Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hera (Waclaw Zimpel, Pawel Postaremczak, Ksawery Wojcinski, Pawel Szpura) - Hera [Multikulti]

Waclaw Zimpel - clarinet, bass clarinet, tarogato, fujara flute
Pawel Postaremczak - soprano, tenor sax
Ksawery Wojcinski - double bass
Pawel Szpura - drums

Multikulti 2010

I've been waiting very impatient for this one. Not only I am a big fan of Waclaw Zimpel (which I have expressed writing for Diapazon about The Light's concert or his duo cd with Tim Daisy back in 2008) but It's also been hard to ignore all the extrememly positive feedback I've been hearing about this release (from likes of Marek Winiarski from Not Two, other friends in Krakow who were able to see the recent concert or from Stef's blog - even if I had refrained myself from reading the review before listening to cd, It was impossible not to see the 5-star rating). So it is little to say that my expectations were high.

Recent releases by Waclaw Zimpel (The Light "Afekty"; Undivided "Passion") showcase his considerable grow as a leader and composer. All those (including "Hera") not only base on composed material, but search for musical representation of powerfull, vital emotions, taking inspirations from ethnic rituals and emotions themselves (The Light) and two most crucial roots of modern Western Culture - Bible (Undivided) and Antic mythology (Hera). This multiplicity is united in Zimpel's vision, with all the music unfolding itself as in suite, not only on the level of single album, but I think all those three could be placed together. While the cd releases were separated, the recording sessions were very close, with Hera being recorded just 1 week before "Passion" (01.04.2009 and 08.04.2009) and the trio session taking place just 2 months before.

The titles on the album refer to cities where in ancient temples You could find an iconic representation of Hera. "Monreale" starts with light percussion work and then introduces solemnly and slowly minor intervals (played unisono or intertwined betweem bass clarinet and tenor saxophone - great sounding frontline). The piece is split in half, first with Waclaw solo, slowly getting momentum, rising, full of drama, over great, feverish arco playing by Ksawery and pulse-everywhere toms courtesy of Szpura, then replaced by Pawel's expansive and expressive sax lines over busy, boiling rhythm section (plucked bass, lot of crashed plates). The piece is closed with cerebral, faithfull to gregorian original, unisono reading of "Tantum Ergo" with it's slow melody shining over frenzy rhythm section. Over next pieces You'll travel between joy and sadness, between peace and war, undersung lyricism and raging expressivity, You'll hear instruments singing their joy, cry their rage and passion, weep their misery, anguish. As a final piece, no doubt a nod in honour of Trio X and Joe McPhee, You'll hear the traditional "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child", a version that is definitely not traditional, vibrating with emotions, dense and captivating.

The emotional depth of this playing doesn't overshadow the musical discipline, the composer's general idea. The personal statements, expressive soloing, don't overpower the ensemble sound. And possible this is the greatest quality of recent Zimpel's recordings - with all the emotions presented You are taken by the passion, the emotional content presented in the perforfmance, but You get swept by the grandeur of the vision, by epic panorama of the big picture, the unity and the richness of the project that gives You the concept-album the likes of which jazz has not seen to many.

A piece from the album is featured in the special Easter playlist from 02.04.2012.

1. With both "Passion" and "Hera" and participation in "Ircha" (about which maybe soon) Waclaw Zimpel should be high on the all kinds of 'best of 2010' lists, I will comment on it soon, but this case is great example of how problematic all kinds of polls are - all three releases (and "Afekty" by The Light trio) were recorded in 2009.
2. While it's not main focus of the blog, I'm glad and it seems only fitting that among first reviews posted polish labels (Not Two, Multikulti, Ars Cameralis) and polish musicians (Maciej Obara, Hera Quartet) are presented.
3.. While I know that this blog is getting some visits, I can't tell if it's been actually read since posts remain comment-less. The whole 'best of 2010' discussion are already started in many places, we'll join them soon, but wanted to ask, too see if any reaction will be provoked:
what are Your favourite concept-albums? Obviously not only Jazz goes, especially since the whole notion of concept-album is more part of rock music.

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