Piec'ART is a mostly mainstream jazz venue but I wander there from time to time quite happily. This time it was Jacek Kochan's project which caught my eye. A very active composer and agile drummer, working mainly within a formula that he called AJIEE - Acoustic Jazz in Electronic Enviroment - his compositions use extensively post-bop language while he adds layers of electronic noises, loops and rhythm patterns beneath (around? over?) created on the laptop. I'm not a big fan of electronics in jazz music but I always appreciated his drums skills - keep that in mind as these preexistent oppinions clearly conditioned a lot my feelings about the concert.
With Dominik Wania, a very capable keyobard player, they start off hard and that is how both the sets will go on. Kochan plays drums like the Lord commands - loud and fast, he's playing precise patterns with ankle-breaking speed, keeping it all clean and tight. I really like it especially when he lays this phat funky groove. Wania adds a lot of brewing on the keys (moving beetwen piano, fender piano or moog sounds) and he adds very nice bass touches with the left hand. Make it a drum'n'bass era version of "Bitches Brew".
While the compositions aren't bad, there's too much similarity between them, cohesity of the material and closed formula become quite monotonous. The electronic enviroment feels quite redundant in this case, limiting musicians instead of expanding the possibilites. I quite miss the horn section or at least one other instrument to fly over the dense and thick structures produced by the keyboard-drums duo (hope I don't hurt the laptop's feeling by omitting it).
Fortunately what lacks in variety is made up, at least partially, with the energy level. Wania contributes some strong, searching solo statements in the 2nd set and things are really cookin' when they both hit the high gear - making for a nice headbanging and foot-tapping invitation. And the last track is possibly the strongest of the night, making the appreciative, if small audience call for 'one more' (which they get).
Enjoyable if not exactly stellar performance. I have seen better by these musicians (in slightly larger groups) and I hope to do so in the future. On the other hand, it wasn't that bad at all.
ps. What is surprising (given the fact that it's just a duo and one led by a drummer) there were no drum solos (not one), positive sign (as in: it shows Kochan's egoless conception of the music) and actually bit dissapointing (as in: I'd like to hear at least one).
Dominik Wania - el. piano
Jacek Kochan - drums, laptop
Piec'ART; Krakow. 17.03.2011