Friday, January 31, 2020

Claman/Strycharski/Chojnacki/Prats – Quartet Non Locality (2019)

Claman / Strycharski / Chojnacki / Prats

Sarah Claman - violin
Dominik Strycharski - blockflutes, recorders
Zbigniew Chojnacki - accordion, electronics
Ramon Prats - drums

Quartet Non Locality


MULTIKULTI MPSMT 015

By Adam Baruch

This is an album by international Improvising Music ensemble Quartet Non Locality consisting of New Zealand (resident in Barcelona) violinist Sarah Claman, Polish flautist Dominik Strycharski and accordionist Zbigniew Chojnacki and Catalan drummer Ramon Prats. The album presents seven improvised pieces not attributed to specific composers.

The album is a part of the "Spontaneous Music Tribune Series" dedicated to Iberian Free Improvised Music, curated by my friend and colleague Maciej Lewenstein, who lives in Barcelona since many years and who is a passionate music lover in parallel to his scientific career.

The music is a typical Improvised Music experience, which sadly suffers from the characteristic recorded Improvised Music malady, which haunts most albums of the genre. This music might have been highly interesting for the musicians to play, and perhaps might have been a fascinating live experience, but is much less interesting to listen to at home from a record and is unable, at least to me, to recreate that potential excitement, closed in a recorded time capsule. Sadly since making a recording and releasing albums have become accessible and inexpensive in the last two decades, there is a deluge of Improvised Music albums on the market, which only under rare circumstances make a lasting statement and deserve repeated listening.

Strycharski and Chojnacki are both formidable musicians and have already created numerous excellent recordings, but sadly on this album one can hardly find significant evidence of their individual abilities. Although I painstakingly listened to this music, enjoying some fragments, I don't envisage myself doing it again. Overall this is perhaps of interest to the hardened Improvised Music enthusiasts, who are deeply enthralled by the intricacies of the genre, but for listeners beyond that intimate circle it is most probably impenetrable.


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Tomasz Wendt – Chapter B. (2019)

Tomasz Wendt

Tomasz Wendt - tenor saxophone
Mateusz Smoczyński - violin
Jan Smoczyński - keyboards
Paweł Dobrowolski - drums

Chapter B.

SJ 047



By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish Jazz saxophonist/composer Tomasz Wendt recorded in a quartet setting with excellent partners: violinist Mateusz Smoczyński, keyboardist Jan Smoczyński and drummer Paweł Dobrowolski. The album presents eight original compositions, all by Wendt. The music was recorded at the superb Studio Tokarnia and was engineered by Jan Smoczyński, with the usual spectacular sound quality.

The music is modern European Jazz at its best, melody based but allowing for extensive improvisations and odd meters, creating diverse sonic vistas by taking advantage of the unusual instrumental lineup. The melodies are all well structured and coherent, full of romanticism and melancholy, and yet lively and exciting, with often complex rhythm changes.

The instrumental work by all the participants is absolutely amazing. Wendt matured and achieved a wonderful tonality over time, Mateusz Smoczyński is absolutely amazing as always and his soloing on this album is especially welcome as it has been a while since he recorded in a pure Jazz environment. Jan Smoczyński, the older brother, not only plays some great keyboard parts but also provides the bass lines. Dobrowolski, who needs to take care of all the rhythmic duties, is also brilliant, which is hardly surprising.

Overall this album simply explodes with great musicianship and excellent compositions, creating a most enjoyable listening experience, in spite of its non-trivial instrumentation and rhythmic complexity. It should be accessible to the majority of true Jazz connoisseurs and will also raise a few brows, as it offers a very novel instrumentation and highly unusual sound. Well done indeed!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Anna Gadt/Marcin Olak - Gombrowicz (2020)

Anna Gadt/Marcin Olak

Anna Gadt - voice
Marcin Olak - guitars

Gombrowicz

HEVHETIA 0196-2-331





By Krzysztof Komorek

Dwoje artystów, których cenię, a  nawet lubię, spotyka trzeciego, za którym, eufemistycznie mówiąc, nie przepadam. Co z tego wyniknie? Który z elementów przeważy i zdominuje moje odczucia wobec płyty? Owym "trzecim" jest Witold Gombrowicz, do którego twórczości od dawna nie mogę się przekonać. Jednak moje więcej niż pozytywne nastawienie do nagrań Anny Gadt oraz Marcina spowodowało, że zdecydowałem się zmierzyć z albumem, któremu pisarz dał inspirację i tytuł.
 
