Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Rybacka & Pasborg – Voice'N'Drums (2018)

Rybacka & Pasborg

Ania Rybacka - voice
Stefan Pasborg - drums

Voice`N`Drums

HEVHETIA 01157





By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by a duo comprising of Polish (resident in Denmark) vocalist Ania Rybacka and Danish drummer Stefan Pasborg. It presents eight improvised pieces co-credited to Rybacka and Pasborg.

The music is a courageous attempt to create meaningful aural experiences within the minimalistic setting of voice and drums only, which surprisingly works out very successfully. Obviously cross-genre and unconventional, the music encompasses many different ingredients, both melodically and rhythmically and is very difficult to pinpoint, which of course is its virtue. There are clearly elements of Jazz and Improvised music, but also World Music, Ambient, Meditative Music and others are involved.

Rybacka uses a plethora of wordless vocal techniques like looping, multiplexing, repetition and minimalistic Classical Music approach, creating a musical tapestry full of mysticism, anticipation and spirituality. Her level of inventiveness and exploration is awe inspiring and the album has no dull moments throughout its entire duration. Pasborg is not only equally inventive and diverse in his contributions, but most importantly an equal partner in the process of creating this music. The interplay and telepathic dialogue that develops between the two Artists is nothing short of phenomenal.

Overall this avant-garde effort is a fascinating and intelligent exercise in expanding the boundaries of music, which in spite of its innovation and daring approach is also very listenable and even enjoyable. Of course, as usual in such cases, an open-minded attitude is required from the listener to be able first to accept and then to enjoy this music. This is an important and highly recommended album, which proves that imagination has no limits and life does not have to be mundane and enslaved in the chains of archaic perceptions.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Maciej Obara Quartet - koncerty w Mediatece Tychy


03.03 | godz. 19:00
MACIEJ OBARA QUARTET

Maciej Obara - saksofon
Dominik Wania - fortepian
Max Mucha - kontrabas
Michał Miśkiewicz  - perkusja

Niewiele jest w życiu jazzmana ośmiotysięczników trudniej osiągalnych, a przez to bardziej pożądanych, od albumu nagranego w Rainbow Studio w Oslo, wyprodukowanego przez Manfreda Eichera i wydanego w jego kultowej oficynie ECM. Saksofonista Maciej Obara ma to już za sobą – wspiął się tam jako trzeci Polak, śladami Tomasza Stańki i Marcina Wasilewskiego. Chociaż nie, tak nie można powiedzieć: wystarczy wsłuchać się w ton jego instrumentu, by wiedzieć, że chadza wyłącznie własnymi ścieżkami. Wykształcony w Katowicach, ograny u boku Stańki i elity nowojorskiego jazzu, swój debiut dla ECM – zatytułowany "Unloved" – zagrał z międzynarodowym, polsko-norweskim składem. W Tychach Maciej Obara pojawi się na czele kwartetu złożonego z wybitnych polskich jazzmanów: pianisty Dominika Wani (gra również na płycie), basisty Maxa Muchy i perkusisty Michała Miśkiewicza.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Eljazz Big-Band - After The Catastrophe (2017)

Eljazz Big- Band

Miłosz Gawryłkiewicz, Tomasz Gluska, Jakub Marszałek, Marcin Gawdzis - trumpets
Maciej Sikała, Henryk Miśkiewicz, Szymon Łukowski, Adam Kołacki, Jacek Rodziewicz - saxophones
Michał Tomaszczyk, Jacek Namysłowski, Dariusz Plichta, Piotr Wróbel - trombones

Mike Stern, Piotr Olszewski - guitars
Adam Lemańczyk - piano
Zbigniew Wrombel - double bass
Józef Eliasz - drums

After The Catastrophe

PRIVATE EDITION

By Krzysztof Komorek

"After The Catastrophe" to komedowski album zrealizowany z wielką pompą przez Józefa Eliasza, bydgoskiego perkusistę i lidera Eljazz Big-Bandu. Samorządowo-ministerialne wsparcie pozwoliło na dość spory i z rzadka spotykany w krajowych jazzowych projektach rozmach. W składzie big-bandu znaleźli się zarówno muzycy młodszych generacji, choć często już legitymujący się indywidualnymi sukcesami, jak Szymon Łukowski, Michał Tomaszczyk czy Jacek Namysłowski, oraz doświadczeni "wyjadacze": począwszy od lidera, poprzez basistę Zbigniewa Wrombla, aż po sekcję instrumentów dętych z Maciejem Sikałą i Henrykiem Miśkiewiczem na czele. Wisienką, czy może jak to jest teraz w modzie mówić, truskawką na torcie, jest gościnny udział niewątpliwej gwiazdy, w osobie znakomitego gitarzysty Mike’a Sterna. Last but not least, big-band wsparła Orkiestra Kameralna Filharmonii Narodowej. 

Dziesięć wybranych kompozycji to utwory, jak zaznacza w opisie animator całego przedsięwzięcia, ponadczasowe i najbardziej inspirujące. Jednocześnie należące do najbardziej znanych z komedowskiego repertuaru. Znajdzie więc słuchacz na płycie muzykę skomponowaną do filmów – oczywiście jest wśród nich "Kołysanka Rosemary", a także temat z "Dwóch ludzi z szafą" – ale również nagrania z polskiej jazzowej płyty wszechczasów "Astigmatic". Big-bandowe aranżacje przygotowane zostały dla każdego utworu przez innego artystę. Obok biorących udział w nagraniach  Jacka Namysłowskiego i Michała Tomaszczyka, na liście aranżerów pojawili się między innymi Andrzej Jagodziński, Nikola Kołodziejczyk, Aleksandra Tomaszewska, Bogdan Ciesielski i Jan Walczyński. 

