niedziela, 29 czerwca 2014

Pulsarus - Bee Itch (2014)


Dominik Strycharski - soprano, alto & tenor blockflutes
Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet, balkan horn
Aleksander Papierz - alto saxophone
Ray Dickaty - tenor saxophone
Stefan Orins - electric piano
Jacek Mazurkiewicz - double bass
Jakub Rutkowski - drums

Bee Itch (2014)

By Dirk Blasejezak

When I received this record, I was immeditely reminded of the last album by Pulsarus, "FAQ", that they released quite a while ago, and that I actually liked, but that still did not fully convince me. Nevertheless, the music with it's combination of electronic sounds and jazz instruments went exactly in the direction that I like, so I had to give this album a try ... And it blew me away!

With this album, the musicians around the trio Strycharski / Papierz / Rutkowski walk on on their path. Hard-line. On a first listening the music seems to be quite composed, but it's actually just a framework, no rigid skeleton though, around which the musician very freely mold their sounds. At the end there are 11 sculptures standing in the room that we, the listener, can enjoy devotedly. On the face of it, they look very angular, almost geometric - a feeling which arises from the high repetitiveness of the underlying compositions. However, it is clear that there is more than a sequence of rhythmic patterns. In fact, for me the repetitions, that were so obvious at the first listening, lose weight after some time. They take a back seat and create the canvas on which a plethora of nuances appear, that employ the ear and the mind likewise. The sometimes ostinato, yet grooving rhythms are much fun to listen to. And in most tracks very catchy melodies, or rather short chord progressions entwine around those rhythms, that you want to hum along immediately and that make the whole album so memorable.

The very first piece, "Imagine", gives an excellent example for explaining jazz to friends and acquaintances. Starting from the well-known harmonies of John Lennon's song of the same name unravels almost the entire history of jazz. It is indeed incredible how confident the seven musicians walk through the different styles and yet always stay very close to each other. The track is also very suitable as the musical language reaches even non-jazz fans. And if your friends rather like rock music, I recommend "Bathetic" - the first bars could easily be the riff of a grunge song of the early 90's.

Regarding the musicians I don't want to get too much into detail, they are known from formations such as Nucleon, Tom Trio or Trifonidis. If find it in fact amazing, how those seven musicians - improvise - such a coherent piece of art. This is even more surprising as they do not walk on beaten tracks here but till new fields. Of course there have been others who tried to merge modern musical language and acoustic jazz, but far too often the attempt failed - on this album it is more than successful.

Honestly, I am absolutely thrilled by this album. The musicians of Pulsarus and their guests do not just talk about breaking new ground in jazz, but they deliver - loudly and vehemently. It remains but one wish though: that they do not again take five years to produce the next album.

piątek, 27 czerwca 2014

Piotr Damasiewicz Quartet - Mnemotaksja (2014)

Piotr Damasiewicz - trumpet
Gerard Lebik - tenor saxophone, contralto clarinet
Maciej Garbowski - double bass
Wojciech Romanowski - drums


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the Polish Jazz quartet led by trumpeter / composer Piotr Damasiewicz, which also includes saxophonist Gerard Lebik, bassist Maciej Garbowski and drummer Wojciech Romanowski. The music was conceived and created around 2008 / 2009, when the quartet played and rehearsed inside the Baptist Church in the center of Wroclaw, and where it was also eventually recorded live but without audience. It was available as an obscure private edition in a CD-R version and finally got its long overdue formal release, after a careful remix and sonic improvement by the excellent For Tune label. The album consists of ten original compositions, nine of which are by Damasiewicz and one by Garbowski.

There is no doubt that Damasiewicz manages to establish a well deserved position as one of the top young Polish Jazz trumpeters on the contemporary scene, which is not by any means self-understandable considering the truly fierce competition and incredible flow of talent in that area. It is worth to compare this album with the trio recording Garbowski and Damasiewicz made at about the same time, called "Elements", which to some extent has a similar atmosphere.

