Friday, September 30, 2011

Piotr Wojtasik Quartet at Pod Jaszczurami (28.09. Miles Davis Memorial Night)

It's been 20 years since Miles' death and he's influence is maybe stronger than ever - his modal jazz music being copied as cited as the 'proper jazz', his pioneer electric work inspires young generations of musicians way after fusion ate its tail, among those a number of musicians assocaited with the avant-guarde and free jazz movements (most notably Wadada Leo Smith & Henry Kaiser band) although Davis never really aprreciated the ongoing revolution of free-jazz (he expressed his respect toward Coltrane, his old partner, but criticized Ornette Coleman on a number of occasions).
So it is quite ironic to certain extend that a pianoless quartet that is shaped clearly upon the ornettian model pays a tribute to Miles. But that's just an insignificant thought.

Piotr Wojtasik is one of a premier polish trumpet players, his playing modelled upon the likes of Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw, clear and crisp. Although I don't think he ever managed to attract more international recognition, he's talent was recognized by many foreign (most often american) musicians who would join his projects, most notably Billy Harper, Billy Hart and John Betsch. The quartet includes also the dynamic and powerfull saxophone player Adam Pierończyk (known for his late JazzWerskstatt releases), and a powerfull rhythm section in Michał Barański (on bass) and John Betsch.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trevor Watts & Veryan Weston - 5 More Dialogues [Emanem]

Trevor Watts - soprano & alto saxophones
Veryan Weston - piano

Emanem 2011

While words are essentially worthless when describing the music, they're sort of a necessary evil. A well-known fact which is a preface to some of the most witty, absolutelty excellent liner notes to this album, courtesy of Brian Morton - the co-author of "Penguin Guite to Jazz", that (attempt to) speak not only about the music but also about speaking about the music. "Wordplay and psychology go hand in hand", says Morton and he's certainly right.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ig Henneman Sextet - Cut a Caper [Wig]

Ig Henneman - viola, compositions
Ab Baars - tenor sax, clarinet, shakuhachi
Axel Dorner - trumpet
Lori Freedman - bass clarinet, clarinet
Wilbert De Joode - double bass
Marilyn Lerner - piano

Stichting Wig 2011

Just a quick glance on the names list can tell you this group gathers some among the finest improvising musicians in Europe. And this geographical association is crucial for this music as this drumless sextet presents music that is european through and through. With rich harmonies and lyrical melodies rooted deep in classical music. With improvisations being the extension of this language while reaching into the territory of sound's detail exploration. With precise arrangement that makes this ensemble sound like a small yet fully-equipped orchestra.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jon Corbett's Dangerous Musics - Kongens Gade [Leo]

Jon Corbett - trumpet, pocket trumpet, valve trombone, bamboo flute
Nick Stephens - acoustic bass
Louis Moholo-Moholo - drums

Leo Records 2011

I recently reviewed Calling Signals' release, where one can hear Jon Corbett's and Nick Stephens' playing and here they are again with addition of Louis Moholo-Moholo to please our ears.
All three of them mainstays of british free music scene for a while so there's nothing to be proven or revealed here - and they can just go for it as they feel.
And they definitely do so, the playing is intense and vivid. The music is raw and energetic and there are no artificial confines to be respected, just a joyfull ride, an act of communication and creation with the three sharing the reponsibilities and the rewards of creating and stustaining the musical narration.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Undivided with Perry Robinson - Moves Between Clouds (Live in Warsaw) [Multikulti]

Bobby Few - piano
Mark Tokar - double bass
Perry Robinson - clarinet
Klaus Kugel - drums
Waclaw Zimpel - bass clarinet, clarinet, tarogato

Multikulti 2011

After the appraised debut "Passion" Waclaw Zimpel's Undivided band comes back with a new material and I feel honored and gratefull I had a chance to see the band perform it on stage during this year Tzadik festival - an event which was also this cd's release date. I feel what I wrote then about concert still applies to the music on the cd so let me just be brief while I invite you to get back to that old post.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jazz Alchemist radio on Mixcloud and other small news.