Taki ogrom bogactwa repertuarowego i osobowego nie zawsze przekłada się na artystyczny sukces. W przypadku "After The Catastrophe" udało się jednak osiągnąć całkiem zgrabny efekt finalny. Nie ma tu co prawda żadnych artystycznych poszukiwań czy odkryć, a jedyny nieco odważniejszy aranżacyjnie fragment pojawia się w zamykającym płytę utworze tytułowym. Poza tym jest lekko, melodyjnie, wręcz piosenkowo. I to właśnie najbardziej mi się w tym albumie spodobało: niewątpliwa przyjemność ze słuchania i relaksacyjny nastrój, w jaki wprawia on odbiorcę. Eleganckie aranże i znakomite solówki - przede wszystkim Henryka Miśkiewicza, który jest tu głównym solistą, oraz Mike’a Sterna. Jedyne, co mi przeszkadza, to niezbyt fortunnie przyjęty tytuł całości oraz zbyt wielkie "zadęcie" w okładkowym komentarzu do albumu. Przyjęte rozwiązania stylistyczne skłaniały mnie raczej do refleksji nad "nieznośną lekkością bytu" niż do rozważań nad kondycją świata, w którym żyjemy.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Hang Em High - Tres Testosterones (2017)

Hang Em High

Lucien Dubuis - bass & contrabass clarinets
Bond - 2 string bass, electronics
Alfred Vogel - drums, percussion

Tres Testosterones

GIG ANT 2017



By Rick Joines

On a May evening in 2012, passing by a bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts - Atwood Tavern - I heard what I assumed was a band covering a Morphine song. I wandered in. Fatback and greens were on the menu. A slew of good Kentucky bourbon lined the back of the bar. What else could a Southern boy do but belly up and enjoy the fare? The band kept playing Morphine songs. Could this possibly be a Morphine tribute band? How unlikely. Yet how cool if it was. Turns out, it wasn’t a cover band at all - it was Vapors of Morphine - original members Dana Colley on baritone sax and Jerome Deupree at drums, with Jeremy Lyons replacing the fallen genius, Mark Sandman, on two-string bass and vocals. Once, back at the end of the last century, during my grad school days, I became addicted to Morphine, and now, after a decade off the stuff, I was getting a straight fix. It became immediately addictive again. I dusted off my CD's and starting shooting again.

Somewhere around the time I wandered into Atwood’s, Bond’s old addiction to Morphine also kicked in. He scored a two-string bass, hooked a bass clarinetist and a drummer, and they played a Morphine tribute gig in Poland. In 2013, the trio released "Hang Em High", and in 2014, the raucous "Beef & Bottle". "Tres Testosterones" is just as rollicking as those two, but it marks an evolution in the band’s identity and imagination. On this album, Hang Em High perfects the dark, sophisticated acerbic grit reminiscent of Morphine, yet they realize a mischievous, dirty, sexy cleverness that is all their own. 

Most of the songs on "Tres Testosterones" follow rock song structure. Bond and Vogel lay down libidinous rhythms that establish earthy themes while Dubuis’ clarinets provides the Mark Sandmanesque crooning, off-beat, raunchy, bent-note melodic lines that often soar into ejaculatory, ecstatic improvised solos. The ruttish, muscular playing of Bond and Vogel gives proof to the altered noun of the album’s title: these are three (tre/tres) very (très) macho dudes disseminating virile tunes, but these studs pull it off with a wanton wink that is more ironic than X-rated.

The song titles provocatively play on the band’s boasted excess of Wild Western testosterone: there is the bad guy threat "Plata o Plomo" (silver or a bullet), an obligatory "Tumbleweed", and a song for the morning after too many beans out on the range, "Bowel of Power". "Bella Mortadella" pays homage to the Italian "bologna of death" - a mash of leftover pig parts, spices, salt, sugar, and chunks of fat that could possibly be the worst-for-you food on earth, but is, they say, addictive. There is also "Col’Donuts", which, depending on how you say it, might refer to a mountain of donuts or a big ol’ mound of testes. 

This is an album that can be enjoyed on many levels. The sophisticated individual playing and the interplay can be as superbly tight as a prog or math rock band, yet it can veer daringly into loose, exploratory modes of free jazz. There is also plenty of toe-tapping pleasure to be had focusing on how one player or the other establishes and riffs on a theme, on Bond’s sinister bass lines, on the perfection of Vogel’s sweet timing, or on getting lost in Dubuis’ sinuous melodies that mutate into unhinged solos drifting over rhythmic high plains. 

The Morphine influences are obvious, but everyone has their influences. Hang Em High draws from Morphine, yet their experience playing with luminaries of the jazz and avant-garde world give them artistic resources that transcend the original. They play with expectations of genre while rearranging them and turning them inside out. This is a fun record. I dare you to listen to it and resist its manly charms.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Alicja Serowik – Do Śë Sajd (2018)

Alicja Serowik

Alicja Serowik - vocals
Michał Ciesielski - piano
Arek Czernysz - accordion
Krzysztof Słomkowski - double bass
Adam Golicki - drums

Do Śë Sajd

PRIVATE EDITION

By Adam Baruch

This is a stunning debut album by Polish Jazz vocalist Alicja Serowik, accompanied by pianist Michał Ciesielski, who also arranged all the music, accordionist Arek Czernysz, bassist Krzysztof Słomkowski and drummer Adam Golicki. A string quartet is also present on some of the songs. The album presents nine folk songs from the Kurpie ethnic region in Poland, which has a specific musical tradition and linguistic dialect. One of the songs is repeated in two different versions. One piece composed by Ciesielski and featuring wordless vocalese, is also present. The lyrics of one of the songs are missing from the otherwise beautifully and tastefully designed album's packaging. The album also offers a superbly recorded sound.

The music, based on the original Kurpie songs, is smoothly transformed into the Jazz idiom, creating an ideal amalgam of old and new, which sounds completely organic, coherent and natural. Thanks to the skillful arrangements and inspired execution, the music retains it folkloristic character, with the specific melancholy and lyricism typical of core Polish music, but also swings and potently projects the Jazz feel and quintessence.

