Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rafal Mazur / Marek Pospieszalski / Qba Janicki at Alchemia (22.06)

I praised all three members of this trio on numerous occasions. Yesterday's concert is yet another occasion to do that so here it goes:
I never can really tell what makes the free improvised music performance successfull. There's so many variables, so many factors, so many elements to be balanced. If writing about any kind of music is difficult, it is even more so in a case of music performance that comes from willing to escape any kind of musical barriers, stylistic norms and confines.
With fragile textures woven in the air (ostinato walks on the bass, melodic clouds of percussion sounds, circular labirynths of lines on the saxophone) or heavy and slow drones. Hard and edgy or soft and barely audibly. This music escapes any kind of generalisation, any kind of catchy 'one-line' summary. 
I always admired Janicki's killer punk-rock instincts but he shows himself to be not only a very versatile drummer but also a creative geek, using a laptop and some kind of touchpad device to create drones, loops, process the live sound. Sometimes he adds a completely different sound (piano clusters, thumb piano, gongs), sometimes his loops add a rhythmic structure, otherwise they provide meditative background. With Qba Janicki splitting in half his duties between the laptop and the drums set the group shifts swiftly through  the series of close interactions, to the point in which is hard to say that the electronic transformations are just the bridging interludes and they become equally important part of the performance.

Marek Pospieszalski is a very promising saxophone player, his sound indebted to Coltrane, but also influenced by Evan Parker, very keen to use extended techniques (especially agile with the circular breathing technique) creating myriads of sounds, intervowen lines, following the partners closely. I look forward to see him develop more personal attitude towards the instrument, maybe take also more commanding lead on the stage, not only to follow graciously, but to push the others out of their comfort zone. Nonetheless it's a pleasure to see him playing and I expect a lot more coming our way from this young player soon.

Rafal Mazur, due to his busy schedule in Krakow, is probably the most popular musician on this blog. Wise Man among the youngsters, never pushing himself to the front, rather trying to push his partners into the new regions (be it with a heavy walking line, delay effects, or bowing the strings to create a resonating sound that slowly dies in the air).
Focused performance, bringing the listeners into an outer space - not only because of some humorous sci-fi or game-boy sounds coming from the laptop - but rather becuase of the ethereal quality of the music, that bends the space and makes the time go in circles instead of a straight line. In fact a illusive repetition helps this group control the flow in a natural and semless way. The spontaneous creation was being enjoyed to the point that the musicians got lost near the end, not sure how (not wanting?) to end the track - possibly the only moment where they wandered to far and crossed the line between transcendent and monotonous (but it all ends well with a nice drumrolling crescendo).

I'm trying hard here with all this writing above to disprove the initial point of being there no sense in writing about freely improvised music. Not sure which way it went, all I know, and I recommend this solution to you with all the might of my hear and mind - there's all sense in seeing performances like this live. If those guys are playing near you - make sure to be there. If they're not, maybe they're others who do. Improvised music is always best served live.

photos by Krzysztof Penarski

Rafal Mazur - acoustic bass guitar
Marek Pospieszalski - tenor saxophone
Qba Janicki - drums, electronics

Alchemia. Krakow. 22.06.2011

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