Thursday, July 26, 2018

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski Quartet - 1978 - Flyin' Lady

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski Quartet
Flyin' Lady

01. Pastuszek Stomp 6:44
02. Grzmot Nad Ranem / Morning Thunder 8:02
03. Bossa Nostra 5:35
04. Pani Ptakowa / Flyin' Lady 8:15
05. Dlaczego Malpa... / Why The Monkey... 7:52
06. Klichec Chechciol Dana 3:53

Bass – Witold Szczurek
Drums – Andrzej Dabrowski
Guitar – Marek Blizinski
Tenor Saxophone – Jan "Ptaszyn" Wróblewski

Recorded in Warsaw, August 1978

This is an excellent album by Polish veteran Jazz saxophonist / composer / arranger / bandleader Jan "Ptaszyn" Wroblewski. One of the great pioneers of the Polish Jazz movement since the 1950s, Wroblewski remained very active on the local scene in many capacities, which included leading his own ensembles, directing the Polish Radio Jazz Studio Orchestra and teaching generations of Polish Jazz musicians. Wroblewski always firmly stood for the Jazz tradition, keeping the mainstream Jazz in Poland on a very high level. He was rarely associated with the Polish Jazz modernists and avoided Free Jazz excursions, even when these were fashionable. Nevertheless his unique and innovative approach to Jazz composition and virtuosic ability as a player make his very extensive legacy an infinite source of superb Jazz moments. This album presents six original compositions by Wroblewski, superbly performed by a quartet, which includes guitarist Marek Blizinski, bassist Witold Szczurek and drummer Andrzej Dabrowski. Blizinski should be noted as one of the greatest Polish guitarists and perhaps the Jazziest one, who avoided getting into Fusion at all costs, keeping his sound in the Wes Montgomery / Barney Kessel tradition. Altogether this is a great example of the versatility of the Polish Jazz scene and its excellence, regardless of the specific sub-genre in question. Highly recommended!

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski - 1976 - Skleroptak

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski 

01. Skleroptak 10:30
02. Strzez Sie Szczezui 7:30
03. Punktowiec 7:35
04. Szpunk 8:30

Double Bass – Nick Kletchkowsky
Guitar – Freddy Sunder
Keyboards – Bob Porter
Percussion – Van de Walle, Bruno Castelucci
Piano – Tony Bauwens
Saxophone – Eddy De Vos, Guy Dossche, Jose Paessens, Vic Ingleveld
Saxophone [Tenor] – Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski
Trombone – Eddy Verdonck, Frans Van Dijck, Paul Bourdiandhy
Trumpet – Edmond Harnie, Janot Morales, Nick Fisette
Vibraphone, Bongos – Sadi

Recorded 10 & 11 March 1976 at BRT Studio, Brussels, Belgium.

The material presented on this album was recorded in Belgium but presents the great veteran Polish Jazz saxophonist / composer / arranger / bandleader Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski, who contributed his beautiful compositions and arrangements and plays as the principal soloist. He is accompanied by the Belgian (Radio & TV) BRT Jazz Orchestra, directed by Etienne Verschuerena, which includes many wonderful players, including internationally known keyboardist Bob Porter and drummer Bruno Castelucci.

Wroblewski, who was also the director of the Polish Radio Jazz Studio Orchestra during the years 1968-1978, recorded these compositions earlier with that orchestra, but these new renditions sound quite different from the earlier versions, being more "polished" and "rounded". The Polish orchestra was in fact a collection of top soloist whereas the Belgian orchestra is a full-fledged professional Big Band, which is much more about the overall band sound than individual solo spots. As a result the music captured here is a beautiful example of European Big Band sound, which is quite different from the American counterparts.

Overall this is a splendid Big Band album playing excellent music, interesting arrangements and featuring some great solo spots. Although pretty mainstream, this is elegant music, full of European aesthetics, which is completely ageless and sounds now every bit as great when it did at the time of its release. Big Band enthusiasts should have a field day with this excellent piece of music, which is again back in circulation.

