Friday, July 31, 2015

Yeshe – Piastowska 1 (2012)

Yeshe

Antoni Gralak - trumpet
Piotr Pawlak - guitar
Darek Makaruk - keyboards
Paweł Osicki - percussion

Piastowska 1

SONY 887654098221



By Adam Baruch

This is the second album by the Polish ensemble Yeshe, led by the legendary trumpeter/composer Antoni Gralak, who was a member of such groundbreaking Polish ensembles as Free Cooperation, Young Power and Tie Break and participated in countless other projects over the years, including leading his ensembles like Graal and Yeshe. This incarnation of Yeshe includes also guitarist Piotr Pawlak and keyboardist Darek Makaruk who is in charge of a plethora of electronic effects and sampling. The music, all original by Gralak, was recorded live and is dedicated to the Polish pioneering visual Artist Andrzej Urbanowicz.

Stylistically the music presents a wide spectrum of contemporary musical trends and incorporates such diverse influences as Avant-garde Jazz, electronic music, Techno, Industrial and World Music. The amalgamated result is a completely original and unique blend, which is fascinating and electrifying from start to finish.

The basic formula presents Gralak improvising on top of an ambient/sampled background, which changes from track to track both rhythmically and conceptually. A trained listener will hear many citations form Indian and other Far Eastern Cultures, as well as samples of exotic instruments like sitar, tabla and a plethora of others. Gralak's trumpet work is nothing short of brilliant and brings immediately memories of his Free Cooperation cohort Andrzej Przybielski, who is sadly no longer with us. Throughout the entire duration of this album Gralak improvises almost without a break, in a truly phenomenal form.

This album is not only a rare musical gem, but also a wonderful example of completely boundless music, which crosses cultural, stylistic and time borders effortlessly and elegantly. It definitely deserves a much wider recognition that it actually has today. Brilliant stuff!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Algorhythm – Segments (2015)

Algorhythm

Emil Miszk - trumpet
Piotr Chęcki - saxophone
Szymon Burnos - piano
Krzysztof Słomkowski - double bass
Sławek Koryzno - drums

Segments



PRIVATE EDITION

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the young Polish Jazz quintet Algorhythm, which comprises of trumpeter Emil Miszk, saxophonist Piotr Chęcki, pianist Szymon Burnos, bassist Krzysztof Słomkowski and drummer Sławomir Koryzno. It presents seven original compositions, five by Burnos and two by Miszk.

The classic Jazz quintet setting and the music are all well within the mainstream Jazz tradition, presenting modern, vital and interesting European version of the standard Jazz idiom, as usual drenched in the Polish lyricism and melancholy, which characterizes Polish Jazz. The compositions are well rounded and definitely non-trivial, with many odd rhythmic patterns; with altogether create an interesting listening experience. Personally I think the two compositions by Miszk are the best on the album, but the ones by Burnos do not fall far behind. The dynamic development and atmosphere of these pieces is quite remarkable.

All three soloists perform splendidly and play several impressive passages and the rhythm section does a superb job supporting them all the way through, handling the complex rhythms elegantly and flawlessly. Again Chęcki seems to be the most impressive soloist on this album, but his colleagues are all gifted musicians and in time are sure to join the ranks of top Polish Jazz players.

This is definitely an impressive debut, which deserves praise and support and as always makes me wonder how such young people are able to produce such mature and well developed music. Well done indeed!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Wojciech Jachna & Ksawery Wójciński - Night Talks (2015)

Wojciech Jachna & Ksawery Wójciński

Wojciech Jachna - trumpet, flugelhorn
Ksawery Wójciński - double bass

Night Talks

FSR 03/2015


By Tomasz Łuczak

Był 29 sierpnia 2014 r., warszawski klub Chmury. Wieczór, w którym świetna portugalska trębaczka, Susana Santos Silva, nagrywająca m.in. dla renomowanej wytwórni Clean Feed, wraz ze szwedzkim kontrabasistą Torbjörnem Zetterbergiem starała się przybliżyć lokalnej publiczności niełatwą ideę free improvisation music. Jednak dla mnie wspomniany wieczór należał przede wszystkim do składu poprzedzającego występ Susany. Było to bezprecedensowe spotkanie ponad podziałami na linii Bydgoszcz-Warszawa, które teoretycznie nie miało prawa się wydarzyć. 