Stylistically the album sounds quite "retro", resembling the glorious moments when modern Polish Jazz was at the first peak of its aesthetic and artistic development, led by the Godfathers of the genre like Krzysztof Komeda, Tomasz Stanko and others. The compositions are very much in the same mood as the music played then: romantic, minimalistic, delicate and full of lyricism and intrinsic melancholy. The same elements that made that music created half a Century ago completely eternal and outside of the time scale, are at work here as well. This music might have been made any time between the 1960s and now and would have fitted perfectly, being simply aloof from fads and fashions.

The performances are also exceptional in every respect, both individually and collectively. Everything is kept in a relaxed, but disciplined mode, with conversation between the musicians being kept at the epicenter. The solos are inconspicuous, emerging slowly from the melodic heads, gently prompted by the superb rhythm section, which demonstrates an incredible affinity towards the music at all times, being as much creative as the two horns every step of the way. Garbowski has already an established record as one of the leading Polish Jazz bassists, but Romanowski, who also cooperates with another superb Polish Jazz trumpeter, Artur Majewski, is a true discovery herein.

Overall this is definitely one of the strongest and most significant statements on the Polish Jazz scene in the last decade, even though Damasiewicz has moved on in the meantime towards more improvised music beyond any stylistic conventions. Even if this album should remain as his only contribution to modern Polish Jazz in the true sense of the Jazz tradition, it will still be a remarkable achievement. This is also one of the most remarkable albums in the fast growing catalogue of the For Tune label, certainly from a historic perspective. Undoubtedly this is an album every true connoisseur of Jazz will cherish in his collection and return to repeatedly.

czwartek, 26 czerwca 2014

Polish-Jazz blog provides media patronage for new album by Mikolaj Trzaska !!!


Mikolaj Trzaska - alto saxophone, bass clarinet
Rafal Mazur - acoustic bass guitar
Balazs Pandi - drums

Tar & Feathers (2014, Gusstaff Records)

This recording documents the galvanizing first-time meeting of saxophone and clarinet player Mikołaj Trzaska, acoustic bass player Rafał Mazur and drummer Balazs Pandi, which happened in Budapest on October 31st, 2012. The venue, Club A38, is a ferry on the Danube river in the very center of the city, making one wonder if it was genius loci, the steady and strong current of the mighty European river, or the strong potential between the musicians that made the evening magical. Perhaps it was both. This music is a unique fusion of free jazz and strong, though sophisticated rhythms that one associates more with metal or hardcore. Fortunately, the concert was recorded, while the night marked the beginning of further cooperation between the musicians.

Mikolaj Trzaska - born in Gdańsk, saxophonist, bass clarinetist and composer, grew out of yass - a socio-artistic movement that in the 80-ties/ 90-ties opposed the rigidity of Polish jazz environment. Together with Tymon Tymański and a group of other musicians free from any doctrine they changed the image of Polish jazz music. Trzaska was the co-founder of the most important yass group - legendary Miłość and of as creative Łoskot. Although the impetus of yass faded away many years ago he became the leader of national improvisation scene. After the yass period he recorded a few concentrated and quiet albums with the section of Oleś brothers. He also accompanied poets - Świetlicki and Andrukhovych, he created muical - literary projects with Andrzej Stasiuk. Today he is a leader of the international jazz trio Volume and a member of such groups as Ken Vandermark's Resonance, Joe McPhee's Magic or Shofar - who perform Jewish music. He gains really comes into his own, however, in music rooted in radical free jazz and has cooperated with bastions of the international free improvisation scene, such as Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark, Peter Friis-Nielsen and Michael Zerang.