Side Note: The Poljazz label, which originally released this album, was active for 20 years (between 1972 and 1991) and was owned by the Polish Jazz Society. Considering the fact that the music industry in the Socialist State was centralized and totally controlled, with just one State owned music company producing all the albums, the possibilities to record and release Jazz albums were extremely limited. Poljazz was conceived and founded in order to allow for many more Jazz (and other) albums to be released independently from the State owned Polskie Nagrania / Muza and as such revolutionized the music industry at the time, being the only such enterprise in Eastern Europe. The Polish label Anex reissued many of the original Poljazz albums on CD, bringing this fabulous music back to life.

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski & Wojciech Karolak - 1973 - Mainstream

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski & Wojciech Karolak

01. I Hear Music 7:23
02. My Favourite Things 5:53
03. Dookola Wojtek 5:47
04. Walkin' 6:10
05. I Got It Bad 6:05
06. It Could Happen To You 8:51

Drums – Czeslaw Bartkowski
Guitar – Marek Blizinski
Organ – Wojciech Karolak
Tenor Saxophone – Jan "Ptaszyn" Wróblewski

Recorded 31 May, 24 October 1973 in Polish Radio, Warsaw

This album presents a meeting between two Polish Jazz veterans: saxophonist / composer Jan "Ptaszyn" Wroblewski and keyboardist Wojciech Karolak. The two cooperated in various Jazz ensembles since the late 1950s and until mid 1960s and this album marks their reunion in the studio after several years of not playing together due to Karolak's residence in Sweden in the late 1960s / early 1970s. The two are joined by another veteran, drummer Czeslaw Bartkowski, and excellent guitarist Marek Blizinski and together they play six tunes, five of which are standards and one id a Wroblewski original. Karolak plays the Hammond Organ, a sound that would be associated with him for his entire future career, and his passion fro that instrument is clearly evident here. Wroblewski and Blizinski play fire solos and Bartkowski drives the quartet forward at all times. Although typically mainstream, this is still great Jazz, performed with passion and considerable talent, which should be enjoyable to all Jazz connoisseurs. Recommended!

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski - 1973 - Sprzedawcy Glonow

Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski 
Sprzedawcy Glonow

01. Sprzedaz Glonów (Seaweed Sale) 6:18
02. Bez Wyciszenia (No Fade Out) 6:04
03. Cytat Z Samego Siebie (Quotation From Myself) 9:09
04. Wyznacznik Pierwszy (Determinant One) 9:50
05. Jan Szpargatol Mahawisnia 6:26
06. Magma 5:18

Alto Saxophone, Flute – Wlodzimierz Nahorny (tracks: A1 to B3)
Alto Saxophone, Flute – Zbigniew Namyslowski (tracks: A1 to B3)
Alto Saxophone, Violin – Zbigniew Seifert (tracks: A2, A3, B3)
Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet – Waldemar Kurpinski (tracks: A1, A3 to B3)
Bass – Bronislaw Suchanek (tracks: A3, B2, B3)
Bass – Pawel Jarzebski (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2)
Drums – Czeslaw Bartkowski (tracks: A1, B1)
Drums – Janusz Stefanski (tracks: A2, A3, B2, B3)
Electric Piano [Fender] – Adam Makowicz (tracks: B1)
French Horn – Dariusz Filiochowski (tracks: A1, A3, B2, B3)
French Horn – Dariusz Szewczyk (tracks: B1)
Guitar – Marek Blizinski (tracks: A1, B1, B2)
Organ [Hammond] – Wojciech Karolak (tracks: A1, B2)
Percussion – Czeslaw Bartkowski (tracks: B2)
Percussion – Kazimierz Jonkisz (tracks: A1, A3 to B3)
Piano – Andrzej Trzaskowski (tracks: B3)
Soprano Saxophone, Violin – Michal Urbaniak (tracks: A1, A2)
Tenor Saxophone – Jan "Ptaszyn" Wróblewski (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B3)
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Clarinet, Bass Clarinet – Tomasz Szukalski (tracks: A1, A3 to B3)
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Janusz Muniak (tracks: A2, A3, B2, B3)
Trombone – Andrzej Brzeski (tracks: A1 to B1, B3)
Trombone – Andrzej Piela (tracks: A2, A3, B2, B3)
Trombone – Jan Jarczyk (tracks: A1, B1, B2)
Trombone – Stanislaw Cieslak (tracks: A1 to B3)
Trumpet – Bogdan Dembek (tracks: A1, A3 to B3)
Trumpet – Boguslaw Skawina (tracks: A2)
Trumpet – Józef Grabarski (tracks: A1)
Trumpet – Laco Deczi (tracks: B2)
Trumpet – Stanislaw Mizeracki (tracks: A1 to B1, B3)
Trumpet – Tomasz Stanko (tracks: A2 to B1, B3)
Tuba – Zdzislaw Piernik (tracks: A2, A3, B2, B3)

