wtorek, 31 grudnia 2019

Natalia Kordiak Quintet – Bajka (2019)

Natalia Kordiak Quintet

Natalia Kordiak - voice
Przemysław Chmiel - tenor & soprano saxophones
Mateusz Kołakowski - piano, rhodes
Alan Wykpisz - bass
Grzegorz Pałka - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz vocalist Natalia Kordiak recorded in a quintet setting with saxophonist Przemysław Chmiel, pianist Mateusz Kołakowski, bassist Alan Wykpisz and drummer Grzegorz Pałka. The album presents seven original compositions, all by Kordiak, two of which feature lyrics (one by Polish poetess/playwright Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska and the other by Kordiak) and the rest feature wordless vocalese. The album was recorded at the RecPublica Studios and engineered by Michal Wasyl, and offers a superb sound quality.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear Kordiak sing live in Katowice as a member of the First Was The Voice vocal ensemble conducted and directed by my friend the fabulous Anna Gadt, which should have prepared me for what I was about to hear on this album, but now I have to admit that probably nothing could have really prepared anybody for what this album offers. This is simply the Polish Jazz vocal album I have been dreaming about for the last half a Century, since Urszula Dudziak appeared on the Polish Jazz scene and revolutionized the approach to vocal Jazz not only in Poland but worldwide.

Kordiak treats her voice as an instrument and her vocalese explorations are simply unbounded by any previously set limitations, conventions or boundaries. Her singing is completely intuitive and her sense of melody is so open and free that the music becomes completely boundless and unconventional. Each of the tunes offers a melodic theme, but the vocal and instrumental improvisations move freely beyond the sketched horizons into the unknown and unexpected, which happens extremely rarely and immediately pushes this music into the "high sphere" of Jazz aesthetics.

The instrumentalists do a magnificent job on this album, with the most important task always before their eyes: do not disturb the vocals. Each of these players is able to play exquisitely as a soloist but this album sets a textbook example of respect and supportive role by the instrumentalists, who are clearly heard within the delicate fabric of the music, but never overshadow the vocal parts even for one moment. The rhythm section of Wykpisz and Palka, which is certainly phenomenal on its own, offers here a magnificent assistance to the vocals, often just in a trio settings. Kołakowski, who deserves a much wider recognition that he enjoys in Poland at the moment, is a key element which makes this music what it is, playing absolutely stunningly and beautifully free, which is amazing considering his Classical Music upbringing and education. Chmiel, also relatively anonymous, offers some stunning saxophone parts, which immediately put him alongside the most respected names on the Polish scene. In short this is a true dream team and Kordiak was extremely fortunate to record this album with these magnificent musicians at her side.

Polish vocal Jazz has been struggling in the last decades to produce anything as artistically and aesthetically valuable as the output it managed to offer time after time in modern instrumental European Jazz, which won it an international acclaim. Sadly Polish vocal Jazz got stuck mostly in imitating rather that inventing, with the ever present obsession of singing English lyrics, more often than not with appalling results. Therefore, although obviously hardly politically correct, the most accurate compliment I can think of under these circumstances is to say that Kordiak emerged here as someone with truly "big-balls", setting everything aside and doing her own thing. I am not surprised that Kordiak comes from under the wings of the above mentioned Anna Gadt, who is a true revolutionary Artist and obviously also and Educator.

Considering the fact that Kordiak is still a student, God only knows what she is capable of in the future and I can’t wait to find out. And yes, now I know what my best Polish Jazz album for 2019 will be on my list. ;) Thank you for a true fairytale my Dear!

sobota, 28 grudnia 2019

Sabina Meck Sextet feat. Wojciech Myrczek – Słowo Na T (2019)

Sabina Meck Sextet feat. Wojciech Myrczek

Sabina Meck - vocal
Przemysław Chmiel - tenor & soprano saxophones
Łukasz Kokoszko - guitar
Michał Jakubczak - piano
Piotr Narajowski - bass
Szymon Madej - drums
Wojciech Myrczek - vocal (8)

Słowo Na T

SJ 048

By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by Polish Jazz vocalist/songwriter Sabina Meck (a.k.a. Sabina Myrczek), recorded in a sextet setting with saxophonist Przemysław Chmiel, guitarist Łukasz Kokoszko, pianist Michał Jakubczak, bassist Piotr Najarowski and drummer Szymon Madej. Sabina's brother vocalist Wojciech Myrczek guests on one track. The album presents ten original songs, all written (music and lyrics, all bar one in Polish language) by Meck. The album was recorded at the Monochrome Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki with excellent, as usual, sound quality.

The album is a perfect document of the process Meck completed in the first five years of her career, both as vocalist and even more so as songwriter. The choices she made here to sing only original material and finally singing in Polish prove to be the right ones in every respect, as this album is definitely the most advanced and sophisticated achievement she made so far, even though the two previous albums were already remarkable by any standard.

The most striking quality of this album is the quality of the compositions, which is nothing short of astounding. Although hey are all full of beautiful melodies, they also dare to explore much less conventional areas, sometimes even bordering on Free. The rhythmic patterns are often unusual and convoluted as well. As a result musically the album enters another dimension entirely, stepping beyond what is expected from "song oriented" music.

Meck utilizes all her wonderful vocal abilities augmented by an extensive technical range, singing both lyrics and vocalese, spoken word and theatrical phrasing, each and every time perfectly appropriate to the given musical setting. Singing in Polish allows her to emphasize the dramatic qualities of her lyrics, which adds another layer to the songs' overall effectiveness.

She is beautifully supported by the five instrumentalists, who spice the proceedings with superb soloing and steady rhythmic flow, which is extremely important in this complex music. The young generation of Polish Jazz musicians is so full of wonderfully talented people that we take this level of quality for granted, but in fact this is true miracle.

2019 finally proved to be a remarkably fruitful year for Polish vocal Jazz albums after many decades of relative stagnation. This album is certainly one of most impressive of these albums, deserving as much love and attention as possible. I am happy so see that my high hopes and expectations from Sabina Meck, from the moment I first heard her, proved to be justified and it makes me extremely happy to see her consistently reaching for the stars. You make me proud my Dear.

