 minutes long, yet it's long enough to appreciate how singular Choloniewski's approach to drums music is. Which is definitely not a music for drummers only.

By Bartek Adamczak

Jacek Kochan - One Eyed Horse (Gowi Records, 2005) by Adam Baruch

Jacek Kochan - drums, laptop, sampler, bass, keyboards, voice

Franz Hautzinger - quarter tone trumpet
Greg Osby - alto saxophone
Krystyna Stańko - vocals

One Eyed Horse (Gowi Records, 2005)

Polish drummer / composer / arranger Jacek Kochan is one of the country's most active music leaders with an impressive and prolific career in both Jazz and contemporary experimental music. Kochan spent considerable periods of time living, studying and performing in the USA and Canada and upon his return to Poland in the mid 1990s he swiftly established his position as a central figure on the local scene. Since then he recorded a considerable number of albums as a leader, co-leader and sideman with many musicians from around Europe and the US as well as local musicians of course. 

This is a document of one of such projects, which features US saxophonist Greg Osby and Austrian trumpeter Franz Hautzinger. They perform a set of fifteen compositions, all by Kochan, which are duets between the drums and electronically produced sounds (loops, samples, etc.), courtesy of Kochan and one of the two soloists playing with him. Some vocal parts, mostly mixed into the background, are performed by the Polish Jazz vocalist Krystyna Stanko. The music is very difficult to categorize and although Jazz is the general idiom here, it moves smoothly between pretty melodic mainstream, funky passages, ambient soundscapes and almost Free Jazz, all in one tune and very swiftly. 

Kochan is a master atmosphere builder with his array of rhythmic tricks and electronic sound effects, which provides a full-fledged basis for the soloists to improvise on top of it. As far as originality and uniqueness are concerned, one need to look no further, as this album simple explodes with completely innovative sounds and ideas. Of course the music is pretty demanding and attentive listening is a requirement, but the effort pays off in full. Both Osby and Hautzinger play really beautifully and seem to enjoy the unusual setting to the fullest, as evident from the resulting music. Since words are hardly adequate to describe sonic experiences, the obvious thing to do is of course to listen to this incredible music. I can only hope that my wholehearted recommendation will prompt some people to give it a try, as it is definitely too good to be ignored. This is modern Jazz at its best, which actually manages to expand the boundaries of the genre, which is rare indeed. A must!

Track listing: 1. Beyond the Obvious [01:44]; 2. Rift [05:55]; 3. Fear No More [07:05]; 4. Simoom [05:56]; 5. Not Just Yet [04:55]; 6. Time Warp to Let [05:58]; 7. Drop [05:25]; 8. Sun Doesn [04:46]; 9. Vanity Garage Sale [04:05]; 10. Professional Patriots [05:56]; 11. Private Negotiations [04:26]; 12. One Eyed Horse [01:16]; 13. Twenty Seven Names of a Man [02:19]; 14. Moscow Boogie [06:39]; 15. What the Dentists Dream of [01:16]

By Adam Baruch

Piotr Orzechowski - Pianohooligan (2011) by Bartek Adamczak

Piotr Orzechowski - piano

Pianohooligan (2011)

I've written recently a few times about how special talent this guy is, and it is on full display on this cd. Orzechowski plays a piece by Bach ("Preluda a"), Keith Jarrett ("Coral"), Schostakovich ("Fugue a") and a series of Scherzos of his own. Brilliant technician, subtle and immaginative and sensitive artist. Plays short, coincise pieces bursting with ideas (a suite of sort as some of the themes appear more times throughout the cycle). The inclusion of three composers in the tracklist is a manifest of influences and describes well enough Orzechowski's singular style, and he already posesses a voice of his own, mixing jazz (both traditional and modern), concert piano music (both history and modern), gospel infused chordings (clear influence of Jarrett) and impeccable sense of melody. He confronts the huge history of solo piano music with lightness and bravado. While he's preparing for a registration of full-lenghth cd, this self-released album (32 minutes long) is a brilliant introduction to what should be a long and fruitfull career.

