Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dominik Strycharski – Flauto Dolphy (2017)

Dominik Strycharski

Dominik Strycharski - alto, tenor, soprano in B & bass recorders

Flauto Dolphy

FSR 2017/03

By Adam Baruch

This is a solo album by Polish avant-garde/Jazz recorder player and composer Dominik Strycharski. Recorded live in the legendary and now sadly demolished Pardon To Tu club in Warsaw, Strycharski performs eight pieces, five of which are compositions by Eric Dolphy, two are original compositions by Strycharski and one is a Mal Waldron composition. The recording has a crisp and clear sound quality, which adds significantly to the overall ambience.

Performing music composed by Dolphy is always a supreme challenge and doing so on a most unconventional instrument, like the recorder, and playing solo on top of everything is a staggering undertaking. Against all odds Strycharski manages to come out victorious from this adventure, although not entirely unscathed.

Strycharski uses a very unconventional method while playing the recorders, quite different from what listeners familiar with the instrument might expect. His playing involves not only the sound produced from the instrument, but also a sound produced by his mouth and throat, which, when combined, with the sound of the recorder produce very striking and surprising results. Of course it's impossible to describe this phenomenon verbally and only listening to this music will disclose the nature of the beast. This combined human/recorder sound dominates this recording and therefore the listener's reaction depends first and foremost on his ability to accept this sonic aura, which is by far not obvious.

Having crossed the sound barrier so to speak, the listener is exposed to Strycharski's virtuosity and complete command of the music he creates. By using several different recorders and changing his breathing and phrasing, he manages to produce a plethora of different sounds, which keep surprising the listener time after time. Considering that the music is only occasionally completely free form and most of the time is based on some melodic content, it is relatively accessible beyond the strict avant-garde circle of listeners.

The most important question is of course what happens once one removes the novelty, sensationalism, pioneering spirit and element of surprise and examines the pure musical content of this recording. Personally I don't have a clear answer to this wringer. I suppose Dolphy would be the ideal judge of that. Overall this is an unusual, daring and challenging album, which should be of interest to open-minded listeners, who are not afraid to be confronted by a highly individual musical personality, which Strycharski certainly embodies. Definitely worth investigating!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Beata Pater - Fire Dance (2017)

Beata Pater

Beata Pater - vocal
Sam Newsome - soprano saxophone
Anton Schwartz - tenor saxophone
Aaron Lington - baritone saxophone
Scott Collard - keyboards
Aaron Germain - bass

Alan Hall - drums
Brian Rice - percussion

Fire Dance

B&B Records 2017

By John Sanders

Beata Pater’s first five albums could be called "typical" vocal jazz albums, as they featured the usual mix of standards and originals. That’s not to say her vocal approach has not been inspired, instead, she has received high marks for her flexible and fluid style, but no previous album she has made could prepare her followers for her latest, "Fire Dance". On this new one, Pater employed Alex Danson to write eleven new originals, which Pater then arranged for multiple wordless vocal overdubs supported by a saxophone trio and a four piece electric rhythm section. 

The end result is a sort of modern big band made up mostly of Pater’s voice multi-tracked up to sixteen times on some cuts. The multi-tracked vocals sometimes have a classic vocal jazz ensemble sound that may remind some of The Swingle Singers or Manhattan Transfer, while the overdubbed wordless sounds may remind some of Bobby McFerrin, but for much of "Fire Dance", Pater has crafted a sound that is unique to this album.

Musically this album pulls from a variety of styles including modern R'n'B, post bop and fusion from the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. The end result is sometimes similar to Weather Report in the late 70s, or any of Joe Zawinul’s bands since WR. Imagine the Swingle Singers covering classic Weather Report material and you might have a clue as to what is going on here. Along with Pater’s lead vocals, the saxophonists occasionally take short solos, and even exchange in free three way interplay on a couple cuts.

The make or break on here is Pater’s approach to wordless vocals. No doubt this was a very risky record to make, many have a right to fear what an album based around wordless vocals might sound like, but "Fire Dance" is a success due to a very careful use of vocal sounds that never become annoying or embarrassing. Pater is also careful to never overuse the so-called "scatting" technique, a decision that saves this album from potential indulgence. Instead, all of the multi-tracked vocals on here are carefully arranged, much like a complex big band chart. Top tracks include two beautifully abstract numbers that appear in the middle of the CD, title track "Fire Dance" and "The Princess". Both feature soaring vocals that recall a pre- Renaissance European style, as well as a classic Middle Eastern sound.