środa, 25 grudnia 2019

IPT - Diffractions (2019)


Szymon Wójciński - piano
Jakub Bańdur - violin
Jakub Gucik - cello



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz trio called IPT (Improvising Piano Trio) consisting of pianist Szymon Wójciński, violinist Jakub Bańdur and cellist Jakub Gucik. The album, recorded live, presents seven original compositions, all co-composed by the trio members.

The music offers an innovative approach to the Classical Music Piano Trio format transformed into the Improvised Music idiom, and quite naturally offers an amalgam of the two worlds. Obviously pre-composed, the music offers melodic themes, which are then opened up for improvisation, but overall the Classical Music aura is preserved – my immediate association was of an elegantly dressed anarchist.

As it usually happens with Improvised Music, its primary goal is to be performed and listened to live. Recorded Improvised Music rarely transfers into a lasting artistic statement, which can be repeatedly listened to later on, with a few exceptions of course. The innovative approach of this album and the bridge it creates between Classical Music environment and the free spirited Avant-Garde elements of Improvised Music is able to create such a lasting impression, at least for me, as I enjoyed this music without being present in the room while it was created.

All three musicians display remarkable technical abilities on their respective instruments, managing to cross the "expected" barriers time after time. Combined with the spirit of unity the trio manages to achieve, the resulting music is a true rollercoaster of energies and emotions, offering a fascinating listening experience. The decision to involve both the acoustic and the electric piano adds an additional layer of sound and versatility.

Overall this is definitely a most interesting debut album and probably one of the most worthwhile Improvising Music recordings released this year (2019) in Poland, which has a solid and well developed Improvising Music scene and a faithful public following. Kudos for the originality!

poniedziałek, 23 grudnia 2019

Leszek Możdżer – Ikar. Legenda Mietka Kosza (2019)

Leszek Możdżer

Leszek Możdżer - piano
and others

Ikar. Legenda Mietka Kosza


By Adam Baruch

This is the soundtrack of the Polish movie "Ikar. Legenda Mietka Kosza" created by Polish Jazz pianist/composer Leszek Możdżer. It is constructed of twenty eight short excerpts, most of which were composed by Możdżer, but also including some Classical Music pieces, a theme by Krzysztof Komeda, couple of compositions by Mieczysław Kosz, the protagonist of the movie and a couple of popular Polish Pop songs. The music is performed by Mozdzer and a few additional players as well as the Orkiestra Sinfonia Varsovia. There are also several dialogue excerpts performed by the actors taking part in the movie.

The movie tells the life story of Mieczysław Kosz, Polish Jazz pianist/composer who was perhaps the most enigmatic figure ever on the local scene. Blind at twelve and dead at twenty nine Kosz left a brilliant but extremely limited recorded legacy and his tragic death has been a source of speculation, with suspected suicide.

I have not seen the movie yet, and therefore can't say anything about the soundtrack's compatibility with the actual visual contents, but being familiar with the story line and the book on which the movie is based, the music seems to belong to another universe entirely. Whereas tragedy, depression and deep sadness were the prime characteristics of life that Kosz experienced, the music sounds like a soundtrack to a romantic movie, with green pastures and herds of white sheep in the background.

The most astounding aspect of this music is that is has absolutely nothing to do with Jazz (with just a few debatable exceptions), which was after all the center of the artistic achievement Kosz managed to accomplish and the musical environment he strived to develop. Why on earth a soundtrack of a movie about Kosz is not primarily based on his compositions and played by a Jazz combo featuring a pianist who plays Jazz? For those in the dark I can only recommend to listen to the RGG album "Unfinished Story – Remembering Kosz", which is an example of what could have happened.

The sugary string arrangements, the endless piano arpeggios and the schmaltzy melodies are in my opinion hardly compatible with the memory of Kosz, who should be better remembered for what he really was – a bright comet on the Polish Jazz firmament, a man with a magic touch and a tormented spirit, a brief visitor who left us a part of his soul before he moved on. Blessed be his memory.

piątek, 20 grudnia 2019

Tie Break – The End (2019)

Tie Break

Antoni Gralak - trumpet, vocal, percussion
Janusz Yanina Iwański - guitar, vocal, percussion
Mateusz Pospieszalski - saxophones, vocal, percussion
Marcin Pospieszalski - bass
Frank Parker - drums

The End

AGORA 5903111494148

By Adam Baruch

This is an album by the legendary Polish ensemble Tie Break, which features four founding members of the ensemble: trumpeter Antoni Gralak, saxophonist Mateusz Pospieszalski, guitarist Janusz Yanina Iwański and bassist Marcin Pospieszalski and also American (resident in Poland) drummer Frank Parker. The album presents nine tracks, all co-composed by the ensemble members, five of which also include lyrics which are chanted (rather than sung) by the ensemble in a Greek chorus manner. The music was recorded during three separate sessions between 2014 and 2018.

Following the release of the marvelous "Tie Break (Box Set)" in 2014, which summed up the ensemble's output recorded between 1984 and 1995, it seemed that the fate of Tie Break was sealed, but apparently the protagonists thought otherwise and continued to make music together, which is collected here. Following this pattern, one might hope that the ominous title of this album is also only temporary, as Tie Break definitely has still more energy and creativity than most young contemporary ensembles.

The music is, not surprisingly, completely unique; a zany mixture of Rock, Funk, Punk, World Music and Jazz worthy of epic Frank Zappa and his Mothers Of Invention proportions. This music is bolder than most contemporary Rock, Funkier that today's Funk, way Punkish than anything in Punk history and still Free Jazzier than most. The overall sound of the ensemble manages to create a wall of sound effect, which allows every tiny detail of the multi-layered complexity to be heard clearly and distinctly. The music has elements of marching funeral bands, Balkan wedding music, Polish Folklore and countless other relations, which can only be discovered as a result of repeated listening sessions. In short there never was anything in the Polish music history close to Tie Break, and following this album, the gap becomes even deeper.