Serowik and her vocal performances are without a doubt the epicenter of this album. She manages to achieve a perfect balance between the original texts, which represent the folklore, and the Jazzy vocalese, which transforms her into the Jazz universe. Amazingly she also manages to sound equally convincing in both of these seemingly away from each other worlds. The vocals are clear and lucid, powerful yet delicate and always in perfect pitch with the harmonic background. Her overall performance on this album is nothing short of virtuosic.

Ciesielski not only did a splendid job arranging the music, but also plays beautifully throughout the album, with many splendid solos and considerate accompaniment. Słomkowski and Golicki both do a perfect job required from the rhythm section, and considering the complexity of this material they both pass with flying colors. Czernysz, who plays only on the last track of the album, is also sensational and I'd definitely love to hear more of his playing.

Overall this album is a splendid example of how Culture can be preserved from generation to generation, without losing its vitality and relevance. The Polish Culture incorporates a plethora of ethnic and regional sub-cultures, which are full of treasures, not only in music, but also in dance, plastic Arts, customs and literature/poetry. Serowik, like many other young Polish musicians, makes the conscious effort to dig into the tradition and bring it up to date, for which they deserve our respect and admiration. What a wonderful way to start a new musical year (2018) with this being one of the first releases this year that land on my desk. Very well done Milady and crew.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Mateusz Smoczyński – Metamorphoses (2017)

Mateusz Smoczyński

Mateusz Smoczyński - violin

Metamorphoses

ZBIGNIEW SEIFERT FOUNDATION 4





By Adam Baruch

This is the fourth album by Polish violinist/composer Mateusz Smoczyński and his debut solo violin recording. The album, recorded at the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music, presents thirteen compositions, four of which are parts of a violin sonata No.1, which gave the album its title. Smoczynski is the composer of eleven of these compositions, one composition is by his older brother Jan Smoczynski and one is by Mark Summer, the cellist and co-founder of the legendary Turtle Island Quartet. The closing piece of the album, called "Midnight Psalm", was inspired by the Zbigniew Seifert composition "Evening Psalm".

During the last decade Mateusz Smoczyński consistently paved his way to the top of the Polish violin scene, creating a remarkable collection of recordings as a leader, as a sideman and as member of the revered Atom String Quartet and winning the second edition of the Zbigniew Seifert International Jazz Violin Competition in 2016, an incredible achievement for a musician in his early thirties; all this on a scene which is bursting with talent and fierce competition.

This album is undoubtedly Smoczyński's most ambitious undertaking to date, both as a player and a composer. Moving away from the home base of the Jazz idiom, the music on this album is obviously much more related to the contemporary Classical idiom, although the improvisation is still an integral and important ingredient. The compositions also bear close relation to Polish Folklore and Classical Music, soaked in typical melancholy and lyricism, which characterizes most of Polish music.

From the very onset of the music Smoczyński's virtuosity becomes immediately apparent and the entire duration of the album is an ecstatic journey on the cascade of violin magic, which he manages to keep flowing relentlessly. Unrelated to the actual tempo of the compositions, the flow and energy is always there and the pure tones and clarity of every note are remarkable.

Although not a Jazz album per-se, this music should be of interest to a wide range of music lovers, obviously those who also love the violin. This music is demanding and requires attention and patience, but all great music puts forward similar challenges, and this one is no different. It will probably take several listening sessions to wholly comprehend the depth of this music, but the effort is definitely worth it! Wholeheartedly recommended!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Gille/Mucha/Arutyunyan – Lights & Shadows (2017)

Gille/Mucha/Arutyunyan

Sebastian Gille - tenor saxophone
Max Mucha - double bass
Ivars Arutyunyan - drums

Lights & Shadows

FOR TUNE 0130



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the European Jazz trio consisting of German saxophonist Sebastian Gille, Polish bassist Max Mucha and Latvian drummer Ivars Arutyunyan. It presents eight tunes, seven of which are original compositions by the trio members, composed individually and collectively, and one is a Thelonious Monk standard. The album was recorded at the excellent RecPublica Studios and offers a beautiful, crystal clear sound quality.

The music is a wonderful example of contemporary Modern European Jazz, floating elegantly between melody-based themes and free form improvisations, always unpredictable and exciting. The intimate saxophone trio format is an ideal environment for these three immensely talented players to expose their individual potentials and create a fully functional unit, which sounds as one organic music making body. All the original compositions are absolutely first class and the trio's interpretation of the Monk standard should make most American Jazz players eat their hats.

Gille is an exceptional and completely unique saxophone player, who is able to produce almost unearthly tones, which sound sometimes like violin or flute, and considering he is playing the tenor, this is absolutely amazing. His manner of slowing the tempo almost to a standstill is also extremely effective and creates enormous amounts of tension in the music, in spite of the fact that it is almost minimalistic.

Mucha plays superb bass parts and is able to singlehandedly supply both the harmonic layer, upon which the saxophone parts are based, as well as the rhythmic pulsations, which are precise like a chronometer and at the same time dance around the time measures like an ice skater. Although he is rarely seeking a position in the Polish Jazz limelight, his consistently excellent work in the last few years definitely earned him an honorary position among the young lions of the European bass players.

Arutyunyan stands shoulder to shoulder with his two partners playing the drums well beyond just keeping the time, which he actually does very rarely. His incredible dynamics and sensibility, not very often found amongst drummers, makes him an equal partner within this tight unit. He is certainly someone to keep an eye on in the future.

Overall this is an astonishingly beautiful, intelligent and surprising debut album, which is an example what great Jazz means today, something that others should listen to in order to learn from it and of course a source of immense pleasure for Jazz lovers. An absolute must to every true Jazz connoisseur!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Woda - Woda (2017)

Woda

Adam Witkowski - guitar, DIY electric rababa,
Krzysztof Topolski - drums, synth, underwater soundscapes 

Woda

THISISNOTARECORD 2017



By Bartosz Nowicki

Podczas gdy basista Wojtek Juchniewicz szlifował repertuar czekającej na premierę płyty Trupa Trupa, pozostali muzycy tria Wolność - Krzysztof Topolski i Adam Witkowski - pod jego nieobecność założyli nowy zespół - Woda. Nie wiem, czy członkowie duetu, jako mieszkańcy wybrzeża w swoim życiu zetknęli się bliżej z przemysłem stoczniowym. Czy w dzieciństwie zakradali się do doków, basenów portowych, podglądali pracę w traserni, stalowni, walcowni, gościli w fabrycznych hangarach? Ich płyta wydaje się bowiem zainspirowana dźwiękosferą stoczni. "Woda" pełna jest mechanicznych odgłosów - twardych, ostrych, metalicznych, które rozchodzą się w potężnej przestrzeni akustycznej, generując masywne echa i pogłosy.