Rafal Mazur's involvement with music began in his youth with violoncello studies in Krakow. He switched to bass guitar in the late 1980's. Since 2000 he has played an acoustic bass guitar built to his own specifications by luthier Jerzy Wysocki. He has developed an advanced and individual approach to his instrument, and to improvisation in general, in which sonority, extended technique and gesture combine effortlessly in performance. He has taken an important role in Kraków to support young artists and improvised music. A founder of the ImproArt studio of improvisation, he has performed jazz and improvised music in clubs and festivals across Poland and Europe, and in China, South Korea and Israel. In recent years he has collaborated with Lisa Ullen, Frederic Blondy, Charlotta Hug, Raymond Strid, Keir Neuringer, Zsolt Sores and others. His current focus is the band "Ensemble 56" and "Mazur/Neuringer Duo". He is an organizer of the Laboratory of Intuition, a series of spontaneous art presentations in Kraków. Mazur's main field of interest and activity is collective and solo free/spontaneous improvisation. In his practice as an improvising musician and on his way to mastery/artistry he studys Chinese philosophy (Jagiellonian University). He regards Taoism as a strong base for the enrichment of the improviser's attitude, and to this end he practices the Taoist's martial art TaiJi Quan Chen. For Mazur, following the masters of Chinese philosophy and martial arts is crucial in the development of a state of mind prepared for the unexpected situations an improviser encounters in the act of collective free improvisation. During the Polish Sound Art in China tour in 2006, Mazur presented lectures in NiHiLo Gallery in Foshan and Zendai Art Museum in Shanghai, taking the opportunity to meet Chinese improvisers and discuss and compare his approaches to improvisation, Taoism and TaiJi. Mazur's most recent work is the first album of solo acoustic bass guitar free improvisation: 'Sonor Forms'. Released by independent label DTS Records in Krakow on its Transidiomatic series, the disc is the result of investigation into the practice of solo free improvisation.

Balazs Pandi (born 6 August 1983) is a Hungarian drummer. He worked and toured with various acts from all around the world including Venetian Snares, Otto Von Schirach (under the alias 666 Cent), Last Step, To Live and Shave in L.A., The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and Zu. He also played drums for Blood Of Heroes project. Since 2009 he is the live drummer of Merzbow, they also made three live records together. They were headlining the experimental stage at Scion AV Rock Festival in Tampa, FL in 2012. Balazs started electronicametal-breakcore project with Bong-Ra called Wormskull in 2010 (their first album "Sound of Hell" was released in 2011). Most recently he joined the Italian experimental instrumental band Zu. His current projects include Italian doom band Obake, Metallic Taste of Blood (featuring Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree, Eraldo Bernocchi of Obake and Jamie Saft. From 2012 he started to play solo shows on selected festivals under his own name. Rare Noise Records released "Cuts" a trio record with Merzbow and Mats Gustafsson in February 2013.


1. Climbing up the River
2. Tar and Feathers
3. Black Ice Crackle
4. Bout with Transparent Bottom
5. Patter of Seagulls
6. Bleeding Sky Resting on the Ground

poniedziałek, 23 czerwca 2014

Various Artists – Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol.15 (2014)

Various Artists


By Adam Baruch

This is the fifteenth installment in the new series of releases initiated by the Polish Radio, which presents archive Jazz recordings. Radio recordings are always a fabulous source of remarkable material, and as far as Polish Jazz history is concerned, the Polish Radio, which was a state monopoly for 45 years, recorded over time a plethora of invaluable material, which apart from the albums released by the Polskie Nagrania record company (also a state monopoly), is the only available additional source of Polish Jazz recordings. For many years Polish Radio recorded concerts presented during Poland's most important Jazz venues, including the annual Jazz Jamboree Festival and many other festivals as well.

The material collected here presents the second volume of recordings made in 1961 and 1962 by Polish Radio in several Polish cities, presenting Polish Jazz ensembles performing American Jazz standards. Although played well, this music presents very few challenges as far as Jazz development is concerned, but from a historical perspective that stage of development was an important step towards a the creation of a new voice in modern Polish Jazz, which was just around the corner. Playing standards prepared these musicians for the challenges that were in store for them when the music made a decisive leap forward towards the new Polish / European Jazz.

The album includes sixteen tracks, by two ensembles, playing as mentioned earlier standards, in a manner still very similar to their American models. The ensembles are: Zbigniew Namyslowski (saxophone) Jazz Rockers with saxophonist Michal Urbaniak, pianist Krzysztof Sadowski, bassist Adam Skorupka and drummer Andrzej Zielinski (thirteen tracks) and Andrzej Trzaskowski (piano / trumpet) quintet with saxophonists Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski, pianist Wojciech Karolak, bassist Roman Dylag (bassist Jan Byrczek plays on one track) and drummer Andrzej Dabrowski (three tracks).