Although the ingredients of which the music of Tie Break is made of is not Avant-Garde as such, the unique combination and the obvious "oppositional" attitude to everything mainstream is still deeply implanted in this music and it is obviously refusing to be tamed. The album pays tribute to all the numerous members of the ensemble over the years and other outside of the mainstream great Polish musicians like the lamented Andrzej Przybielski, including the founding member Krzysztof Majchrzak, whom I had the pleasure to meet a few weeks ago and reminiscence early days of the ensemble and many other things with.

In short this is a brilliant piece of music, full of creativity, ingeniousness and pure joy, completely unique and striking, unconventional and as musically anti-establishment as music can be. I refuse to interpret the album's title literally and already long for the next chapter in Tie Break's journey! The End of boredom is definitely here!

środa, 18 grudnia 2019

Kaya Meller Quartet – Reflections (2019)

Kaya Meller Quartet

Kaya Meller - trumpet, flugelhorn
Eloá Gonçalves - piano
Tin Džaferović - double bass
Peter Lenz - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by young Polish Jazz trumpeter/composer Kaya Meller recorded with her quartet, which also includes pianist Eloá Gonçalves, bassist Tin Džaferović and drummer Peter Lenz. The album presents seven original compositions, all by Meller.

The music is melody based modern European Jazz, well structured and coherent, but at the same time open enough to allow the music reach beyond the mainstream boundaries. The intimate quartet setting allows the leader and the pianist to develop lengthy solo parts, supported by the amicable rhythm section, which handles the standard rhythmic patterns and the odd meters with ease and elegance.

Meller's trumpet playing – very unusual instrument for a female Jazz instrumentalist – is surprisingly mature and polished. It bears some traces of the Berklee education, but luckily the Americans didn’t manage to kill her originality and she presents a highly individual stylistic approach, which shows strong European roots, lyricism and aesthetics, which is only present on the Old Continent. Her compositions offer broad and diverse stylistic explorations, which encompass within the same framework contemporary Chamber Music and Modern Jazz. Her ballads have a distinct Nordic characteristic, full of melancholy and minimalism, whereas her up-tempo compositions show a strong World Music influences and complex rhythmic structures.

Eloá Gonçalves is a wonderful pianist and an ideal partner for Meller's conceptual approach, providing beautiful melodic layers that carry the trumpet voicing. Her soloing is also exceptionally well structured and compliments the music every step of the way. The rhythm section keeps the music afloat with highly melodic and dense bass structures in the background and relatively sparse drumming, which is non obtrusive buy always right on the money.

Overall this is a stunning debut effort, presenting a young but already seasoned instrumentalist and a gifted composer, with obvious bright future ahead of her. The album is full of excellent music and first class performances, which can be enjoyed by every Jazz connoisseur around the globe. Very well done and bonne chance with the future endeavors!

poniedziałek, 16 grudnia 2019

Aleksandra Kutrzepa Quartet - Mermaid (2019)

Aleksandra Kutrzepa Quartet

Aleksandra Kutrzepa - violin
Bartłomiej Garczyński - guitar
Michał Studniarek - bass
Robert Kutrzepa - drums
Miłosz Bazarnik - piano (6)
Anna Gadt - voice (3,7)



By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish Jazz violinist/composer Aleksandra Kutrzepa recorded by the same quartet as the one that recorded the debut "Impressions" a year earlier: guitarist Bartłomiej Garczyński, bassist Michał Studniarek and drummer Robert Kutrzepa. Vocalist Anna Gadt and pianist Miłosz Bazarnik appear as guests. The album presents seven original compositions, six by Aleksandra Kutrzepa and one by Robert Kutrzepa.

This album is stylistically very similar to its predecessor and everything I wrote about the debut applies also here, so I won't repeat myself (just click on the link above). The music is a fine example of intelligent Fusion featuring beautiful lyrical compositions, unique violin style and elegant execution, which offers an excellent listening experience, accessible to a wide range of listeners who like anything between mainstream Jazz, Fusion and even Progressive Rock. Some excursions into more Free territory on the tracks with Gadt (sensational as always) and Bazarnik on board are hopefully pointers as to what Kutrzepa should pursue in the future and their presence upgrade this album considerably.

This album cements Kutrzepa's status as a promising composer and original violinist, which definitely deserves being followed, but she will need to update her formula on future recordings in order to avoid a pattern, which will became stale if repeated to often. Overall this is an excellent album by all means, which intelligent Fusion and violin aficionados will love to bits, and which also offers highly aesthetic and ambitious vistas pointing (perhaps) to the future endeavors. Warmly recommended!

piątek, 13 grudnia 2019

Bipolar Order – Duality (2019)

Bipolar Order

Mateusz Chorążewicz - tenor saxophone
Jakub Żołubak - guitar
Łukasz Ostrowski-Kunert - bass
Maciej Wojcieszuk - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz quartet Bipolar Order, which comprises of saxophonist Mateusz Chorążewicz, guitarist Jakub Żołubak, bassist Łukasz Ostrowski-Kunert and drummer Maciej Wojcieszuk. The album presents seven original compositions, four by Chorążewicz and three by Żołubak.

The music floats between mainstream Jazz and Jazz-Rock Fusion, with solid melodic compositions, mostly melancholic and slowly developing, with some Folkloristic influences and even some Free Form moments. There is a significant difference between the more Jazz oriented compositions by Chorążewicz and the Fusion oriented compositions by Żołubak, which is also evident in the continuous conflict between saxophone parts/improvisations and those by the guitar, with the saxophone clinging to Jazz tradition and the guitar pushing towards Fusion. The bass guitar also influences the overall sound, adding to the Fusion feel, which eventually wins the competition. But to be fair, the music is well structured and often way more complex than the "usual" Fusion outings, and as such definitely worth listening to.

It's a pity that the guitarist is overwhelmingly influenced by Fusion heroes, rather than searching for a more individual approach to the instrument, but the future is surely still ahead of him. The saxophone parts are all quite original and beyond reproach, which saves the day. Perhaps the quartet needs to find a stylistic compromise, which will unify the music and focus the musical direction of the future recordings, perhaps something in the direction of the title track, which is by far the most interesting on the album.

Having said all that, the album is still quite impressive considering it’s a debut and taking into account the excellent compositions it presents. It should be of interest to many listeners, especially those who still have not lost hope in the possibility that Fusion can produce interesting music today. All in all well done!