Monday, July 24, 2017

BiWald – First Meeting (2016)


Julia Biłat - cello
Daniel Schwarzwald - piano

First Meeting


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by the duo BiWald, which comprises of the Polish cellist Julia Biłat and Israeli pianist/composer Daniel Schwarzwald. The album presents twelve compositions, five of which are originals by Schwarzwald, five are co-composed by Bilat and Schwarzwald, one is a traditional tune and one is a Classical composition by Gaspar Cassado.

The music is a beautiful intimate dialogue between cello and piano, full of emotion, elegance and grace. The music, mostly original, amalgamates the Classical influences both musicians were exposed to during their years as music students, with Jazz improvisation. The themes are very melodic and lyrical, flowing gently from one track to another, which creates a dreamy, relaxed and magical atmosphere.

Among many attempts to combine Classical Music and Jazz, this is definitely one of the best ones I have come across in a long time. It beautifully mixes the two genres, preserving the basic qualities of both: the melodic and harmonic structure of European Classical Music and the freedom of improvisation and ability to stretch beyond the strict scenario confined within the notes, which characterizes Jazz.

The telepathic unity between the two players and the enormous respect they both have for each other, combined with their respective virtuosity, creates deeply moving music, which should not leave any music lover cold. This is a truly extraordinary piece of contemporary music, which hopefully will reach as many listeners around the world as it truly deserves. I urge everybody to make an effort and find a copy of this album; you will not regret doing so I assure you. Instant gratification and a moving emotional experience are guaranteed!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Zerang/Mełech/Wójciński - 261034115 (2017)


Piotr Mełech - clarinet, bass clarinet
Ksawery Wójciński - double bass
Michael Zerang - drums



By Piotr Wojdat

Tym razem albumem, któremu warto się bliżej przyjrzeć, jest wspólne wydawnictwo znakomitych polskich instrumentalistów - klarnecisty Piotra Mełecha i kontrabasisty Ksawerego Wójcińskiego - oraz amerykańskiego perkusisty Michaela Zeranga. Jako kreatywne jazzowe trio spotykają się po raz pierwszy w 2010 roku, a więc mamy do czynienia z materiałem niemal już archiwalnym, i w ramach zaledwie jednej sesji studyjnej nagrywają ten oto album, który, na co wskazują między innymi tytuły kompozycji, jest wynikiem kolektywnej improwizacji pozbawionej wcześniejszych założeń kompozycyjnych. 

W czasie, gdy koncerty zespołu miały swoje miejsce, z pewnością największe zainteresowanie budził doświadczony i otwarty na różne inspiracje etniczne i jazzowe amerykański muzyk. Wydawać by się zatem mogło, że to Michael Zerang jest tutaj faktycznym liderem, kimś w rodzaju gwiazdy, który nadaje ton całemu przedsięwzięciu, a Mełech i Wójciński stanowią jedynie tło dla poczynań perkusisty. Po wysłuchaniu płyty "261034115" okazuje się, że każdy z artystów ma coś istotnego do powiedzenia, a nadrzędną kwestią dla tria jest zaprezentowanie komunikatywnej wypowiedzi artystycznej. 

Ten cel zostaje przez Zeranga, Mełecha i Wójcińskiego osiągnięty. Można przy tym odnieść wrażenie, że artyści z dużą lekkością, swobodą i dojrzałością podchodzą do jazzowej improwizacji. Nie silą się na podążanie utartymi ścieżkami jednej konwencji, a raczej prezentują szeroką paletę dźwięków i nastrojów. Dobrze odnajdują się w kameralnym repertuarze i jednocześnie z dużym wyczuciem nawiązują brawurowe, pełne ekspresji dialogi.

Słuchając płyty można przy okazji uświadomić sobie, jak bardzo ukształtowanymi muzykami byli już w 2010 roku Piotr Mełech i Ksawery Wójciński. Ich nazwiska nie były w tamtym okresie jeszcze tak rozpoznawalne wśród słuchaczy muzyki jazzowej czy improwizowanej. Jak się jednak okazuje na podstawie tego wydawnictwa, umiejętności już wtedy mieli na bardzo wysokim poziomie. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dziedzic – Tempo (2017)


Piotr Wyleżoł - piano, keyboards
Kuba Więcek - alto & soprano saxophones
Apostolis Anthimos - guitars
Robert Kubiszyn - bass
Michał Baj - turntables
Krzysztof Dziedzic - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album as a leader by the veteran Polish Jazz drummer/composer Krzysztof Dziedzic. Surrounded by a formidable team, which includes keyboardist Piotr Wylezol, saxophonist Kuba Więcek, guitarist Apostolis Anthimos, bassist Robert Kubiszyn and Michal Baj (a.k.a. DJ Eprom), who is in charge of turntablism, Dziedzic presents nine original compositions/improvisations, all credited to him.