Wojtek Jachna i Ksawery Wójciński, zbalansowana trąbka i szalony kontrabas. Pozornie dwie diametralnie różne osobowości, z dwóch zupełnie odmiennych muzycznych biegunów, stworzyły spójny, jednorodny i szalenie interesujący obraz subtelnej improwizacji, pełnej stonowania i idealnego wyważenia proporcji. A potem była improwizowana sesja w Bydgoszczy i tak doszło do nagrania "Night Talks". 

To transowa, dyskretna, niemal medytacyjna wędrówka w rejony mało uczęszczane dotychczas przez obydwu muzyków. Jest w niej coś z nastroju płyt stworzonych przez rewelacyjne duety pokroju Joëlle Léandre i Jeana-Luca Cappozzo, Pascala Niggenkempera i Thomasa Heberera czy Alana Silvy i Jacquesa Coursila. Formalnie narracja Jachny i Wójcińskiego jest niejako zaprzeczeniem idei free jako brzmieniowego ekstremum, pełnego zgiełku i kakofonii. Tutaj chodzi o otwartość i swobodę rozumianą w nieco przewrotny sposób. Filtrem jest wrażliwość obydwu artystów, którzy bez zbędnych technicznych wygibasów, zachowując specyficzny klimat introwersji i swoistej ascezy, nadają tej opowieści poszukujący, kreatywny charakter, tworząc jednocześnie szczególny rodzaj bydgosko-warszawskiego, improwizowanego pomostu.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Tomasz Łosowski Acoustic Trio – Tomasz Łosowski Acoustic Trio (2015)

Tomasz Łosowski Acoustic Trio

Szymon Łukowski - alto saxophone
Piotr Lemańczyk - double bass
Tomasz Łosowski - drums

Tomasz Łosowski Acoustic Trio



SOLITON 420

By Adam Baruch

Veteran Polish drummer Tomasz Łosowski is mostly acknowledged for his work in the Pop, Rock and Fusion fields, but this album is his first attempt to play straight Jazz. In order to do so he asked his old friend, the excellent bassist Piotr Lemańczyk and a young saxophonist Szymon Łukowski to join him and together they recorded eight original compositions, seven of which were composed by Lemańczyk and one by Łukowski.

The resulting acoustic trio delivers a set of excellent pieces, featuring the saxophone as the main soloing instrument, solidly supported by the rhythm section. Lemańczyk also plays several of his amazing bass solos, which are perfect as always, and the leader, avoiding any pyrotechnics and usually completely unnecessary drum eruptions, sticks to the basics and pushes the trio ahead rhythmically, always with taste and elegance.

Saxophone trios are often quite difficult and perilous undertakings, but in this case everything works as the proverbial "dream". The beautiful melodic themes, performed and improvised upon by the lyrical and clean sounding alto saxophone are a true pleasure to listen to. There is a lot of freedom, space and mutual respect among the trio members, which allows for personal expression as well as tight communication between the players.

Overall this is quite a surprisingly successful album, which manages to avoid all the traps of mainstream Jazz, being unpredictable, passionate and technically proficient. Definitely a piece of music well worth discovering and wholeheartedly recommended!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Piotr Budniak Essential Group – Simple Stories About Hope And Worries (2015)

Piotr Budniak Essential Group

Paweł Południak - trumpet
Wojciech Lichtański - alto saxophone
Szymon Mika - guitar
Kajetan Borowski - piano
Alan Wykpisz - double bass
Piotr Budniak - drums
Michał Sobierajski - vocal

Simple Stories About Hope And Worries

SOLITON 429

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by young Polish Jazz drummer/composer Piotr Budniak and his sextet called Essential Group, which also includes trumpeter Paweł Południak, saxophonist Wojciech Lichtański, guitarist Szymon Mika, pianist Kajetan Borowski and bassist Alan Wykpisz. Vocalist Michał Sobierajski guests on one track. The album presents seven original compositions, all by the leader, who also wrote the lyrics to the vocal piece.