By Bartek Adamczak

Pink Freud - Alchemia (2008) by Adam Baruch

Pink Freud (band)

Wojciech Mazolewski - bass, percussion
Tomasz Ziętek - trumpet
Tomasz Duda - saxophone, bass clarinet
Marcin Masecki - Hammond B3, Wurlitzer electric piano
Kuba Staruszkiewicz - drums

Alchemia (2008)

This is the 6th album by Polish ensemble Pink Freud, which managed to gain considerable popularity on the local scene, both with Jazz and non-Jazz listeners and critics alike. Formed in 1998 by bassist / composer Wojciech Mazolewski, the group changed its lineup several times over the years but succeeded to maintain its popularity and gradually achieved a cult following and a large fan base. Musically the group offers a unique amalgam of genres and musical directions, originating with Jazz and improvisation, but also encompassing elements of Punk Rock, dub, jungle, drum and bass and electronic music. 

In many respects it is a direct continuation of the Yass movement, which flourished in Poland in the 1990s, and could be referred to as post-Yass. Since Yass was initially intended as an expression of rebellion against the established Jazz canons, which many young musicians felt to be stagnant, post-Yass took the rebellion a bit further out, emphasizing the cross-genre trend, groove and even dance elements, which resulted in the music being much more widely accessible. As opposed to the intellectual image that Jazz is usually associated with, this music is intelligent fun music, with some Jazz associations, and should be treated as such, no more and no less. 

This album, which was recorded live at the legendary Jazz club "Alchemia" in Krakow, finds Pink Freud in an expanded quintet lineup, with trumpeter Tomasz Zietek and drummer Kuba Staruszkiewicz supported by saxophonist Tomasz Duda (who recorded with the group earlier) and brilliant young keyboardist Marcin Masecki. Five of the six expanded tracks (all over 10 minutes long) on this album are originals by the band members and the remaining one is their interpretation of a Joe Zawinul tune. In many respects this album is a "back to the roots" experience for the band, which returns to extensive Jazz improvisation, which although always present at the root of their music, was often subdued on their previous albums. The special atmosphere and ambience of the club and above all the presence of Masecki transform the band into a full-fledged Jazz combo and a great one at that. The trumpet / saxophone front line enables the players to stretch out, supported comfortably by a full rhythm section, with Masecki supplying some breathtaking solo spots as well. The emotional and more importantly musical level of the band heard here surpasses everything they managed to achieve earlier, and is truly exquisite. True to their basic approach, the band emphasizes personal expression and spontaneity rather that elaborate skills or scholarly musical background. For listeners, who can appreciate such approach to music, this is quite an experience. But this music is important enough to be heard by any music connoisseur and definitely should be re-visited for in-depth listening experience. Great stuff!

1 Police Jazz 12:30
2 Punk Freud 11:29
3 Mademoiselle Madera 10:05
4 Muzyka Pięciu Przemian 10:45
5 Boogie Woogie Waltz 13:50
6 Rozmowy z Kapokiem-Noc 9:57

Wojtek Traczyk - Free Solo (Multikulti, 2012) by Paolo Casertano

Wojtek Traczyk - double bass 

Free Solo (Multikulti, 2012)

Poland has an increasingly vivid jazz scene. Thanks to the impressive work of labels such as Multikulti and Not Two, together with a remarkable number of jazz festivals, their strong tradition has gained international recognition and expands constantly towards new territories and paths. These young and gifted musicians seem to pay attention to the tradition and strengthen it just as much as they alter it by exploring its outer edges. Just think of the Oles brothers and their collaborations with Ken Vandermark. To this category belongs as well the solo effort of Wojtek Traczyk. We’ve already met him in the bright trio “The Light”

According to the liner notes by the musician himself: “Performing solo pulls me out of everyday life and puts me out there in that high place of danger and awareness that I long for risking everything giving everything not knowing yet believing and brings purification and freedom that is so hard to find”.

This is a spiritual journey indeed. Starting from the title of each “stage”. First is “Examen Conscientiae”, a self-examination the musician seems to face alone, using his own private and intimate language. It sounds like a mantra introducing us to the religious dimension and vision of Traczyk. An elongated note repeating in a timeless sequence, the bow flows slowly hesitating to leave the strings, unflappable, almost obliterating itself on the bass neck. You can hear a breath after the first passage. Presumably Traczyk, or maybe it is the instrument itself. On condition that you are willing to hear it. 

The album is short and it deserves a deep listening. How could you otherwise approach to a solo album and to the innermost meanings a musician set down to each single decision he makes when he’s so unveiled to everyone? Especially when he chooses it will not be his - anyway evident - mastery and virtuosity to give uncritically to the listener the keys for it. Traczyk is looking for the right expression, the best structure and the most touching tone to let his thoughts seep out.

