4

Irek Wojtczak & The Fonda-Stevens Group: Folk Five

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Polish jazz has a long history, and includes many more players than the widely known Tomasz Stanko or Krzysztof Komeda. A deeper, and much earlier influence than American jazz coming to Poland is that of the folk music indigenous to Poland itself.

Reedman (saxophones and bass clarinet) Irek Wojtczak & The Fonda-Stevens Group, arguably a free player, relates in the liner notes how, in his thirties (when else?), he wanted to reconnect to his musical roots. He found folk violinist Tadeusz Kubiak whose playing exhibited a direct simplicity that enabled Wojtczak to dig deeper into what he, and his music really were.

The primal and even atavistic Folk Five is the result of his investigations and efforts. Supporting Wojztczak are the four members of the Fonda/Stevens group (bassist Joe Fonda, pianist Michael Stevens , trumpeter Herb Robertson and drummer Harvey Sorgen).

One might ask how Americans could become so comfortable and at ease with Polish music. Fonda and Stevens have been playing in Poland for the last ten years and recorded a live gig with Wojtczak about six years ago, and thus have been able to internalize the Polish ethos.

Even for someone who has not heard any Polish influenced jazz, this album has an immediacy and a combination of delicacy and power that pulls one in. Polish folk themes are either directly quoted (Ale Zagrajzke Mi Kowolka (Play The Kowal Dance For Me) and then improvised upon, or the essence of the melody is used as the starting point (Pod Gazem (Polka) (Tipsy (Polka Dance).

It is obvious from his first notes that Wojtczak has deep emotional ties to this music, and his fierceness, intensity and deep sensitivity carry the day.

Fonda, always a powerful bassist, is more than up to the task of pushing and being pushed, while Stevens shows his range by his energetic comping and lyrical soloing. Robertson is almost Wojtczak's ethnic double when staying close to a folk theme, but also can play as free as a bird, while Sorgen's rhythmic support is both sensitive and forceful when needed.

Folk Five is important both for what it succeeds in accomplishing musically and as an entry point into the rich music that is Polish jazz.

Track Listing: Ale Zagrajze Mi Kowola (Play the Kowal); Cztery Mile Za Warszawa (It Was Four Miles Out of Warsaw); Leczycki (Oberek Dance From Leczycki); Pod Gazem (Typsy); Kiej Jo Ide W Pole (When I Go to the Field); Weselny (For the Wedding); Oj Stary Jo se Stary (Oh, Am I Old); Ogrywka.

Personnel: Michael Jefry Stevens: piano; Joe Fonda: bass; Herb Robertson: trumpet; Harvey Sorgen: drums; Irek Wojtczak: saxophone.

Title: Folk Five | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Fortune Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Whose Feet are These That are Walking" CD/LP/Track Review Whose Feet are These That are Walking
by Mike Jacobs
Published: October 9, 2017
Read "Hybrido - From Rio To Wayne Shorter" CD/LP/Track Review Hybrido - From Rio To Wayne Shorter
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 12, 2017
Read "United" CD/LP/Track Review United
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "Binary & Mysteries of the Deep" CD/LP/Track Review Binary & Mysteries of the Deep
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Takunde" CD/LP/Track Review Takunde
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 8, 2017
Read "San José Suite" CD/LP/Track Review San José Suite
by Nigel Campbell
Published: December 2, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.