środa, 11 grudnia 2019

Szymon Sutor - Jazz Septet & String Orchestra (2019)

Szymon Sutor

Szymon Sutor - conductor
Adam Pierończyk - tenor & soprano saxophones
Maciej Grzywacz - guitar
Cezary Paciorek - accordion
Gaba Janusz - voice
Dominik Kisiel - piano
Michał Bąk - double bass
Patryk Dobosz - drums
with string orchestra

Jazz Septet & String Orchestra


By Krzysztof Komorek

Kompozytor, aranżer, dyrygent, pianista. Tak sam opisuje siebie Szymon Sutor. "Jazz Septet & String Orchestra" jest pierwszym albumem, który firmuje swoim nazwiskiem. Jednak trudno mówić, że jest debiutantem absolutnym. Liczne kompozycje do spektakli teatralnych i filmów, nagrody – między innymi dwukrotnie podczas Międzynarodowego Konkursu Kompozytorskiego im. Krzysztofa Komedy – zaangażowanie w wiele, zróżnicowanych projektów muzycznych, współpraca ze znakomitościami świata jazzu, klasyki i muzyki rozrywkowej, świadczą o pokaźnym doświadczeniu, jakie już udało mu się zdobyć. 

Słuchacza może zaskoczyć skala przedsięwzięcia wybrana na debiutancki album. Jednak poznawszy biografię artysty,  można było takiej właśnie decyzji się domyślić. Duże formy stanowią ewidentnie pasję Sutora. Wspomniane już prace dla teatru, cztero-częściowa msza "Missa de Beata Maria Virgine", współautorstwo wykonanej premierowo podczas szczytu klimatycznego ONZ 2018 w Katowicach kompozycji "The Lost Seasons" inspirowanej "Czterema porami roku" Vivaldiego, wreszcie prowadzenie własnej orkiestry rozrywkowej, stanowią najważniejsze składniki jego artystycznego curriculum vitae. 

Właśnie połączeniem jazzu, klasyki i muzyki rozrywkowej cechuje się debiutancki album Szymona Sutora. Jazzowy septet w doborowym składzie wspaniale równoważy się z 24-osobową orkiestrą smyczkową. Stricte jazzowe fragmenty przeplatają się z muzyką, która znakomicie sprawdziła by się w charakterze ilustracyjnym. Wśród smyczków znaleźć można znakomitych solistów (Tomasz Chyła). Z kolei septetem dowodzi Adam Pierończyk, który – według zamieszczonych na płycie podziękowań – był dobrym duchem całego projektu przez cały czas jego powstawania. 

I to solówki saksofonów wyróżniają się na ogół z jazzowych fragmentów całego albumu. Najciekawiej brzmi tu "Ceper", gdzie interesująco przeplata się gra właśnie saksofonu, perkusji i fortepianu. Oszczędnie, ale równie świetnie wplatają się w muzyczną narrację wokalizy. Pewnym wyjątkiem jest bonusowy "Monday". Delikatna ballada, niemal w całości oddana we władanie fortepianowi, który przez długie fragmenty prezentuje się solowo, niekiedy tylko dopuszczając delikatny szmer smyczków w tle. Bardzo interesujący debiut w oryginalnej, dość mało eksploatowanej w naszym kraju jazzowo-symfonicznej formule. 

niedziela, 8 grudnia 2019

The Beat Freaks – Stay Calm (2019)

The Beat Freaks

Michał Starkiewicz - guitar
Tomasz Licak - tenor saxophone
Paweł Grzesiuk - double bass
Radek Wośko - drums

Stay Calm


By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish ensemble The Beat Freaks comprising of guitarist Michał Starkiewicz, saxophonist Tomasz Licak, bassist Paweł Grzesiuk and drummer Radek Wośko. The album presents thirteen original compositions, eight of which were composed by Starkiewicz, two by Licak, one by Wośko and two were co-composed by all four members of the quartet. The album was recorded at the excellent Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki.

The quartet's debut album recorded three years earlier (2016) left me with mixed feelings and I am happy to say that this one is a significant improvement, especially as far as the compositions are concerned, as well as the guitar playing, which works this time without a hitch. Also the superb recording quality improves the overall coherence of the music, with less harshness and excellent separation, making every little nuance audible.

The music is all melody based, Fusion oriented contemporary Jazz and offers some excellent guitar/saxophone interplay supported by a steady and solid rhythm section. Licak is the primary soloist, but Starkiewicz follows suit time after time with a nicely balanced guitar tone, which manages to shake off most of its Fusion mannerisms that prevailed earlier on, and offers heartfelt guitar soli. Their unisono parts, which then develop into a saxophone/guitar conversations is the central feature of this album. Overall this is an album which can be enjoyed by a wide Jazz/Fusion audience, especially guitar enthusiasts, who should be able find many interesting licks here. Definitely worth investigation!

czwartek, 5 grudnia 2019

Klara Cloud & The Vultures - Vauna (2019)

Klara Cloud & The Vultures

Sylwia Klara Zasempa - vocals
Bartosz Dworak - violin
Mateusz Gawęda - piano
Adam Tadel - double bass
Piotr Budniak - drums
Sebastian Kuchczyński - drums
Apostolis Anthimos - guitar (10)



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by young Polish Jazz ensemble Klara Cloud & The Vultures which comprises of vocalist Sylwia Klara Zasempa, violinist Bartosz Dworak, pianist Mateusz Gawęda, bassist Adam Tadel and drummers Piotr Budniak and Sebastian Kuchczyński. Legendary guitarist Apostolis Anthimos guests on one track. The album presents ten tracks, eight of which are original compositions mostly by Zasempa and some created with the help of the entire ensemble (the two instrumental tracks) and finally two are traditional. Most of the lyrics are also by Zasempa. The subject matter of the album refers to Nature, wildlife and harmonious coexistence. The music was recorded at the excellent Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki, with the usual superb sound quality.

The music offers a fascinating concept, combing Jazz-World Music Fusion with Free Jazz, which is quite striking. Although Polish Jazz often sources Slavic music, typical Polish melancholy and Polish Folklore, amalgamating it usually with original mainstream Jazz, but rather rarely so with more adventurous forms, which makes this music immediately outstanding. This does not mean that the music loses contact with melody per se, but the improvisations offer a wide range of freedom, both rhythmically and harmonically, which are not usually found within the Jazz-World Fusion idiom.