Industrialny anturaż stanowi dla Topolskiego i Witkowskiego osnowę wartkiej jazz-rockowej improwizacji, przeplatanej elektroakustycznymi impresjami. Te pierwsze są efektem zorganizowanej i temperamentnej gry Topolskiego (perkusja), której sekunduje Witkowski eksponujący szeroką paletę gitarowych preparacji. Połowa duetu Nagrobki skwapliwie sięga do arsenału przesterów, sprzężeń, zgiełkliwych spiętrzeń ("Ciernisko"), którymi zagęszcza strukturę kompozycji nakreśloną przez dynamiczną perkusję. W momentach swobodniejszych posługuje się zaś figurami z rezerwuaru blues-rockowej improwizacji ("Hydrozabawka"). Wymiennie z gitarą, Witkowski korzysta z własnoręcznie skonstruowanej rababy (arabski instrument strunowy, którego początki sięgają VIII wieku), będącej dla muzyka instrumentem z ujmującą, osobistą historią w tle.

Drugą grupę utworów wyznaczają kompozycje oparte na sonorystycznych eksploracjach ("Za To Ka", "Umm ORB", "Oblężenie Sopotu"). To one w głównej mierze nadają nagraniu industrialnego sznytu, eksponując dźwięki metaliczne, przemysłowe, szumy, stukoty, a także podwodne nagrania terenowe, łącznie ze zmodyfikowanym odgłosem fal morskich ("Ciernisko"). Tam również pierwszoplanową rolę odgrywają warunki akustyczne. Sesja nagraniowa odbyła się co prawda w sopockim teatrze BOTO, jednak pogłos, jaki udało się wygenerować, można uznać za dodatkowy instrument w repertuarze muzyków, z którego ochoczo i umiejętnie korzystają. Narracja kolejnych kompozycji jest gęsta i treściwa w instrumentacje oraz efekty, na tyle, że muzycy nie muszą sięgać po ekspresyjne kulminacje, aby uwydatnić muzyczną dramaturgię.

Duet Topolski - Witkowski nie leje wody. Ich oparta na improwizacji współpraca jest wyrazista i doskonale zorganizowana. Efekt zaś tej współpracy jest przystępny i przekonujący. Woda wrze, buzuje, piętrzy się i faluje. Bije swobodnym strumieniem, a kiedy trzeba skraca nurt, by biec zwartym ciekiem.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Jerzy Milian – Pretekst (2017)

Jerzy Milian

Jerzy Milian - vibraphone

with others

Pretekst

GAD 062




By Adam Baruch

This is an archival release of previously unissued material recorded by the Entertainment Orchestra of the Polish Radio and TV, directed by veteran musician/composer/bandleader Jerzy Milian. The orchestra was based in Katowice and most of its members were associated with the Music Academy in Katowice, which at that time did not have yet a Jazz department. The orchestra included an instrumental combo, a string section and a vocal group. It performed mostly original compositions by the orchestra members, including those by Milian. Apart from Milian on vibraphone other prominent musicians include also Jerzy Jarosik on flute, brothers: Piotr Prońko on saxophone and Wojciech Prońko on bass, Piotr Kałużny on keyboards and many more. The album presents fourteen tracks on both the CD and LP version of this album and four bonus tracks are present on the CD edition only.

The music is a wide variety of instrumental Jazz oriented pieces, ranging from almost Pop, via Funk, Groove and Jazz, all of them beautifully arranged and performed by the orchestra. Although obviously on the lighter side of Jazz, the album presents superbly crafted tunes and arrangements, which lost nothing of their charm over time. The meaning of the word "entertainment" obviously meant something quite different at that time. This specific sound of the orchestra was a unique phenomenon in the history of Polish Jazz and kudos to GAD Records for unearthing this material and bringing it back to life. For people familiar with Polish Jazz discography, this album is a companion to the album released originally in 1975 by Polskie Nagrania/Muza, which features other pieces recorded at the same sessions.

For Polish Jazz enthusiasts and people interested in the Polish Funk of the 1970s this album is an absolute must. But other music lovers, who have no special ties with Polish music, might find this music fascinating nevertheless. Wholeheartedly recommended!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Carrier/Lambert/Mazur - Oneness (2017)

Carrier/Lambert/Mazur

François Carrier - alto saxophone, chinese oboe
Rafał Mazur - bass guitar
Michel Lambert - drums

Oneness

FMRCD444



By Tim Niland

The music on this impressive album was created spontaneously in the moment by François Carrier on alto saxophone and chinese oboe, Rafał Mazur on acoustic bass guitar and Michel Lambert on drums, and was recorded live in Krakow in 2015. "Oneness" opens the album with breathy saxophone and subtle bass and drums probing the space and confidently attacking the silence. The music is very well recorded and it captures the alluring tone of the acoustic bass guitar and the dynamic tension it creates with the other instruments as the music moves forward, developing an eloquent collective improvisation at a medium up pace. The bass and drums drill down into the music, with raw and taut saxophone engaging them in a fierce meeting. 

The exotic sound of Carrier's oboe introduces "Flow" which squeaks and swirls around with cymbals and bass fluttering around with a deep sense of adventure. He moves back to saxophone as the performance progresses, getting down to business in an exciting fashion with an intense three way improvisation, building to a fast and frenetic conclusion of raw musical power. "Observations" has a quieter beginning, spacious with choppy drums and insistent bass helping the music gain steam building to a fortress of sound, buoying the music and lifting the sound further with exciting saxophone astride thick bass and rattling drums. Bass and drums provide a firm foundation as the startling and fascinating sound of the oboe crashes in. 

