All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

7

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

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Outsidethebox CD/LP/Track Review
Outsidethebox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 16, 2018
Read There Are Stars In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review
There Are Stars In Brooklyn
by James Fleming
Published: October 16, 2018
Read The Seasons of Being CD/LP/Track Review
The Seasons of Being
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 16, 2018
Read Passages CD/LP/Track Review
Passages
by Don Phipps
Published: October 16, 2018
Read Picture in Black and White CD/LP/Track Review
Picture in Black and White
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 15, 2018
Read Change In The Air CD/LP/Track Review
Change In The Air
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 15, 2018
Read "The Subject Tonight Is Love" CD/LP/Track Review The Subject Tonight Is Love
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 31, 2018
Read "Legacy: Neil Slater at North Texas" CD/LP/Track Review Legacy: Neil Slater at North Texas
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 30, 2017
Read "A History Of Nothing" CD/LP/Track Review A History Of Nothing
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 21, 2018
Read "Love & Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Love & Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2018
Read "Hawthorne" CD/LP/Track Review Hawthorne
by Don Phipps
Published: August 23, 2018