All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

6

Variospheres: Live in Solothurn

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
When Tomasz Stanko's first classic quintet came to the natural end of its road in 1973, with all its members looking for new directions in music, violinist Zbigniew Seifert embarked on a solo career that saw him record a number of albums with very different line-ups. In fact, bar a brief period at the end of the 1960s, Seifert never led a steady group for any length of time. This lack of a strong and consistent vehicle may explain why he was, for many years after his death in 1979, a largely unknown figure, both in his native Poland and, to a lesser degree, abroad.

The short-lived quartet Variospheres, recorded here at International Swiss Jazz Days in January 1976, is perhaps indicative of the sort of dynamic band that Seifert was searching for to interpret his striking compositions.

The energized, fourteen-minute, untitled, opening track says everything about Seifert's musical philosophy at that time. Following a breath-taking violin introduction from Seifert that's both lyrical and yearning, Michel Herr's feverish bass lines, former Stanko-band mate Janusz Stefanski's propulsive, highly animated kit work and pianist Hans Hartmann's free-spirited roaming establish a group mode that hints strongly at the influence on Seifert of John Coltrane and Charles Lloyd's seminal 1960s quartets. Over fast-walking bass and Stefanski's cymbal-heavy drive, Hartmann's McCoy Tyner-esque solo is followed by an extraordinarily fast and articulate riposte from Seifert—often dubbed the Coltrane of the violin and for good reason.

The modal jazz that stirred Seifert's passion is heard to equally dramatic effect on the epic "Man of the Light." Hartmann maintains, with slight deviations, a single-note vamp that casts a hypnotic spell as Seifert and Herr stretch out. Here, Seifert demonstrates his innate lyricism even at blistering pace, his soaring improvisation as seductive as bird song. Hartmann's bass ostinato is a little high in the mix on "Way to Oasis"—in general the quality of this recording is less than perfect—but that doesn't detract from stellar solos from Seifert on electric violin and Herr on electric piano, with Stefanski's ever-present fire encouraging both. Structurally, it's one of Seifert's simplest tunes, built upon rising-falling waves of intensity, and carried by the virtuosity and invention of the leader.

The pace eases off a tad, and with it the intensity, on Herr's extended composition "The Sound of Gold"—an even-tempered arrangement that frames individual forays of contrasting hue from Seifert, Hartmann and Herr. The change in tempo and atmosphere, in an otherwise highly-charged concert, is highly effective.

Two classic Seifert compositions round out the set; "Turbulent Plover," another high-tempo modal workout, fuelled by Stefanski and Hartmann's frenetic rhythms, features terrific solos from Herr on acoustic piano—unfortunately low in the mix—and Seifert, whose prolonged, dizzying attack precedes a feature spot for the hard-working Stefanski; "On the Farm" begins with another mesmerizing, unaccompanied outing from Seifert, this time more folksy in flavour, before he strikes up the memorable head. Herr's electric piano solo is underpinned for the first time by comping from Seifert, who in turn picks up where he left off, switching from acoustic to electric violin to ignite this feisty jazz-fusion workout.

Listening to Seifert's breathless improvisations with Variospheres it's easy to forget that, though classically trained, he'd only taken up jazz violin five years previously, having played saxophone up to that point. Variospheres could well have provided Seifert with the necessary stimulus to experiment further and expand his language, but sadly the quartet's 1976 tour of Germany and Switzerland was to be its first and last hurrah. This electrifying concert, for all the technical imperfections in the recording quality, serves as a fine testament to Seifert's extraordinary talent

Track Listing: Unidentified piece; Man of the Light; Way to oasis; The Sound of Gold; Turbulent Plover; On the Farm.

Personnel: Zbigniew Seifert: violin; Michel Herr: piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano; Hans Hartmann: bass; Janusz Stefanski: drums.

Title: Live in Solothurn | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Zbigniew Seifert Foundation

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Book Reviews
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Variospheres: Live in Solothurn

Variospheres: Live in...

Zbigniew Seifert Foundation
2017

buy
Live in Solothurn

Live in Solothurn

Zbigniew Seifert Foundation
2017

buy
Solo Violin

Solo Violin

Zbigniew Seifert Foundation
2017

buy
Nora

Nora

GAD Records
2010

buy
Man of the Light

Man of the Light

Promising Music/MPS
2010

buy
 

Solo Violin

EMI Classics
2008

buy

Related Articles

Read Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road CD/LP/Track Review
Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018
Read 8 Songs CD/LP/Track Review
8 Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Facing Dragons CD/LP/Track Review
Facing Dragons
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read "Hesitantly Pleasant" CD/LP/Track Review Hesitantly Pleasant
by John Sharpe
Published: November 12, 2017
Read "Awareness" CD/LP/Track Review Awareness
by Chris May
Published: August 4, 2018
Read "Liberation Narratives" CD/LP/Track Review Liberation Narratives
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 31, 2017
Read "Simiskina" CD/LP/Track Review Simiskina
by John Sharpe
Published: December 26, 2017
Read "Light in the Ring: The Ali Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Light in the Ring: The Ali Suite
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: June 7, 2018
Read "Tokyo 1975" CD/LP/Track Review Tokyo 1975
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 11, 2018