Thursday, July 26, 2018

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski - 1972 - Sweet Beat

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski 
Sweet Beat

01. Sweet Beat
02. Tata Lata
03. Bitwa O Grzede
04. Tylko Spokoj
05. Jesien
06. 300 Kilometrow Przed Nami
07. Stopniowanie
08. Dziewczyna Tanczaca
09. Coz Ci To Ja Uczynilem
10. Nie Pozaluje Pan
11. W Kawiarence "Sultan"

Bass – Bronislaw Suchanek
Drums – Janusz Stefanski
Organ, Accordion – Benon Hardy
Percussion – Józef Gawrych
Piano, Organ, Harpsichord – Wlodzimierz Nahorny
Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute – Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski
Trumpet – Janusz Hojan

Recorded February 1972, Polskie Nagrania studio, Warszawa

This record was born in the winter. For two nights, on the 7th and 8th of February, 1972, the glass partition in the Polskie Nagrania studio stood between two groups of musicians. On one side the rhythm section: Wlodzimierz Nahorny, Bronislaw Suchanek, drummers Janusz Stefanski and Jozef Gawrych, and ... "Ptaszyn" Wroblewski; on the other, thirty strings from the National Philharmonic. This time, Ptaszyn turned the leadership over to Zygmnunt Mahlik, director of the Poznanska 
Pietnastka Radiowa (Poznan Radio's Fifteen Orchestra) with which he had collaborated for fifteen years.
This record is, above all, a showcase for Wroblewski's arranging skill. As he, himself, admits, this kind of work suits him  best. "I can't imagine life without strings and French horns", he says. An awareness of the fact that these instruments are a distinctive feature of "sweet music", makes us realize just how much this music means to Wroblewski - the jazzman.
He had wanted to make this record for a long time. However, the final conception was born during the production of another album of "sweet music": his friend Wlodzimierz Nahorny's "Her Portrait", on which Ptaszyn led the band, and to which he contributed some of his arrangements.

A couple of years after they collaborated on the first Polish Easy Jazz album ("Jej Portret"), saxophonist / composer / arranger / bandleader Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski and saxophonist / keyboardist / composer Wlodzimierz Nahorny meet again on this, another Easy Jazz recording, this time of the Jazz & Strings variety. This time however, Wroblewski is the primary soloist, fronting a wonderful quintet which includes Nahorny on keyboards, bassist Bronislaw Suchanek, drummer Janusz Stefanski and percussionist Jozef Gawrych. The quintet is accompanied by an expanded string section, conducted by Zygmunt Mahlik.

The album includes eleven original compositions, eight by Wroblewski and three by Jerzy Wasowski (a wonderful composer of cabaret songs). Wroblewski also wrote all the elaborate arrangements. Although, as intended, the orchestral arrangements are indeed Easy Jazz, the wonderful saxophone solos are anything, but easy, often being quite complex and even slightly Free Form, sometimes in complete contrast to the melodic background. However the overall atmosphere of this album is relaxed and focuses on delivering a musical experience, which can be enjoyed by a variety of listeners, including those who don't listen to Jazz on a regular basis.

Regardless of the concept behind this music, it is very apparent that neither Wroblewski nor any of his colleagues take this project lightly and the level of execution is simply perfect, as are the compositions. Wonderfully melodic, yet far from being banal, these melodies stand the test of time marvelously and sound completely relevant also today. The overall project might sound a bit dated, but that is also its charm, rising waves of nostalgia for times long gone.

This superb reissue presents exceptional remastered sound quality and fourteen bonus tracks, previously unreleased, which demonstrate other collaborations between Wroblewski and the Polish Radio string ensemble between 1967 and 1971. Wroblewski composed all of these tracks, with the exception of one standard. These recordings are a wonderful window into the "behind the scenes" of the Polish Jazz scene at the time, where experimentation and individualism might have bees suppressed by State censorship, but never stopped the protagonist from trying.

Sadly neglected and almost forgotten over the years, this album truly deserves a second life and GAD Records, as usual, made the right decision to reissue it, making a splendid job as always. I love this stuff!