The music, as described in the album's liner notes, is all about tempo measured in beats per minute, or BPM, which changes here from one tune to another from the very slow 25 BPS to the extremely fast 207 BPM. The melodic content is quite limited on this album, with the drums being the anchor instrument, which leads the proceedings. Bass guitar parts turn some of the tunes into improvised Funk and Groove. The piano takes most of the solo parts and the saxophone and guitar play only on selected tracks, but deliver excellent contributions, especially the Anthimos parts which are Fusion heaven, as usual. The drums dominate the proceedings of course all the way through.

This album is mostly about drums and drumming and fans of rhythmic grooves should find this music delightful. For others, especially those looking for straightforward Jazz might find this music somewhat less approachable, except for some excerpts. Overall this is a bold and quite unique statement, which deserves to be heard and hopefully will conquer hearts in the process. Dziedzic already proved that he is one of the top Polish Jazz drummers over the years and now is time to discover his less obvious qualities.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Rasmus Henriksen Big Band feat. Amanda Lagoni – Out Of The Shadows (2016)

Rasmus Henriksen Big Band feat. Amanda Lagoni

Rasmus Henriksen - conductor
Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet
Wojciech Morelowski - trumpet
Łukasz Borowicki - guitar
Mariusz Praśniewski - bass
and others

Out Of The Shadows


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Danish composer / arranger / conductor / bassoonist Rasmus Henriksen, recorded with an international Big Band comprising of musicians associated with the Odense Music Academy, which includes twelve musicians, several of which are from Poland, like trumpeters Tomasz Dąbrowski and Wojciech Morelowski, guitarist Łukasz Borowicki and bassist Mariusz Praśniewski. The album presents eight pieces, six of which are original compositions by Henriksen and two are standards. Fours of the pieces feature vocals performed by Amanda Lagoni.

The music is well within the mainstream Jazz idiom, with excellent compositions by the leader and of course the wonderful sound of a Big Band that melts my heart every time. The arrangements are very elegant and interesting, typical of European Big Band approach, which treats the Big Band as a complex instrument. In view of the fact that there are so few Big Band albums released each year these days, every one of them is a blessing.

The Big Band performs excellently, obviously well rehearsed and including gifted instrumentalists. There are plenty of superb, albeit short, solos by the band members, testifying to the generally high level of the players. The vocal tracks are also first-rate, much to my surprise, as singing with a Bing Band requires a special talent, but Lagoni handles the task splendidly.

The overall sound and atmosphere are at times a bit too "retro", mimicking the great Swing orchestras of times long gone, but that does not spoil the great fun one can have with this music. This is pure pleasure from start to finish and mainstream Big Band/Orchestral Jazz should enjoy this effort to the max. Very impressive for a debut album and definitely worth getting!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Krzysztof Żesławski Quartet & Natalia Lubrano - Osiecka Jazzowo (2016)

Krzysztof Żesławski Quartet & Natalia Lubrano

Krzysztof Żesławski - guitars
Łukasz Perek - piano, keyboards
Wojciech Bergander - double bass
Michał Lasota - drums
Jarosław Korzonek - drums
Natalia Lubrano - vocals
and others

Osiecka Jazzowo

MTJ 2016

By Krzysztof Komorek

Piosenek Agnieszki Osieckiej nie sposób nie znać. Najczęściej to przepiękne, poetyckie teksty napisane do muzyki wybitnych polskich kompozytorów. Będące dla znacznej części mieszkańców naszego kraju wspomnieniem lat młodych i bardzo młodych. Te kompozycje nie były jakoś specjalnie często eksploatowane przez artystów spod znaku jazzu. Dlatego z ciekawością sięgnąłem po płytę "Osiecka Jazzowo" nagraną przez kwartet Krzysztofa Żesławskiego z gośćmi. 