The title of the second composition, “Kyrie”, is the transliteration of an ancient Greek word now best known as a vocation prayer in the Christian liturgy. Far baritone melodies and their resonances start to outcrop and come closer merging into “Gloria”. Strings unravel and struggle to find their place, climbing up to the high notes register supported by distorted chords and sharp pitches. There’s a great balance between atonal and tonal. 

After this turmoil, gentle comes “Sanctus” as a short lullaby echoing classical arias. In “Benedictus” and “Agnus Dei” - basically one composition split in two - appears the first pizzicato of the album disguised as short rhythmic patterns spaced out by resonances that envelop the double bass. At first melodic phrasing grows slowly, then it evolves in a brutal attack on the strings. Traczyk whips and hits the wood before partially finding rest in a recurring hypnotic beat on which he inlays brief melodies.

In the closing act strings are turned loose and they blend in a droning stream. Voices decrease, last shrills before coming back to silence.
A real compelling solo debut.

By Paolo Casertano

sobota, 14 lipca 2012

Pink Freud – Punk Freud (2007)

Pink Freud (band)

Wojciech Mazolewski - bass, percussion
Tomasz Zietek - trumpet
Tomasz Duda - saxophone, bass clarinet
Marcin Masecki - Hammond B3, Wurlitzer electric piano
Kuba Staruszkiewicz - drums

Punk Freud (2007)

This is the 5th album (and the first on Universal) by Polish ensemble Pink Freud, which managed to gain considerable popularity on the local scene, both with Jazz and non-Jazz listeners and critics alike. Formed in 1998 by bassist / composer Wojciech Mazolewski, the group changed its lineup several times over the years but succeeded to maintain its popularity and gradually achieved a cult following and a large fan base.

Musically the group offers a unique amalgam of genres and musical directions, originating with Jazz and improvisation, but also encompassing elements of Punk Rock, dub, jungle, drum and bass and electronic music. In many respects it is a direct continuation of the Yass movement, which flourished in Poland in the 1990s, and could be referred to as post-Yass. Since Yass was initially intended as an expression of rebellion against the established Jazz canons, which many young musicians felt to be stagnant, post-Yass took the rebellion a bit further out, emphasizing the cross-genre trend, groove and even dance elements, which resulted in the music being much more widely accessible. As opposed to the intellectual image that Jazz is usually associated with, this music is intelligent fun music, with some Jazz associations, and should be treated as such, no more and no less. 

On this album Pink Freud appear as trio with the leader and two other founding members: trumpeter Tomasz Zietek and drummer Kuba Staruszkiewicz. Saxophonist Tomasz Duda appears on five of the ten tracks and two female strings players guest on two of the tracks. Nine of the ten tracks on this album are original compositions by the participants and the last track is their interpretation of a Charles Mingus tune. The music is a typical Pink Freud mix of musical ideas, stylistically all over the place, but unified by the highly energetic and expressive delivery. The music definitely retains the rebellious spirit and often lacks the precision and flawlessness a Jazz fan might expect, but one must not forget this music is not about these qualities at all and therefore should not be judged by them. The ultimate question is the overall impression and effect this music has on a listener and if it is successful to make the listener spend an hour having fun while listening, it achieved its goal. Let's make no mistakes here; parts of this music are quite complex and advanced, requiring attentive listening and seriously challenging the listener's ear. Some listeners will mentally "skip" these parts at first, but might (hopefully) discover them later. Regardless of what one might think about Pink Freud and their music, one thing is sure: they can not be ignored. Definitely worth investigating!

1. Dziwny jest ten Kraj 3:13
2. Sex Przemoc Lek i Niemoc 6:22
3. Piasek Piasek Kupa Piasku 2:41
4. Velvet 4:35
5. Wszystko Plynie (intro woda) 2:50
6. Wszystko Plynie 4:02
7. PowiedzialElk 1:50
8. PornoPogoda 4:33
9. PoliceJazz 3:55
10. Canon 11:27

By Adam Baruch

Piątek na WSJD czyli Beethoven gwiżdże V Symfonię

Beethoven to nie taki pies z filmu Briana Levanta tylko faszystowski kompozytor, który zanim ogłuchł od słuchania disco polo napisał parę niezłych kawałków, w tym V Symfonię. Da-da-da-rammm da-da-da-rammm to jej motyw przewodni czyli jakby walenie w drzwi przez komornika, który chce nam zabrać nową plazmę kupioną na kredyt. Otóż załóżmy teraz, że akcja tego niby-felietonu przenosi się z wieku XIX w XXI i do Beethovena dzwoni promotor jazzu z warszawskiej Pragi i proponuje mu występ na corocznych dożynkach. "Kuhl" - odpowiada Beethoven - "aber das Stück ist für Orchester". "Nein, nein" - odpowiada nasz promotor - "przyjeżdzaj sam. Nicht money fur Orchester". Przechodzę teraz na polski i podaję Wam końcówkę tej konwersacji w symultanicznym tłumaczeniu w czasie rzeczywistym: 

El Dżi: Jak zagram V Symfonię bez Orkiestry?