Stylistically the music is based on mostly Bee Bop and Hard Bop standards, played with obvious talent and affinity, but lacking any originality. Of course this is still an important document of the era and fans of mainstream Jazz and Polish Jazz history should be happy with it.

The beautifully restored sound quality is excellent and the warm ambience of the analog recording is a true joy. As usual with this series, which is very reasonably priced, I miss the presence of "in depth" liner notes / booklet, which should convey the circumstances at which this music was recorded and its importance to the development of Jazz in Poland. Nevertheless this is an absolutely essential piece of Jazz history which every Jazz fan will surely consider an absolute must.

niedziela, 22 czerwca 2014

Cup of Time - Plays Namysłowski (2014)

Cup of Time (band)

Ryszard Borowski - flute
Agnieszka Cypryk - violin
Rafał Grząka - accordion
Krzysztof Lenczowski - cello

Plays Namysłowski (Dux, 2014)

By Maciej Nowotny

If to any extent you are in Polish jazz you should already know the name of Zbigniew Namysłowski. He is one of those very few without whom this phenomenon is unimaginable along with Komeda, Stańko, Trzaskowski, Seifert, Kurylewicz and few others. Namysłowski's contribution was manifold and since it is just a short note let me focus on those aspects of his musical personality that are meaningful with respect to this specific project: Namysłowski as an instrumentalist and as a composer.

We shall start with a latter as whole idea of this album is built on idea to convey Namysłowski's compositions to public in classical music language. A flow of ideas from jazz to classical music is of course nothing new but actually classical musicians taking on jazz compositions is relatively rare or ... rather unsuccessful. Simply the idea of music making in jazz and in classical music is often opposite, difficult if not impossible to reconcile. Yet music of Namysłowski fortunately seems to be an exception to this rule. The reason is that unlike many jazz tunes his compositions can exist on its own without his performance and with no improvisations. Namysłowski's music turns out to be complex enough to be able to work well in classical musical as much as in jazz firstly due to his highly original melody making and secondly due to his tireless rhythmic inventions (many of them influenced by folk music).

As for the band it is consisting of musicians well versed in both classical and jazz music idioms: flutist Ryszard Borowski and cellist Krzysztof Lenczowski both are active and successful on our jazz scene, while accordionist Rafał Grząka studied with Andrzej Jagodziński and only Agnieszka Cypryk seem to me having no jazz connection whatsoever. However it doesn't really matter because what is important is that they are all first class musicians with necessary feel for jazz with its unpredictability and spontaneity. 

But this album comprises yet more surprises which make its rehearsal even more interesting. Apart from Namysłowski's compositions it contains two Silesian folk songs arranged by legendary Witold Lutosławski, compositions written by Borowski and Lenczowski (and very good ones!) plus a composition by another excellent Polish XXth century composer Grażyna Bacewicz. All they make up for a very diverse programme which can satisfy even the most demanding listeners.

But the most exciting is the participation of Namysłowski himself! And yet one more brilliant idea: he was invited to play solos but only in compositions other than his own. Very good move indeed as thanks to this we are not served with some well known performances but we have an opportunity to listen to him in completely new material. And what a pleasure it is! Namysłowski is one of very few Polish jazz musicians who have his own sound so from first note we recognize this tone. These performances definitely are what makes this album so very special!

sobota, 21 czerwca 2014

Various Artists – Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol.14 (2014)

Various Artists


By Adam Baruch

This is the fourteenth installment in the new series of releases initiated by the Polish Radio, which presents archive Jazz recordings. Radio recordings are always a fabulous source of remarkable material, and as far as Polish Jazz history is concerned, the Polish Radio, which was a state monopoly for 45 years, recorded over time a plethora of invaluable material, which apart from the albums released by the Polskie Nagrania record company (also a state monopoly), is the only available additional source of Polish Jazz recordings. For many years Polish Radio recorded concerts presented during Poland's most important Jazz venues, including the annual Jazz Jamboree Festival and many other festivals as well.