While there are still a couple of weeks till the radio frycz gets back on its feet after the summer break (oh those lucky studying bastards) I want to test the mixcloud widget first and I hope it will  allow more listeners to get familiar with the music I write about in the new reviews.

1. So I uploaded a program that aired originally on 10th of Janurary current year in which I was trying to present a couple of most deserving cds released in 2010.
the details of that tracklist are to be found in the original post here.

The Widget-player linked the latest uploaded program will be also put somewhere in sidebar of the blog. (So, presumebly, every broadcast will stay there for a week, after which it will be substituted by the new one, it will be still to be found though in the original radio playlist post).

2. Also, as already signalized in the previous post, I will occasionally collaborate and contribute my polish texts to the portal, seeing that the function of Impropozycja blog has changed (I'd like to thank Marcin Kiciński for the opportunity to work together and I hope for many meetings and conversations in the future).

3. The last thing for now - you can subscribe to the e-mail feed (upper corner of the right sidebar) to not miss any new posts (which will come more frequently now since there's a lot happening to be written about).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kazutoki Umezu KIKI Band at Manggha (20.09) Krakow Autumn Jazz Festival begins!

It has begun! And by 'it' I mean the long-awaited Autumn Jazz Festival in Krakow where I hope to see you all in the next two months.
And it started with a heavy kick provided by the Kazutoki Umezu KIKI Band, a group well known and always welcomed by Krakow audience (as they have played here before).

I admit it is a relatively easy task to write about this group's concert since you know exactly what to expect from this band and the band fulfills those (high) expectations. Plus you can support your words with a selection of decent quality vids easily find on the web.
(polish readers can also find the text published on

KIKI's music is a well shaken cocktail: swiss precision, a doze of (typical to japanese music scene) madness, catchy melodies, massive rock sound, heavy riffs, crazy speed rhythms and some ass-kicking soloing to go with it. All of that within a strict form of a rock song (verse-chorus-bridge; with the exception of multi-themathic, extended prog-rock piece that opened the 2nd set). The instumental prowess is also enhanced by musical showmanship as the melodic bass solos bring to mind Victor Wooten, under the rusty free-jazz sounds made by Kazutoki his sound is clear and sweet like that of David Sanborn's alto (and I mean it as a compliment), Natsuki Kido could be an incarnation of Gary Moore (or another guitar-shredder) and the drummer doesn't slack off either, proud to defend's the rock honor of USA.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fred Frith and ARTE Quartet - The Big Picture [Intakt]

ARTE Quartet:
Beat Hofstetter - soprano saxophone
Sascha Armbruster - alto saxophone
Andrea Formenti - tenor saxophone
Beat Kappeler - baritone and alto saxophones

special guests (tracks 1-6):
Katharina Weber - piano
Lucas Niggli - drums

Fred Frith - composer

Intakt 2010

I got this cd after Fred Frith's concert in Warsaw, still absolutely mesmerized by his performance and although I'm disappointed that Frith's guitar is nowhere to be heard on this one (nonetheless the booklet puts it on the list) it does fulfill all the high hopes I had for this album.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Krakowska Jesień Jazzowa (Krakow Autumn Jazz Festival) starts tomorrow!!!

Tomorrow starts the 6th edition of the festival that is crucial for the musical education of this blog's author (my humble self). 

The stage of Alchemia (and occasionally Klub Re and Manghha Museum) was the space of creativity hosting countless musicians and groups,  some of the true legends of improvising music (Joe McPhee, Peter Brotzmann, Anthony Braxton, William Parker, Evan Parker, Trevor Watts) other making their first steps in the genre (I remember some of the first concerts by Waclaw Zimpel and his trio The Light!). There were special projects created for the festival (Resonance, Barry Guy Week) and concerts that were the first chance for many musicians to introduce themselves to polish audience, appreciative, attentive and always hungry for new musical experiences. And the festival always presented us with new names that even in this pretty cosy and close circle of pretty unpopular music's fans, were underground.

