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Thomas Kolarczyk Ensemble: Halbtraume

Glenn Astarita By

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Germany-based Double Moon Records' long-running series, "JazzThing: The Next Generation" places a spotlight on young European talent attempting to break into the modern jazz rank and file. Indeed, there have been some gems in this series of albums. Here, bassist Thomas Kolarczyk's Ensemble, comprised of German and Polish jazz artists, marks the 72nd volume, and is undeniably one of the top outings culled from this ongoing series. With a four-woodwind attack, sans the chordal component, Kolarczyk looms as a nascent visionary due to his broad jazz vernacular, while touching upon Asian and Balkan influences via his strong compositional pen and cunning arrangements.

The bassist steers traffic with profound lines and a cyclical melody on the opener, "Berlin is Full of Lonely People." However, he opens up the floor for the soloists' airy and concise phrasings amid dashes of European folk and sublime unison choruses. The band skirts nouveau chamber on occasion, but nothing too pronounced as various sub-genres impeccably morph into the progressive jazz format throughout.

The frontline dials it up a few notches, complete with briskly populated detours and peppy unison lines. Hence, Kolarczyk conveys maturity and insight as the director of operations with drummer Kuba Gudz. Moreover, the ensemble intermittently dives into the outside realm, often tinted with harmonically appealing notes, popping cadences and vivid imagery of multiple conversations transpiring at once.

"MIFIDA" is built on the hornists' whirling dervish-like statements with taut off-centered thematic expansions and hyper-mode outbreaks, as they deconstruct, rebuild and generate frisky episodes with playful overtones. "Serane" is a melancholic ballad, and the final track, "Odense" is a serene tone poem led by the bassist's sawing arco movements, and Otto Hirte's extended flute lines. Indeed, Kolarczyk and his ensemble burst out of the gate with an enduring program, intimating that a bright future is in the cards for this persuasive unit.

Track Listing: Berlin is Full of Lonely People; Hava; Intro; Berlin is Full of Happy People; MIFIDA; ACIS; Serane; Ciemnogrod; Odense.

Personnel: Viktor Wolf: clarinet, bass clarinet; Otto Hirte: alto saxophone, flute, alto clarinet; Slawek Pezda: tenor saxophone; Thomas Kolarczyk: double bass; Kuba Gudz: drums.

Title: Halbtraume | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Double Moon Records

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