Recorded at Polish Radio.
Tracks recorded on:
A1 - 30th May 1973
A2 - 3rd February 1971
A3 - 10th February 1973
B1 - 12th April 1973
B2 - 21st October 1973
B3 - 8th February 1973

This relatively little known brilliant album presents Polish Jazz saxophonist / composer / arranger / bandleader Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski mainly in the capacity as the director of the Polish Radio Jazz Orchestra, a superb collection of top musicians, which functioned as a catalyst and incubator to generations of Polish Jazz musicians as well as a first rate workshop and recording platform. Wroblewski, one of Polish Jazz veterans and Godfathers, led the orchestra for many years with great success and these recordings prove how great it really was. He also composed three of the six extended compositions included here with the other three composed by Tomasz Stanko, Zbigniew Namyslowski and Andrzej Trzaskowski each contributing one composition. The arrangements are absolutely brilliant as are the performances, with the orchestra fronted as such first rate soloists like Stanko, Namyslowski, Michal Urbaniak (playing sax on one track and violin on another), Tomasz Szukalski, Adam Makowicz, Marek Blizinski, Wojciech Karolak, Zbigniew Seifert and of course Wroblewski himself, in short the crème de la crème of the Polish Jazz scene at the time. The music is very modern and even borders on Free at times, presenting very rare examples of Jazz orchestra accompanying a freely improvising soloist. This album is an absolute must to all Polish Jazz lovers and in retrospect is of the best Polish Jazz albums ever recorded. Grab it!

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!

Czeslaw Bartkowski - 1976 - Drums Dream

Czeslaw Bartkowski
Drums Dream

01. Drums Dream [2:02]
02. Przejsciowka / Bridge-Passage [3:28]
03. FAO [8:09]
04. Rozmowa Z Dzwonem / Conversation With A Bell [1:51]
05. Druga Swobodna Etiuda / The Second Free Etude [2:58]
06. Rozmowa Ze Sliwka Bez Pestek / Conversation With A Pipless Plum [2:07]
07. Good Times, Bad Times [8:04]
08. Seven For Five [7:18]
09. Kolysanka Dla Malutkich Chinczykow / Lullaby For Tiny Chinamen [4:07]

Polish Jazz vol. 50
Recorded at 1974-1975

Czeslaw Bartkowski - drums, percussion
Tomasz Stanko - trumpet
Tomasz Szukalski - soprano saxophone
Adam Makowicz - electric piano
Wojciech Karolak - keyboards

Studio Jazzowe PR Orchestra conducted by Jan 'Ptaszyn' Wroblewski

A drum-heavy set from Polish percussionist Czeslaw Bartkowski – mostly solo on most tracks, but with occasional accompaniment on trumpet, electric piano, and soprano sax on a few of the fuller numbers – plus some great funky big band arrangements at the end! The sound is often spare and moody, but also melodic – similar to some of Max Roach's solo percussion efforts – in that Bartkowski isn't too concerned with going too far out, or getting too free – just working drums and percussion within new modes in jazz! The last few tracks on the album flesh out the sound with fuller orchestrations from Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski – in a way that's almost funky at times 

Great album! Worth the rediscovery.