Dworak and Gawęda, who are amongst the most celebrated young Polish Jazz players, have plenty of opportunity to show their chops on this album, standing up to the expectations in full. The reinforced rhythm section, with the polyrhythmic double drums (in stereo) and solid bass pulsations, pushes the music steadily forward and serves as an anchor for the listener to keep his bearings. The guitar solo by Anthimos on the final track is simply divine.

Of course the vocals are the epicenter of this music and Zasempa stands up to the challenge with flying colors. She keeps to the basics, avoiding unnecessary theatrics and meanderings, and invests directly in the delivery of the lyrics, often improvising in the process. She does not use vocalese extensively, preferring to "play with the words" rather than with the sounds, but when she does, it works perfectly and hopefully will be used more in future projects. Zasempa is a "total" musician, being obviously the leader, the composer, the lyricist and the main soloist – Woman power incarnate.

Overall this is a beautiful piece of music, excellently put together and executed, original, ambitious and intelligent. Definitely one of the most interesting Polish Jazz releases of 2019. It is also the fifth album by young Polish Jazz musicians to be released on the prestigious Dutch Challenge label, which proves that this music is being recognized beyond the local market and steadily captures the position it truly deserves. Well done Lady and Gentlemen!

wtorek, 3 grudnia 2019

Festiwal Jazz & Literatura 2019

Osiem koncertów oraz dwa wydarzenia: literackie i edukacyjno-artystyczne. 7 września, jako zapowiedź V edycji festiwalu Jazz & Literatura, w Muzeum Zamkowym w Pszczynie wystąpił wybitny argentyński pianista i kompozytor Julio Mazziotti. Faktyczna inauguracja festiwalu - recital fortepianowy legendy jazzu, mistrza improwizacji Adama Makowicza - odbyła się 6 października w postindustrialnej przestrzeni chorzowskiej Sztygarki. W Chorzowskim Centrum Kultury zagrało Kasia Pietrzko Trio, porywające Dock In Absolute z Wielkiego Księstwa Luksemburga i polsko-japoński kwartet Tomasza Dąbrowskiego Ad Hoc Ninjazz wystąpili w Miejskim Domu Kultury Batory. Literacki akcent pojawił się w nietuzinkowych tekstach zespołu MÓW (Starochorzowski Dom Kultury) oraz w autorskich piosenkach duetu Bolewski & Tubis (Park Tradycji w Siemianowicach Śląskich). Organizatorzy przygotowali literacką niespodziankę we współpracy z Wolnością Czytania 2019, a także przedstawili wernisaż "Niezwykłe historie z Polski i Japonii" dzięki uprzejmości Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha z Krakowa.

Festiwal Jazz & Literatura jest wspólną inicjatywą Miejskiego Domu Kultury Batory reprezentowanego przez Dyrektora Sylwestra Paprockiego oraz Agencji New Talents’ Resources Marzena Anioł i powstał w porozumieniu z Miastem Chorzów. Współorganizatorami tegorocznej edycji byli: Miasto Chorzów, Muzeum Zamkowe w Pszczynie – Instytucja Kultury Samorządu Województwa Śląskiego, Chorzowskie Centrum Kultury, Kompleks Sztygarka, Starochorzowski Dom Kultury, Siemianowickie Centrum Kultury - Park Tradycji, Wolność Czytania oraz Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha z Krakowa .

Przedstawiamy krótką fotorelacją z wybranych wydarzeń festiwalu.

                                            Julio Mazziotti

                               Adam Makowicz (fot. Jarek Rerych)

                           Adam Makowicz (fot. Jarek Rerych)


                     Tomasz Dąbrowski Ad Hoc (fot. Kinga Brzezicka)

                            Dock In Absolute (fot. Anna Wietecha)

                         Dock In Absolute (fot. Anna Wietecha)

                                         Bolewski & Tubis

                                           Bolewski & Tubis

niedziela, 1 grudnia 2019

Soundcheck – Martin Luther: Suite For Jazz Quartet (2019)


Maciej Kociński - saxophone
Krzysztof Dys - piano
Andrzej Święs - double bass
Krzysztof Szmańda - drums

Martin Luther: Suite For Jazz Quartet

AUDIO CAVE 2019/012

By Adam Baruch

This is the fifth (although by my count the sixth) album by the excellent Polish Jazz quartet Soundcheck led by saxophonist/composer Maciej Kociński with pianist Krzysztof Dys, bassist Andrzej Święs and drummer Krzysztof Szmańda. It presents a six-part suite dedicated to the great reformist Martin Luther and one additional bonus tracks, all composed by the leader.

The album marks the return to "active duty" by the quartet, which was almost completely absent from the scene in the last seven years of so, with their last recordings dated 2012 (including also Kociński's debut solo album recorded and released that same year). Since their formation in 2002 and the release of their debut album on 2005, Soundcheck experienced a meteoric rise to stardom, reaching the status of one of the very best young Polish/European Jazz ensembles, and therefore their disappearance from the scene was as mysterious as it was heartrending.

I was glad to see Kociński's name popping up on two Polish Jazz albums recorded in 2018, and this album under the quartet's moniker is a happy occasion, although the music was recorded back in 2015 and was a part of Kociński's Ph.D. thesis rather than a planned full fledged release. In the liner notes Kociński talks about his emotional and intellectual involvement with Luther's ideas and teachings, both those about the religious and the social ideology behind the reformation.

Musically the album is noticeably more reflective and reserved that the quartet's earlier work, full of lyrical melodic themes, which are slowly developed by the quartet. It is also more constrained and allows less free improvisation, mostly staying on a firm melodic ground. The individual performances by the quartet members, although as brilliant as always, are less extrovert and flashy, displaying mostly concentration and elegance. Make no mistake, these are some of Polish Jazz best players today, but this recording in definitely not intended to show off and speaks strongly to true connoisseurs rather than Jazz adventurers.