Ten wrocławski gitarzysta od wielu lat jest kierownikiem muzycznym Festiwalu Twórczości Agnieszki Osieckiej. Omawiane tu wydawnictwo sygnowane jest przez wspomniany wcześniej kwartet oraz Natalię Lubrano, wokalistkę mającą już na koncie własne nagrania, laureatkę Przeglądu Piosenki Aktorskiej we Wrocławiu. Okładkowa informacja jest nieco myląca, bowiem oprócz Natalii Lubrano, na płycie śpiewają jeszcze trzy inne panie: Karolina Łopuch, Katarzyna Harabin-Żesławska oraz Iwona Loranc. Łącznie wykonują jednak cztery (Karolina Łopuch i Katarzyna Harabin-Żesławska po jednej, Iwona Loranc - dwie) z trzynastu zarejestrowanych utworów. Każda z wokalistek legitymuje się konkursowymi nagrodami, doświadczeniem aktorskim i/lub piosenkarskim. Podbudowany takimi rekomendacjami z życiorysów wykonawców przystąpiłem do poznania zarejestrowanego materiału.

Pierwsze przesłuchanie płyty daje zdecydowanie zadowalające efekty. Dobrze znane przeboje, zagrane i zaśpiewane bez udziwnień i aranżacyjnych zmian. Wykonania bardzo klasyczne, które pozwalają album włączyć i podśpiewywać do wtóru. Niestety sytuacja zmienia się diametralnie, gdy nagrań zaczynamy słuchać po raz kolejny. Wtedy zaczynamy dostrzegać mankamenty omawianej tu produkcji. Przede wszystkim można wychwycić, że określenie "jazzowo" w tytule umieszczone jest nieco na wyrost. Instrumentalny kwartet niezwykle rzadko wypuszcza się ku solowym popisom – takie zliczyć można na palcach jednej ręki. Muzycy niemal cały czas pozostają na bezpiecznych pozycjach akompaniatorów. Wokalne interpretacje – jak już napisałem – nie odbiegają od oryginałów. Z drugiej jednak strony nie wnoszą nic nowego, nawet najmniejszego pierwiastka osobistego. 

Zaprezentowane nagrania to, owszem bardzo poprawne, profesjonalne, ale tylko odtworzenia przebojów Osieckiej. Główny urok tej płyty stanowią właśnie zawarte na niej utwory same w sobie. Przy rekreacyjnym słuchaniu "Osiecka Jazzowo" zdaje się całkiem znośna. Jednak bliższy kontakt, chcąc nie chcąc, prowadzi ku głębszemu zastanowieniu i nieuchronnej refleksji, że chcąc posłuchać Osieckiej – niekoniecznie jazzowo - najlepiej włączyć płytę Maryli …

Friday, July 14, 2017

Kuba Cichocki's A.L.E. – Audubon Lab Experiment (2016)

Kuba Cichocki's A.L.E.

Kuba Cichocki - rhodes, keyboards, vocals
Dylan Kaminkow - bass, vocals
Allen Branch - drums, vocals
Francis Benitez - percussion, vocals
Bogna Kicińska - vocals

Audubon Lab Experiment


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Polish (resident in NY) Jazz keyboardist/composer Kuba Cichocki, recorded with his ensemble called Audubon Lab Experiment, which also includes bassist Dylan Kaminkow, drummer Allen Branch and percussionist Francis Benitez. Vocalist Bogna Kicińska (another Polish NY resident) guests on one track. The album presents five original compositions, all by Cichocki.

The music is a typical Jazz-Rock Fusion, which was popular in the early 1970s and closely follows the pattern of Chick Corea's early albums with Return To Forever or Herbie Hancock's albums of that period. The music is very melodic and offers a Funk groove, which makes it a very pleasant listening experience, although at the same time invoking a strong déjà vu feeling.

The fact that there is only one instrument capable of soloing makes the overall experience a bit trying, but on the other hand the sound of the Rhodes is irresistible and people who have profound nostalgia to that kind of music will definitely enjoy it. The rhythm section does a great job; the bass keeps the Funky feeling up quite brilliantly, and performs a few nice solo parts, and the two percussionists add a polyrhythmic background, which also keeps the music bubbling.

Overall this is a superb Funky/Fusion album, which is a great fun to listen to and perhaps even to dance to. Nothing innovative, au contraire, a strong nostalgic trip to the time when music was based on the "no bullshit" approach. Funky/Fusion fans will have a field day with this, as nobody makes music like this today. Unadulterated Fun(k)!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Grzech Piotrowski – Lech Czech i Rus Symphony (2017)

Grzech Piotrowski

Grzech Piotrowski - saxophone
Marcin Wasilewski - piano
Krzysztof Lenczowski - cello
Mateusz Smoczyński - violin
Ghostman - vocal
and others

Lech Czech i Rus Symphony


By Adam Baruch

This is the eighth album by Polish saxophonist/composer Grzech Piotrowski, which is his most ambitious project by far. It involves a large international instrumental ensemble he leads, called World Orchestra, a symphony orchestra (National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra a.k.a. NOSPR), National Folk Instrument Orchestra from Kiev and two choirs (Choir Pro Forma from Poland and Choir Ars Brunensis form Czech Republic), altogether a mindboggling amount of players and musical complexity, recorded live at the magnificent NOSPR concert hall in Katowice. Piotrowski deserves the highest respect just for putting this gargantuan project together and for pulling it off.