Big Band Katowice - 1977 - Music For My Friends

Big Band Katowice 
Music For My Friends

01. Happening [2:50]
02. Li'l Darlin' [4:48]
03. Sorcery [4:38]
04. Ballada dla Alicji / The Ballade For Alice [4:30]
05. Madrox [3:41]
06. Hey, Man [7:34]
07. Music For My Friends [7:20]
08. Experience [6:47]

Polish Jazz vol. 52
Recorded in Polskie Radio, Katowice 1977

Zbigniew Kalemba - conductor, leader
Tadeusz Janiak - trumpet
B. Aleksa - trumpet
G. Hartwig - trumpet
Eugeniusz Modliszewski - trumpet
Z. Bankowski - trumpet
M. Kowalski - trumpet
Lucyna Dziwoki - trombone
J. Smolarczyk - trombone
Roman Syrek - trombone
Lukasz Kurek - trombone
S. Rusek - trombone
Jerzy Jarosik - tenor saxophone
Jerzy Glowczewski - alto saxophone
P. Pikielny - alto saxophone
E. Mika - baritone saxophone
S. Nakielski - tenor saxophone
Eugeniusz Okoniewski - tenor saxophone
Andrzej Olejniczak - tenor saxophone
P. Pronko - alto saxophone
Mieczyslaw Wolny - flute
Wojciech Gogolewski - piano
Wladyslaw Sendecki - piano
Jaroslaw Smietana - guitar
Andrzej Trefon - guitar
Jan Cichy - bass
Zbigniew Wegehaupt - bass
C. Szymanski - drums
B. Dziedzic - percussion
Marek Stach - percussion

Katowice, the Capital of Upper Silesia - Poland´s industrial region, was very important to the development of the Polish Jazz scene due to the fact that the local Music Academy was the first and for many years the only higher educational facility teaching a Jazz programme which awarded a degree in Music. The highly dedicated faculty and stuff directed generation after generation of young Polish musicians towards a career in Jazz music and in time the majority of the local Jazz scene was indeed a collection of the Katowice Music Academy alumni, the names of which are simply too numerous to mention. This phenomenon emphasizes the crucial importance of music education and its contribution to Culture. This album presents a Jazz Big Band led by trumpeter / composer Zbigniew Kalemba and comprising of the students of the Katowice Music Academy and guest soloists, some of which were ex-students, such as guitarist Jaroslaw Smietana, bassist Zbigniew Wegehaupt, pianist Wladyslaw Sendecki and many others. They perform eight compositions, five of which are originals and three standards, all beautifully arranged and passionately performed. The majority of the music has a distinct Jazz-Rock Fusion feel, which is not surprising as the genre ruled the local scene in the late 1970s. Since the Polish Jazz series includes only a handful of Big Band recordings, this is a most valuable addition to the overall presentation of the Polish Jazz scene. Warmly recommended!

Bednarek Zgraja Duo - 1981 - Walking Colour

Bednarek Zgraja Duo
Walking Colour

01. Walking Colour
02. La Concha
03. Afrosfera
04. Folk-Music
05. Luz Blues
06. Flute Reflections
07. Piesn Starego Dzeka

Double Bass – Jacek Bednarek
Flute – Krzysztof P. Zgraja

Recorded in PR Studio, Katowice - July & August 1981

This is one of my all time favorite Polish Jazz albums, recorded by the superb duo which comprised of bassist / composer Jacek Bednarek and flautist / composer Krzysztof Zgraja. The original album, released on the legendary Poljazz label in 1983, presented seven compositions, six of which were composed by Zgraja and one was composed by Bednarek. As usual with the splendid GAD Records reissues, the album was expanded by seven previously unreleased additional pieces, all of which were recorded at the Polish Radio studio in Katowice, same as the material included on the original album, but during two different recording sessions. The entire album was beautifully remastered from the original master tapes and the album includes an extensive and again, as usual, highly informative bi-lingual booklet with background information about the album's background.

The music is a wonderful collection of cross-genre compositions, which amalgamate Jazz with World Music influences, contemporary Classical Music and many other musical sources. Beautifully melodic and highly advanced harmonically, this music is completely timeless and sound today as fresh as it was at the time of its recording.

Both Bednarek and Zgraja play brilliantly and their virtuosity is stunning. The ideas and the sound were light-years ahead of their time, as was the concept of the duo, which was completely innovative on the Polish Jazz scene at the time. Sadly they recorded only one more album together (a live recording, which hopefully GAD Records will reissue ASAP), before parting, and never managed to work together again before Bednarek's untimely death in 1990.

