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WM Project: From a Familiar Place

Dan McClenaghan By

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The WM Project, led by saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna and pianist Andrzej Winnicki, doesn't sound much like the Komeda Project. Medyna and Winnicki have earned well-deserved acclaim for their work in that ensemble that explores the music of their countryman, Krzysztof Komeda. But here, instead of the Polish melancholy, haunting themes and brooding melodies, they take From A Familiar Place into the more American realm of straight ahead, at times even brash bebop with, always, big solid grooves.

Two distinguished American horn men join the Polish team—trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and trombonist Marshall Gilkes. The pairing of Gilkes and Medyna recalls Sonny Rollins' trombone-and-tenor sax forays with bone man Clifton Anderson, especially on "Blind Warriors," penned saxophonist Medyna. The sound is propulsive and muscular, almost an assault, bebop style.

The group's take on Joe Zawinul's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" bursts with energy, featuring trumpeter Pelt at his most inspired on a soaring solo.

Seven of nine tunes here come from the pens of leaders—teamed in the writing or going it alone. Two are jazz standards, the previously-mentioned "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" and Paul Desmond's "Take Five." And Michael Winnicki, the set's superb, powerhouse drummer, and son of the group's leader Andrzej Winnicki, adds a tune of his own. "Take Five" and "Mercy, Mercy Mercy" grew out of hip hop grooves, and turned into something different and thoroughly modern in the process.

The set closes out with Andrzej Winnicki's "Looking Ahead," an upbeat, up-tempo hard-driving romp that power-prowls on out into the night with an attitude. That's how to wrap up a show.

Track Listing: From a Familiar Place; Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; Blind Warriors; On Sunday, After Church; Take Five; Das Bounce; Grass Hoppers; Praeludium; Looking Ahead.

Personnel: Jeremy Pelt: trumpet; Marshall Gilkes: trombone; Krzysztof Medyna: tenor sax; Rafal Sarnecki: guitar; Andrzej Winnicki: piano; Jeff Dingler: bass; Michael Winnicki: drums.

Title: From a Familiar Place | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: WM Records

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