Second evening in a row at Piec'ART for me and another good concert. This time my expectations were high (I did see Samuel Blaser already on stage, I do know his cds) but not necessaraily very clear. Because what can you expect from a solo trombone concert? It's a cliche to say, but somehow very true, that a solo recital can be treated as the most difficult form of performance - both for the artist and the audience.
The concert started with some timbral explorations, lot of playing with the mute and wah-wah effect. Definitely intriguing but also very demanding piece. But it only got better with each piece. It's definitely unexpected to write about harmonic depth when describing a solo trombone concert, but it was there indeed, and the level of control of those multiphonics techniques is what makes Samuel's playing really impressive (and gets him, deservingly, all the Albert Mangelsdorff comparisons). Sometimes it almost sounds like an african choir chant, somehow it reverberates through all the brass material, Blaser is making it seem easy which is a great talent.
Even better, it makes the music surprisingly accessible, as he manages to create an engaging rhytmic structure anchoring the groove in a returning bass note, keeping the time with his foot. His actually very fond of blues, and his jubilant and roaring lines are downright humorous. Those rhythmical bluesy tracks (like "Solo Bone", "Lonely Blues" or "Finally Alone" which ends the concert) are for me definite highlights of the night.
For a bis Samuel plays "Mood Indigo" by Duke Ellington and his take on this classic shows both adventorous spirit and respect towards the jazz history.
If you think that solo trombone jazz concert can't be fun Samuel Blaser is there to proove you wrong.
Piec'ART. Krakow. 13.05
After the concert there was a jam session (well, sort of) and I have admit I feared it a lot, expecting same old cliche, elegant mainstream but I was enormously surprised. The (sax - piano - bass - drums) quartet with the first track really blew my mind as they played this free-from post-bop jazz, indebted definitely to John Coltrane Quartet, but with a sesne of urgence, with a very raw energy and clear passion that was infectious. The music was adventorous and quite wild, the solos would dig deep, the interplay was apparent as the quartet would break into smaller groups (into a piano trio to begin with but then the sax-piano, piano-bass or bass-drums duos. An ankle breaking drum&bass indebted drums solo was among the highlights, the sax player experimented a lot with distorted sound and influence of free and avant-guarde techniques was very clear, the pianist was storming through the keys.
The second track wasn't that wild, some jazz standard, the reading of the theme almost elegant if it wasn't for the distorted sax sound (some nice unaccompanied saxophone passages on this one too) and the piano solo started bit too conservative, but then it would through history, getting back even to ragtime and the band would play the theme like it was a soundtrack to a slapstick Charlie Chaplin movie (which puts a big smile on my face immediately).
After the break (with a change on the drummer's spot) the band plays a strange tune with a hypnotic salsa rhythm, led by a saxophone player using both tenor and alto and they were joined by Samuel for a lenghty solo on this one. They (quintet now) end the evening with simple blues, having a lot of fun.
While the first track promised more than they eventually delivered I'm still very positively surprised by that part of the evening. While, in private conversations with other jazz fans in Krakow, the theme of bad jazz education returns quite often (the system produces very capable musicians with almost no sense of individuality) the things might be actually better than I'd have thought and those young guys made me a beliver again. Beware! Youth is coming!
unfortuantely I did manage to write down only two names:
Slawe Pezda - tenor sax, alto sax
Pawel Orzechowski - piano