This album is not only an extremely important document of the Polish Jazz history but also a milestone in the "Art of the Duo" idiom and a luminous example of flute performances, which are among the most significant in European Jazz history. Zgraja, who now resides in Germany, still plays, composes and teaches music and is one of the top flute specialists in the world.

Andrzej Kurylewicz Quintet - 1967 - 10+8

Andrzej Kurylewicz Quintet

01. Juz Ja Z Toba Nie Zostane / I Won't Stay With You [7:04]
02. Requiem Dla Z.C. / Requiem For Z.C. [3:06]
03. 10+8 [10:10]
04. Rondo (Z Filmu TV 'Cyrograf Dojrzalosci') [11:45]
05. Twarz Widza / Spectator's Face [8:45]

Polish Jazz vol. 14
Recorded in Warsaw, October 1967

Andrzej Kurylewicz - valve trombone, piano, rebela
Wlodzimierz Nahorny - alto sax
Jacek Ostaszewski - bass, tambourine
Janusz Kozlowski - bass
Sergiusz Perkowski - drums
Wanda Warska - vocal

In contrary to other "Founding Fathers of Polish Jazz" such as Andrzej Trzaskowski, Andrzej Kurylewicz (born in 1932), was initially more a man of swing then an avant-garde. He was also a a man of many talents: composer, pianist, trumpet-player, and trombonist. Born in Lwow, 1932, he began his musical education in the Music School (Szkola Muzyczna) in Lwow, and in the Institute of Music (Instytut Muzyczny) in Gliwice. He went on to study in college at the Academy of Music (Wyzsza Szkola Muzyczna) in Kraków - piano under Henryk Sztompka, and composition under Stanislaw Wiechowicz.

In 1954 he was kicked out from the Music Academy for... playing jazz. With political liberalization few years later, he made his debut as the founder of the Polish Radio Jazz Band (Zespol Jazzowy Polskiego Radia) in Kraków and later on worked as a leader of Polish Radio Organ Sextet (Sekstet Organowy Polskiego Radia). Every year, since 1958 until 1971, he presented own programs at the annual Jazz Jamboree festivals with his bands: Jazz Believers, Modernisci, trios, quartets, quintets and with Jazz Orchestra of the Polish Radio (later on known as Studio Jazzowe). He collaborated with variety of artists, including Czeslaw Niemen and Tomasz Stanko. In 1969 he founded the Formation of Contemporary Music (Formacja Muzyki Wspolczesnej - strings, brass and percussion), which he led till 1979. In 1967, in Warsaw's Old Town, with his wife Wanda Warska - a singer and painter - he opened 'Piwnica Artystyczna Kurylewiczow' - a studio for the performance of musical and literary forms, distinct and combined.

He was a passionate artist, who has changed several times the field of his interests and activities, since late 1960s he began drifting from Jazz field more toward contemporary classical music. As a composer, he belonged - as he himself has put it: 'to the post-avant-garde of the late 20th century'. He composed numerous pieces for symphonic orchestra, for chamber orchestra, as well as many song-cycles, psalms for Latin texts, and a wide range of solo works, for piano, harpsichord, organ, flute, tuba, double-bass, and others. As a pianist, Andrzej Kurylewicz valued highly the music of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski, offering particularly outstanding interpretations of all twenty-two of that composer's Mazurkas. In his improvisations on the piano, he has been particularly innovative in combining classical and contemporary music with jazz. In 1959 he collaborated with 'Teatr Rapsodyczny' in Krakow, and wrote his first score for the movie ('Powrót'), starting life long successful collaboration with film and theatre. His biggest hit was a score to made for TV show 'Polskie Drogi', the songs from this movie were recorded and re-interpreted by many artists worldwide, including Pat Metheny.

Kurylewicz, who once admitted that he 'never escaped from Jazz' came back to regular playing with his own jazz trio in 1994. Kurylewicz departed on April 12, 2007.