The music is a wonderful Jazz-Classical Fusion with strong ties to Slavic folklore, which of course is the subject matter of the entire enterprise. The legend about the three brothers that started the Slavic Nations (Poles, Czechs and Rus') gives the point of reference and points out that despite historic developments the Slavic people share common ancestry and above all common Cultural values.

The Classical Music nerds would probably debate the "symphony" part of the work's title, as the thirteen-part composition is probably more a suite that a symphony, but overall the scope and the scale are definitely of symphonic proportions. The melodic motifs keep flowing one after another, arranged for many different vocal and instrumental setups and featuring many solo parts, some of which are partly improvised. The mood keeps changing from somber melancholic, typical Slavic melodies to highly expressive up-tempo dance-like frenzy, keeping the listener at his toes for the entire duration.

This album is a proof that seemingly impossible undertakings can be realized by people of great talent and strong will. The most important message this music emphasizes is the universal unity of music, which freely crosses genres, languages, epochs and National borders. This music is accessible to every person on this planet, which is a very rare quality. Overall this album is a wonderful journey into the Slavic Culture, full of brilliant melodies and excellently performed by all the participants. Wholeheartedly recommended!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Czwartek Jazzowy z Gwiazdą - Adam Pierończyk Trio - Gliwice, 13.07.2017

Adam Pierończyk - saksofony, elektronika
Robert Kubiszyn - gitara basowa, elektronika
John B. Arnold - perkusja

13.07.2017, Klub Muzyczny 4art, Gliwice
Bilety: 20 zł przedsprzedaż / 25 zł w dniu koncertu

W lipcu projekt Monte Albán, czyli jubileuszowy, dwudziesty już album pod nazwiskiem wybitnego polskiego muzyka jazzowego, Adama Pierończyka. Oryginalna muzyka improwizowana w połączeniu z elektroniką została nagrana w HH-Studio w Mexico City. Muzyka zainspirowana wizytą w tytułowym Monte Alban - prekolumbijskim centrum kultur olmeckiej, zapoteckiej i mixteckiej. Muzyka i płyta nominowana do Fryderyka 2017. 

Adam Pierończyk - czołowy polski saksofonista jazzowy, lider i kompozytor. Znany z niezwykłej kreatywności, jeden z "największych innowatorów w polskim jazzie", koncertuje na całym świecie. Zdobył wiele nagród, w tym 18 nominacji oraz 2 główne nagrody "Fryderyk" jako "Jazzowy Muzyk Roku" oraz za "Jazzowy Album Roku". Jedenaście razy został wybrany "Najlepszym Saksofonistą Sopranowym" według magazynu Jazz Forum. W latach 2004-2005 dyrektor artystyczny festiwali Jazz Aux Oudayas i Jazz Au Chel-lah w Rabacie, stolicy Maroko, oraz Sopot Jazz Festival w latach 2011 - 2015. Współpracował z takimi muzykami jak: Gary Thomas, Greg Osby, Sam Rivers, Miroslav Vitous, Archie Shepp, Bobby McFerrin, Tomasz Stańko, Ted Curson, Anthony Cox, Joey Calderazzo, Leszek Możdżer.

Robert Kubiszyn - basista, kontrabasista, aranżer i producent. Wśród muzyków, z którymi współpracował, są Adam Pierończyk, Gregoire Maret, Janusz Muniak, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Dean Brown, Jon Herrington, Maria Schneider (z orkiestrą Krzysztofa Herdzina), Gary Husband, Cezary Konrad, Anna Maria Jopek, Grzegorz Turnau, Ewa Bem, Natalia Kukulska, Kuba Badach.

John B. Arnold - rdzenny nowojorczyk - to nie tylko wnuk słynnego autora światowej sławy standardów jazzowych Hoagy Carmichaela (Stardust, Skylark, The Nearness of You), ale przede wszystkim ekscytujący i energetyczny perkusista, który ciągle rozwija swój muzyczny język. Współpracował z takimi artystami jak: Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Kenny Garrett, Greg Osby, John Abercrombie, Matthew Garrison, John Pattitucci, Reggie Washington.
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