The relationship of Polish jazz to that country's well known art poster movement is a unique blending of music and art in a political context. Stalin's repressive policies banned jazz by 1950 and the music entered the 'catacombs', serving as a dissident voice for freedom; conversely, poster art was supported and flourished. With the wane of Soviet influence in the mid '50s, jazz reemerged as permissible and the two shared an unparalleled camaraderie for the ensuing 30 years. While the fall of Communism and a freer press resulted in jazz poster art receding in importance, this month's exhibition of classic Polish poster art in NYC is the perfect opportunity also to take a look at a quartet of releases reflective of Poland's active jazz scene.
Jazz 56 presents the first Sopot Jazz Festival, the defining moment in what was to be a Polish jazz resurgence. Held 50 years ago, it includes a performance by the late pianist/patriarch of modern Polish jazz, Krzysztof Komeda. Here, Komeda fronts a nascent version of Sekstet Komedy with vibes and exuberant baritone-sax of Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski. CD1 is devoted entirely to Sekstet Komedy and consists primarily of standards but musically portends genius. CD2 is highlighted by Melomani (Music Lovers), the premiere band of the early underground and led by reedman Jerzy Matuszkiewicz. Melomani plays a series of standards with enthusiasm exceeded only by their fans' obvious adoration. CD3 continues this approach with a potpourri of bands that tackle dixieland, swing, blues and trad. It is however, the historical circumstance - when jazz was a high energy outlet for the creativity of a culturally repressed society - that makes this collection exceptional.
Flutist/composer Krzysztof Popek was a major figure in the "Young Power movement of the '80s. House of Jade partners him with an American rhythm section that includes pianist Randy Porter, bassist David Friesen and drummer Victor Lewis. Popek is a precise player with beautiful technique and he shares the spotlight with trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik. One is immediately struck by the lovely trumpet/flute voicings against the punch of this first-rate rhythm section. Popek's quintet's knack for reinventing pieces from a diverse group of composers - Abdullah Ibrahim, Wayne Shorter, Randy Weston and Ellington - makes this session gel.
Top instrumentalists like Popek are an integral part of Polish jazz and Busem po São Paulo features three such artists providing the framework for a power tenor trio. Tenorist Adam Pieroñczyk shines, as bassist Robert Kubiszyn and drummer Krzysztof Dziedzic lay down a frenetic rhythm that permeates this sound. With an exciting blend of flat out blowin', as on the title's thrilling tenoric tour of São Paulo and the warmth that permeates "Touched by Tupinamba and the soulful "Rynek 28 , Pieroñczyk showcases his horn's strength. Moments like the vocally percussive "U-Au-Au-Aa , bopper "Von Freeman (bpsp 2) , free formish "Braniewo and the Indian inspired "Boubker's© are delightful coloration to a potent set.
A heady mix of electronica and acoustic make the offering from vibraphonist Dominik Bukowski & Projektor an appealing postmodern sound excursion. With Wojciech Staroniewicz (tenor) and Lukasz Poprawski (alto), the group inhabits a three-dimensional space loosely defined by exotica, mainstream and the avant-garde. Hubert Zemler (drums) and Piotr Lemanczyk (bass) meld well with Pawel Grabowski's electronics. The saxophones begin as one voice then strike out individualistically on the soothing "Mantra , are plaintively modal generating the spacious feeling of "Otwarte and are boppishly assertive on the muscular "Asertywnosc 11 . However, Bukowski's tonal clarity and touch set this session apart. His elegant subdued chords define the emerald, jade and aquamarine in "Trzy Kolory: Zielony and ice the feeling of "Chill Out Zone . "Konkluzja is a fitting multi-genre communal conclusion.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: CD 1: Signal and Introduction by master of ceremony Leopold Tyrmand; The Champ; Love Me or Leave Me; Memory of Bach; Take the A Train; Other One Blues; Django; Kotek w chmurach (Gladys); Lover Come Back to Me; Blues in the Closet. CD 2: Intro by master of ceremony Leopold Tyrmand; Basin Street Blues; Dallas Blues; Moonglow; Jump Around the Clock; Lullaby; Chet Baker Stomp; Sweet Georgia Brown; What Am I Here For; Intro by anonymous master of ceremony; Tenor Madness; Line for Lyons; Greatest There Is; Yesterdays; Tea for Two; Pamietasz Capri (Do You Remember Capri); Drum Boogie. CD 3: Intro by master of ceremony Leopold Tyrmand; Muskrat Ramble; C Jam Blues; St. Louis Blues; Drum Boogie; Zagraj na bandzo (Hey, Mr. Banjo); Be Bop Stomp; Kukurydza (Corn); Blue Skies; Twelve Street Rag; Harlem Nocturne; Drum Rhapsody; Black and Blue; Flamingo; Down by the Riverside; Swanee River.