A complete jazz publishing house. 
It starts with a very groovy And Will not Stay With You (I have an unpleasant feeling that the tambourine is too loud), but the cooperation of bass and drums is exemplary. After this broken neck, the song is silenced in Requiem for ZC (title requires). The work is a sleepy, slightly inserted funeral march. 
The title 10 + 8 is a musical improvised game: unfortunately, it's about 5 minutes long. This is the only complaint I have for this progduction: if I want to be avant-garde, they have made a tentative step: In the swaying of the rocking, in their traditional way, I Will not Stay With You , or the calm, but a little disturbing Requiem, almost free of readable improvisation structures, it has too undecided length: I would prefer it to last 30 minutes or 5-10 it has not been pinned or patched. 

Rondo with irreplaceable Wanda Warska on the microphone is a beautiful composition quickly transforming into free-jazz experimentation. In some 3/4 of the length in the form of a chorus, the melody is recalled from the beginning, then it is replaced by a solo of the percussion, to which for a moment they join the inflated one, and after a while let the beautiful closing phrase sound again. This song about the closed but loosely contained composition appeals to me in particular. 

The album ends with a reflection on the Faces of the Viewer , in which the avant-garde sounds of collective improvisation with changing saturation are again reflected.

A great chapter of Polish Jazz.

Adam Makowicz - 1975 - Live Embers

Adam Makowicz
Live Embers

01. Zarzace Sie Wegielki I (Live Embers) 1:35
02. Raz Tak, Raz Nie (Once Yes, Once No) 5:00
03. Passiflora 2:45
04. Pociecha (Solace) 4:15
05. Ballada Dla R (Ballade For R) 2:45
06. Liczenie Od Konca (Count Down) 2:55
07. Tanczaca Panda (The Dancing Panda) 4:15
08. Milowe Kroki (Giant Steps) 2:45
09. Opalizacja (Opalescence) 4:00
10. Artysta Kabaretowy (The Entertainer) 4:55
11. Zarzace Sie Wegielki II (Live Embers) 2:30

Recorded: Warsaw, February 1975.

Piano – Adam Makowicz

This is the 2nd album in the legendary Polish Jazz series by the brilliant Polish pianist / composer Adam Makowicz, his first solo piano recording (a format he loves very much as documented in future recordings) and the first solo piano album in the entire series. By the time this album was recorded, Makowicz was the top piano Player on the local scene and one of the best European Jazz pianists. In the late 1970s Makowicz left Poland and settled in USA, like several other Polish Jazz players, escaping the socialist regime. His wonderful musicality, deep lyricism and typical European way to combine the Jazz tradition with the European Classical tradition (mainly Romanticism) make him a unique voice, which is always worth listening to. On this album he performs mainly his own wonderful music, spiced by his interpretation of a couple of Scott Joplin and John Coltrane tunes. This is a brilliant album and a must for Jazz piano lovers. Highly recommended!

Adam Makowicz - 1973 - Unit

Adam Makowicz

01. The Song From The Valleys / Piesn Z Dolin 2:39
02. War Song / Piesn Wojenna 3:16
03. The Song From The Hills / Piesn Ze Wzgórz 4:05
04. Drinking Song / Piesn Pijacka 3:55
05. Sacred Song / Piesn Religijna 4:00
06. Seven For Five 2:50
07. Suggestion / Propozycja 4:30
08. Blues 4:00
09. It's Not Bad / Nie Jest Zle 2:53
10. Cherokee 4:58

Recorded in Warsaw, March 1973

Drums, Percussion – Czeslaw Bartkowski
Bass, Piano – Adam Makowicz

Adam Makowicz was born Adam Matyszkowicz on August 18, 1940 in Gnojník, though he is an ethnic Pole (The city is now in the Czech Republic).  After the war, he was raised in Poland and studied classical music at the Chopin Conservatory of Music in Krakow.  Government officials disapproved of the liberal improvisational style that is at the heart of jazz music. Despite the oppressive communist restrictions on Polish culture, he developed a passion for modern jazz changing his career path from  classical pianist to that of jazz.  It was years of struggle before he managed to get a regular gig at a small jazz club. It was in the cellar of a house in Krakow.  By the end of the 70s, Makowicz had established himself as one of the leading jazz pianists in Europe and was named "Best Jazz Pianist" by readers of a magazine called "Jazz Forum".  He was also awarded a gold medal for his contribution to music.   In 1977 he embarked on a 10-week concert tour throughout the US,  which was produced by John Hammond.  He also recorded a solo album for CBS called " Adam" and a year later settled in New York. Makowicz was banned from Poland during the 1980s after the communist regime declared martial law.  Makowicz joined many other artists and 
celebrities in participating in Ronald Reagan's initiative named, "Let Poland Be Poland".

