Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Piotr Schmidt / Electric Group – Silver Protect (2012)

Piotr Schmidt - trumpet
Wojciech Myrczek - vocals
Tomasz Bura - keyboards
Michal Kapczuk - bass
Sebastian Kuchczynski - drums

SJ 005

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut recording by the Polish Fusion band Electric Group led by the young trumpeter Piotr Schmidt and including also keyboardist Tomasz Bura, bassist Michal Kapczuk, drummer Sebastian Kuchczynski and vocalist Wojciech Myrczek. The album comprises of six original compositions, four of which are by the pianist and two by the leader. In addition to leading this group, Schmidt also co-leads a Jazz quintet with pianist Michal Wierba, which uses the same rhythm section as this group.

It seems that the Polish Jazz scene is not only capable of grooming excellent piano players, but apparently also brilliant young trumpeters, as evident from the recent wave of extraordinary new releases. This album certainly falls into the same category as far as presenting new trumpet players, but it is quite different in every other sense, most notably being a Fusion recording, a genre which nowadays rarely features the trumpet as the leading instrument, as it used to in its heydays. This album in however not just one more Fusion album, as it includes many other elements, especially Funk, which makes it particularly interesting.

The compositions present a diverse musical approach, with excellent melody lines supported by Funky rhythms, memorable vamps and overall superb execution, which is simply heartwarming, especially in view on the musicians' age. I must admit that its been quite a while since I've had the pleasure to listen to such Funky high quality music, which at best brings back fond memories of Herbie Hancock's "Mwandishi" period. Schmidt sounds great regardless if he plays a muted trumpet, an electronically processed one (a la echoplex) or simply blows straight forward. Bura is best (in this environment) playing the electric piano rather than synthesizers and the rhythm section is close to stealing the show at times, with those bass slaps that make your ass dance and the extraordinary drumming, which is all over the place and yet so on time. The vocals are used mostly as vocalese, where they are most effective. When they turn to singing lyrics (in English), they quickly become the weakest link of the otherwise excellent effort.

Overall this is definitely a most impressive debut recording, which is both fun to listen to and a quality listening experience. I'm really looking forward to hear their next one, hopefully soon. Not to be missed!

Schmidt, a native of Silesia, the southwestern Polish region (where I come from as well) is one of a growing number of important Polish Jazz musicians originating there. The region is cultivating an active and first-rate local Jazz scene in the last decade, including clubs and festivals. In short, Silesia rulez!

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