All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

13

2013 Jazztopad Festival

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
The closer began with some beautiful bass harmonics and a sound closer to traditional Polish folk music, Garbowski's increasingly earnest support meshing with more prepared piano and gong-like tones from Gradziuk that brought the set to an impressive close.

A brief lunch break gave attendees time to clear their ears before drummer Rafal Gorzycki and electric guitarist Kamil Pater took the stage to perform music from the duo's debut, Therapy (Self Produced, 2013). All-=-improvised, Pater's command of a wide array of guitar effects that included looping, pitch shifting (to create bass lines he then looped for support) and more made the duo sound much larger than it at first appeared. Beginning in a more meditative state, Pater only gradually turned more aggressive, in order to match Gorzycki's more outgoing support.

While he appeared to be channeling Bill Frisell at times, when he turned more angular and jagged, all resemblance ceased as a 7/4 bass line emerged and was looped, allowing Pater the freedom to layer ethereal chord structures that were then also looped. As Gorzycki amped up the energy with a rock-edged pulse, Pawel kicked in overdrive and the set turned more towards a progressive rock vibe. After an impressive drum break, Pawel returned with a drop-D tuning to build a jam of Jimi Hendrixian proportions but with more outré harmonic concerns, as the duo slowly found its way back to the more ethereal quality of its opening and bringing the set to a sudden, unexpected close.

Stryjo followed, a trio consisting of pianist Nikola Koĺodziejczyk, bassist Maciej Szczyciński and drummer Michal Bryndal. What was, perhaps, most surprising about Stryjo was that, while it began as a group performing composed material, it has since largely dispensed with form and gone the route of free improvisation. If the best free improvisation ultimately feels as though there's form—that it is in the pursuit of creating structure out of the ether—then Stryjo's set was an unqualified success. Barring one brief composed passage at the end of its 30-minute set, the music was entirely drawn from the air, yet felt as though it were preplanned. Composing as it went, the communication amongst its members was quite remarkable, as small motifs were picked up and extrapolated upon, coming from anyone in the trio, though it seemed as though Koĺodziejczyk was largely directing where the music went, moving from cascading arpeggios to spare chordal passages with equal aplomb.

It's hard to know if the organizers of Don't Worry! We're From Poland saved the best for last or it just worked out that way, but when the final group of the day hit the stage, charging out of the gate, as fine as the other groups were over the two-day showcase, Maciej Obara International Quartet won out as the group with the greatest potential for international attention. A Polish/Norwegian collaboration, with leader/alto saxophonist Obara joined by fellow Pole, pianist Dominik Wania and, from further north, Scandinavian bassist Ole Morten Vågan (Motif, The Deciders) and drummer Gard NIlssen (Bushman's Revenge, Zanussi Five), the quartet that met at Take Five Europe the previous year had already delivered an impressive set at the 2013 Molde Jazz Festival, and its debut recording, Komeda (Fortune, 2013), has been met with plenty of critical acclaim.

But what a difference six months can make. If Obara's quartet was incendiary in Molde, it was positively nuclear in Wrocĺaw; for those who never had the opportunity to see John Coltrane with his classic quartet in its prime, this may well be the next best thing, as the quartet delivered a set where all four players were 110% committed from the get-go, and never let up. Even when the dynamics dropped, this was a group that understood the value of creating a set—even one as short as this—with a clear narrative arc. In just six months the quartet has come such a long way with respect to interaction and, most importantly, listening. Everyone in the group, other than Obara, has their own projects—Wania's trio one of the finer showings of the day before—but sometimes there's a special chemistry that simply cannot be denied, and as strong as other groups like Bushman's Revenge, Motif and Wania's trio are, both Molde and this short set demonstrated a very special simpatico amongst the players which renders it no surprise that, after a date at Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria in Oslo next March, Maciej Obara International Quartet will enter the studio with Manfred Eicher to record its next album for ECM.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre Live Reviews
Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Tallinn Music Week 2018 Live Reviews
Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum Live Reviews
James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum
by Phillip Woolever
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano Live Reviews
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018
Read Marbin at The Firmament Live Reviews
Marbin at The Firmament
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 15, 2018
Read Big Ears Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Big Ears Festival 2018
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "NYC Winter Jazzfest 2018 - The Friday Marathon" Live Reviews NYC Winter Jazzfest 2018 - The Friday Marathon
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Karuna at LaFontsee Gallery" Live Reviews Karuna at LaFontsee Gallery
by John Ephland
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "Earl Thomas At Biscuits & Blues" Live Reviews Earl Thomas At Biscuits & Blues
by Walter Atkins
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Bryan Ferry at the Paramount Theater" Live Reviews Bryan Ferry at the Paramount Theater
by Geoff Anderson
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Temple University Jazz Band at The Appel Room" Live Reviews Temple University Jazz Band at The Appel Room
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 1, 2018