Okazało się – notabene nie pierwszy raz – że Gombrowicz "przetworzony" artystycznie staje się dla mnie całkowicie akceptowalny. Pisarz jest tutaj oczywiście obecny poprzez swoje słowa, ale tak naprawdę przede wszystkim jest – jak już wspomniałem – inspiracją, patronem całego przedsięwzięcia. Wpływającym oczywiście na klimat całości, jednakże gombrowiczowska materia opakowana w formę, w której muzyka ma największe znaczenie, nie dominuje i nie przytłacza.  

Ta płyta jest w moim odczuciu raczej opowieścią o Gombrowiczu, a nie tylko przełożeniem jego twórczości na muzyczny język. To również obraz fascynacji pisarzem ze strony muzyków. Nie udawanej, czy też będącej efektem wyrachowania, ale w pełni autentycznej. Trzeba bowiem swojego bohatera nie tylko znać, ale i bardzo lubić, aby tak znakomicie przedstawić go publiczności, nawet w tych niezbyt pozytywnych dla niego aspektach. 

Nie wiedziałem, czego się spodziewać po tym albumie. Efekt uśmierzył moje obawy i przerósł najśmielsze oczekiwania. Kapitalna symbioza duetu. Znakomite operowanie literacką materią przedsięwzięcia. Fantastyczne zespolenie słowa i dźwięków. Nie myślcie sobie, że dostaniecie piosenki z gitarowym podkładem i wyjątkami z prozy Gombrowicza. Anna Gadt i Marcin Olak stworzyli mistrzowski przykład współczesnej improwizacji. Stało się więc tak, że pochłonąłem "Gombrowicza" jednym tchem. Pięćdziesiąt sześć minut. Dwanaście utworów. Głos i gitary. Minimalistyczne środki, które dały efekt niezwykły i znakomity. 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Grupa W Składzie - Planetarium (2019)

Grupa W Składzie

Milo Kurtis - clarinet, keys, kalimba, djembe, ocarina, percussion
Jerzy Mazzoll - clarinet & bass clarinet, kalimba, voice
Miłosz Oleniecki - Moog, Korg, Nord, kalimba, percussion

Planetarium


MILO 304

By Adam Baruch

This is an album by the legendary 1970s Polish Avant-Garde ensemble Grupa W Składzie, which was reactivated a few years ago and performs from time to time in different lineup configurations. This live recording was made by a trio lineup of the ensemble, which includes the founding member multi-instrumentalist Milo Kurtis, veteran Jazz clarinetist Jerzy Mazzoll and a representative of the young generation keyboardist Miłosz Oleniecki. The album presents six original compositions, one composed by Kurtis and five composed collectively by the ensemble members.

The music is a meditative journey, which amalgamates elements of Jazz, World Music and Ambient explorations. It requires patience and open-mindedness to be wholly appreciated, but once the listener fully submits to the flow of the music, the experience is truly magical. The personal performances are all excellent, especially the superb clarinet improvisations by Mazzoll, but the music is created by all three musicians together and its magic is mostly a result of their close cooperation.

Overall this is a beautiful album of meditative / improvised music, which enchants the listen by its calmness and tranquility, but also offers rich layers of Jazzy improvisations. Twenty years ago this might have been classified as New Age Music, but the hype of New Age is long gone, and great music stays forever.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Vibraslap – Different Wor(l)ds (2019)

Vibraslap

Miłosz Rutkowski - vibraphone
Tomasz Grabowy - bass
Tomasz Wendt - saxophone
Robert Jarmużek - piano
Łukasz Sobolak - drums
Marcin Wawrzynowicz - vocals

Different Wor(l)ds



MILOR 001

By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish Jazz ensemble Vibraslap, co-led by vibraphonist/composer Miłosz Rutkowski and bassist Tomasz Grabowy. The current sextet version of the ensemble also includes saxophonist Tomasz Wendt, pianist Robert Jarmużek, drummer Łukasz Sobolak and vocalist Marcin Wawrzynowicz. The album presents eight original compositions, all by the ensemble members. The music was recorded at the excellent Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki, with the usual superb sound quality.

The music is definitely on the easy side of the Jazz spectrum, based on simple melodies and catchy riffs, but altogether offering a pleasant and entertaining listening experience. The group members are excellent and experienced musicians and their performances are all beyond reproach, appropriate within this specific genre. The vocals are the weakest chain on the album, but again excusable in that context. Jarmużek and Wendt offer the most ambitious soloing spots, Rutkowski has a nice touch and the rhythm section keeps the music swinging, and all is well.