Though he is a solo artist, he has collaborated with such greats as Michal Urbaniak, Tomasz Stanko and Leszek Mozdzer as well as performed with the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington DC, at the Kennedy Centre, at the Carnegie Hall, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, and other major orchestras at concert halls in Americas and in Europe.  His style has been compared to that of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Errol Garner among other contemporaries. He has specialized in classical piano as his education was focused on the classical piano.

He moved to Toronto Canada during the 2000s, and continued his career as a concert pianist and recording artist. Over his 40 year career,Makowicz performed with major symphony orchestras, such as the National Symphony Orchestra, at the Carnegie Hall, at the Kennedy Centre, and other major concert halls in Americas and in Europe. He has recorded over 30 albums of jazz, popular, and classical music, and made his own arrangements of compositions taken by Chopin, Gershwin, Berlin, Kern, Porter, Rogers, and other composers. Makowicz also wrote and recorded many of his own work.

Because his music so easily crossed cultural and musical barriers, and his performances reached such a varied audience,  he has been able to use music as a bridge between different cultures. He performed and recorded music by Chopin and Gershwin with the Warsaw Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony in Washington, London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and other internationally recognized companies. The year 1999 marked the commemoration of 150th anniversary of Chopin's death. For the occasion, Adam Makowicz played his piano tribute to Chopin at the French Embassy in Washington. Makowicz demonstrated an extraordinary finesse, and originality in his interpretations of classical pieces by Chopin and Gershwin.

After years and years of collecting records, I’m still constantly surprised by how much music is out there in the world to be discovered. Trying to wrap my mind around all of the records that have come out in the U.S. is enough, but when I think about all the records released world-wide, just in the “in the pocket” funky years of 1967-1975, I fall into a deep existential depression that I’ll never be able to hear them all. Thankfully, running into records I’ve never heard of before, or only heard in passing, snaps me out of that “funk,” and reminds me that all we can do is appreciate what we do get in the short time we are here. Even the greatest record collectors, I mean the big time ones with so many records they lose count and lose space, only own a small fraction of the “great” records that have been released. Perhaps that’s why I persist through periods of inactivity to keep sharing music on this site, as there is so much music to discover.

Bartkowski has a ton of credits throughout the European jazz scene, though my limited experience with his playing comes down to this record and work down Michal Urbaniak (later in 1976 it seems he released an album under his own name called “Drums Dream” which I will be tracking down without a doubt before year’s end). What I’ve heard thus far, I’ve dug, and when you hear his snappy work on “Sacred Song,” or his own composition “Suggestion,” you’ll dig it too.

Today’s discovery is a little trip into the Polish Jazz scene courtesy of keyboardist Adam Makowicz. Makowicz’s “Unit” album is a part (Vol. 35 to be exact) of a long running series, just simply titled “Polish Jazz,” that is highly recommended for it’s overall quality and as a way of wading into what for me is largely uncharted territory. Like much of the sounds over in the States, by the time the series made it into the 1970s, things got a good deal funky. That’s certainly the case with this album, which only features Makowicz, almost exclusively on Fender rhodes, and drummer Czeslaw Bartkowski together as the titled “Unit.” And while Makowicz’s playing is top-notch, my love of this album is really all about the drums. Part of the joy of these kind of organ/drum duos is that you are absolutely guaranteed to have open drum breaks, and Czeslaw Bartkowski does not disappoint on that front.

Recorded in 1973 while Makowicz was a member of the Michal Urbaniak Constellation, this beautiful album is a daring vista to record in an intimate setting of keyboards and drums only. The other member of the duo is also a Constellation member, the veteran Polish drummer Czeslaw Bartkowski. All the music is original and Makowicz really shines on his Fender piano, similar to the parallel efforts by Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. This memorable album gets better with time!