Swapping to saxophone, Carrier leads the band to a furious section before throttling back to an airy conclusion. The trio develops a long and dynamic improvisation on "Uplifting," coming out of the gate fast and hard. Thick bass and drums flow as the saxophone takes flight to soar. There is exciting saxophone wailing over potent rhythm in an intricate improvisation. Raucous patterns and raw rending saxophone of unrelenting power continue, then the music slows to a spacious section of elastic bass and skittish percussion. The lull doesn't last long and soon the trio is in full flight once again, dashing forward at a breakneck pace. 

The album is concluded by "The Urgency of Now" which is another lengthy track that begins patiently, building music infused with humility and humanity and developing an architecturally sound improvisation. The music is lean and tough, with saxophone shrieking in an ecstatic manner in the company of elastic bass and roaring drums. They incorporate patches of oboe, that startling sound, and then conclude in a profoundly remarkable manner.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Trouble Hunting – Somebody Else With A Wrong Dog (2017)

Trouble Hunting

Tomasz Licak - tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Sven Dam Meinild – alto & tenor saxophones
Tomasz Dąbrowski – trumpet
Richard Andersson – bass
Kasper Tom Christiansen – drums



Somebody Else With A Wrong Dog

RECART 0023

By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by the Polish/Danish Jazz quintet Trouble Hunting, led by saxophonist/composer Tomasz Licak. On this album the other members of the quintet are: trumpeter Tomasz Dąbrowski, saxophonist Sven Dam Meinild, bassist Richard Andersson and drummer Kasper Tom Christiansen. These excellent young musicians play together in many other different ensembles with various personnel constellations in the last five years and produced a considerable body of recorded music together. On this album they perform seven original compositions, all by Licak.

The music is quite characteristic of the new generation of European Jazz musicians, which combines composition and free improvisation conceptually, blurring the difference between these idioms. As a result the pieces presented here are all based on composed themes, which are stated several times within the duration of each of the pieces, but most of the time serve as a basis for individual and group improvisations, which are the heart of this music. In spite of the free-spirited approach, the music manages to maintain a coherency and form, which is accessible to a relatively large fraction of the Jazz listening audiences, even though it offers no artistic compromises of attempts to sound likeable.

The individual statements of all the musicians involved are all heartfelt, honest and excellent musically. Licak plays some wicked bass clarinet parts, which are, together with the electric bass, part of the pulse behind the music and of course adds saxophone improvisations. Dąbrowski is as usual the virtuoso in the pack with some heartbreaking solo parts, but also great as part of the "brass section" playing the unisono melody statements. Meinild adds his beautiful gentle tone on both alto and tenor saxophones, expanding the overall sound of the band considerably. Andersson plays electric bass, which sounds perfectly in place in this environment, which is usually reserved for the acoustic double bass. Christiansen, also as usual, plays the drums, managing to keep the time and play around it with his seemingly endless box of percussive tricks. Altogether this is a wonderful display of amazing individual talents and superb ensemble work.

Albums like this one are not only aesthetically pleasing and heartwarming, but first and foremost point the way towards the development of European Jazz, which is still making giant steps forwards and manages to discover new territory, to the joy of the connoisseurs of the genre. This is brilliant stuff from start to finish, which I wholeheartedly recommend to everybody who enjoys challenge while listening to music. Well done Sirs!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

AUKSO plays Urbaniak - koncerty w Mediatece Tychy


16.02 | godz. 19:00
AUKSO PLAYS URBANIAK
Michał Urbaniak – skrzypce, saksofon
UrbSymphony
Marek Moś – dyrygent

"On ma sound. Niech mu już będzie, że biały, z takim brzmieniem może być nawet zielony i pierdzieć na czerwono" – taką recenzję wystawił mu kiedyś ponoć Miles Davis, angażując skrzypka z Polski do swojego zespołu. Granie z geniuszem jazzu to zapewne najbardziej spektakularny epizod artystycznej biografii Urbaniaka, ale to tylko fragment jego bogatego dorobku. Tu nasiąknięty polską muzyką ludową jazz przechodzi w fusion, by za chwilę ustąpić miejsca hip-hopowi. Trudno nadążyć za niezliczonymi wspólnymi projektami i scenicznymi lub studyjnymi spotkaniami z gigantami muzyki (listę otwierają Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea i Quincy Jones), nie wspominając o całym katalogu muzyki filmowej. Wszystkie te światy spotykają się w suitach "Sketches of Poland" i "Sketches of Manhattan", które Michał Urbaniak zaprezentuje z towarzyszeniem swojego zespołu UrbSymphony oraz orkiestry AUKSO.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Soundmeck – Eruption (2017)

Soundmeck

Sabina Meck - vocals
Paweł Surman - trumpet
Łukasz Kokoszko - guitar
Adam Tadel - bass
Szymon Madej - drums

Eruption




POLSKIE RADIO 2109

By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish Jazz vocalist/composer/lyricist Sabina Meck (a.k.a. Sabina Myrczek) and the first under the ensemble moniker Soundmeck, a quintet led by Meck and also including trumpeter Paweł Surman, guitarist Łukasz Kokoszko, bassist Adam Tadel and drummer Szymon Madej. The album presents eight original songs, one of which has a short instrumental introduction. Seven of the songs feature lyrics in English and one song has lyrics in Polish. Meck wrote all the music and the lyrics.

The music on this album is quite different from what Meck presented on her sensational debut a year earlier. The ensemble has a much richer sound than the previously featured classic piano trio and the sound is much more contemporary, electric, vibrant and sparkling. The music, although still very much Jazzy, opens out to other directions, like Pop, Rock, Cabaret and other genres. Meck's songwriting reaches here the full bloom and presents her as a diverse, sensitive and sophisticated songweaver.

