Sunday, August 27, 2017

NOVI – NOVI In Wonderland (1998)


Bernard Kawka - vocals
Ewa Wanat - vocals
Waldemar Parzyński - vocals
Janusz Mych - vocals
Adam Makowicz - piano
Roman Dyląg - bass
Zbigniew Namysłowski - saxophone

NOVI In Wonderland

MPS 2541

By Adam Baruch

This is a Japanese reissue of the legendary album by the no less legendary Polish Jazz vocal quartet NOVI, led by vocalist/composer Bernard Kawka, which also included Ewa Wanat, Waldemar Parzyński and Janusz Mych. On this album they are accompanied by a rhythm section, which comprises of Polish pianist Adam Matyszkowicz (a.k.a. Adam Makowicz) and bassist Roman Dyląg and American (resident in Europe since 1964) drummer Billy Brooks. American trumpeter Idrees Suleiman and Polish saxophonist Zbigniew Namysłowski participate on selected tracks. The album presents five original compositions, three by Kawka and two by Parzyński, and four standards, three arranged by Parzyński and one by Kawka.

The album was produced by my friend and mentor, Joachim Berendt, and was recorded at the celebrated SABA studio in Villingen, Black Forest, where so many of the great European Jazz albums were recorded between mid-1960s and late 1970s. It was one of the first recordings of a Polish Jazz ensemble made outside is their country and across the Iron Curtain, which was a sensational occurrence at the time. Berendt, who was an avid Polish Jazz lover and supporter, helped the Polish Jazz scene tremendously during its hard times. Sadly he is rarely remembered today, which is of course a crying shame.

Musically as well and sonically this is definitely one of the best recordings by NOVI, recorded at their creative peak. Chronologically this was their second album, but since it was not released in Poland (and still is not available there) it is not usually counted as part of their Polish discography. Both the vocal and the instrumental parts are absolutely perfect and are part on the vocal Jazz canon, created earlier on by the French vocal Jazz ensembles Les Double Six and The Swingle Singers. The original vinyl copy of this album is a mega-rare collectors' item and is priced accordingly. This Japanese reissue is also pretty rare these days. For Polish Jazz collectors and faithful fans, this is an absolute must of course.

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