Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wacław Zimpel To Tu Orchestra - Nature Moves (2014)

Wacław Zimpel To Tu Orchestra

Wacław Zimpel - A, Bb & alto clarinets
Paweł Postaremczak - tenor & soprano saxophones
Dominik Strycharski - alto & tenor flutes
Jacek Kita - upright piano
Maciej Cierliński - hurdy-gurdy
Wojtek Traczyk - double bass
Mike Majkowski - double bass
Paweł Szpura - drums
Hubert Zemler - drums, metallophone

Nature Moves


By Dirk Blasejezak

A small orchestra actually appears as a logical next step for Wacław Zimpel. For me he is one of the outstanding artists in Poland as I have already written in my review on "Stone Fog". And although that last one was a pleasure to listen to, it still did not completely convince me - but that's totally different here. I would describe "Nature Moves" as his masterpiece so far! Surely some fans of his projects like Hera or Undivided will not agree as here many traditional elements of (Free) Jazz are missing - or not so obvious. Instead, the whole album is more of a consistent composition whose title seems to fit quite perfectly. Therefore traditional jazz fans should be careful: It takes a lot of openness to approach this piece of work. In many parts it is more a reminiscence to minimalists such as Steve Reich or Terry Riley than to the american jazz tradition. But it seems as if those borders are at the moment extended very much, especially in contemporary Polish jazz. As an example the recently released album by Trzy Tony ("Efekt Księżyca", Requiem Records) might be cited. Personally, I like these transgressions very much.

As a listener you can expect long repetitive passages, just as known from minimalism. Impressive is the incredibly harmonious sound of the To To Orchestra though. Most of the musicians already know each other from previous projects, but nonetheless this harmony is an evidence of the huge dedication to the work. The backbone of the orchestra are the musicians of Hera (Paweł Postaremczak, Maciej Cierliński, Paweł Szpura and of course Wacław Zimpel). Wojtek Traczyk is known from his solo work but also through his bass playing in "The Light" - another project with Wacław Zimpel. Added to this is Jacek Kita, the pianist of one my favorite bands: Levity; and Dominik Strycharski, who just recently convinced with his play on Pulsarus. Hubert Zemler played in a variety of projects in the last years in which some of the here assembled musicians were involved too. Solely Mike Majkowski I only know from one collaboration with Mikołaj Trzaska ... But what's indeed amazing is that on these recordings Wacław Zimpel actually managed to combine those nine musicians into a uniform orchestral body to create a wonderful work of incredible harmony. That's also the reason why it's so difficult to tell something about the individual musicians - everyone seems to blend seamlessly into the collective.

For the impatient jazz fans I recommend track 3 ("Dry Landscape"), and the closing "Where The Prairie Meets The Mountains." Both pieces offer more traditional jazz elements than the other tracks on this album, while still not falling out of the line. For all other listeners I would absolutely recommend to listen to this album quietly in its entirety. The quietness is especially important. If you listen to this record on the side it might appear monotonous. The subtle nuances during the development of the individual pieces will become apparent only with due attention. But if you pay the attention it deserves to this album, you will be rewarded with a truly special listening experience.

There is one last thing I would like to say: I have deliberately avoided a comparison with "Alaman" as the approach is a completely different one here. I still mention it though, to point out that this is yet another outstanding example of a great intercourse with the "Big Band" that has become slightly dusty in recent decades. It’s in particular the differences between these two wonderful recordings that show what is possible with this ensemble! And even though I’m aware that it requires not only outstanding musicians and orchestra leaders, but that it's also a huge logistical challenge, I sincerely hope that more will dare follow this path!

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