As I have already stated many times before, Jazz is a wide phenomenon that is flexible enough to embrace more approachable and entertaining facets, including music like what this album offers, which has its following and should not be a priori rejected by condescending snobbery. To each his own…

Friday, January 24, 2020

Wojciech Staroniewicz A'Freak-aN Project – Live In Gdańsk (2019)

Wojciech Staroniewicz A'Freak-aN Project

Wojtek Staroniewicz - saxophone
Przemek Dyakowski - saxophone
Darek Herbasz - saxophone
Marcin Janek - saxophone
Dominik Bukowski - vibraphone
Janusz Mackiewicz - bass
Roman Ślefarski - drums
Larry Okey Ugwu - percussion


Live In Gdańsk

Allegro 038

By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by veteran Polish Jazz saxophonist/composer/bandleader Wojciech Staroniewicz and his A`Freak-aN Project ensemble, which is an octet featuring a saxophone quartet and an extended rhythm section: Staroniewicz on tenor, Przemek Dyakowski on tenor, Dariusz Herbasz on baritone, Marcin Janek on soprano, Dominik Bukowski on vibraphone, Janusz Mackiewicz on bass, Roman Ślefarski on drums and Larry Okey Ugwu on percussion. The album, which was recorded live at Radio Gdańsk, presents seven compositions, two of which are originals by Staroniewicz, four are by Krzysztof Komeda and one is by McCoy Tyner, all arranged by Staroniewicz.

This album is in fact a live version of the previous album by the ensemble from 2015, called "A'Freak-Komeda Project", except for the Tyner track. Therefore basically everything I wrote about that album applies also here – just click on the link.

As Staroniewicz says on the album's artwork, this album is a great opportunity to compare the same music recorded in studio and live, which of course can be very different. The live concert setting offers much more dynamics and excitement and expanded improvisations, but is prone to minor "mishaps", which in retrospect are usually simply charming.

Since the Komeda arrangements are really very special, I recommend to Polish Jazz enthusiasts to put their hands on this album as well and compare these versions with the studio ones, and enjoy a great live album with excellent musicians on board.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

POLISH JAZZ 2019 TOP TEN ALBUMS


1. HIGH DEFINITION QUARTET - DZIADY (32 pkt)

Piotr Orzechowski - piano
Mateusz Śliwa - tenor saxophone
Alan Wykpisz - double bass
Grzegorz Pałka - drums
with
Krzysztof Knittel - electronics
William Basinski - electronics
Christian Fennesz - electronics
Igor Boxx - electronics
Robert Rich - electronics

ANA 007



2. ALGORHYTHM - TERMOMIX (27 pkt)

Emil Miszk - trumpet, piano, percussion
Piotr Chęcki - tenor saxophone
Szymon Burnos - rhodes, moog, programming
Sławomir Koryzno - drums, percussion

ALPAKA 010



3. BASTARDA - ARS MORIENDI (24 pkt)

Paweł Szamburski - clarinet
Michał Górczyński - contrabass clarinet
Tomasz Pokrzywiński - cello
Olga Mysłowska - vocal (10)

LADO ABC C/31



4. LOWBOW - MURMURS (20 pkt)

Maciej Sadowski - double bass
Małgorzata Znarowska - cello
Kevin Scott Davis - ambient
Maja Maseli - violin (9)
Mikołaj Zieliński - trombone (9)
Piotr Guz - tuba (9)
Antoni Wojnar - piano, marimba (9)

EASTRINGS 0002


5. RGG - MEMENTO (19 pkt)

Łukasz Ojdana - piano
Maciej Garbowski - double bass
Krzysztof Gradziuk - drums

PN 0190295475932



6. KUBA WIĘCEK TRIO - MULTITASKING (18 PKT)

Kuba Więcek - alto saxophone, electronics
Michał Barański - bass, voice
Łukasz Żyta - drums, glockenspiel

PN 0190295475918


7. PIOTR DAMASIEWICZ & POWER OF THE HORNS ENSEMBLE - POLSKA (17 pkt)

Piotr Damasiewicz - trumpet
Maciej Obara - alto saxophone
Gerard Lebik - tenor saxophone
Adam Pindur - soprano saxophone
Paweł Niewiadomski - trombone
Dominik Wania - piano
Ksawery Wójciński - double bass
Jakub Cywiński - double bass
Samuel Hall - drums

ASTIGMATIC 011


8. DOMINIK BUKOWSKI QUARTET - TRANSATLANTYK (13 pkt)

Dominik Bukowski - vibraphone, kalimba
Emil Miszk - trumpet
Adam Żuchowski - double bass
Patryk Dobosz - drums

SOLITON 887


9. AWATAIR - AWATAIR PLAYS COLTRANE (12 pkt)

Tomasz Gadecki - tenor & baritone saxophones
Mark Tokar - double bass
Michał Gos - drums

FSR 16/2019


10. NATALIA KORDIAK QUINTET - BAJKA (11 pkt)

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

HEVHETIA 0194

Friday, January 17, 2020

POLISH JAZZ 2019 PODSUMOWANIE !!!