The material collected here presents the third volume of recordings made in 1963 during the sixth Jazz Jamboree festival in Warsaw. In contrast to the two earlier volumes, this one presents only Polish Jazz musicians, and therefore is by far the most interesting and enlightening of the three. In many respects this album is a comprehensive review of the Polish Jazz scene at the time and presents the early days of the modern Polish Jazz at its pivotal stage of forming its own identity, as far as sound, atmosphere, character and unique stylistic aesthetics are concerned.

The album includes just six tracks, by four different ensembles, playing expanded compositions, three of which cross the fifteen minutes duration time, a clear signal of creativity and improvisational freedom typical of modern Jazz. The ensembles are: Zbigniew Namyslowski (saxophone) quartet with pianist Wlodek Gulgowski, bassist Tadeusz Wojcik and drummer Czeslaw Bartkowski (one track), Andrzej Trzaskowski (piano) quintet with saxophonists Zbigniew Namyslowski and Michal Urbaniak, bassist Julian Sandecki and drummer Adam Jedrzejowski (two tracks), Alek Musial (trumpet) quintet with vibraphonist Ryszard Kruza, pianist Wlodzimierz Nahorny, bassist Wieslaw Damiecki and drummer Bogdan Jopek (one track) and finally Krzysztof Komeda (piano) quintet with trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, saxophonist Michal Urbaniak, bassist Maciej Suzin and drummer Czeslaw Bartkowski (two tracks). Of the six compositions three are standards and three are originals, one by Trzaskowski and two by Komeda.

Stylistically the music is quite similar, ranging from more traditionally based modern Jazz in case of the Namyslowski and Musial tracks to more advanced characteristic Polish Jazz material in case in of the music by Trzaskowski and finally most dramatically in the music by Komeda, which is already eons ahead of its time. The two Komeda tracks are the epitome of modern Polish / European Jazz, which clearly show a mature approach free of the restrictions imposed by the American Jazz tradition. These tracks are alone worth the price of the entire album, but of course the rest of the material is also quite excellent.

The beautifully restored sound quality is excellent and the warm ambience of the analog recording is a true joy. As usual with this series, which is very reasonably priced, I miss the presence of "in depth" liner notes / booklet, which should convey the circumstances at which this music was recorded and its importance to the development of Jazz in Poland. Nevertheless this is an absolutely essential piece of Jazz history which every Jazz fan will surely consider an absolute must.

niedziela, 15 czerwca 2014

Michal Urbaniak Group - Inactin (1973)

Michal Urbaniak Group

Michal Urbaniak - electric violin, violectra, soprano sax
Urszula Dudziak - vocal, Dynacord, Echocord, percussion
Adam Makowicz - Fender piano, Hohner clarinet
Roman Dylag - Barcus Berry bass and electric bass
Czeslaw Bartkowski - drums, Paiste cymbals
Branislav Kovacev - conga-drums

Inactin (2014)

If one were looking for a single most important contribution of Polish jazz musicians into world jazz heritage that would perhaps be the rediscovery of a violin in jazz. Works by Zbigniew Seifert paved the way for other Polish jazz violinists to be eventually recognized worldwide. Among them Michał Urbaniak plays the pivotal role as one of the most famous due to his collaboration with Miles Davis in 80ties on "Tutu" and "Music from Siesta" albums.

Urbaniak's career prior to collaboration with Miles remains as one of the most interesting adventures in Polish jazz history. He was among those who very early realized that jazz is taking great twist toward fusion incorporating in its idiom influences from rock, funk, rhythm'n'blues and folk music from all over the world. Michał plunged into this stream where he found his own place and uniqueness of his language eventually drew the attention of Davis. While rehearsing this album recorded in 1973 one can only admire the quality of this music which did not grow old even a bit.

But this album is memorable not only due to Urbaniak's violin but also due to breathtaking performance by his then wife Urszula Dudziak. Undisputable Polish jazz singer number one at that era she was as powerful and original voice as Urbaniak's. On this album her voice plays role of the one more instrument, there are no songs, no words are spoken, but Dudziak's vocalizes are just beyond the praise. As much as are performances of other musicians taking part in this session, all cream the creme of Polish jazz: pianist Adam Makowicz, double-bassist Roman Dylag, drummer Czeslaw Bartkowski and Serbian congas player Branislav Kovacev. What more can I say save that this is the Polish jazz at its best and simply the kind of album that is nothing less than a pure must!