Nasz Człowiek: Nie ma problemu. Przecież możesz Pan zagwizdać!

Ta ciekawa koncepcja przyszła do mojej zasadniczno non-stop pustej głowy wczoraj podczas piątkowego koncertu Matany Roberts. W życiu bowiem nie doznałem takiego dysonansu poznawczego jak na tym właśnie gigu. Matana jest bowiem największym objawieniem sceny muzyki improwizowanej na świecie! Jej płytę "Coin Coin" śmiało można porównywać z najlepszymi albumami w historii jazzu. Jednak nie sądziłem, że jego tytuł Roberts bierze aż tak dosłownie. Zamiast więc pełnokrwistego koncertu dostaliśmy ersatz czyli występ Matany, która odegrała materiał inspirowany tym krążkiem solo na saksofonie. Zagrała tak słabo, że aż wzbudziła we wszystkich odruchy opiekuńcze. Na plus trzeba jej zapisać, że w pełni zdawała sobie z tego sprawę. Schodząc ze sceny - w zasadzie - przeprosiła słuchaczy za obciach i wyraziła nadzieję na powrót do Polski ze swoim zespołem. Może na następne dożynki? Gdy sołtys gminy przesunie dotacje z pozycji stadiony na kulturę i sztukę? Marzę o tym, bo nawet zagwizdana V Symfonia pozostaje V Symfonią.

Po krótkiej przerwie na scenę wyszła czwórka: Ralph Alessi (trąbka), Jim Black (bębny), Mark Helias (kontrabas) i Matt Mitchell (fortepian). Wszystko odbyło się w całkowitej ciszy, lecz (wiem, że nie uwierzycie w ani jedno moje słowo) ja usłyszałem jak Alessi telepatycznie przekazuje mi następujący komunikat: "Teraz posłuchacie skurczybyki znad Wisły jak się gra jazz w Nowym Jorku, a nie na tej Waszej zawszonej wsi!". Jak powiedzieli tak też się stało! Poziom tego gigu był po prostu kosmiczny. Czułem się tak jak czuliby się Jakub Błaszczykowski i Robert Lewandowski po meczu rozegranym z Furia Roja w formie z finału z Włochami. Był to ten rzadki moment w mojej pseudo-karierze jazzowego bloggera (a nawet chwilami dziennikarza), gdy czułem się wdzięczny Stwórcy, że dał mi parę uszu, a nie atrapy jak większości ludziom. Wybaczcie szczerość! Wiem jednak, że ten tekst czyta garsteczka podobnie zakręconych jak ja. Słuchamy niszowej muzyki, jesteśmy elitą, dlaczego mielibyśmy się tego wstydzić? Jeśli jazz za taką oszałamiającą jakość muzyki jak ta na koncercie wyżej wymienionej czwórki musi płacić elitarnością, to ja, podobnie jak Lord Farquaad ze znanej wszystkim bajki, tu cytata, "gotów jestem na takie poświęcenie".

Zasadniczo po tym nadzwyczajnym koncercie, na opisanie którego nie znajduję po prostu słów, wszystko mogło wypaść tylko blado. Jednak tak się nie stało. Należy ocenić jako niezwykły fakt, że następny ensambl, który się pojawił nie tylko nie zagrał gorzej, ale po prostu inaczej, tworząc równie atrakcyjny spektakl. Na scenę wszedł dream team, którego ozdobą były dwie panie: gitarzystka Mary Halvorson i akordeonistka Andrea Parkins. Towarzyszyli im legendarni avantjazzowi saksofoniści Tim Berne i Tony Malaby. Jednak w roli głównej wystąpił młody amerykański perkusista Chess Smith. Przyjemnie było go słuchać: pewność siebie, indywidualne brzmienie, skupienie, charyzma. Wypadł nie gorzej niż wielki Jim Black, a doprawdy w świecie perkusistów trudno o większy komplement. Zresztą tak ten kwintet jak poprzedni kwartet zaprezentowały jazz naszych czasów w najlepszym możliwym wydaniu. Uchylam z szacunkiem kapelusza przed organizatorami, którzy sprowadzili tych artystów. Nie wiem czy w Polsce publiczność, a nawet krytycy są gotowi na taką muzę. Doceniają ją za to nasi muzycy, bo wśród publiczności zauważyłem między innymi Tomasza Stańkę i Artura Dutkiewicza oraz garstkę naszych młodych gniewnych. Kto nie był - ten trąba...