MUZYK ROKU 2019: KAMIL PIOTROWICZ


Polski pianista, kompozytor. Twórca i lider zespołów Kamil Piotrowicz QuintetKamil Piotrowicz Sextet. Laureat wielu festiwali jazzowych, m. in. Jazz Nad Odrą (Nagroda Indywidualna za kompozycję), Krokus Jazz Festival (Grand Prix), Blue Note Jazz Competition (Grand Prix), Ogólnopolski Przegląd Zespołów Jazzowych i Bluesowych w Gdyni (Grand Prix) oraz wielu innych. Zadebiutował świetnie przyjętą płytą "Birth" wydaną w wytwórni Hevhetia w 2015 roku. W 2016 roku ukazały się dwa znakomite albumy z udziałem Piotrowicza - autorska "Popular Music" z sekstetem oraz "Dark Matter" formacji Minim Experiment. Jego dwie płyty - "Product Placement" i "Popular Music" - były nominowane do nagrody Fryderyk, a prowadzone przez muzyka formacje były wielokrotnie nagradzane na prestiżowych przeglądach i festiwalach w Polsce.

Płyty wydane w 2019 roku:

Lawaai - Densities, Forces, Intensities
Wojtczak/Piotrowicz - Plastic Poetry

DEBIUT ROKU 2019: TERCET KAMILI DRABEK - MUZYKA NAIWNA (SOLITON RECORDS)


Album "Muzyka Naiwna" został zrealizowany w ramach programu Jazzowy Debiut Fonograficzny Instytutu Muzyki i Tańca, a jego koncertowa premiera odbyła się w podczas festiwalu Warsaw Summer Jazz Days. Bohaterami są studenci krakowskiej Akademii Muzycznej: perkusista Kamil Kaźmierski, saksofonista Marcin Konieczkowicz i kontrabasistka Kamila Drabek. "Muzyka Naiwna" jest swego rodzajem podsumowaniem dłuższej, artystycznej relacji i obrazem muzyki, w jakiej najpełniej odnaleźli się młodzi twórcy. Chociaż swoją świadomość muzyczną budowali na wspólnych występach w krakowskich klubach jazzowych, to muzycy Tercetu spotykali się również w innych zespołach, koncertując w kraju i za granicą, zdobywając laury na konkursach, by wreszcie stworzyć autorską formację, która zadebiutowała podczas Kraków Summer Jazz Festiwal w legendarnej Piwnicy pod Baranami. Zespół nie kryje fascynacji wyłącznie tradycją amerykańskiego jazzu, lecz zgrabnie wzbogaca swoje brzmienie także elementami rodzimymi. 


NAGRANIE ARCHIWALNE 2019 ROKU: JERZY MILIAN - STIGMA (GAD RECORDS)


W lipcu 1970 roku Jerzy Milian spotkał się w Berlinie Wschodnim z orkiestrą Guntera Gollascha oraz złożonym z jej muzyków Ensemble Studio 4. Dla obu projektów przygotował kilka autorskich kompozycji – od krótkich impresji o ilustracyjnym charakterze do rozbudowanych, wielowątkowych form na styku jazzu i awangardy. Całość mieniła się wieloma kolorami i przyciągała uwagę niecodziennymi rozwiązaniami aranżacyjnymi. Milian wziął także udział w nagraniach jako wibrafonista, uzupełniając większość utworów doskonałymi partiami solowymi. Te wakacyjne nagrania z 1970 roku okazały się zaledwie preludium do bardzo obszernej, trwającej kolejne czternaście lat współpracy – jednym z punktów zwrotnych w karierze Jerzego Miliana. "Stigma" to ósma część serii "Jerzy Milian Tapes". Wszystkie utwory zarejestrowane w Berlinie Wschodnim w 1970 roku ukazują się na płycie po raz pierwszy.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Polish Jazz TOP TEN 2019 by Tomasz Łuczak


Tomasz Łuczak TOP TEN Polish Jazz 2019:

