Time has stamped Krzysztof Popek as a potent force on the Polish jazz scene. The flautist could have found a comfort zone in his native land given the accolades he accumulated there. Instead, he gathered a varied supporting cast of international musicians over the years,and built a strong edifice to his musical explorations. He stamps his credentials all over again on this recording.
Popek explores through the senses of several composers including himself. His "Letters and Leaves" gets a luminous head from George Cables before the melody dances in. Popek flows in with languid lines, turning in a captivating conversation with the pianist. The edge comes from Piotr Wojtasik, the trumpet cutting in; the dynamic fleshing the whole with just the right intensity.
"Nicole's Soul" has a translucent beauty ushered in by the ebb and flow of the flute. Wojtasik, who has long been part of Popek's journey, is convoluting and flinty as he feeds into the permutations without fragmenting the mood. And when it comes to the ensemble, the playing is silky and emotive, the finesse shining.
The bop driven "So It Seems" not only offers contrast but also shows the ability of the band to find its comfort zone in different settings. The heated swell of Nicolas Simion's tenor, the pulsing lines of Cameron Brown's bass, the rhythmic snap of Victor Lewis's drums propulse the groove are the glove to the inventive hand of the front line.
Popek is a craftsmen hewing both to the mainstream yet never shying from improvising with a vibrant sense of adventure. He has a fine band to go with these sensibilities. And he has an enjoyable record to go with it.
Nicole’s Soul; Assunta; Fresh Air; So It Seems; Letters and Leaves; Yes Or No; Outro.
Krzysztof Popek: alto flute; Piotr Wojtasik: trumpet, flugelhorn; Nicolas Simion: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; George Cables: piano; Cameron Brown: bass; Victor Lewis: drums.