Budniak, who returned to playing Jazz after a brief encounter with Rock-Folk as member of the ensemble LemON, which stirred quite a sensation on the local music scene, explores the Jazz tradition but maintains a fresh perspective, especially as a composer. The resulting music is a mixture of contemporary Jazz and Jazz-Rock Fusion, with a dash of Pop & Rock, performed efficiently and elegantly by the sextet. The emphasis on melody and lyricism creates an overall atmosphere of relaxation and lack of tension, which can be a two edged sword.

The young players, who are members of the sextet, are all upcoming heroes of the next generation of Polish Jazz, many of which have already shown their chops on other recording released in recent years. Mika is the most noticeable soloist by far and Wykpisz slowly emerges as a very promising bass player, who can literally hold a tune like an old pro. These two are definitely worth following with special attention. But all the other players, including the leader, are fine young talents, who will be heard and noticed in the future.

The focus of this album is obviously on the compositions, and rightly so, as Budniak has definitely a lot to say in that department. All of his compositions here are nicely crafted and a pleasure to listen to. The only drawback of this music is that it lacks originality and passion to explore uncharted territory, but perhaps it's unfair to ask for boldness at this stage. This is definitely an impressive debut effort, which should make all the participants proud of their achievements. I am looking forward to their sophomore album in order to follow their progress.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kamil Piotrowicz Quintet – Birth (2015)

Kamil Piotrowicz Quintet

Kamil Piotrowicz - piano
Emil Miszk - trumpet
Piotr Chęcki - tenor saxophone
Michał Bąk - double bass
Sławek Koryzno - drums

Birth

HEVHETIA 0105


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish Jazz pianist/composer Kamil Piotrowicz recorded in a quintet setting with trumpeter Emil Miszk, saxophonist Piotr Chęcki, bassist Michał Bąk and drummer Sławomir Koryzno. It presents nine original compositions (one appearing twice and another based on a Folk tune) by Piotrowicz and one standard.

The music is mostly quite conventional, well within the mainstream Jazz format, with occasional less constrained and more open moments. The compositions are however quite sophisticated and often feature several subsections with different rhythmic patterns and melodic themes, tuning them into mini-suites. The overall level of these compositions is certainly well advanced, especially in view of the young age of the composer.

The arrangements feature the entire ensemble extensively, with the brass section up front, in charge of most of the solos, and the leader staying relatively in the background. It is pretty obvious that the emphasis of this album is in the following order of importance: compositions, arrangements, ensemble performance and only then individual solos. All the young members of the quintet have already some experience and appear on earlier recordings and they are the new generation that will dominate the Polish Jazz scene in the years to come. Judging by what they are able to do herein, things look pretty promising.

This is definitely a most impressive debut effort, which although does not break any new ground, certainly proves that there are still infinite opportunities within the established borders of Jazz. Congratulations are in order and of course I'm already waiting for the next endeavor.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ptaszyn Wróblewski Sextet – Moi Pierwsi Mistrzowie (2014)

Ptaszyn Wróblewski Sextet

Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski - tenor saxophone
Robert Majewski - trumpet, flugelhorn
Henryk Miśkiewicz - alto saxophone
Wojciech Niedziela - piano
Sławomir Kurkiewicz - bass
Marcin Jahr - drums


Moi Pierwsi Mistrzowie

BOOGIE 007

By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording by one of Polish Jazz Godfathers, saxophonist/composer Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski and his sextet, which also includes trumpeter Robert Majewski, saxophonist Henryk Miśkiewicz, pianist Wojciech Niedziela, bassist Sławomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Marcin Jahr, all renowned Polish Jazz musicians. As the album's title suggests, Wróblewski (born 1936) pays tribute to three Polish Jazz icons, with whom he played as a young musician: Krzysztof Komeda (born 1931), Andrzej Trzaskowski (born 1933) and Andrzej Kurylewicz (born 1932). Sadly all three are no longer with us. Of the six tracks on the album, three were composed by Komeda, two by Trzaskowski and one by Kurylewicz. In the liner notes Wroblewski lists the many differences between these three legendary figures and his personal experiences from the encounters with them.

The music is kept well within the mainstream modern Jazz idiom, perfectly and flawlessly performed by all the musicians involved, but somehow lacking the excitement and exhilaration one might expect but such classy company and such ambitious task. The arrangements of the remarkable compositions presented herein are also not in par with the expectations, especially the Komeda tunes, which sound as if they were simplified and sound way too "smooth" in comparison to their original form, as intended by the composer.