1. Algorhythm - Termomix
2. Bastarda - Ars Moriendi
3. High Definition Quartet - Dziady
4. Dominik Bukowski Quartet - Transatlantyk
5. Silberman Quartet - Asanisimasa
6. Wojtczak/Piotrowicz - Plastic Poetry
7. Trzaska/Mazurkiewicz/Szpura - North Meridian
8. Sundial feat. Irek Wojtczak - Sundial III
9. Natalia Kordiak Quintet - Bajka
10. Backspace [augmented] - AD_DA

MUZYK ROKU
Emil Miszk

DEBIUT ROKU
Ślina - Ślina

NAGRANIE ARCHIWALNE ROKU
Konikiewicz Free Funk Trio - Live At Rura 1982

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Polish Jazz TOP TEN 2019 by Adam Baruch


Adam Baruch TOP TEN Polish Jazz 2019:

1. Natalia Kordiak Quintet - Bajka
2. LowBow - Murmurs
3. Gdańsk Necropolitan Orchestra - Necrosofia
4. Klara Cloud & The Vultures - Vauna
5. RGG - Memento
6. Sabina Meck Sextet feat. Wojciech Myrczek - Słowo Na T
7. Wojtczak/Piotrowicz - Plastic Poetry
8. Tie Break - The End
9. Sundial feat. Irek Wojtczak - Sundial III
10. Sasha Strunin - Autoportrety

MUZYK ROKU
Maciej Sadowski

DEBIUT ROKU
Non Violent Communication - Obserwacje

NAGRANIE ARCHIWALNE ROKU
Konikiewicz Free Funk Trio - Live At Rura 1982

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Polish Jazz TOP TEN 2019 by Krzysztof Komorek


Krzysztof Komorek TOP TEN Polish Jazz 2019:

1. High Definition Quartet - Dziady
2. RGG - Memento
3. Piotr Damasiewicz & Power Of The Horns Ensemble - Polska
4. Więcek & Gawęda Quintet feat. Ralph Alessi - Berry
5. Dominik Bukowski Quartet - Transatlantyk
6. Bastarda - Ars Moriendi
7. Wschód - Wschód
8. KaMaSz - Eight Rocks From Grandma's Box
9. Dan Phillips Quartet - Light At Depth
10. LowBow - Murmurs

MUZYK ROKU
Piotr Orzechowski

DEBIUT ROKU
Tercet Kamili Drabek - Muzyka Naiwna

NAGRANIE ARCHIWALNE ROKU
Jerzy Milian - Stigma

Monday, January 13, 2020

Polish Jazz TOP TEN 2019 by Piotr Wojdat


Piotr Wojdat TOP TEN Polish Jazz 2019:

1. Bastarda - Ars Moriendi
2. Lawaai - Densities, Forces, Intensities
3. Algorhythm - Termomix
4. Opla - Obertasy
5. High Definition Quartet - Dziady
6. Awatair - Awatair Plays Coltrane
7. LowBow - Murmurs
8. Tercet Kamili Drabek - Muzyka Naiwna
9. Kuba Więcek Trio - Multitasking
10. KaMaSz - Eight Rocks From Grandma's Box

MUZYK ROKU
Kamil Piotrowicz

DEBIUT ROKU
Tercet Kamili Drabek - Muzyka Naiwna

NAGRANIE ARCHIWALNE ROKU
Jerzy Milian - Stigma

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Polish Jazz TOP TEN 2019 by Maciej Krawiec


Maciej Krawiec TOP TEN Polish Jazz 2019:

1. Piotr Damasiewicz & Power Of The Horns Ensemble - Polska
2. Algorhythm - Termomix
3. Awatair - Awatair Plays Coltrane
4. High Definition Quartet - Dziady
5. Kuba Więcek Trio - Multitasking
6. Walicki/Prościński - Llovage
7. RGG - Memento
8. Eryk Kulm Quintessence - Private Things
9. RASP Lovers - Romantic Alternative Schizophrenic Punk
10. Więcek & Gawęda Quintet feat. Ralph Alessi - Berry

MUZYK ROKU
Kuba Więcek

DEBIUT ROKU
Tercet Kamili Drabek - Muzyka Naiwna

NAGRANIE ARCHIWALNE ROKU
Jerzy Milian - Stigma

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Polish Jazz TOP TEN 2019 by Jędrzej Janicki


Jędrzej Janicki TOP TEN Polish Jazz 2019:

1. Kuba Więcek Trio - Multitasking
2. Sławek Jaskułke - The Son
3. Tercet Kamili Drabek - Muzyka Naiwna
4. MIST - Live Dragon
5. LowBow - Murmurs
6. Maciej Obara Quartet - Three Crowns
7. Petera Sextet - Flashover
8. Jerzy Mączyński - Jerry & The Pelican System
9. Brzoska/Marciniak/Markiewicz - Wpław
10. High Definition Quartet - Dziady