To był niezapomniany, wspaniały wieczór! W sobotę sądzę, że avantjazzowe emocje zostanąnieco stonowane, lecz za to zabiją żywiej bardziej mainstreamowe serduszka. Zagrają zespoły prowadzone przez trębacza Ambrose'a Akinmusire i saksofonistę Miguela Zenona. W tzw. głównym nurcie trudno o lepsze nazwiska. Nie dziwcie się zatem specjalnie, że tak jak wczoraj tak i dzisiaj będziecie mogli mnie spotkać w SOHO Factory na Mińskiej 25...
Autor: Maciej Nowotny

Niski Szum - Songs From The Woods (AudioTong, 2011) by Stephan Moore

Niski Szum (project)

Marcin Dymiter - guitar, voice

Songs From The Woods (AudioTong, 2011)

I'm actually more familiar with Polish electronic/guitarist, Marcin Dymiter's work with Arszyn than his solo material. But upon listening to his most recent release, Songs From The Woods, I have a lot of catching up to do. This is a brilliant work of sonic sculpture that at times is cold and dreamy yet romantic and spacious. It reminded me of Sonic Boom (ex-Spacemen 3). And that's impressive!

"Blues From The Green Hills" rides along like an American western. A bluesy theme accompanied by electronic manipulations/reverb provides for surrealistic journey into Dymiter new soundscape.

"The Woods Parts I-II" are Dymiter emitting a lush ambient tone that is reflective as it is cold. The piece is based on Robert Frost poem Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening with Dymiter utilizing soft well masked vocals. It's passages provide a somber level of comfort and move the listen into dark territory--but you will actually like going there.

The highlight piece is "The River," a long dense droning number, with chords that eventually envelope you like a cocoon. Dymiter's use of guitars and electronics manifold into a swirling hypnotic blur as you enter the middle section of the piece. But somehow he pulls through to the other side with grace and beauty. It's that night you look up into the sky and everything seems almost perfect (for awhile) and then you brought back to earth.

"Songs From The Woods" is a nice discovery and well balanced mixture of electronics, blues, folk and minimalism. So if you enjoy your music with touch of adventure and solitude, you would be well served by checking out Marcin Dymiter.

1 Blues From The Green Hills 7:55
2 The Woods, Part 1 6:34
3 The River (For Ota Pavel) 16:35
4 The Woods, Part 2 6:26

By Stephan Moore

piątek, 13 lipca 2012

Czwartek na Warsaw Summer Jazz Days!!!

W zasadzie Warsaw Summer Jazz Days rozpoczął się już w niedzielę 8 lipca koncertem trio Marcina Wasilewskiego. Potem w Cafe Jazzarium miały miejsce trzy solowe występy Ralpha Alessiego, Jima Blacka i Marka Heliasa odpowiednio w poniedziałek, wtorek i środę. Jednak dopiero w czwartek mamy do czynienia z pierwszym jazzowym wieczorem z krwi i kości, bo granie zaczęło się o 20.00, a skończyło tuż przed pierwszą.

Rozpoczął kwintet Wojtka Mazolewskiego, marne resztki po wyśmienitym zeszłorocznym show case z polskim, głównie młodym, jazzem. Przykro, że dni poświęcone koncertom najciekawszych polskich formacji wypadły z programu tegorocznego festiwalu. Obok Mazolewskiego zagrała Joanna Duda, Marek Pospieszalski, Michał Bryndal i Oscar Torok, a wybrzmiał materiał z ich dwóch, ostatnich płyt: naprawdę niezłej "Smells Like Tape Spirit" i ocierającej się o kicz "Wojtek w Czechosłowacji". Mazolewskiemu należy się niewątpliwe nagroda za przybliżanie jazzu publiczności wychowanej na popie i rocku. To pokolenie głuchych nie jest w stanie skupić uwagi na niczym co nie ma wyraźnego melodyjnego motywu i najlepiej głupawego refrenu, który można zagwizdać. Jednak jazz to nie tresura psów, gdzie na gwizd Pana pies przybiega do nogi i aportuje. Bez swobody, autentyczności i kreatywności jazzu nie ma, a tych właśnie elementów w muzyce WMQ nie ma w nadmiarze. Wada dla takiego człowieka jak ja, ale przyznaję, że zaleta dla tych co do tej pory słuchali Dody czy Wiśniewskiego. Jeśli Mazolewski, jak Możdżer, przeprowadzi niektóre z tych duszyczek z popowego Tartaru na jazzowe Pola Elizejskie to chętnie zrzucę się na pomnik dla niego. 

