Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Olejniczak / Sendecki European Quartet – Birthday Live #2 (2013) ****

Andrzej Olejniczak - tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet
Wladyslaw Sendecki - piano, keyboards
Laurent Vernerey - bass
Mark Mondesir - drums


By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording at the Blue Note Poznan Jazz club, celebrating the club's fourteenth Anniversary, by a wonderful quartet led by two extraordinary Polish Jazz heroes: saxophonist Andrzej Olejniczak and pianist Wladyslaw Sendecki, with French bassist Laurent Vernerey and British drummer Mark Mondesir. Olejniczak and Sendecki share some of the glory days of the Polish Jazz in the 1970s, when they were both members of the legendary Extra Ball ensemble and founders of the no less legendary Sun Ship ensemble. Both living now outside of Poland (Olejniczak in Spain and Sendecki in Germany) they are still an integral part of the Polish Jazz phenomenon, as this album proves beyond any doubt. The album includes seven pieces, two each by Olejniczak, Sendecki and Krzysztof Komeda and the remaining one being a folk tune arranged by Sendecki.

The members of this quartet are some of the finest European Jazz musicians and the resulting album is simply exceptional in every respect. The music is all excellent from start to finish, modern full-fledged and highly spirited Jazz with numerous superb solo spots and an exceptional live ambience, which happens only rarely. It is obvious that everybody had a wonderful time and the musicians are simply giving everything they have, sharing, supporting and challenging each other constantly in perfect harmony and with telepathic thoughtfulness. Although the two soloists are naturally in the center of attention, one must immediately recognize the incredible role of the outstanding rhythm section, which stands shoulder to shoulder with the soloists at all times.

The saxophone and piano solos are all sensational and there is no exaggeration whatsoever in that statement. In many respects these performances are absolute classics, which should be taught at music schools as examples of what real Jazz is all about, especially European Jazz, as this is, again in many respects, a revelation of the European elegance and sophistication that makes all the difference. This music is completely devoid of ego trips and attempts to prove who can play faster or louder or prettier, it is simply a perfect teamwork, which is always the ground upon great Jazz music is firmly based.

The last tune on the album is dedicated to the memory of the great Polish Jazz bassist Zbigniew Wegehaupt, who was not only a friend of the Polish musicians but also a dear personal friend of mine and whose tragic and premature death left a scar in the hearts of all of us.

There is not much more that needs to be said here, except for Gracias, Danke, Merci, Thanks and of course Dziekuje to all the people involved for this heartbreakingly beautiful music.

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