Tracks Listing
1. Inactin (6:58)
2. Alu (3:58)
3. Ekim (5:49)
4. Silence (3:31)
5. Fall (7:42)
6. Groovy Desert (5:01)
7. Lato (8:06)

czwartek, 12 czerwca 2014

Second Exit - Spoon (ForTune, 2014)

Second Exit (band)

Piotr Łyszkiewicz - tenor & soprano saxophones, percussion
Ove Volquartz - contrabass clarinet, soprano saxophone
Piotr Zabrodzki - bass guitar, synthesizer, piano
Michał Trela - drums, percussion

Spoon (ForTune, 2014)

By Dirk Blasejezak

This album took me a bit, but it was more than worth it! I can only advise anybody to take the time and let this album sink in, then it will reveal it's depth.

I am particularly pleased that it is finally once again a Polish-German production, which has led to such a great result. Ove Volquartz as the German representative (from Göttingen) and Piotr Łyszkiewicz, of course, stood out on first listening - especially in the first piece: the duel of two soprano saxophones is very demanding for the listener with its intensity and the relentlessness of both musicians. On the other tracks too the two reeds mostly come as a pair and enclose each other in an extremely exciting way. I have to admit though that I'm always positively biased when someone unboxes a contrabass clarinet. 

Only on the second listening of "Well Ride" I noticed the work of Piotr Zabrodzki in the background. Of the four musicians, he is probably best known to the Polish audience. His work includes highs (Trylobit, Baaba Kulka) as well as lows (LXMP), but with this album it has definitely reached a new peak. Here his incredible versatility is visible or better audible in each track. In "Well Ride" he adds, through his synthesizer sounds, to the above mentioned depth; in "Mysterious Colours" he plays the bass guitar - starting around minute 18:00 you can very well get a picture of his skills on this instrument. And in the last piece ("Some message from Olivier (ECPM)"), he sits on one of the solo instruments: the piano. And in all three roles you have the feeling as if he had never done anything else. Wonderful!

However, I also have to say a few words to Michał Trela - that he is the last to write about is not to be understood as a rating. Quite the contrary: His hard, rocking, and extremely precise play (his solo in "Ride Well", I think, makes clear what I mean) gives the music in many parts an entirely new note, it’s changing the direction. I like this style very much; especially in collective improvisations I always feel comfortable when one of the musicians builds some kind of a handrail for me to stroll along. To my regret, I did not know him yet, but he has recently (again on ForTune) released an album with the "Erase" quartet, that I just have not yet had the chance to listen to. I am particularly curious about his future projects.

On the whole, this is a record of exceptional quality, an absolute recommendation. Among the authors of the Polish Jazz blog there even was a discussion about making this album the Album of the Month - I voted against it. Maybe I even regret it a little, after listening to it a few times. The main reason for my decision was not that this record would not have deserved it (I’m certain that in 10 out of 12 months of any year I would have agreed without hesitation!), but that there are simply several outstanding albums this month. How happy the jazz scene can be about that - especially if, as in this case, those are the scenes of two countries.

sobota, 7 czerwca 2014

Edward Czerny Orchestra – Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol.16 (2014)

Edward Czerny - bandleader / conductor


By Adam Baruch

This is the sixteenth installment in the new series of releases initiated by the Polish Radio, which presents archive Jazz recordings. Radio recordings are always a fabulous source of remarkable material, and as far as Polish Jazz history is concerned, the Polish Radio, which was a state monopoly for 45 years, recorded over time a plethora of invaluable material, which apart from the albums released by the Polskie Nagrania record company (also a state monopoly), is the only available additional source of Polish Jazz recordings. For many years Polish Radio recorded concerts presented during Poland's most important Jazz venues, including the annual Jazz Jamboree Festival and many other festivals as well.

