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Irek Wojtczak & The Fonda-Stevens Group: Wojtczak NY Connection

C. Michael Bailey By

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Jazz from the edge of Eastern Europe. Wojtczak NY Connection is very much and East meets West jazz endeavor. Irek Wojtczak is a Polish saxophonist, conservatory trained and stage proven. For the Wojtczak NY Connection, Wojtczak joins the New York City-based Fonda/Stevens Group (bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Michael Stevens ) for an internationally-flavored eutectoid. The results are a driving brand of jazz seasoned with Polish folk music, hard bop, and adult contemporary styling.

Drummer Harvey Sorgen is offered the first potent solo work out on "Ale Zagrajze Mi Kowola." The horns play and amped-up Charles Mingus riff with a comet momentum, concluding in an entropic coda. Cztery Mile Za Warszawa is clearly a Polish folk melody that is transformed into a liturgy piece crossed with a New Orleans Funeral March. Trumpeter Herb Robertson plays plaintively in a style made familiar by another Polish musician, Tomasz Stanko. Wojtczak continues this plaintive wail on tenor saxophone, harmonically exploring that territory defined by the folk song.

Wojtczak includes older styles in his performance, incorporating polka into two pieces, "Pod Gazem" and "Kiej Jo Ide W Pole." However, if the listener is looking for the umpah variety, he or she will be disappointed. This is highly exploratory music plunging a knife deep into the heart of the avant-garde. There are major echoes of Ornette Coleman's early Atlantic sides that serve as a new jumping off point for yet another generation of young musicians wishing to push the music even further.

Track Listing: Ale Zagrajze Mi Kowola; Cztery Mile Za Warszawa; Leczycki; Pod Gazem; Kiej Jo Ide W Pole; Weselny; Oj Stary; Jo se Stary; Ogrywka.

Personnel: Irek Wojtczak: soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet; Herb Robertson: trumpet; Michael Stevens: piano; Joe Fonda: bass; Harvey Sorgen: drums.

Title: Wojtczak NY Connection | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced

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