Overall this is a first class collection of classic Polish Jazz compositions, played by a highly professional sextet, which sadly fails to reach the level of depth and sincerity these tunes deserve. Of course mainstream Jazz enthusiasts will find this album to be perfectly adequate, but for me a feeling of a missed opportunity is lingering as this music plays in the background. The individual solo spots, which are quite impressive in some cases, fail to save the day. I'm sure Wróblewski and his cohorts will rise to the challenge again next time.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Maciej Grzywacz – Connected (2015)

Maciej Grzywacz

Maciej Grzywacz - guitar
Jakob Dinesen - saxophone
Daniel Franck - bass
Hakon Mjaset Johansen - drums

Connected

BLACK WINE 2015/001



By Adam Baruch

This is the sixth album by Polish Jazz guitarist/composer Maciej Grzywacz recorded in a quartet setting with three Scandinavian musicians: Danish saxophonist Jakob Dinesen, Swedish bassist Daniel Franck and Norwegian drummer Hakon Mjaset Johansen. The album presents eight original compositions, all by Grzywacz.

The music is a melodic contemporary Jazz, which sounds fresh and interesting from the very first notes and manages to keep the listener in suspense till the very last notes. The guitar/saxophone dual front line works very well, as both players move elegantly between the unisono parts to individual solos and back to the melody. Grzywacz does a wonderful job playing soft but complex guitar chords behind the saxophone solos and of course plays many well constructed solos. Dinesen is obviously the most expressive musician in this quartet, playing long stretches of improvisation, without loosing the melody line even for a moment. The rhythm section plays in typical Scandinavian pattern, with the bass driving the music forward with a steady pulse and the drums playing around the beat, rather that keeping time.

In spite of the fact that the album features three Scandinavian musicians, it does not suffer from the typical Scandinavian lethargy that puts many music fans to sleep very effectively. Most of the music is lively and up tempo, with virtuosic solos ripping the air. Even the slower numbers have a lot of energy and vigor and keep the listener in check. There is quite a lot of freedom in the way the quartet works together, giving each other space and respect. This album is one of many projects with Polish and Scandinavian musicians collaborating, like they did in the 1960s and 1970s, which is one of the many interesting aspects of the new Polish Jazz scene.

Personally I find the work of Dinesen especially rewording on this album, which is hardly surprising considering his huge success he enjoys back hope and internationally. Also this is surely the most complex and ambitious album Grzywacz recorded to date, which of course is commendable. Seeing him developing over time is truly rewarding. This is definitely a piece of music worth checking out as it holds many truly wonderful moments.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Kądziela & Wójciński - 10 Little Stories (2015)

Kądziela & Wójciński

Marek Kądziela - guitar
Ksawery Wójciński - double bass, vocal

10 Little Stories

ForTune 0052




By Piotr Wojdat

Gitarzysta Marek Kądziela i kontrabasista Ksawery Wójciński to wiodące postaci polskiej sceny muzyki improwizowanej. Każdy z nich może się pochwalić bogatym doświadczeniem, zdobytym dzięki udziałowi w rozmaitych projektach artystycznych (Hera, Hunger Pangs, Charles Gayle Trio, Off-Quar-Tet). Obaj też są absolwentami renomowanych szkół muzycznych. Marek Kądziela ukończył The Carl Nielsen Academy of Music Odense w Danii, a Ksawery Wójciński - Bydgoską Akademię Muzyczną w klasie kontrabasu. To, co jeszcze ich łączy, to otwartość na wszelkiego rodzaju inspiracje, nowe rozwiązania brzmieniowe i kreatywne podejście do własnej twórczości.

"10 Little Stories" to efekt ich trzech spotkań w studiu nagraniowym w Łodzi na przestrzeni 2013 i 2014 roku. Jak sami twierdzą, album to "zbiór opowiadań, których treścią i osią jest przyjaźń. Owocem tej przyjaźni jest niezwykłe porozumienie, które zaistniało pomiędzy muzykami". Można zatem domniemywać, co tylko potwierdza zawartość "10 Little Stories", że mamy do czynienia z bardzo luźną koncepcją pełną niedopowiedzeń, pozostawiającą słuchaczowi szerokie pole do interpretacji.

