Friday, September 28, 2018

Zbigniew Seifert – Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol. 32 (2018)

Zbigniew Seifert

Zbigniew Seifert - violin, alto saxophone
Jarosław Śmietana - guitar
Janusz Grzywacz - electric piano
Jan Jarczyk - piano
Zbigniew Wegehaupt - bass
Jan Gonciarczyk - bass
Mieczysław Górka - drums
Janusz Stefański - drums

Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol. 32


By Adam Baruch

This is the thirty-second 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 seven tracks presented here were recorded by one of the most iconic Polish Jazz figures: saxophonist/violinist/composer Zbigniew Seifert, who sadly died at a ridiculously young age succumbing to cancer. Influenced by the music of John Coltrane, Seifert revolutionized the Polish Jazz violin school and achieved international recognition. All the tracks are original compositions by Seifert.

The first five tracks, recorded just three months before Seifert's death (in November 1978), were recorded live at the "Pod Jaszczurami" Jazz club in Kraków. They were recorded by a quintet, which also included guitarist Jarosław Śmietana (also not with us anymore, another victim of cancer), keyboardist Janusz Grzywacz, bassist Zbigniew Wegehaupt (my dear and sadly also departed friend) and drummer Mieczysław Górka. Grzywacz and Górka were at the time members of the legendary Polish Jazz-Rock ensemble Laboratorium. The music, although composed by Seifert, gets here a Fusion oriented treatment, as a result of the fact that all four members of the quintet except Seifert were involved with Fusion at the time. Nevertheless the music is superb in every sense and the fact that it remained unreleased to this very day is a Cultural crime!

The sixth track originates from a recording Seifert made with the Polish Radio Jazz Studio Orchestra directed by Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski in 1972. It presents him as a soloist backed up by an excellent Jazz orchestra, performing one of his early compositions, which is also previously unreleased.

The seventh and last track goes even further back and was recorded in 1970 during the thirteenth edition of the Jazz Jamboree Festival. On this track Seifert plays saxophone and is accompanied by pianist Jan Jarczyk, bassist Jan Gonciarczyk and drummer Janusz Stefański. This track was already released in 2010 by the great Polish reissue label GAD Records on the album "Nora", dedicated to Seifert's early recordings, and the inclusion of this track here is redundant and somewhat questionable.

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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