Friday, April 4, 2014

Oles Brothers / Chris Speed / Simon Nabatov – Walk Songs (2006) ****

Chris Speed - saxophone
Simon Nabatov - piano
Marcin Oles - bass
Bartlomiej Brat Oles - drums


By Adam Baruch

This is a great album recorded by Polish Jazz musicians: bassist Marcin Oles and drummer Bartlomiej Brat Oles, collectively known as Oles Brothers, with the American saxophonist Chris Speed and Russian (living in Germany) pianist Simon Nabatov. Together, as a quartet, they perform nine original compositions, seven of which were composed by Marcin Oles (who is the formal leader of this session) and two by Bartlomiej Brat Oles.

The music is firmly based in the Jazz tradition, seemingly quite "conventional" melody based modern Jazz, but upon careful listening the complexity and intrinsic Freedom become more and more apparent as the album progresses from one tune into another. Both Speed and Nabatov play some excellent solos and contribute to the general quartet sound, which is glued together by the rhythm section. The overall atmosphere is reminiscent of the work by mid-period John Coltrane quartet, which of course is the best model any Jazz musician could strive to achieve.

The tunes use often the specific "walking" bass outline, which is perhaps what Marcin Oles had in mind when he devised this project. But regardless of any intensions, the resulting music is simply some of the finest European Jazz created since the turn of the 21st Century. All four of the quartet members combine their individual power of musical expressions to create a result that is greater than the sum of its ingredients, which is always a wonderful experience. This kind of music shows clearly that music can be sophisticated and complex and be accessible to a diverse group of Jazz connoisseurs.

Like all the other albums by the Oles Brothers, this album emphasizes their talents as composers, in addition to their abilities as players. The ambitious decision to play and record their original music almost exclusively is one of their trademarks and as a result we can all enjoy the wonderful music they are able to weave in their minds. All we can do is raise our hats in a "thank you" gesture.

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