Meck's vocal performances on this album are also a major step forward, again presenting a wider, much more varied vocal technique, use of vocalese and theatrical trickery, which is fascinating and extremely attractive. She handles the English lyrics well, perhaps not completely "properly" as far as the pronunciation is concerned, but her idiosyncrasies are charming rather than problematic. Personally I still love the song with the Polish lyrics best, but that is just me.

The accompanying quartet's instrumental performances are all absolutely brilliant. Kokoszko plays a really tasty guitar and solos abundantly and it is his stylistic diversity that takes the music out of the strict Jazz environment into other areas. His Rock oriented solo on one of the tracks is one of the best Rock guitar solos I came across in a long time. Surman plays less up front, but his unisono parts with Meck are exquisite and are one of the trademarks of the music presented on this album. The rhythm section is also superb all along, keeping the complex music afloat and supporting the vocals amicably, always with grace and elegance.

It is remarkable to hear the delicate balance between the vocals and the instrumental work on this album, one of the best examples of such cooperation. There is an implicit sharing of responsibilities between the ensemble members, mutual respect and a sense of common goal. The time span of vocal and instrumental parts is beautifully balanced, which of course emphasizes the ensemble effect.

Overall this is a remarkable and outstanding album in every respect, definitely one of the best Polish Jazz (and beyond) vocal albums so far this year and a giant step forward for Meck and her compadres. The average age of these musicians is nothing short of astounding and the proportion between their ages and abilities is frightening – in the best way of course. A brilliant piece of music from start to finish, which deserves nothing but praise and respect!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Trzaska / Glawischnig / Harnik / Oberleitner / Ziegerhofer - Trzaska / Glawischnig / Harnik / Oberleitner / Ziegerhofer (2017)

Trzaska / Glawischnig / Harnik / Oberleitner / Ziegerhofer

Mikołaj Trzaska - saxophone
Dieter Glawischnig - piano
Elisabeth Harnik - piano
Ewald Oberleitner - bass
Reinhard Ziegerhofer - bass

Trzaska / Glawischnig / Harnik / Oberleitner / Ziegerhofer


IZK CD061

By Andrzej Nowak

Polskie występy gościnne w Hügelland-Schöcklland! Początek listopada 2016 roku, austriacki Graz i dwudniowa muzyczna rezydencja Mikołaja Trzaski u boku kilku weteranów lokalnego jazzu oraz tej najbardziej znanej, świetnej skądinąd pianistki znacznie młodszego pokolenia, Elisabeth Harnik. Okładka płyty obiecuje wiele właśnie personaliami Trzaski i Harnik. Wszakże wymagający, bardziej wyrobiony słuchacz, w drobny zachwyt popaść zdoła jedynie w trakcie finałowego fragmentu dźwiękowej dokumentacji dwóch dni muzykowania, albowiem tylko wtedy uświadczyć będzie mógł występu tej właśnie dwójki nad wyraz kompetentnych improwizatorów. 

Płytę wydaną pod słoweńskimi sztandarami, zapewne jednak za pieniądze austriackie (emblematy mecenasów zajmują znaczną część back cover), otwiera solowa ekspozycja Mikołaja na saksofonie altowym. Tembr instrumentu, jak zwykle w przypadku tego muzyka, jest niezwykle śpiewny, odrobinę rzewny, w dużej mierze ludyczny (improwizacja prowadzona jest wedle melodii z kategorii traditional). Zdecydowanie spokojnie, w duchu wzajemnego zrozumienia, mija nam pierwsze 10 minut koncertu. 

Kolejne ponad 30 minut spędzamy w towarzystwie kwartetu na saksofon, fortepian i dwa kontrabasy (odpowiednio – Trzaska, Glawischnig, Oberleitner i Ziegerhofer). Pierwsze dwa odcinki mają charakter improwizacji, dwa kolejne są kompozycjami pianisty. Narracja jest wyważona, lekko zarumieniona atrybutami free jazzowymi (Trzaska czyni skuteczne starania, by całość występu nie kwalifikowała się ad hoc do edycji w monachijskim ECM), być może targetowana na mniej wyrobionego odbiorcę. Kontrabasiści wchodzą w ciekawe dialogi, co nie do końca staje się udziałem pianisty. Ten ostatni gra dużo, jakby poczuwał się do liderowania, nie dając jednak powodu, by pióro recenzenta nadmiernie się przepracowywało. 

Na plus tej części koncertu zapisać należy na pewno udane pasaże Mikołaja na klarnecie basowym (pod koniec pierwszego odcinka), a także dynamiczne minuty odcinka kolejnego, gdy dobrym free pachnie na kilometr (szkoda jedynie, iż w miejsce drugiego kontrabasu, nie ma perkusji). Incydent ze smykiem pod koniec tego właśnie fragmentu smakuje żywą kameralistyką o niebanalnych korzeniach. Następne dwa odcinki komponowane (niewiele ponad 10 minut) można sobie spokojnie podarować, gdyż są najsłabszym ogniwem przyjaźni polsko-austriackiej. Nie brakuje durowych, marszowych pasaży na fortepianie i ledwie poprawnych dramaturgicznie walkingów obydwu kontrabasów. Bez emocji, bez jakości.

Na finał płyty dostajemy to, na co – po prawdzie – czekaliśmy do wielu minut. Znów kwartet, szczęśliwie jednak następuje zmiana przy klawiaturze – Elisabeth Harnik! Jakby ktoś nam nieba uchylił. Trwający blisko kwadrans fragment drugiego dnia polskiej rezydencji rozpoczyna błyskotliwy dialog pianistki i saksofonisty. Ten drugi zdaje się, że dostał w prezencie nowe życie. Buduje doskonałą improwizację, mając za urocze tło delikatną, precyzyjną preparację na fortepianie. Kontrabasiści także sprawiają wrażenie, jakby świat stał się nagle zupełnie inny. Rośnie ich kreatywność i skłonność do improwizowanych kooperacji. Sama narracja jest spokojna, nieśpieszna, nie pozbawiona stosownej melodyki i szczypty nostalgii. Finał niespodziewanie przybiera szaty skocznego walczyka, czym budzi radosne pokrzykiwania publiczności i dość skromne oklaski. Dodajmy dla porządku – tylko za ostatni utwór na płycie.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