My passion for this music was born and nurtured and refined, my knowledge constantly questioned during those concerts and after each edition have ended I would impatiently wait for the new one (with spring's concerts being just a starter for a real annual meal).
And it is no coincidence that this blog was born during this festival with the direct impulse being the last year's special project - the Barry Guy New Orchestra Week, the celebreation of its 10th year of activity (just check the very first posts of the blog).

Thus I'd like to take the chance to thank in advance Marek Winiarski from Not Two records - the festival's artistic director, the owners and the (both past and present) crew of Alchemia and everyone else whose dedication and work made the 6th edition, nonetheless all the obstacles, possible.

I'll write about the concerts on the blog, and I managed to prepare in advance some cd reviews to keep them arriving steady so I invite you to check the blog sistematically.

Tomorrow it will begin (and I'll write about it the day after)!!!

Hope to see you on the concerts and around!
Check the program:
on Alchemia's page
and visit the festival's blog page.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Crank Sturgeon at Bomba (17.09)

If there's a method to madness Crank Sturgeon have found it. I admit I never heard of this artist prior to the yesterday's concert but I'm sure as heck never going to forget him ever since.
You wouldn't believe how loud can a scotch tape be, or how deep a bass sound can a cotton string produce, or the sound marker makes when used to draw faces on the newspaper, or this very newspaper being torn apart.
With a contact mike used as a magnifying glass Crank Sturgeon multiplies all the small, inaudible noises that surround us and turns it into an ongoing feast of ear-piercing cascades of noises and cracks. You know the feeling of a really bad hangover? Or immagine yourself wearing the doctor's stethoscope and being able to listen to what's happening inside the matter of things. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

William Hooker & Thomas Chapin - Crossing Points [NoBusiness]

William Hooker - drums
Thomas Chapin - sax

NoBusiness Records 2011

Thomas Chapin's death from leukemia at the age of 40 is one of the most tragic twists in jazz history (and jazz history has its share of those - where would Coltrane be or Clifford Brown if they were to live longer?). This post-mortem release comes as unexpected but tremendously welcomed surprise for all the fans of this musician and presents him outside the common setting of his trio as he features on one concert of a series of duos played by William Hooker in NYC in 1992.
"Subway" is a 28mins long marathon, Hooker's colossal, muscular drumming keeps the charge, relentless and restless, while Chapin tries to keep up with fresh ideas and harden the tone. It is bit exhausting in the middle but they surge back with great energy in the end, although I feel that Hooker is overpowering the music a little bit.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

DM&P Trio - Insular Dwarfism [AudioTong]

Pawel Dziadur - electronics: wave_attack improvisation software, laptop, synth, controllers, feedback loop, miking
Slawomir Maler - tenor saxophone, alto saxophone
Philip Palmer - alto saxophone, found objects

AudioTong 2011

A while ago I've wrote about this Krakow-based group's performance - half torn between appreciation for their experimental and no-compromises attitude and struggle to absorb and get through the wall of abundant and invasive wall of electronics.
Pawel Dziadur created wave-attack software as a tool for electro-acoustic improvisation that allows for real-time sound manipulation without any presets or pre-recorded materials and his scope is to achieve and explore the level of swiftness that was supposedly available only performing on acoustic instruments. And quite simply he's close to it - on the stage his gesture control interface is impressive, as is the number of ways he's able to transform and disfigure any musical input to the point it's impossible to individualize its connection to the source material.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

IC Ensemble at Alchemia (12.09)

IC stands for Imperial College in London and IC Big Band stands for a 5-trumpets, 5-saxes, 5-trombones and rhythm section strong orchestra comprised by the its students. And just the idea of non-professional musicians and non-music students gathering together to play some music is inspiring to say the least.

