8

Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet: Polka (Worldwide Deluxe Edition)

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz in Poland has a courageous and artistically distinguished history—first in cultural opposition to Soviet-era dictatorship, later as a celebration of national and personal freedoms. Despite this, most Polish musicians remain little known beyond their own borders. The violinist Michal Urbaniak and the late pianist Krzysztof Komeda and trumpeter Tomasz Stanko are among a tiny handful who have acquired bigtime international profiles. On the strength of Polka (Worldwide Deluxe Edition), bassist, composer and bandleader Wojtek Mazolewski deserves to join their number. The album is a total stonking blinder and it almost certainly deserves five stars rather than the four and a half which caution dictates.

As the subtitle suggests, this is not Polka's first release. It originally came out on Agora in 2014, with a slightly abbreviated version following on Mystic Production in 2015. Feted in Poland, the album stayed under the radar practically everywhere else. The Worldwide Deluxe Edition is an attempt to correct that. The disc comprises most of the material from the Agora edition, remastered, with four bonus tracks—the three "London" titles and "Theme De Yoyo"—that were recorded two years later and released as an EP on Lanquidity in 2017.

The 2014 tracks are stunningly beautiful, the 2017 ones utterly sublime. From the melodicism of "Paris" and "Bangkok," through the throbbing, techno-referenced "Berlin," and on to the dirty rocking funk/free improv collision of the "London" suite and the James Brown's horn section-meets-Albert Ayler and Donald Ayler "Theme De Yoyo," Polka (Worldwide Deluxe Edition) is pure pleasure. And not to forget "Sunday" either, a masterclass in how build drama and tension with just five musicians and no discernible overdubs.

Great tunes, infectious beats and rhythms, concise solos—around half the playing time is through-composed—striking ostinatos, lots of call and response and counterpoint in the arrangements, an atmosphere of passion and joie de vivre, and respect for tradition combined with a future-facing vibe. What more could you ask for? An outstanding band? You have one. Pianist Joanna Duda is a singular soloist, and that is not to belittle the on-point contributions of her colleagues Oskar Stenmark on trumpet and Marek Pospieszalski on tenor saxophone. Duda also composed two tunes, "Grochów" and "Kraków." Apart from the collectively composed "Berlin," all the other tunes were written by Mazolewski, except "Theme De Yoyo," which was composed by the Art Ensemble Of Chicago. There is not a dud moment during the entire 52 minute playing time.

That rare thing, Polka (Worldwide Deluxe Edition) is an album that genuinely merits the much overused description "masterpiece."

Track Listing: Roma; Grochów; Punk-T Gdańsk; Polka; Paris; Berlin: London (Intro); London (Part 1); London (Part 2); Sunday; Bangkok; Kraków; Theme De Yoyo.

Personnel: Oskar Török: trumpet; Marek Pospieszalski: tenor saxophone; Joanna Duda: acoustic piano, electric piano (7-9, 13); Wojtek Mazolewski: double bass; Michał Bryndal: drums; Qba Janicki: drums.

Title: Polka (Worldwide Deluxe Edition) | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Whirlwind Recordings Ltd

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Live at I.C.U.U. Album Reviews
Live at I.C.U.U.
By Karl Ackermann
June 16, 2019
Read 789 Miles Album Reviews
789 Miles
By David A. Orthmann
June 16, 2019
Read Follow Me Album Reviews
Follow Me
By Roger Farbey
June 16, 2019
Read You Get What You Give Album Reviews
You Get What You Give
By Ljubinko Zivkovic
June 16, 2019
Read Play The Bird And The Bee Album Reviews
Play The Bird And The Bee
By Dan Bilawsky
June 15, 2019
Read Appleblueseagreen Album Reviews
Appleblueseagreen
By Dan McClenaghan
June 15, 2019
Read The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings Album Reviews
The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings
By Doug Collette
June 15, 2019