Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Slawomir Kulpowicz – Private Balet Music (2013) ****

Slawomir Kulpowicz - piano


By Adam Baruch

This is the third installment in a series of releases documenting the recorded legacy of the great Polish Jazz pianist / composer Slawomir Kulpowicz, most of which is released for the first time. Kulpowicz, who died prematurely in 2008 at the age of 56, was a victim of cancer. He was a member of groups led by the top Polish Jazz players like Zbigniew Namyslowski and Tomasz Stanko and led / co-led his own ensembles like The Quartet, In-Formation and also cooperated with many other musicians over the years. He was an avid follower of John Coltrane's music and kept in touch with Coltrane's wife Alice Coltrane. Following his visit to India, Kulpowicz discovered Indian music and the spiritual aura of India, which became his own.

The turn of the Millennium found Kulpowicz as a refined Artist, with years of experience and success already credited to his impressive list of achievements. He was moving away from the traditional Jazz milieu and getting closer to contemporary Classical forms as well as experimenting with World Music influences. This solo piano recital, recorded live, which presents fourteen of his original compositions, is a portrait of a mature performer and composer, who has a complete control over his instrument as well as the ability to create moods and paint musical vistas with an astonishing ease and elegance.

Kulpowicz was interested in contemporary Classical music from an early age and although the first phase of his career concentrated on Jazz, the next one was quite different. He composed several pieces, which served as music for ballet and turned out to be a remarkable successful. The music on this album bridges these two phases, as the music clearly shows deep love and respect of the Jazz tradition, but the form is much closer to Classical style, in which these beautiful pieces could be considered as fragments of a suite (in this case an imaginary ballet suite) or other short forms like impressions, variations, etc. Regardless how this music is categorized, the level of amalgamation between Jazz and Classical music achieved here is simply exceptional.

Of course solo piano music is often quite difficult and demanding. Less experienced listeners may lack the concentration and dedication required in order to truly appreciate this music in full. This kind of music usually demands repeated listening sessions in order to discover its beauty, elegance and sophistication. On the other hand such investment is usually very well rewarded, as one might expect also in this case. Therefore this music should be taken seriously and relatively gradually, but eventually it will certainly hit the right cords. Wholeheartedly recommended!

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