Personally I love this music, but considering the rapid progress and the incredible level of contemporary Polish Jazz scene, its density, competitiveness and incredible overflow of superb recordings, this album could be endangered by the tendency to be overlooked. Seven years in such circumstances could be significant and Jazz "critics"/listeners unfamiliar with the quartet's legacy and Artistic scope could probably miss the point, as it happens way too often. Hopefully that will not happen in this case. Glad to see you back, hoping for a real new album to be recorded and released ASAP and wishing you all the best, as always. What a great soundcheck this is. ;)

piątek, 29 listopada 2019

Andrzej Kowalski Quartet – Abstrakt (2019)

Andrzej Kowalski Quartet

Andrzej Kowalski - guitar, piano
Robert Wypasek - saxophones, piano, synth
Jan Wierzbicki - bass
Adam Wajdzik - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by young Polish Jazz guitarist/composer Andrzej Kowalski recorded in a quartet setting with saxophonist Robert Wypasek, bassist Jan Wierzbicki and drummer Adam Wajdzik. The album presents nine original compositions, all by Kowalski. It was recorded at the excellent Monochrom Studio and offers a high sound quality.

The music is excellent modern mainstream Fusion, based on solid compositions which incorporate melodic themes and quite unusual rhythmic structures, creating a dynamically diverse atmosphere of tension. The compositions are way more complex than the average Fusion material and certainly more sophisticated and intelligently weaved.

These four young musicians share the responsibility for the music the quartet produces quite equally, which is rather unusual. Although the guitar and the saxophone deliver most of the soloing, as expected, the rhythm section is also constantly busy with laying out the complex pulsations and quirky tempi changes, all clearly audible for the entire duration of the music, as well as soloing impressively.

Overall this is a surprising and unusual debut album, which manages to step outside of the conventional Fusion frameset by adding more freedom, both harmonically and rhythmically, rejuvenating the somewhat stale genre and proving that it is still able to astonish the listener. The level of performances by these young musicians proves again that the Polish Jazz scene enjoys an incredible surge of juvenile blood transfusion into its veins, which keeps it alive and sparkling.

czwartek, 28 listopada 2019

Sabina Meck Sextet feat. Wojciech Myrczek - Słowo Na T - premiera 29.11.2019

Sabina Meck - śpiew
Łukasz Kokoszko - gitara
Przemysław Chmiel - saksofon
Michał Jakubczak - fortepian
Piotr Narajowski - kontrabas
Szymon Madej - perkusja
Gościnnie: Wojciech Myrczek - śpiew

"Słowo Na T" to tytuł trzeciego z kolei albumu wokalistki Sabiny Meck, zawierającego jej kompozycje do własnych tekstów, tym razem polskich. Muzyka na płycie korzysta z elementów charakterystycznych dla jazzu, lecz wychodzi poza jego ramy, nawiązując do innych stylów muzycznych, nierzadko tak odległych od siebie jak rock i muzyka klasyczna. Forma kompozycji zbliżona jest do piosenek. Zamysłem twórczym było zestawienie prostych melodii ze ściśle zaaranżowanymi partiami akompaniamentu, a także pozostawienie przestrzeni do improwizacji, która daje możliwość ukazania indywidualności każdego z muzyków sekstetu.

Sabina Meck (a.k.a. Sabina Myrczek) jest wokalistką, kompozytorką, aranżerką, producentką i autorką tekstów. Ukończyła kompozycję i aranżację w Instytucie Jazzu Akademii Muzycznej im. Karola Szymanowskiego w Katowicach. W 2017 roku otrzymała Stypendium Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego za wybitne osiągnięcia artystyczne. Wiosną 2016 roku, ukazał się debiutancki album solowy Sabiny, zatytułowany "Love is Here" (For-Tune). Na płycie znalazły się autorskie kompozycje wokalistki. Sabina Meck otrzymała nominację do nagrody Fryderyk 2017 w kategorii Fonograficzny Debiut Roku, Muzyka Jazzowa. Laureatka I nagrody w konkursie Blue Note Poznań Competiton (2014) w kategorii wokalnej. 

W 2015 roku, wraz z założonym przez siebie zespołem Soundmeck, zdobyła Grand Prix na festiwalu Grupa Azoty Jazz International Contest w Tarnowie. Jury przyznało Sabinie również indywidualną nagrodę specjalną - Największy Talent Festiwalu. Jesienią tego samego roku, otrzymała II miejsce w IX Konkursie Kompozytorskim im. Krzysztofa Komedy w Słupsku, w kategorii "temat jazzowy", za utwór "A part of me". W kwietniu 2017 roku, nakładem Agencji Muzycznej Polskiego Radia, ukazał się album "Eruption," prowadzonego przez Sabinę zespołu SoundMeck. W listopadzie 2019 roku, pojawi się trzeci album wokalistki, z muzyką autorską, nagrany w formacji Sabina Meck Sextet.

środa, 27 listopada 2019

Michał Ciesielski – Share Location (2019)

Michał Ciesielski

Michał Ciesielski - piano

Share Location


By Adam Baruch

This is the second album under his name by Polish Jazz pianist/composer Michał Ciesielski and also his second solo piano outing, same as his debut recorded in 2012. The album presents nine original compositions, all by Ciesielski.

The music offers a melodic journey inspired by the places in the composer's life and telling an autobiographical story about his road to maturity. The youthful and full of enthusiasm compositions present on his debut album are replaced by a much more serious and insightful explorations. Although still beautifully melodic, the music is more complex and requires attentive listening in order to be fully appreciated. Polish folkloristic motifs are also strongly present in the music, which seem to be an organic part of many Polish Jazz compositions one way or another.

Same can be said about the piano playing, which is much more concentrated and even minimalist at times, often closer to Classical Music than Jazz. Obviously Ciesielski does not need to prove himself as a talented pianist any more after playing and recording extensively over the years, and this recording enables him to concentrate on his own Artistic expression at its most intimate naked truth.

