Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cracow Jazz Collective – No More Drama (2016)

Cracow Jazz Collective

Mateusz Gawęda - piano
Cyprian Baszyński - trumpet
Dominik Mietła - trumpet
Marcin Ślusarczyk - alto saxophone
Sławomir Pezda - tenor saxophone
Bartłomiej Prucnal - baritone saxophone
Piotr Południak - double bass
Dawid Fortuna - drums

No More Drama


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz ensemble Cracow Jazz Collective, an octet led by pianist/composer Mateusz Gawęda, one of the most notable upcoming Polish Jazz musicians in recent years. The rest of the ensemble consists of other young and upcoming Polish Jazz musicians: trumpeters Cyprian Baszyński and Dominik Mietła, saxophonists Marcin Ślusarczyk, Sławomir Pezda and Bartłomiej Prucnal, bassist Piotr Południak and drummer Dawid Fortuna. The album presents three expanded compositions, all originals by Gawęda.

The music embodies an amazing amalgam of contemporary Modern Jazz, which moves stylistically between swinging melodic themes and collective group improvisation with elegance and grace. The sound of the octet is typical of much larger ensembles and is no less powerful than a Big Band at times. The arrangements, which call for unisono brass parts and almost Rock like rhythmic riffs, create a fat sound, which is extremely effective. All these contribute to the fact that this is one of the most quite recordings on the Polish scene lately.

The extended pieces offer plenty of opportunity to show the individual talents of the ensemble members, which are all very impressive, but also emphasize the ability of the musicians to sub-divide the lineup into sections, which play in a variety of combinations from unisono to individual improvised statements. The majority of the music is however very "well behaved" and follows strictly wonderfully arranged scenarios.

This album reveals a much lesser known side of Gawęda, who so far is mostly known as a piano virtuoso of highly individual style, who plays mostly Free Jazz and Improvised Music, whereas here he symbolizes the Jazz tradition not only as the composer and arranger but also as a player, which can be followed through out this album. Perhaps the fact that this music was recorded a couple of years before it was released, portrays Gawęda at that time, which is not what he does now, but I certainly hope he will make more music as majestic and skillfully arranged as this one in parallel to his explorations of the Free realms.

There is little doubt as to the fact that music is such complexity on one hand and perfect execution on the other is the proof of the incredible level of the young generation of Polish Jazz musicians, who are slowly taking over the local scene into their capable hands. In fact it is so good that it should studied by other young musicians as a model of what Jazz is all about. Definitely a shining gem of an album!

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