MUZYK ROKU
Sławek Jaskułke

DEBIUT ROKU
Tercet Kamili Drabek - Muzyka Naiwna

NAGRANIE ARCHIWALNE ROKU
Jerzy Milian - Stigma

Thursday, January 9, 2020

High Definition Quartet – Dziady (2019)

High Definition Quartet

Mateusz Śliwa - tenor saxophone
Piotr Orzechowski - piano
Alan Wykpisz - bass
Grzegorz Pałka - drums

Dziady

ANALKASIS 007



By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by Polish Jazz ensemble High Definition Quartet, which comprises of saxophonist Mateusz Śliwa, pianist/composer Piotr Orzechowski (a.k.a. Pianohooligan), bassist Alan Wykpisz and drummer Grzegorz Pałka (each of the three albums features a different drummer). On this album the ensemble collaborates with five electronic music composers: Polish veteran/pioneer of the idiom Krzysztof Knittel, Igor Boxx (a.k.a. Igor Pudło), Americans William Basinski and Robert Rich and Austrian Christian Fennesz. The album presents ten original compositions, five of which are performed by the ensemble and were composed by Orzechowski and five shorter pieces, each composed and performed by one of the above listed electronic music composers (except for the Knittel piece which was co-composed with Orzechowski and co-executed with the ensemble), which are sandwiched between the ensemble pieces.

The album's title "Dziady" ("Forefathers' Eve") refers of course to the epic poetic drama by the Polish national poet Adam Mickiewicz, considered as one of the greatest works of European Romanticism and a source of controversial interpretations throughout the convoluted Polish political history, famous for its role in the 1968 Polish Political crisis, but retaining its prophetic actuality to this very day. The drama was staged many times over the years of course and one could speculate that this music could be considered as a possible soundtrack/stage music to an imaginary/future spectacle.

Combining Jazz with electronic/ambient music is of course quite fashionable these days and this year's (2019) Polish Jazz recording harvest offers several such outings. In most cases the electronic/ambient music is closely amalgamated with the Jazzy content, whereas on this album, with the exception of the opening Knittel/Orzechowski track, the rest of the electronic / ambient tracks stand on their own musically, which raises a basic speculation as to their integration within the album's musical fabric and its continuity. Personally I feel that their absence would not have changed the album's overall effect dramatically.

The Jazz part of the album is however absolutely brilliant, as one might expect. Orzechowski's dramatic music, rich in texture and full of imagination, is delightful from start to finish. The five seemingly separate themes constitute a coherent whole, which is perfectly executed by the quartet. Orzechowski's piano playing is radiant as always, and he proves to be on top of the heap, in spite of the fact that his recording output is sadly way too infrequent for my liking. Śliwa manages to keep his unique personal style, which sets him apart from most contemporary young Polish Jazz saxophonists, and who sadly also does not record frequently enough. Big Bear Wykpisz is amazing as always, a monster bass player in every bone and muscle of his body – he does play constantly and is omnipresent on the local scene, being probably the most sought after bassist around these days. Pałka integrated with the three founding members without a hitch, which is completely natural in view of his achievements lately. Together they are able to carry a tune as well as open up and improvise, supporting each other amicably and offer a superb listening experience.

The album was released by a new record label on the Polish market called Anaklasis Records. I must admit that I was quite taken aback by the primitive/simplistic cover design; perhaps this is some kind of new sophisticated graphic aesthetics, but it looks plain ugly to me. This music surely deserves a better packaging. The album includes an extensive booklet, which offers a bilingual version of an essay by Polish music journalist Jarosław Szubrycht.

Overall this is a brilliant piece of music, ambitious and searching, which stands up to the highest echelon of contemporary European Jazz and which is consistent with the earlier work by High Definition. Hopefully the listeners won't be discouraged by the cover and reach out to embrace this exquisite music, as it truly deserves it. Well done Gentlemen!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Piotr Damasiewicz & Power Of The Horns Ensemble - Polska (2019)

Piotr Damasiewicz & Power Of The Horns Ensemble

Piotr Damasiewicz - trumpet
Maciej Obara - alto saxophone
Gerard Lebik - tenor saxophone
Adam Pindur - soprano saxophone
Paweł Niewiadomski - trombone
Dominik Wania - piano
Ksawery Wójciński - double bass


Jakub Cywiński - double bass
Samuel Hall - drums

Polska

ASTIGMATIC 011

By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish trumpeter/composer Piotr Damasiewicz and his Power Of The Horns Ensemble and their first studio recording. It features a nonet version of the ensemble which also includes saxophonists Maciej Obara, Adam Pindur and Gerard Lebik, trombonist Paweł Niewiadomski, pianist Dominik Wania, bassists Ksawery Wójciński and Jakub Cywiński and Australian born drummer Samuel Hall. The album presents four (one in two parts) original compositions, all by Damasiewicz.