Overall this is a splendid collection of wonderful compositions, which offer highly melodic themes and lyrical atmospheric vistas, beautifully performed by the composer. The entire album is coherently put together and presents an opportunity to get familiar with the work of one of Poland's promising young composers, who is making a constant progress on his musical path. It is best to leave the music to speak for itself.

poniedziałek, 25 listopada 2019

Joanna Bejm – Jesteś (2019)

Joanna Bejm

Joanna Bejm - vocals
Rafał Stępień - keyboards
Marcin Skaba - violin
Wojciech Pulcyn - bass
Sebastian Frankiewicz - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish vocalist/songwriter Joanna Bejm recorded with a Jazz trio consisting of keyboardist Rafał Stępień, bassist Wojciech Pulcyn and drummer Sebastian Frankiewicz. Violinist Marcin Skaba plays on six tracks and several additional guests participate on selected tracks. The album presents ten original songs, all composed by Bejm or co-composed by her and Skaba. All the lyrics are by Polish poetess Halina Poświatowska, one of Poland's most striking literary figures. As such the album falls comfortably within the Polish Jazz & Poetry idiom.

As someone familiar with Poświatowska's poetry I admit approaching this album with great anticipation mixed with some trepidation, considering the depth and intellectual complexity of the literary layer. I am glad to say that Bejm managed to embrace the poetry with considerable talent and respect, carefully selecting the poems and dressing them in appropriate musical attire. There is always a danger that profound literary work could be trivialized by inappropriate musical treatment, which sadly does happen from time to time, but certainly did not happen in this case.

The music is, as expected, full of typical Polish melancholy and lyrical emotionality, which Polish Jazz warmly embraces on a day to day level, but in particular within the Jazz & Poetry projects. Low key ballads with slow intrinsic motion are like a gentle wind carrying the words like yellow autumn leaves. The deep sadness, which characterizes the poetry, is somewhat softened by the music, making it perhaps more approachable to the listeners.

The instrumental parts are all excellent, as expected from these seasoned veterans. The rhythm section is steady like a rock and sensitive like velvet, Stępień is a superb player both on the acoustic piano and the electric keyboards, always playing only what is truly needed and his piano soli are the cherry on top. The guests add their part amicably and the entire album offers a coherent musical continuity.

Bejm manages the vocal parts with respect and restrain, which of course is ideal in this case. She is an instrument delivering the poems, which are the focus of this album and she cleverly eschews unnecessary theatrics, which would have spoiled the magic. Considering the fact that this is her debut album, she does a remarkable job.

The only small criticism I could think of is the packaging of the album, which sadly does not include the printed version of the poems – an addition that as a Jazz & Poetry buff I consider absolutely necessary. Of course there are copyright issues, etc, but it would have been nice to have them. Overall this is a beautiful piece of Art, an absolute must for all Jazz & Poetry lovers around the world, even those who are not native Polish speakers – the music transcends language barriers. Well done Milady!

sobota, 23 listopada 2019

Buba Badjie Kuyateh & Michał Górczyński – Cut The Air (2017)

Buba Badjie Kuyateh & Michał Górczyński

Buba Badjie Kuyateh - kora
Michał Górczyński - bass clarinet

Cut The Air


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the duo comprising of Gambian (resident in Warsaw) kora player Buba Badjie Kuyateh and Polish bass clarinetist Michał Górczyński. The album presents six lengthy musical dialogues, credited to both players.

The music is an absolutely glorious testimony of two superb musicians conversing with each other despite the seemingly remote cultural backgrounds. As a result of this telepathic connection the music, mostly improvised, merges the cultures together in a complete natural and harmonic way, as if these cultures were one, or perhaps proving that all music cultures are one indeed.

The individual abilities of these two musicians are obviously virtuosic, but this music has nothing to do with showmanship or exhibitionism, which so often destroy music, being all about the human cooperation, understanding and spiritual unity, being a true "Art of the Duo" in its best incarnation.

Górczyński, whose roots encompass a wide diversity of musical influences, from Hassidic music, European Folklore, Jazz and Improvised Music, seems to be perfectly at ease with the West African music and his conversations with Kuyateh fit perfectly within the newly created amalgam. The natural contrasts between these two instruments are completely obliterated here and the instruments simply compliment each other despite their different scales and harmonics.

Overall this is a phenomenal album, which should leave no music connoisseur cold, regardless of his musical preferences. This music is universal and goes straight into the listener's soul and heart, completely effortlessly and overwhelmingly. When the idiom World Fusion was coined, this is what that idiom was really intended to be all about. This is definitely one of the finest achievements of its kind and should be a part of every decent music collection. Obviously essential!

piątek, 22 listopada 2019

Maciej Sadowski Kwadrat - Jazz Dla Zwierząt (2019)

Maciej Sadowski Kwadrat

Dawid Lipka - trumpet
Michał Jan Ciesielski - saxophone
Marcin Gałązka - guitar (4)
Maciej Sadowski - bass
Tomasz Koper - drums

Jazz Dla Zwierząt


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album as a leader by Polish bassist/composer Maciej Sadowski, recorded with his quartet called Kwadrat (square in English, clearly alluding to the quartet), which also includes trumpeter Dawid Lipka, saxophonist Michał Jan Ciesielski and drummer Tomasz Koper. Guitarist Marcin Gałązka guests on one track. The album presents nine original compositions, all by Sadowski.

The music, although melody based, is very original and moves freely across several genres, touching on Rock, Fusion, Groove, mainstream Jazz and even Improvised Music. The compositions are the absolute focus of this album, although the instrumentalists are all extremely effective. Sadowski is an experienced player with an impressive portfolio of recording as a sideman and studio musician and he shines on this album as well. The most fascinating aspect of the music is the central role of the bass and a strong polyrhythmic diversity excellently handled by the drummer. But of course the trumpeter and saxophonist offer impressive soloing all the way through and contribute to the overall success.

Although seemingly an acoustic quartet, there is an extensive use of electronic devices, adding sheets of sound behind the instruments and creating a very impressive and unusual overall sound. One could say that these effects serve as an additional member of the quartet playing the synthesizer. On the track featuring the guitar player his guitar also sounds almost entirely like a synthesizer. The most extraordinary synthesizer effects are associated with the bass, which sounds often like a bass clarinet when playing arco. In short this album offers really innovative approach to playing the instruments, and combined with the superb and unique compositions the overall result is absolutely refreshing.

