Sunday, September 28, 2014

Piotr Lemańczyk Quartet North - Baltic Dance (2014)

Piotr Lemańczyk Quartet North

Emil Miszk - trumpet, fluegelhorn
Szymon Łukowski - tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet
Piotr Lemańczyk - double bass
Sławomir Koryzno - drums
feat. Neo Quartet

Baltic Dance


By Adam Baruch

Polish bassist / composer Piotr Lemańczyk keeps producing beautiful music with a staggering regularity, albeit constantly changing the lineups, the musicians and the instrumentation. This project finds him in a pianoless quartet with trumpeter Emil Miszk, saxophonist Szymon Łukowski and drummer Sławomir Koryzno. The album presents nine original compositions, all by Lemańczyk, three of which feature a string quartet accompanying the Jazz quartet. As the album's title suggests, Łukowski is a proud representative of the Polish Jazz scene active on the shore of the Baltic Sea, mostly around Gdansk, as are all three of his partners in this project. Over the years the Baltic scene produced some of the finest Polish Jazz achievements.

In my review of the previous album by Lemańczyk, called "Amhran", I mentioned that the music sounded American, i.e. different from the typical Polish Jazz, which has rather strong identity easily recognizable by a trained ear. This time the music again sounds atypical as far as Polish Jazz is concerned, and sounds pretty much like Scandinavian Jazz, which after all is created around the Baltic Sea as well. Of course these regional similarities are not meant to suggest a lack of originality, au contraire, Lemańczyk creates completely original music, and it is only the overall atmosphere that suggests a mindset typical to Jazz produced outside of Poland.

All these superb compositions are a wonderful vehicle for the players to show their abilities. Szymon Łukowski is the biggest surprise here, as his playing on other Polish Jazz recordings, including his debut eponymous album, was rather restrained and unremarkable, and here he sounds like a complete different person, with highly expressive and emotional solos and a beautiful affinity towards the music, including his excellent bass clarinet parts. Emil Miszk justified the position as one of the upcoming Polish Jazz trumpeters (although the competition in that department is unbelievably tough) and blows some truly impressive licks. Sławomir Koryzno stays mostly in the background, but keeps the music flowing steadily, with grace, with an occasional solo spot, which he manages quite well. Of course Lemańczyk is a power of Nature and his virtuosi bass lines are not only the backbone of this music but also its soul and intrinsic power.

This is modern Jazz at its best, with great tunes wonderfully performed by gifted musicians, who have no reason to feel any less worthy than their counterparts anywhere else in the world. This is elegant, intelligent music, which flows slowly, but reaches the deepest corners of the listener's soul. It’s a privilege to be able to enjoy this music, which deserves to be discovered and championed as much as any true piece of Art. Well done indeed!

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