Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Various Artists – Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol. 31 (2018)

Various Artists

Tomasz Stańko - trumpet
Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski - saxophone
Jacek Bednarek - bass
Grzegorz Gierłowski - drums
and others

Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol. 31


By Adam Baruch

This is the thirty-first installment in the series of releases initiated by the Polish Radio, which presents archive Jazz recordings from the radio vaults. Radio recordings are always a fabulous source of remarkable material, and as far as Polish Jazz history is concerned, the Polish Radio, which was a state monopoly for 45 years, recorded over time a plethora of invaluable material, which apart from the albums released by the Polskie Nagrania record company (also a state monopoly), is the only available additional source of Polish Jazz recordings. For many years Polish Radio recorded concerts presented during Poland's most important Jazz venues, including the annual Jazz Jamboree Festival and many other festivals as well. The tracks presented here were recorded live in October 1966 during the ninth Jazz Jamboree Festival in Warsaw and are the third volume of a collection of tracks from that event.

The first four tracks present the American violinist/vocalist Stuff Smith, accompanied by an ad hoc trio which included Czech (at that time) pianist Jan Hammer, Swedish bassist Kurt Lindgren and Italian drummer Franco Manzecchi. The quartet performs four standards and the entire set is rather unimpressive to say the least. Smith died shortly after this appearance and these ware among his last recordings.

The next track presents a quartet led by Swedish trombonist Eje Thelin with French saxophonist Barney Wilen (mistakenly listed as Wilen Barney), Swedish bassist Palle Danielsson (misspelled as Danielsen) and American drummer Billie Brooks. The quartet performs one lengthy (almost half an hour long) just about entirely improvised piece of Free Jazz, which at the time was considered quite avant-garde, but portrays the rapid development of European Jazz at the time, catching up with the Free Jazz developments in the US.

The next track presents a quartet co-led by two USSR Jazz musicians: guitarist Nicolai Gromin and saxophonist Georgy Garanian, with bassists Adolf Satanowski and drummer Aleksander Goretkin (all the Russian names are misspelled). The quartet performs one original composition by Gromin, kept in the mainstream Jazz idiom.

The next and last and most interesting track presents a Polish/Czech quintet comprising of trumpeter Tomasz Stańko, saxophonist Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, pianist Jan Hammer, bassist Jacek Bednarek and drummer Grzegorz Gierłowski. The quintet performs one original composition by Stańko, brilliant and typical of the era, which is an absolute cherry on top of the entire album and reflects the strength of the Polish Jazz scene at the time.

The beautifully restored sound quality is excellent and the warm ambience of the analog recording is a true joy. As usual with this series, which is very reasonably priced, I miss the presence of "in depth" liner notes/booklet, which should convey the circumstances at which this music was recorded and its importance to the development of Jazz in Poland. Nevertheless this is an absolutely essential piece of Jazz history which every Jazz fan will surely consider an absolute must.

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