I tak jest w rzeczywistości. Marek Kądziela i Ksawery Wójciński w przekonujący sposób eksperymentują z brzmieniem i formą. Nakreślają melodie, które szybko przemijają, rozpływając się w interesujących improwizacjach. Bardzo ciekawym zabiegiem artystycznym są też pojawiające się wokalizy Wójcińskiego, spełniające rolę kolejnego instrumentu w melancholijnym "The Song". Kądziela w swojej grze na gitarze wychodzi poza utarte schematy. W "Alex, No Exit!" zapewne nieświadomie przypomina mi o czasach świetności amerykańskiego niezależnego rocka w stylu June Of 44 czy Jima O'Rourke'a. W innych momentach jego gitara brzmi klasycznie jazzowo, a nie brakuje i odniesień do psychodelii poprzez stosowanie różnego rodzaju efektów.

Opowieści na gitarę i kontrabas w wydaniu Marka Kądzieli i Ksawerego Wójcińskiego urzekają nieoczywistą narracją, wyrazistością oraz autorską wizją artystyczną. Muzycy nie próbują zmieścić się w jakiejś konkretnej szufladce stylistycznej. Popuszczają wodzę fantazji, czego efektem jest bardzo udana, a zarazem indywidualna wypowiedź świadomych swoich umiejętności artystów.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Krzysztof Komeda Trzciński – Krzysztof Komeda W Polskim Radiu Vol.05 – Muzyka Baletowa I Filmowa - Czesc Druga (2015)

Krzysztof Komeda Trzciński

Krzysztof Komeda - piano/composer
other musicians

Krzysztof Komeda W Polskim Radiu Vol.05 – Muzyka Baletowa I Filmowa - Czesc Druga

POLSKIE RADIO 1865

By Adam Baruch

This is the fifth installment in a new series of albums launched by the Polish Radio, which presents radio recordings by the Godfather of Polish Jazz, pianist/composer/bandleader Krzysztof Komeda. Komeda is of course the most familiar name associated with Polish Jazz and his legacy is of crucial importance to Polish and European Jazz. Considering the fact that Komeda's studio recordings are relatively scarce, the radio recordings are in fact the main source of his recorded legacy, as they include among others the Jazz Jamboree festival appearances by Komeda and his various ensembles over the years.

Eight of the ten tracks on this album were recorded between 1961 and 1964 during the forth to seventh edition of the seminal Jazz Jamboree Festival in Warsaw, this collection showcases legendary Komeda ensembles (quintet/trio), which in many respects were the quintessential vehicles, which presented Komeda's music at its pinnacle. Two additional tracks were recorded in the Polish Radio Studio, both featuring vocals, the second of which is especially interesting as it presents an early recording by vocalist Urszula Dudziak.

The musicians, besides Komeda of course, include top Polish Jazz musicians at the time: trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, saxophonist Michal Urbaniak, bassists Maciej Suzin and Roman Dylag, drummer Czeslaw Bartkowski, vocalist Wanda Warska and others, as well as Swedish musicians: saxophonist Bernt Rosengren and drummer Rune Carlsson.

The music is of course selected to reflect Komeda's involvement with composing music for cinema, theatre and ballet. A few bonus tracks are also added, which are not connected with the above, but present rarely heard Komeda's recording. Overall this is a collection of excellent Jazz music, superbly performed, which is an absolute delight to anybody who loves Jazz. It is a fundamental piece of every decent Polish Jazz record collection, especially in the case of the younger generation of listeners, which is just getting acquainted with the enormous legacy of Polish Jazz.

The recordings are splendidly restored and remastered and nicely packaged in an elegant digipak/slipcase. Dates, places and lineups are faithfully included and even personal liner notes by Polish Jazz critic Filip Kosinski are present, but there is no in-depth background material about Komeda and his music, however considering the plentitude of published material and several excellent books on the subject, an intelligent listener can easily bridge the knowledge gap. The only small reservation one might have is the fact that these recordings have been already released many times, more or less legally on the somewhat untamed Polish music market, which means they is already owned by the serious Polish Jazz collectors, probably more than once.
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