Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Andrzej Olejniczak – New Sax Concertos (2014)

Andrzej Olejniczak

Andrzej Olejniczak - saxophone
with Polish Radio Orchestra

New Sax Concertos


By Adam Baruch

This is a wonderful album by Polish (living in Spain) Jazz saxophonist Andrzej Olejniczak, who performs three "borderline" pieces bridging Jazz and Classical music, which feature the saxophone as the leading instrument. The album was recorded live with Olejniczak performing the music with the Polish Radio Orchestra conducted by Krzesimir Debski. Drummer Lukasz Zyta is featured as co-soloist on one track.

The first piece, entitled "Focus Suite", was written by American composer Eddie Sauter specifically for saxophonist Stan Getz, who recorded the suite in 1961 on the album entitled "Focus", which to this day remains as one of the most revered Jazz recordings of all times. The original recording features Getz supported by a Jazz piano trio (pianist Steve Kuhn, bassist John Neves and drummer Roy Haynes) and a small string ensemble, with the music beautifully arranged by Sauter.

The second piece, entitled "Sax Concerto For Soprano Saxophone And Symphony Orchestra, was written by American composer Mark Kuss in 2006.

The third piece, entitled "Jazz Concerto For Saxophone And Orchestra", was written by Polish violinist/composer/conductor Krzesimir Debski in 2008. Debski and Olejniczak were both members of the legendary Polish Jazz ensemble String Connection, which was active in the 1980s. The concerto was written for Olejniczak and incorporates many of the themes that appeared on the albums String Connection recorded at the time and the solo saxophone parts are based on transcriptions of the violin solos played by Debski at the time. In many respects this concerto symbolizes the closing of a time loop bringing the two great musicians together again.

The music is excellently performed by Olejniczak, who has a beautiful tone and superb technique. Although most of the music here is composed, there are plenty of opportunities for Olejniczak to express his own improvised passages, making this entire performance a once in a lifetime event. The orchestra is also top notch, supporting the soloist with elegance and obvious sympathy.

Fans of Jazz-Classical fusion will find this music right up their alley, but listeners of both Classical Music and Jazz should find this music worth their attention, especially in view of its aesthetic merits. Warmly recommended!

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