Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

4

Adam Baldych And The Baltic Gang: Imaginary Room

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Despite the perceived similarities between musical groups and gangs, there are surprisingly few examples of bands with a "gang" appellation. There's American rockers the James Gang, Brit-punks the Tyla Gang and of course there's the Purple Gang (although that was just a rhythm section). Imaginary Room, the debut release from violinist Adam Baldych and The Baltic Gang, has none of this outlaw chic, but there's plenty of excitement to be found in the music.

Baldych is a member of the Polish band Damage Control and has also spent time on the New York scene, but the Baltic Gang is a new departure for him. The Baltic Gang is a suitably accurate name for the band (Baldych is Polish, the others are Scandinavian) but somewhat anachronistic. Baldych's violin sound also harks back to an earlier time. The sound of '70s rock—hints of Curved Air's Darryl Way and, more overtly, the John Dummer Famous Music Band's Nick Pickett—jazz fusion and even the blues of Papa John Creach all come across in Baldych's playing. Unlike other young violinists such as Aaron Weinstein or Ben Powell, the influence of Stephane Grappelli is notably absent and Baldych's sound has a welcome bluesy rawness.

The sleeve notes and press release make much of Baldych's technical ability and absence of "lamenting or sobbing." Certainly his fluid, precise, playing is impressive, but what is most striking about Imaginary Room is how Baldych uses a wide range of styles and influences to create some strongly melodic tunes and some harmonically fascinating interplay between the instrumentalists. It's also notable that some of Baldych's finest moments come on the slower, more melancholy tunes where lamentation is a distinctive theme, with Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola a particularly effective partner.

"Mirrors" and "The Room Of Imagination" are beautiful tunes, with a spaciousness and depth that seems like a trademark of the Scandinavian scene. Tenor saxophonist Marius Neset can be a fiery, aggressive, player but his superb solo on "Room Of Imagination" showcases a more considered side to his playing. "Cubism" takes this feel and moves it up-tempo, Baldych's repetitive, upper-register riff adding drive to the rhythm in the tune's opening section.

"K8" drops the tempo down again; drummer Morten Lund, bassist Lars Danielsson and Baldych all give the piece a more emotionally downbeat feeling with the aid of co-producer Nils Landgren's plaintive trombone. West European folk music is at the forefront of the elegiac "Time Traveler," on which Baldych joins co-composer Jacob Karlzon for a stark yet gorgeous violin and piano duet. "Million Miles Away" is the album's shortest tune and its most affecting. A duet between co-writers Baldych—his violin at its rawest—and Danielsson, the haunting melody encapsulates a sense of longing and loss.

Imaginary Room is replete with sweeping melodies and strong musical interplay. Baldych gives his violin a voice and emotional power that have been too rarely heard in recent decades and offers a fresh take on the instrument for the contemporary scene.

Track Listing: Village Underground; Mirrors; The Room Of Imagination; Cubism; K8; Time Traveler; Rama hai; For Zbiggy; 11.16; Zarathustra; Inspiration; Million Miles Away.

Personnel: Adam Baldych: violin; Verneri Pohjola: trumpet; Marius Nest: tenor saxophone; Jacob Karlzon: piano; Lars Danielsson: bass, cello; Morten Lund: drums; Nils Landgren: trombone (5, 8).

Title: Imaginary Room | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: ACT Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Shadow Work CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Veterans of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Ariel CD/LP/Track Review Ariel
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Fukushima CD/LP/Track Review Fukushima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Dedication CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Surface of Inscription CD/LP/Track Review Surface of Inscription
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 21, 2017
Read "Moments Of Fatherhood" CD/LP/Track Review Moments Of Fatherhood
by John Sharpe
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet" CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Seasons 1-4 Live" CD/LP/Track Review Seasons 1-4 Live
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 6, 2017
Read "Binary" CD/LP/Track Review Binary
by John Sharpe
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "New Angle" CD/LP/Track Review New Angle
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 13, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor