Thursday, February 13, 2014

Erase – New And Old Dreams (2013) ***1/2

Gerard Lebik - tenor saxophone
Max Mucha - bass
Jakub Mielcarek - bass
Michal Trela - drums


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz quartet Erase, which consists of saxophonist Gerard Lebik, bassists Max Mucha and Jakub Mielcarek and drummer Michal Trela. The album presents a live recording at Warsaw's Pardon To Tu club, which in the last few years managed to establish an honorary position as the home of the avant-garde scene in the country's Capital. The quartet performs five completely improvised pieces attributed to all the four musicians.

The quartet presents music, which is naturally associated with the mid 1960s, when Free Jazz was at its artistic peak and musicians like Albert Ayler, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy and others bravely broke the ties with Jazz conventions and stepped into uncharted territory to expand the Art Form beyond the known boundaries. However, keeping in mind that all this happened fifty years ago, playing Free Jazz today lost much of its originality, especially in view of the fact that its true pioneers are all dead by now.

On the other hand, bands like Erase are needed today to shake up the somewhat stagnant Jazz scene, which often gravitates towards the dreaded retrograde mainstream. Therefore this total and uncompromising music is a welcome wake up call in that respect. Of course Erase has a lot to say on its own account, with the drenched saxophone wall-of-sound effect and the double bass lines and intensive drumming. It is a brutal encounter, which can leave no listener indifferent.

Free Jazz is mostly an essence of a live performance and Free Jazz recordings suffer from the same problem that food suffers from, i.e. eating it is quite different than seeing pictures of it. Hearing this concert was probably a momentous experience for those lucky to be there at the time. The recording is only a secondary experience. That does not mean of course that the music is not worth being recorded, on the contrary For Tune made exactly the right decision to include it in their catalogue, simply for what it is: unadulterated explosion of musical energy, which pays tribute to the glorious past. And since nobody else is doing anything remotely similar, even more so!

I don't know if the album's title is a tribute to the fabulous Old And New Dreams ensemble, which by itself was a tribute to Ornette Coleman; regardless if this is intentional or not, it is certainly most appropriate.

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