Personnel: CD 1: Komeda Sextet: Krzysztof Komeda: leader, piano; Jerzy Milian: vibes; Stanislaw Pludra: alto sax; Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski: clarinet, bass clarinet; Jozef Stolarz: bass; Jan Zylber: drums. CD 2: Tracks 2-9; Melomani: Jerzy Dudus Matuszkiewicz: leader, tenor sax, clarinet, soprano sax; Jeanne Johnstone: vocal; Andrzej Idon Wojciechowski: trumpet; Alojzy Thomys: alto sax, banjo; Andrzej Trzaskowski: piano; Witold Kujawski: bass; Witold Dentox Sobocinski: drums. Tracks 11-17: Andrzej Kurylewicz Jazz Band: Andrzej Kurylewicz: leader, piano; Wanda Warska: vocal; Janusz Bednarczyk: trumpet; Zbigniew Gadomski: trombone; Leslaw Lic: clarinet; Jerzy Tatarak: tenor sax, clarinet; Ryszard Garbien: bass; Ryszard Szumlicz: drums. CD 3: Tracks 2-3: Drazek i Pieciu: Drazek Kalwinski: leader, piano; Jerzy Kalinowski: trumpet; Zdzislaw Richter: tenor sax, clarinet; Wlodzimierz Wasio: trombone; Stanislaw Otalega: bass; Wieslaw Schonbrun: drums. Tracks 4-6: Zygmunt Wichary Band: Zygmunt Wichary - leader, piano; Elizabeth Charles - vocal; Norbert Jarczok - tenor sax, clarinet; Konrad Jargon - trombone; Rudolf Malcherowicz: trumpet; Franciszek Okon: bass, guitar; Bronislaw Gesikowski: guitar, bass; Michal Niemira: drums. Tracks 7-8: Jerzy Grzewinski Band: Jerzy Grzewinski: leader, trombone; Janusz Hojan: trumpet; Stanislaw Pludra: alto sax; Aleksander Makarewicz: banjo; Krzysztof Trzcinski: piano; Ryszard Czaplicki: bass; Zbigniew Smolarek: drums. Tracks 9-10: Kamil Hala Band: Kamila Hala: leader, piano; Blanka Klenova: vocal; Vladimir Glozar: alto sax; Slavomir Horak: trumpet; Jaroslaw Kopacek tenor sax; Miroslav Kozeluch: baritone sax; Franciszek Kryka: baritone sax; Josef Matas: bass; Ivo Kieslich: drums. Tracks 11-12: Pawel Gruenspan Band: Pawel Gruenspan: leader, piano; Marian Plozinski: alto sax, clarinet Stanislaw Przybylski: tenor sax, clarinet; Eugeniusz Szymecki: trombone; Jerzy Nowak: trumpet, guitar; Tadeusz Kmite: trombone, bass; Czeslaw Cupak: drums. Tracks 13-14: Pinokio: Wladyslaw Sosnowski: leader, tenor sax; Bogdan Syczynski: cornet; Ireneusz Szymanowski: clarinet; Simon Geber: guitar, banjo; Rajmund Potyka: bass; Adam Lapinski: drums. Tracks 15-16: The Dave Burman Jazz Group: Dave Burman: leader, trumpet, cornet, piano; Len Jakob: alto sax, clarinet; Graham Stewart: trombone; Collin Thompson: clarinet; Allan Teulon: piano; Jim Forey: guitar; Pete Rutter: bass; Laurie Chescoe: drums.
House of Jade
Tracks: Calypso Minor; House of Jade; Hi-fly; Dragon; June Bug; Lost in Meditation; Each one (must) Teach one.
Personnel: Krzysztof Popek: alto flute; Piotr Wojtasik: trumpet; Randy Porter: piano; David Friesen: bass; Victor Lewis: drums.
Busem po São Paulo
Tracks: Touched by Tupinamba; Busem po São Paulo; U-Au-Au-Aa; Rynek 28; Von Freeman (bpsp 2); Garota de Cracovia; Boubker's©; Braniewo; Desmodus Rotundus; My Cocktailbar.
Personnel: Adam Pieroñczyk: tenor, soprano and alto saxophones, zoucra, voice; Robert Kubiszyn: double bass, e-bass, voice; Krzysztof Dziedzic: drums, percussion, voice; Guello: pandeiro, udu, berimbau, caxixi, agogo (tracks 1, 6); Anna Serafiñska: vocal (track 9).
Dominik Bukowski & Projektor
Tracks: Psyche; Tango Olivio; Mantra; Otwarte; Asertywnos' 11; Trzy Kolory: Zielony; Chill Out Zone; Konkluzja; Taxi Story.
Personnel: Dominik Bukowski: vibraphone; Wojciech Staroniewicz: tenor saxophone; Åukasz Poprawski: alto saxophone; Piotr LemaÅ„czyk: acoustic bass; Hubert Zemler: drums; PaweÅ‚ Grabowski: sampler, live electronics.