Overall this is definitely a surprisingly excellent debut album, which deserves a lot of attention and again shows that the new generation of Polish Jazz players possesses unlimited creativity, rarely found elsewhere. Absolutely delightful listening experience - Hats off!

czwartek, 21 listopada 2019

Bipolar Order z koncertem premierowym w klubie Six Seasons !!!

Bipolar Order – koncert premierowy
21 listopada 2019 (czwartek), godz. 20.00
Six Seasons ul. Klimczaka 15 Warszawa

Powidoki tworzą się przy jednoczesnym postrzeganiu dwóch stykających się plam koloru. Kolor plamy, na której koncentrujemy spojrzenie pod wpływem sąsiadującej barwy, zmienia się. Plama neutralna na polu zielonym wydaje się czerwona, na fioletowym - żółta, na pomarańczowym - niebieska. Zjawisko to jest reakcją zmysłu wzroku na podrażnienia oka barwnym doznaniem. Jak zatem nazwać to zjawisko w przypadku muzyki? Kiedy na jednej scenie zderza się energia dwóch równorzędnych liderów – świeżo upieczonego ojca szukającego możliwości do złapania choćby jednej małej chwili snu, zainspirowanego młodą sceną nowojorskiego jazzu, oraz druga, kontrastująca z nią - twardo stąpającego po ziemi Kaszuba zainspirowanego brzmieniami folklorystycznymi, a całość dopełnia zawodowa sekcja, tworzy się zupełnie nowe, niecodzienne i nieoczywiste doznanie.

Jak mówią sami artyści:

"Nie jest to część wspólna, tylko nowy twór. W trakcie występu pojawia się nowa przestrzeń. Dojrzewamy do tego, żeby ją poznać, uczymy się jej i staramy się ją ujarzmić".

Bipolar Order to zespół powstały w 2018 roku z inicjatywy saksofonisty Mateusza Chorążewicza oraz gitarzysty Jakuba Żołubaka. Towarzyszą im basista Łukasz Ostrowski-Kunert oraz grający na perkusji Maciej Wojcieszuk. Ich debiutancki album "Duality" wydany nakładem wydawnictwa Allegro Records swoją premierę miał 18 października 2019. Premiera koncertowa odbędzie się 21 listopada w warszawskim klubie Six Seasons. Koncertowi towarzyszyć będzie specjalnie przygotowany na tę okazję pokaz światła wprowadzający klimat, który w połączeniu z muzyką na długo pozostaje w pamięci. "To wydarzenie to wspaniała propozycja nie tylko dla fanów jazzowych brzmień ale dla wszystkich, którzy czwartkowy wieczór chcą spędzić w wyjątkowy i niecodzienny sposób" – rekomendują organizatorzy.

wtorek, 19 listopada 2019

Radek Wośko Atlantic Quartet - listopadowa trasa promująca płytę "Surge"

Stian Swensson - gitara
Søren Gemmer - fortepian
Mariusz Praśniewski - kontrabas
Radek Wośko - perkusja

Radek Wośko Atlantic Quartet to projekt flagowy, założony przez polskiego perkusistę jazzowego i kompozytora z Kopenhagi Radka Wośko, który ma za sobą już prawie 10 albumów z własną muzyką, i który wystąpił w uznanym przez krytyków międzynarodowym projekcie z udziałem legendy polskiego jazzu, trębacza Tomasza Stańki. Zespół łączy muzyków z Danii, Polski i Norwegii, prezentując nowoczesny jazz na najwyższym poziomie. Muzyka czerpie zarówno z głębokich słowiańskich korzeni, kultury nordyckiej, jak i współczesnej muzyki klasycznej.

Członkowie grupy są solidnie zakorzenieni w nowoczesnym jazzie, ale tworzą równolegle w innych dziedzinach sztuki; Stian Swensson jako kompozytor muzyki kameralnej, a Søren Gemmer z akustyczno-elektroniczną improwizacją i czytaniem poezji z duńskim aktorem Thure Lindhardtem. Nowa płyta jest kontynuacją myśli kompozytora i lidera, który łączy inspiracje zarówno przestrzenią, intensywną, bezpośrednią ekspresją, jak i współczesną muzyką kameralną, starając się, by każdy utwór niósł ze sobą silny element melodyczny i głębię emocjonalną.

poniedziałek, 18 listopada 2019

Marek Jakubowski Quartet - Colors (2019)

Marek Jakubowski Quartet

Marek Konarski - saxophone
Jacek Szwaj - piano
Damian Kostka - bass
Marek Jakubowski - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the third album as a leader by Polish Jazz drummer/composer Marek Jakubowski. The first two albums, recorded in a classic piano trio format, were recorded in 2013 (i.e. six years ago) and this debut album in a quartet setting was recorded in 2017 (i.e. two years ago), which means that Jakubowski is certainly taking his time to create new music for his releases, not like many other musicians who somehow feel obligated to release albums in an almost obsessive paste. The quartet includes saxophonist Marek Konarski, pianist Jacek Szwaj and bassist Damian Kostka, all members of the young and upcoming generation of the Polish Jazz scene. The album presents ten original compositions, all by Jakubowski.

The music is all well within the modern mainstream Post-bop mold, but the compositions are all very well weaved and complex enough to serve as excellent vehicles for the quartet members to show their chops. The ballads display the characteristic Polish melancholy, which of course is expected. As usual with Jakubowski's albums, the focus is certainly on the compositions rather than on the performances, which of course does not mean that those are inferior in any way. In many ways Jakubowski is almost a class of his own as far as Jazz compositions on the Polish scene are concerned, and deserved a much wider recognition than he enjoys today.

Both Konarski and Szwaj offer excellent soloing, showing deep empathy with the compositions and Kostka stands shoulder to shoulder with the leader to keep the music well on track rhythmically, also soloing superbly on the way. This is European mainstream Jazz at its finest hour and a delightful listening experience to all fans of this idiom.

It is good to see (hear) Jakubowski back on the track, hoping he will not keep us waiting so long next time, as he is certainly is one of the most talented Polish Jazz composers with a deep love and respect to all that is characteristically Polish in music, going back to Frederic Chopin's legacy. A true beauty warmly recommended!

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