Thursday, February 22, 2018

Alicja Serowik – Do Śë Sajd (2018)

Alicja Serowik

Alicja Serowik - vocals
Michał Ciesielski - piano
Arek Czernysz - accordion
Krzysztof Słomkowski - double bass
Adam Golicki - drums

Do Śë Sajd


By Adam Baruch

This is a stunning debut album by Polish Jazz vocalist Alicja Serowik, accompanied by pianist Michał Ciesielski, who also arranged all the music, accordionist Arek Czernysz, bassist Krzysztof Słomkowski and drummer Adam Golicki. A string quartet is also present on some of the songs. The album presents nine folk songs from the Kurpie ethnic region in Poland, which has a specific musical tradition and linguistic dialect. One of the songs is repeated in two different versions. One piece composed by Ciesielski and featuring wordless vocalese, is also present. The lyrics of one of the songs are missing from the otherwise beautifully and tastefully designed album's packaging. The album also offers a superbly recorded sound.

The music, based on the original Kurpie songs, is smoothly transformed into the Jazz idiom, creating an ideal amalgam of old and new, which sounds completely organic, coherent and natural. Thanks to the skillful arrangements and inspired execution, the music retains it folkloristic character, with the specific melancholy and lyricism typical of core Polish music, but also swings and potently projects the Jazz feel and quintessence.

Serowik and her vocal performances are without a doubt the epicenter of this album. She manages to achieve a perfect balance between the original texts, which represent the folklore, and the Jazzy vocalese, which transforms her into the Jazz universe. Amazingly she also manages to sound equally convincing in both of these seemingly away from each other worlds. The vocals are clear and lucid, powerful yet delicate and always in perfect pitch with the harmonic background. Her overall performance on this album is nothing short of virtuosic.

Ciesielski not only did a splendid job arranging the music, but also plays beautifully throughout the album, with many splendid solos and considerate accompaniment. Słomkowski and Golicki both do a perfect job required from the rhythm section, and considering the complexity of this material they both pass with flying colors. Czernysz, who plays only on the last track of the album, is also sensational and I'd definitely love to hear more of his playing.

Overall this album is a splendid example of how Culture can be preserved from generation to generation, without losing its vitality and relevance. The Polish Culture incorporates a plethora of ethnic and regional sub-cultures, which are full of treasures, not only in music, but also in dance, plastic Arts, customs and literature/poetry. Serowik, like many other young Polish musicians, makes the conscious effort to dig into the tradition and bring it up to date, for which they deserve our respect and admiration. What a wonderful way to start a new musical year (2018) with this being one of the first releases this year that land on my desk. Very well done Milady and crew.

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