Saturday, December 28, 2013

Slawomir Kulpowicz – Three Etudes / Prasad In Mangalore (2009) ***1/2

Slawomir Kulpowicz - piano
Jarooslaw Smietana - guitar
Witold Szczurek - bass
Krzysztof Przybylowicz - percussion
Jerzy Bartz - percussion
Jose Torres - percussion

ANEX 319

Following the demise of The Quartet, Polish Jazz pianist / composer Slawomir Kulpowicz founded a new ensemble, which he called In-Formation. Over time several different versions of In-Formation existed, including a duo, a piano trio, quartet and even sextet. In-Formation recorded two albums and later took part in the recording of this album, which was eventually released as a Kulpowicz solo album. The album consists of three solo piano pieces recorded for the Polish Radio and three pieces recorded live by In-Formation during the Jazz Jamboree Festival with guitarist Jaroslaw Smietana, bassist Witold Szczurek (a.k.a. Vitold Rek) and percussionists Krzysztof Przybylowicz, Jerzy Bartz and Jose Torres.

All the music was composed by Kulpowicz and is a direct continuation of his John Coltrane / McCoy Tyner influenced style presented earlier by The Quartet. But in time the music becomes more contemplative and also more personal, as evident mostly on the solo piano pieces. In parallel the Indian and other World Music influences are trickling in steadily and can be already clearly heard herein. The In-Formation pieces are truly superb and present the group as a great vehicle for the Kulpowicz compositions. They also expose Smietana as the first rate player he always was, regardless of the setting.

In retrospect this is a great document of the Polish Jazz scene in the early 1980s and an important part of the legacy Kulpowicz left behind him, which should serve as an endless source of inspiration to new generations of Polish Jazz players. Definitely worth investigating!

Side Note: The Poljazz label, which originally released this album, was active for 20 years (between 1972 and 1991) and was owned by the Polish Jazz Society. Considering the fact that the music industry in the Socialist State was centralized and totally controlled, with just one State owned music company producing all the albums, the possibilities to record and release Jazz albums were extremely limited. Poljazz was conceived and founded in order to allow for many more Jazz (and other) albums to be released independently from the State owned Polskie Nagrania / Muza and as such revolutionized the music industry at the time, being the only such enterprise in Eastern Europe. The Polish label Anex reissued many of the original Poljazz albums on CD, bringing this fabulous music back to life.

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