This album is a first in a series presenting music recorded by the Polish Radio Big Bands and presents the orchestra led by composer / arranger / bandleader Edward Czerny, one of the most active musical figures in Poland's post-WWII history. Czerny, who was born in Zabrze, one of the Silesian industrial towns, received classical musical education in Berlin before the war. He managed to avoid being grafted into the German army due to a disability and spent the war in his hometown. Immediately after the war he became active forming and leading orchestras, first in Silesia and later on in Warsaw, where he moved in 1955. Among his various activities he was the conductor and artistic director of the Polish Radio Orchestra / Big Band for many years and recorded thousands of compositions for the radio, some of them his own. He retired from conducting by the mid 1970s and spent the rest of his life composing. He moved to Germany in 1981, where he died in 2003.

Although Czerny was not a Jazz personality as such, he had a beautiful sense of Swing and a deep sympathy towards Jazz compositions, which he demonstrated in his wonderful arrangements of Jazz standards for his orchestra. Above all he was a superb orchestrator, which is evident in all his work. This album presents nineteen recordings made between 1956 and 1966 including mostly arrangements of Jazz / Swing standards by legendary composers like Glen Miller, Stan Kenton, Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington and others. There are also four original compositions by Czerny. Interestingly two compositions by the Czech composer Karel Krautgartner, who was another great bandleader / conductor active behind the Iron Curtain, are also included.

Fans of vintage Jazz sound and swinging, danceable tunes should have a field day with this material, but it's worth remembering that Czerny and his music influenced an entire generation of musicians, who were about to become the first Polish post-WWII wave of modern Jazz musicians, creating one of the most fascinating European Jazz scenes.

The beautifully restored sound quality is excellent and the warm ambience of the analog recording is a true joy. As usual with this series, which is very reasonably priced, I miss the presence of "in depth" liner notes / booklet, which should convey the circumstances at which this music was recorded and its importance to the development of Jazz in Poland. Nevertheless this is an absolutely essential piece of Jazz history which every Jazz fan will surely consider an absolute must.

środa, 4 czerwca 2014

Milobedzka/Zimpel – Tyle Tego Ty (2012)

Krystyna Milobedzka - reciting
Waclaw Zimpel - clarinets & flutes
Christian Ramond - bass
Klaus Kugel - percussion

MALTAFUNDACJA 9788393420230

By Adam Baruch

This album is a wonderful example of the Polish Jazz tradition of combining music and words in what is usually known as the Jazz & Poetry movement. That tradition continues almost uninterruptedly since the early days of the modern Polish Jazz history and reflects the intellectual approach, which sees music, poetry and other Art Forms as different facets of the phenomenon we call Culture. Over the years Polish Jazz produced many remarkable recordings of quite different manifestations of the Jazz & Poetry sub-genre and this beautiful album is an example of how it can be taken into new areas and cover new ground, keeping it alive and relevant. The album is packed in an elegant box, which also includes a book with all the lyrics.

Polish poetess Krystyna Milobedzka recites twenty one of her extraordinary poems and is accompanied by music composed by Polish Jazz clarinetist/composer Waclaw Zimpel. The music is performed by a trio comprising of Zimpel, who plays clarinets, flutes and harmonium and German musicians: bassist Christian Ramond and drummer Klaus Kugel. Together they manage to create a beautiful lyrical atmosphere, balancing between the somewhat hesitant, obviously weakened by her age, delicate voice of the author and the music, which is partly based on the Japanese gagaku tradition and partly reflects contemporary Improvised Music.

Jazz & Poetry projects are often considered problematic due to the obvious language barriers, in this case between those listeners who understand the Polish language and those who don't. But as in some extraordinary cases, this album transcends those barriers with ease and every sensible, Cultural human being is still able to experience an aesthetic epiphany when listening to it, regardless if he understands the words or not.

The trio manages to create an entire universe of music, which surrounds the lyrics, engulfing them and symbiotically joins them, creating a new entity. Zimpel is in charge of the melodies delicately presented in slow motion. Ramond is the pulse of this virtual world, which gives it its fourth dimension. Kugel ornaments the reality with a myriad of percussive details, which in a way conduct a dialogue with the recited words.

