Monday, April 16, 2018

Leszek Kułakowski Quintet feat. Andy Middleton – Copy & Insert (2017)

Leszek Kułakowski Quintet feat. Andy Middleton

Leszek Kułakowski - piano
Andy Middleton - tenor & soprano saxophones
Jerzy Małek - trumpet, flugelhorn
Piotr Kułakowski - double bass
Tomasz Sowiński - drums

Copy & Insert


By Adam Baruch

This is a live album by veteran Polish Jazz pianist / composer / bandleader / educator Leszek Kułakowski recorded in a classic quintet setting with American (resident in Vienna) saxophonist Andy Middleton, trumpeter Jerzy Małek, bassist Piotr Kułakowski (Leszek's son) and drummer Tomasz Sowiński. Together they perform six original compositions, all by Leszek Kułakowski. The sound quality of the live recording is excellent.

The music is all within the boundaries of contemporary modern mainstream Jazz, with melody based compositions which serve as basis for the quintet to carry the tunes in orderly manner and present individual solos. Kułakowski is a superb composer and his elegant tunes sound as if they originate from a collection of standards, but in fact are his originals.

The performances are all spotless of course, as expected from these highly experienced and talented musicians. Middleton, who is also an educator, same as Kułakowski, has a wonderful tone and elegant flow, and his solos are a true delight. Małek is also a superb player and his phrasing is full of emotion and skill. Kułakowski is a very original pianist, who plays remarkably not only when soloing but also while accompanying his colleagues. Piotr Kułakowski is one of the best bassists on the crowded Polish Jazz scene and his pulsations are always right on the money. Sowiński is exactly the right drummer for this quintet, pushing the other players during the up-tempo numbers and gently paving the way during the ballads. In short a mainstream A-Team, which delivers nothing but the best.

This album slaughters a few "holy cows", namely: "European musicians can't swing", "Those who can't play teach" and other popular misconceptions. Any true Jazz lover listening to this album should be completely satisfied in every respect.

Side Note: Since a few years, every December, Leszek Kułakowski, Andy Middleton and me meet in Katowice to serve as jury members of the International Jazz Composition Competition, held at the local Jazz Academy (together with Jerzy Jarosik, the head of the Jazz Department of the Academy and our host, and fantastic trumpeter / educator Piotr Wojtasik). Over the years we not only forged a wonderful friendship between ourselves, discussed music and life for endless hours and of course managed to consume many a gallon of beer, vodka and eventually anything that is humanly drinkable. Who says Jazz is not a platform of friendship.

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