O następnych The Bad Plus, podobnie jak o formacjach Mazolewskiego, jest głośno, w przenośni i dosłownie. The Bad Plus bowiem łączy rock, a nawet hard rock z jazzową improwizacją. Pochodzący z Ameryki pianista Ethan Iverson, basista Reid Anderson i perkusista Dave King dysponują rodzajem kolektywnej charyzmy, która zapewniła im rozpoznawalność w świecie jazzu i wierną publiczność. Indywidualnie wszakże niczym się nie wyróżniają, a od muzyków jazzowych oczekuje się w końcu wyrazistej osobowości. Tej wyżej wymienieni Panowie nie mają, zresztą wirtuozami też nie są. I pewno byłbym lekko rozczarowany ich występem gdyby nie fakt, że towarzyszył im saksofonista Joshua Redman. Ten przeszedł długą drogę od dziecka szczęścia, które wyrąbało sobie drogę na sam szczyt sławy takimi płytami jak "Moodswing" czy "Spirit of the Moment". Przez bycie pieszczochem wielkich wytwórni i prasy na całym świecie, której dziennikarze powtarzają bezmyślnie jeden po drugim z góry ustalone "prawdy". Po konstatację, że gra kiepski, mało kreatywny jazz i próbę zmiany tej sytuacji w ostatnich latach. Potwierdza to chociażby najnowsza jego płyta "Compass", która na powrót zyskuje mu zainteresowanie i szacunek co bardziej ogarniętej części publiczności. W Warszawie pokazał, że potrafi wszystko: żonglował stylistykami, nastrojami, tempem, wszystko z pasją, energią i... poczuciem humoru. Wielki muzyk!

Na koniec zagrał kwintet prowadzony przez legendarnego saksofonistę Joe Lovano i gwiazdę amerykańskiej trąbki Dave'a Douglasa. Cóż, wiele Wam powie, że swoje zachwyty zacznę od sekcji rytmicznej. Pochodząca z Malezji kontrabasistka Linda Oh (kto o niej słyszał?!) pokazała słuch absolutny, powalającą technikę i muzykalność na najwyższym poziome. Lawrence Fields stylem przypomina nieco Mala Waldrona, Kenny Drew czy Billy Childsa, czyli z tyłu, lecz bardzo czujnie. Wreszcie na peruksji, najbardziej znany z tej trójki, Joey Baron, który zagrał z taką energią i inwencją, że po prostu zaniemówiłem! Na takim tle saksofon Lovano i trąbka Douglasa skrzyły się, lśniły i błyszczały światłem prawdziwych pereł rzuconych przed... bynajmniej nie przed te zwierzęta, o których myślicie. Z dumą patrzyłem na reakcje warszawskiej publiczności, która ze znawstwem reagowała ciepło tam gdzie należało się wsparcie, chłodno, gdzie blisko było obciachu i entuzjastycznie, gdy na sali pojawiała się któraś z cór Zeusa i Mnemosyne. Jeśli były one obecne tego wieczoru, a moim skromnym zdaniem tak właśnie było, to chyba najdłużej klaskały podczas tego właśnie występu.

Dzisiaj zapowiada się kolejny doskonały dzień! Zabawę rozpocznie Matana Roberts, związana z chicagowskim AACM, która jest chyba największym objawieniem światowej sceny muzyki improwizowanej jeśli chodzi o rok ubiegły. Po niej zagra kwartet złożony z muzyków stanowiących śmietankę nowojorskiej awangardy czyli Ralph Alessi, Jim Black, Mark Helias i Matt Mitchell. A zakończy ten jazzowy wieczór dream team złożony z Tima Berne'a, Tony Malaby, Mary Halvorson, Andrei Perkins i Chessa Smitha. To najbardziej oczekiwany przeze mnie gig na tym festiwalu! Do zobaczenia wieczorem w SOHO Factory na Mińskiej 25!

Autor: Maciej Nowotny
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