JazzBlaster - Plays Depeche Mode (2017)

JazzBlaster

Tadeusz Kulas - trumpet, flugelhorn, electronics, vocal
Piotr Rachoń - piano
Eugeniusz Betliński - double bass
Marcin Rak - drums, electronics
Adrianna Styrcz - vocal

Plays Depeche Mode


V RECORDS 012

By Jędrzej Janicki

Mogłoby się wydawać, że muzyka Depeche Mode i jazz to dwa jak najodleglejsze od siebie światy. Brak zauważalnych punktów styczności - czy to w melodiach, czy kompozycjach. Zupełnie odmiennego zdania jest jednak zespół JazzBlaster, który na płycie "Plays Depeche Mode" w brawurowy sposób rozprawił się z utworami Martina Gore'a i spółki. 

JazzBlaster to młody wrocławski kwartet, dla którego wspomniany album to dopiero pierwszy krążek w dorobku. Przedsięwzięcie to odważne z co najmniej dwóch powodów. Bardzo rzadko zdarza się, żeby debiutancka płyta zespołu była zapisem koncertu. Po drugie, panowie zaczynają karierę, interpretując utwory zespołu odległego od stylistyki, w której się poruszają. 

Otwierające płytę "Freelove" to w dużej mierze popis kontrabasisty Eugeniusza Betlińskiego. Jego dynamiczna, agresywna gra nadaje ton i brzmienie całej płycie - kolejnym przykładem utwór "Halo", w którym początkowa partia sekcji rytmicznej (na perkusji świetny Marcin Rak) zbliża stylistykę rockową do jazzowej. Za szefa całego składu należy chyba jednak uznać pianistę Piotra Rachonia. Jest on głównym autorem aranżacji, a jego dyskretne partie są siłą sprawczą określającą charakter każdego utworu. Chyba najciekawszą interpretacją, pojawiającą się na płycie, jest "World In My Eyes" z zaskakującym wokalem trębacza Tadeusza Kulasa - nieperfekcyjnym technicznie, lecz bardzo rasowym i stylowym. 

Swoją rockową moc JazzBlaster tworzy w bardzo ciekawy sposób. Muzykom udaje się uchwycić pewien rodzaj rytmiki i agresywności (nawet w tych typowo jazzowych fragmentach) tak charakterystyczny dla rocka. Rzecz jasna, wybrane kompozycje Depeche Mode stanowią dla JazzBlastera jedynie pretekst do zaprezentowania swojej muzycznej wrażliwości. Tą specyficzną atmosferę, stanowiącą pewien rodzaj hipnotyzującej "zimnej wrażliwości", słychać najwyraźniej w "Never Let Me Down Again". Efekt ten spotęgowany jest przez świetną partię występującej gościnnie na płycie wokalistki Adrianny Styrcz.

"Plays Depeche Mode" po raz kolejny świetnie pokazuje, że jedynym ograniczeniem w świecie muzyki jest wyobraźnia ich twórców. Kompozycje Depeche Mode brzmią na tej płycie tak, jakby były stworzone do jazzowych aranżacji. To pokazuje również, jak wyjątkowo utalentowani są muzycy JazzBlaster i jak wiele potencjału tkwi w pozornie prostych dźwiękach muzyki rockowej. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Zbigniew Seifert – Solo Violin (2017)

Zbigniew Seifert

Zbigniew Seifert - violin

Solo Violin

ZBIGNIEW SEIFERT FOUNDATION 3





By Adam Baruch

This is the first legitimate reissue on CD of the solo violin album by the legendary late Polish Jazz violinist Zbigniew Seifert. Recorded during a concert at Radio Bremen in 1976, the album was released only a couple of years later in Germany, and has been an extremely rare collector's item in its original vinyl form for decades. The album presents just four original compositions, all by Seifert. Shortly before this music was recorded Seifert was diagnosed with cancer, which tragically killed him just three years later, and the album was supposed to pay for his medical bills.

Solo violin Jazz albums are extremely rare, and as such this album has been a beacon and a point of reference since its release as far as violin in Jazz is concerned. Seifert's virtuosity and uniqueness are immediately apparent from the very first tones, and he does not cease to amaze for the entire forty seven minutes the music lasts.

Well trained listeners will obviously recognize the immense influence of John Coltrane's music on Seifert's playing, and Seifert has been many times referred to as the Coltrane of the violin. But beneath the Coltrane influence on the way Seifert improvises, one can also hear his deep European and Polish roots, not only in his compositions, but also in his tonality and expression, which are always deeply lyrical and melancholic, even at the height of the climatic eruptions.

In many respects this album tells more about Seifert than most of his other recordings, where he plays with other musicians and his playing is just a part of a bigger picture. The "nakedness" of this music in also 100% proof Seifert, at his absolute best. Therefore this album is so unique not only due to its unusual setting, but also due to the fact that it is presents Seifert isolated from all external influences and disturbances, in his most direct and straightforward self. The superb sound quality of this album enhances the experience of listening to the music enormously.

Of course this album is also exquisitely beautiful and powerful, and should leave absolutely no listener untouched. For Polish Jazz fans and Seifert's numerous followers this album is obviously the Holy Grail of Polish Jazz recordings. Big thanks to the Zbigniew Seifert Foundation, spearheaded by Aneta Norek, for bringing this National treasure back to life, for old admirers to enjoy again and new ones to discover.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Lotte Anker - Plodi (2017)

Lotte Anker

Lotte Anker - saxophones
Artur Majewski - trumpet
Rafał Mazur - bass guitar
Zlatko Kaučič - drums, percussion

Plodi

IZK CD069



By Piotr Wojdat

Czasami bywa tak, że trudno jest zrozumieć zamysł twórczy wykonawcy. Warto w takiej sytuacji postawić sobie pytanie w rodzaju: co artysta miał na myśli? Przyznam, że zadaję je sobie w trakcie każdego kolejnego odsłuchu "Plodi" Lotte Anker i nie znajduję na nie odpowiedzi. Mam wrażenie, że zarówno znakomita duńska saksofonistka, jak i słoweńska wytwórnia Klopotec nie przemyśleli sprawy i być może stąd wynikają moje mieszane uczucia związane z płytą, w której nagraniu udział wzięli także czołowi polscy jazzowi improwizatorzy.