The debut album "Alaman", recorded live in 2012 (i.e. six years earlier), was the first release of the now legendary For Tune Records label, and created quite a stir at the time. It was recorded by an eleven-piece version of the ensemble, which included only five of the musicians present on this new recording and presented just three expanded tracks, characterized by extensive improvisations. The raw power of the horns and super-sized rhythm section combined with the youthful excitement associated with the occasion managed to create some magic moments, which the recording certainly reflected, but which did not prove to have a long-lasting value. In retrospect the status of "…one of the most captivating albums in the history of Polish jazz…" is certainly a hype rather that an objective statement.

The new album is a complete about face and presents perfectly well-behaved, modern mainstream Jazz, with smooth performances but limited level of enthusiasm. Of course this is a perfectly legitimate approach; considering the time that passed since the debut; maturity, age and experience certainly have their influence. Yet Damasiewicz seems to cling to the past by including on this album older material, like the title tune which originates from 2014 and even one composition already presented on the debut, which perhaps indicates a shortage of new material. But regardless of the past connections, the music on this album is based on rather basic melodic elements, repeated continuously with little variations, except for the ensemble dynamics. The "wall of sound" approach of the debut is now replaced by a more chamber like approach typical of Polish Jazz from the 1960s, and a retro sound and ambience.

Damasiewicz dedicates the compositions on the album to the Godfathers of Polish Jazz: Krzysztof Komeda, Tomasz Stańko and Tomasz Szukalski and to his teacher Piotr Wojtasik, all of whom obviously influenced his musical path, which is well reflected within the music on this album, and which, as already stated, often ventures into the climates invented and developed by his Mentors and which characterize Polish Jazz or at least its early days. The album's title seems to suggest that the music on this album is the continuation of that magic "Polishness" that Polish Jazz offers at its core; a daring statement by all means, which will be judged by history alone.

The individual performances by the leader and the ensemble members are, as expected, highly professional, but if not for the excellent, as always, contributions by Wania, who in the period separating these two recordings made one giant step after another, the music would have became almost banal, a déjà vu of sorts. Considering the astonishing level of the musicianship on the Polish Jazz scene, something more spectacular would have been needed in this music to become "…sublime and unique…". The album's liner notes, from which all the above quotes are taken, is fascinating, full of hints, allegories and references – definitely worth reading!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Trzaska/Mazurkiewicz/Szpura – North Meridian (2019)

Trzaska/Mazurkiewicz/Szpura

Mikołaj Trzaska - alto saxophone, bass clarinet
Jacek Mazurkiewicz - bass, electronics
Paweł Szpura - drums

North Meridian

PLANK-TONE 1


By Adam Baruch

This is an album by a trio of Polish Free Jazz/Improvised Music musicians: veteran saxophonist/clarinetist Mikołaj Trzaska and two younger but already established representatives of the genre, bassist Jacek Mazurkiewicz and drummer Paweł Szpura. The album presents six original compositions, all co-composed by the members of the trio.

The music is everything the listeners familiar with the Polish Improvised Music scene would expect: an excellent example of a trialogue between highly expressive and imaginative players, which demonstrates a high level of mutual respect and telepathic exchange of ideas, which makes the music sound as if it was carefully researched, in spite of the fact that it is completely spontaneous. There is a wonderful balance of responsibilities and role sharing between the musicians and ability to play together without overshadowing each other's contributions.

The music is excellently recorded, with perfectly isolated sound of each of the instruments, which enables the listener to hear absolutely every delicate nuance, even when Mazurkiewicz employs heavy electronic sounds in addition to the acoustic instruments.

The music varies in intensity and atmosphere, moving between delicate and soft passages and "wall of sound" vistas, being perfectly cohesive and focused at all times. In spite of the fact that this music offers no straightforward melody contents as such, it has a melodic streak of sorts, making the music accessible to a relatively wide circle of listeners, not necessarily originating only from within the Improvised Music circle.

Trzaska seems to be in a meditative mood on this album and his performances are tamer and more relaxed than usual, which is a real treat. He is apparently still developing his palette and able to surprise even his most devoted followers, like yours truly. But Mazurkiewicz and Szpura both contribute excellently as well, perhaps better than at any earlier recording.

