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Alto flautist Krzysztof Popek gives his music another vantage point with Estate. From Poland, Popek has long been part of a very fertile and evolving turf that included Michal Urbaniak, Tomasz Stanko and Jaroslaw Smietana. It was in this environment that Popek established himself as the leading flautist of the country. But boundaries dissolve with the craft of this musician, who plays from the depths of his soul.
One constant factor on Popek's recordings has been trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik. He complements Popek perfectly, trading ideas and developing concepts in harmony. As for the rest, Stephen Scott is a remarkably inventive pianist while drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Cameron Brown shape rhythm with a constantly pliant pulse. Put them all together and the result is pure magic. The music stirs deeply from sublime ballads to swing to bop to an effervescent pastoral air, all saturated in the melody before they rise to find their individual havens.
The band never falters or falls on shallow ground as they seek and find resolution with finesse. "Forest Flower" serves notice of these hallmarks. Wojtasik sets up a glowing head only for Scott to rend that asunder as he jumps into a bebop pulse. His free flowing yet judicious ideas ripple and speed up the rhythm. Popek then gives the texture a makeover, buoyant lines explore the melodic fabric before Wojtasik takes it in another direction, straddling swing and bop to complete the circle, seamlessly and in perfect shape.
"Estate" casts a spell with its delicate beauty; the melody coursing tenderly through its veins. Popek and Wojtasik pay homage to that, yet they do not let it fade and die. Popek's billowing swells churn constant changes and Wojtasik articulates sunny phrases, the timbral approaches lending the quiet dynamism that makes this a standout track.
"Lazy Afternoon" conjures images of open fields and a sunny day. Popek is the high minstrel, nurturing the tranquil mood, abetted by Scott who fills in the spaces and Lewis who splashes bright accents on the cymbals. Each makes adroit use of space and in keeping melancholy at bay, turn this into a stunner.
At the end of it all this is quite the artistic triumph for Popek and his fine band of musicians.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.