The stage in Alchemia saw an 8-piece group (it would be pretty much impossible to fit the entire band into this space) that nonetheless delivered a nicely round sound (alto, tenor, trumpet/flugelhorn, trombone in the horns section) and a great selections of tunes - avoiding the trap of watershed standards in favour of a couple of nice obscures (tunes by Steve Davis, Cedar Walton) and a handfull of niecely done originals, couple of ballads (a nice piece by the pianist) thrown in between the more up-tempo tunes with a funky twist ("Kool" by John Scofield, "Blackjack" by Donald Byrd) and my personal favourite of the night - exuberant and joyfully south-african "Sonia" by Dudu Pukwana. Obviously each tune a platform for a set of solos that, while not exactly memorable, were pretty solid (with special acknowledgement towards the trumpet player who, to my ear, used best the solo time he was allowed).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Calling Signals 09 (Gjerstad, Corbett, Stephens, Nilssen-Love) - A Winter's Tour [Loose Torque]

Frode Gjerstad - clarinets and alto saxophone
Jon Corbett - trumpet, valve trombone and conch
Nick Stephens - double bass
Paal Nilssen-Love - percussion

Loose Torque Records 2011

This Norwegian/British quartet just lets it all loose on this live release with only two tracks yet over an hour of pure music (47 + 17 minutes). And the great quality of the registration allows you to fully absorb and appreciate the spontaneous creation, as if you were there in the audience, just with your eyes closed.
There's an entire debate to it but my opinion is that next to the live experience the live registration is the most direct listening experience, and there's an extra level of honesty, fidelity and truth to a live recording as it allows the musicians to express more freely, necessitates a more complex and immediate interactions (not only with the fellow musicians but also with the audience and the acoustic space that is very different to the usually neutral studio recording).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Achim Kaufmann - Verivyr [Pirouet Records]

Achim Kaufmann - piano
Valdi Kolli - bass
Jim Black - drums

Pirouet Records 2011

Regular readers might remember I'm not so keen on piano trio - probably the most classic instrumental outfit in jazz history - used to love it, than used to hate it, now I'm rediscovering this unit and it is thanks to music like this.
The cd starts with otherwordly sounds of bowed plates and harp-like notes of the piano strings. The piece than travels into a post-bop terrirory, with quirky and clever harmonies, chordings and runs intuitively supported by the precise bass work and drum's accents. And this is how this music goes on, suspended between the feeling of freedom and compositional discipline, openminded, highly intelligent and complex yet it manages to create or mantain the sense of natural wilderness, the flow of thought.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Joey Baron, Bruno Chevillon, Elliott Sharp, Franck Vigroux - Venice, dal vivo [D'autres cordes]

Franck Vigroux - turntables, guitar
Elliott Sharp - reeds, guitar
Bruno Chevillon - doublebass, electronics
Joey Baron - drums

D'autres cordes 2010

I put the 'jazz that rocks' label on this one but it is misleading as there's no jazz to find in here. Starting with a mesh of electronic squeaks this one surely brings an odd palette of sound in the game and joined early enough by the powerhouse, muscular drumming by Baron goes way deep into the rock grounds.
"Acqua Alta", after the electronic intro, gets off with a metal mayhem of guitar arpeggios, fuzzy bass (the acoustic bass sounds electronic throughout the most part of the album thanks to some filters) and trance drums patterns relying heavily on the bass pedal kick. Things slow  down with a thoughtfull drums solo just to explode with "Cannareggio" again. Distorted sax versus shimmering electronics battle brings forward a psychodelic guitar, then again hushed and somewhat creepy exploration of small noises, echoes, feedbacks, pulsations and textures.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

vacation time's over

It's time to get back on the saddle after a prolongued period of leisure. If anyone's into tv series I strongly recommend 'The Wire' which sucked me in for a whole week or so.  Anyway there's a pile of cds I've wanted to write about for a while now, another pile of cds I have yet to listen to so there's enough material to keep new posts arriving steadily, just in time to prepare myself/ourselves for the series of autumn jazz concerts  (I send you back to this post for more details).
First new review tomorrow morning! (CET time)