Overall this is a beautiful piece of Improvised Music, which manages to be transformed into an experience worth listening to repeatedly, something that happens very rarely within the genre. This album is the first release on the new Plank-Tone Records label founded by Mazurkiewicz, and of course greetings and salutations are in order!


Sunday, January 5, 2020

Garzone/Erskine/Pasqua/Oles - 3 Nights In L.A. (2019)

Garzone/Erskine/Pasqua/Oles

George Garzone - tenor saxophone
Alan Pasqua - piano
Darek Oleszkiewicz - bass
Peter Erskine - drums

3 Nights In L.A.

FUZZY MUSIC PEPCD027


By Krzysztof Komorek

Cztery muzyczne znakomitości. Trzy wieczory w Los Angeles. Niewielki klub nieopodal lotniska. Dwadzieścia utworów (choć tylko siedemnaście kompozycji, bowiem "Have You Met Miss Jones?" powtarza się trzykrotnie, a "The Honeymoon" dwa razy). Precyzyjnie wyliczone czasy trwania poszczególnych setów – każdy oscylujący w granicach godziny i dziesięciu minut. 

Pozazdrościć można tylko możliwości uczestniczenia w takim wydarzeniu. Kameralne, klubowe koncerty są dla mnie esencją jazzu. Szczególna atmosfera takich miejsc powoduje, że muzykę odbiera się tam zupełnie inaczej. Można się tylko cieszyć, że od czasu do czasu ktoś wpada na pomysł zarejestrowania takiego wydarzenia i wydania płyty. 

Saksofonista George Garzone, perkusista Peter Erskine, pianista Alan Pasqua oraz kontrabasista Darek Oles (Oleszkiewicz) grywają ze sobą regularnie od wielu lat. W pewien styczniowy czwartek, piątek i sobotę 2019 roku spotkali się w klubie Sam First w Mieście Aniołów. Niespełna pięćset metrów od pasów startowych międzynarodowego lotniska LAX. 

W trzech i pół godzinach kapitalnego, prawdziwie jazzowego grania, nie znajdziemy repertuarowych zaskoczeń. Wyjątki ze Śpiewnika Amerykańskiego napisane przez Rogersa i Harta, Van Heusena i Burke’a, Kerna i Hammersteina. Porcja własnych kompozycji – trzy Garzone’a i po jednym od pozostałych muzyków. Wreszcie "Invitation" Kapera i "Equinox" Coltrane’a. 

Pierwszoplanową rolę dzierżył podczas koncertów George Garzone, kapitalnie wpisując zespół w tradycję saksofonowych kwartetów. Zagranie coltrane'owskiego klasyka nie było tu przypadkowe. Wspaniałe impresje były dziełem Alana Pasqua. Wyraziście, choć nie zawsze w indywidualnych popisach, prezentowała się sekcja rytmiczna Erskine-Oles. Mistrzowie w bezapelacyjnie mistrzowskiej formie. Jazz w najczystszej z możliwych postaci.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Joanna Duda – Keen (2019)

Joanna Duda

Joanna Duda - piano, electronics

Keen

ALPAKA 008






By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish keyboardist / composer / electronic music artist Joanna Duda, this time recorded solo. It features a collage of sounds created using acoustic piano and prepared piano, electronically generated sounds and human voices. The album presents nine tracks, all played, composed and produced by Duda.

Although Duda can play "conventional" music, for example when she plays with Wojtek Mazolewski's ensemble, this album is dedicated to her more experimental / Avant-Garde side, which offers little melody based music and exposes the listener to her intimate inner world of sounds, which resembles imaginary soundtracks of Science Fiction movies or sound vistas by early electronic composers like Charles Ives or Edgar Varese and later Pierre Schaeffer or Pierre Henry. With just fragmented tones or short phrases, repeated by loops and other electronic devices, these collages are more about stimulating the listener's cerebral cortex than his heart, and for the Avant-Garde prone brave hearted listeners can be a marvelous experience.

Duda should be admired for her uncompromising and unconventional approach to music and her courage to pursue her heart rather than seeking easy solutions and mainstream recognition. This album is an example of her determination to follow the path less travelled, inviting open-minded listeners to share her world with them.

Personally I find this music fascinating and engaging, but obviously it is not destined to reach a wide circle of listeners, which is the price Avant-Garde Artists are ready to accept in return for their independence and personal fulfillment. Definitely highly recommended to people with wide horizons!

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