Obviously this is not something which a casual listener can comprehend or appreciate. But for those who can, this is simply a masterpiece. It is comforting to witness such extraordinary projects being realized in the stone cold reality that surrounds us. Brilliant stuff!

wtorek, 3 czerwca 2014

Pater/Kaminski/Urowski/Gorzycki – Dziki Jazz (2009)

Kamil Pater - guitar
Aleksander Kaminski - saxophone
Pawel Urowski - bass
Rafal Gorzycki - drums

MW 002

By Adam Baruch

This is an excellent album by a quartet of young generation Polish Jazz musicians: guitarist Kamil Pater, saxophonist Aleksander Kaminski, bassist Pawel Urowski and drummer Rafal Gorzycki. They have all appeared in different local ensembles since the turn of the Century and have an established reputation as some of the biggest hopes of the future Polish Jazz scene. The album presents eight original compositions, with two each by Pater, Urowski and Pater / Kaminski, one by Gorzycki and the remaining one by all four musicians.

The music is an interesting blend of modern Jazz and some Blues, Rock, Electronics and Contemporary Classical influences. The overall atmosphere is contemplative and relaxed and the up-tempo passages are usually brief and serve as a contrast to the low-key attitude, which dominates this recording. There are clear melodic themes stated in each of the compositions, but there is also a lot of freedom and individual expression herein. The two main soloists (i.e. guitar and saxophone) play some beautiful duets and the level of interplay between the four musicians is simply phenomenal.

It is great to see musicians finding new ways to express their talents and innovate, rather than follow the beaten path of mainstream Jazz, which has been over-exploited for decades. This music is original, fresh, fascinating and stylistically diverse to keep the listeners on their toes time and time again. Three of the musicians playing here recorded another splendid album entitles "A-Kineton" with saxophonist Irek Wojtczak replacing Kaminski, which is also a "must have" for all Polish Jazz connoisseurs.

niedziela, 1 czerwca 2014

Sebastian Zawadzki - Luminescence (2014)

Sebastian Zawadzki - piano

Luminescence (2014)

By Maciej Nowotny

We witness here on this blog many debuts that are often good or very good. It usually means that young musicians mastered their instrument to the degree allowing them a free pursuit of their own artistic destiny. But few of them do that. There is a vast difference between becoming the musician and... the artist. The more we appreciate when it happens that the debutante turns out to be at the same time a unique artistic individuality. This is a case with the pianist Sebastian Zawadzki.

Approximately two years ago he started to bomb us with his albums issued at a rate of machine gun. In 2012 "Tone Raw" by  Tone Raw, in 2013 "Live at Torun" by International Jazzpocalypse and "Tage" by Zawadzki / Prasniewski / Wosko featured him as a member of young promising bands. Although he was only one of many in these projects but I immediately realized that the scale of his talent hugely exceeds what is usual, typical or ordinary. It was obvious he is singing the song that is entirely his own. Even then I was wondering what this young artist may accomplish if he decides to speak in his own name.

Much earlier than one could expect he was given by For Tune Records an opportunity to record his own album. I then learnt with great surprise that he intends to record a solo recital with all originals composed by himself. That sounded to me extremely risky and I was waiting for the outcome of this challenge with impatience accompanied by some apprehension. But the result of this enterprise leaves me not just satisfied but rather astonished as much by Zawadzki's courage but first of all by the mastery, so rare in so young the artist, with which he accomplished his idea.

And this idea is to create on this album his own peculiar world. Built upon very strong inheritance of classical music, saturated with unique Polish sense of blues and animated by the spirit of jazz improvisation. But it is first and foremost the treatise on the melody.  Melody that is so often in retreat in modern jazz which is sort of dominated by free jazz tradition where collective improvisation in a sense limits the possibility of using the melody. Zawadzki does not follow this path. Neither he is imitating anybody from the past as much of jazz or of classical music. The uniqueness of his voice lays in its utter simplicity, the innocence, the unpretentiousness with which he reveals his most intimate emotions. This album contains music that should not be overlooked as it stands out as one of most potent messages I heard from Polish jazz musicians in recent years even if spoken in so simple and childlike words. Outstanding achievement!

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