Nie, żeby "Plodi" było albumem słabym. Znajdziemy na nim ciekawe momenty i trzeba otwarcie przyznać, że nie jest ich tak znowu bardzo mało. Głównym problemem tego wydawnictwa jest jednak jego spójność. Najpierw mamy okazję posłuchać samą Anker solo z koncertu, który odbył się w ramach Brda Contemporary Music Festival w 2016 roku. Po wysłuchaniu trzech wymagających skupienia utworów i raczej niezbyt porywających, natrafiamy na duet artystki z perkusistą Zlatko Kaučičem. I jak to ze Słoweńcem bywa, po raz kolejny udowadnia, że jest artystą jedynym w swoim rodzaju. Niestety nie przekłada się to na jakość prezentowanej muzyki. Improwizacja prowadzi Anker i Kaučiča do ślepego zaułka, z którego nie są już w stanie się wydostać przed upływem ostatniej kompozycji.

Na szczęście na koniec otrzymujemy przysłowiową truskawkę na torcie, czyli jeden utwór z koncertu kwartetu. Do Anker i Zlatko Kaučiča dołączają basista Rafał Mazur oraz trębacz Artur Majewski. I jest to najciekawszy utwór w całym tym zestawie. Rozwija się bardzo powoli, ale w pewnym momencie przeradza się we free jazzową nawałnicę dźwięków, które zacierają niezbyt dobre wrażenie z odsłuchu fragmentu solowego i duetowego. Szkoda, że wydawca nie zdecydował się na to, by zaprezentować cały koncert kwartetu pod wodzą Lotte Anker i z udziałem naszych instrumentalistów. Być może wtedy "Plodi" byłoby albumem lepszym i znacznie bardziej spójnym niż jest w istocie.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Szymon Nidzworski Project feat. Andrzej Seweryn – Behind Your Eyelids (2017)

Szymon Nidzworski Project feat. Andrzej Seweryn

Szymon Nidzworski - tenor & soprano saxophones
Jan Harasimowicz - trumpet
Olivier Andruszczenko - clarinet & bass clarinet
Patryk Dobosz - drums
Andrzej Seweryn - voice
and others


Behind Your Eyelids

PLATEAUX 01

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album as a leader by Polish saxophonist/composer Szymon Nidzworski, a classically trained musician who also flirted with Jazz as a member of the Magnolia Acoustic Quartet, which recorded a couple of albums for the For Tune label a few years ago. On this album Nidzworski presents fourteen original compositions (one repeated twice) performed by lineups varying from a saxophone/drums duo to a nonet with brass instruments, violin, accordion and drums. On two compositions the famous Polish actor Andrzej Seweryn recites lyrical texts and one of those two compositions is repeated with vocals.

Although obviously very ambitious, the entire project lacks focus and the cross-genre excursions leave the listener baffled. The music is heavily influenced by Classical Music, both conceptually and sonically, but some minor elements of improvisation could be considered as Jazz, the use of the Bilgoray suka hints of Folkloristic influences, the recitation is perhaps a wink towards the Jazz & Poetry idiom, and so on. Overall the music leaves the listened dazed and confused as to the concept and direction of this project, except for a large dose of depression that remains after the haze is dispersed.

There are obviously some nice moments on this album and the musicianship is beyond reproach, but those are not enough to save the project as a whole. Lovers of lethargic Nordic music might find it overall interesting, but for a larger audience it probably will be too much to handle. The album is beautifully designed and packaged, which obviously means that the marketing aspect was carefully thought out in advance.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Stanisław Słowiński Sextet – Visions|Between Love And Death (2017)

Stanisław Słowiński Sextet

Stanisław Słowiński - violin
Zbigniew Szwajdych - trumpet, flugelhorn
Szymon Mika - guitar
Kuba Płużek - piano
Justyn Małodobry - double bass
Dawid Fortuna - drums

Visions|Between Love And Death

HEVHETIA 0163

By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by Polish Jazz violinist/composer Stanisław Słowiński, recorded in a sextet setting with two of the musicians who played on his debut: trumpeter Zbigniew Szwajdych and bassist Justyn Małodobry and three new players: guitarist Szymon Mika, pianist Kuba Płużek and drummer Dawid Fortuna. Vocalist Joanna Slowińska guests on one track. The album presents seven original compositions, six of which were composed by Słowiński and one is a collective improvisation.

The music is a continuation of the approach initiated by the debut, with major emphasis on the compositions, which have a suite-like structure, such that the entire album could be considered as one continuous piece of music. Although clearly melody based, the music allows individual freedom of expression and personal interpretation by the sextet members. The melodic themes are again mostly very lyrical and somewhat melancholic, but at the same time dynamic and multi-layered enough to keep the listener at his toes.

As expected form the sextet's lineup, which consists of some of the most prominent representatives of the young Polish Jazz scene, the individual contributions are all fabulous. Szwajdych is the romantic element, Mika the Fusion oriented vigorous voice and the leader takes the role of a charmer, with his violin seductively swirling around the basic melody lines. With these three front-line players sadly there is very little solo space left for Płużek, who is an excellent player but is limited here mostly (except for one track) to the role of an accompanist, which of course he fulfills perfectly. The dynamic rhythm section is an integral part of the sextet and steers the soloists safely across the sometimes troubled waters of the tricky compositions.

Overall this is an excellent sophomore album, which definitely stands up to the expectations aroused by the debut. The Polish Jazz violin school is proudly developing before our very eyes, which is a source of joy, and albums like this one confirm that Polish/European Jazz is doing well and manages to avoid stagnation. Well done indeed!

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