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Sylwester Ostrowski: Jammin' With KC

Kyle Simpler By

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Sylwester Ostrowski: Jammin' With KC
Sylwester Ostrowski traveled from his native Poland to Kansas City in February 2020 to participate in a centennial celebration of Charlie Parker's life and music. During the visit, Ostrowski visited Parker's childhood home, his grave, and other historical landmarks. He also sat in with some of Kansas City's finest jazz musicians at several local venues. He got a taste of not only the Kansas City jazz scene but American life and culture as well. While visiting the US, Ostowski recorded Jammin' With KC, an inspired view of jazz in Kansas City from Parker's time to present day.

Ostrowski assembled a collection of musicians ranging from well-established players to relative newcomers. The musicians featured here also represent diverse cultural backgrounds, which is fitting considering that Ostrowski is a jazz ambassador in his own right. Inspired by Dave Brubeck's travels to Eastern Europe in 1958, Ostrowski tries to use jazz to build connections on a global level.

Jammin' With KC features Ostrowski on tenor saxophone along with American musicians such as Bobby Watson on alto saxophone, Eric Allen on drums, Logan Richardson on alto saxophone, and Dominique Sanders on bass. The album also features a rapper, The Royal Chief, and the Jazz Forum Talents, which is an award-winning group of up-and-coming musicians from Poland, including pianist Kasia Pietrzko, saxophonist Maciej Kadziela, guitarist Jakub Mizeracki, violinist Tomasz Chyła, and harmonica player Kacper Smoliński.

The wide range of talent represented here emphasizes the diverse nature of the album. Jammin' With KC offers a selection of jazz modes ranging from straight-ahead bebop to more contemporary styles. The selections included emphasize the broad scope and possibilities of jazz music.

The album opens and closes with different variations on the tune "Burnt Ends." The first version features a solid organ, bass, and drum groove with plenty of improvisation from The Jazz Forum Talents. This is followed by "Burnt Ends (Welcome to Kansas City)," a much more modern interpretation of the melody, featuring rapper The Royal Chief. The album closes with "Burnt Ends (Key)," which features a completely different take on the melody that highlights Keyon Harrold's work on trumpet.

The different variations on this melody serve as something of a metaphor for Ostrowski's overall take on the music represented here. In spite of the differences in presentations and styles, there is an underlying theme connecting all of the diverse elements.

Some of the songs take a very modern approach. "Sketches of Missouri" and "Once in Omaha," for example, feature a somewhat atmospheric and ethereal sound. Both songs seem somewhat reminiscent of music that might appear on an ECM release.

The upbeat, "Chief's Kingdom" pays homage the Kansas City Chiefs and their 2019 Super Bowl victory. The song's melody originates from the Chiefs' fans chant during the games. The Chiefs had just won the Super Bowl when Ostrowski arrived, and the overall spirit in Kansas City following the victory inspired him to write this song.

Considering Ostrowski's initial reason for making the trip to Kansas City, it's only natural that Charlie Parker gets his share of recognition on this album. Jammin' With KC features two Parker standards: "Confirmation" and "Donna Lee." Both versions are standouts on the album, showcasing the musicians' exceptional improvisational skills.

Sylwester Ostrowski's Jammin' With KC is a fitting tribute not only to Charlie Parker and Kansas City but also to the global reach of jazz music. Ostrowski's talent is impressive, and his passion and enthusiasm for jazz comes across strongly on this release.

Track Listing

Burnt Ends; Burnt Ends Welcome to Kansas City; Sketches of Missouri; Donna Lee; Chiefs Kingdom; Dog's Ducks; Once in Omaha; Confirmation; Burnt Ends Key.

Personnel

Sylwester Ostrowski: saxophone; Bobby Watson: saxophone, alto; Logan Richardson: saxophone; Keyon Harrold: trumpet; Eric Allen: drums; Dominique Sanders: bass; Kasia Pietrzko: piano; Maciej Kądziela: saxophone; Jakub Mizeracki: guitar; Tomasz Chyła: violin; Kacper Smoliński: harmonica; The Royal Chief: voice / vocals; Laura Taglialatela: voice / vocals; Daniel Hogans: drums.

Album information

Title: Jammin' With KC | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Agora Records

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