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Bartosz Hadala Group: The Runner Up

Paul J. Youngman By

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Bartosz Hadala is a name of which more people should be made aware. Based in Poland, he is a world-class pianist and a contemporary composer with serious jazz chops. His debut, The Runner Up—a winner in every way—finds him in superb company, with some top names in jazz. Ten solid, fresh compositions—all original tunes, with the exception of Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night In Tunisia"—feature excellent performances by all parties, most of the songs performed by a septet. Up front, the tag team of saxophonist Ada Rovatti and trumpeter Randy Brecker cook on every feature, but the playing is superb all around.

Hadala asserts a strong pianist presence instantly on the opener, "Salt Water," a deep composition with a strong melody that flows smoothly; a very buoyant tune. The piano lifts the melody up with bright streams of runs, as if breaking across a windswept seashore. The band lays back, allowing the piano to guide the rhythmic ebb and flow, with the occasional wave of sound from trumpet or sax adding to the intense dynamic.

The beauty of this album is in its flow one song to the next, a gorgeous audio journey that paints pictures of serenity, spontaneity and beauty. After the serene "Salt Water," the spontaneity of "The One Call Behind" entices, followed by the beauty of tunes such as "Steve Wonders Why" and "A Sunday Walk." Ballads that feature a choppy piano styling are interspersed with beautiful melodies, and rainbow-colored chords shower individual notes down with joie de vivre.

The Runner Up is a strong debut for Bartosz Hadala. The inclusion of a powerful front line in trumpeter Brecker and saxophonist Rovatti, along with the ever- present and tasteful drumming of Antonio Sanchez and inspirational bass playing from both Noriko Ueda and Dave Anderson, make this one of the year's best records.

Track Listing: Salt Water, The One Call Behind, Another You, The B-Files, A Night In Tunisia, Steve Wonders Why, Madame, The Runner Up, A Sunday Walk, Any Way

Personnel: Bartosz Hadala: piano; Ada Rovatti: saxophone; Randy Brecker: trumpet; Noriko Ueda: acoustic bass; Dave Anderson:electric bass; Kevin Garcia: percussion; Antonio Sanchez:drums.

Title: The Runner Up | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Piloo Records and Productions LLC

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