Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jazz Alchemist radio for All Saints day with Billy Bang, Andrzej Przybielski, Bob Marley and Kurt Cobain

Andrzej Przybielski
Tomorrow, Monday 8 pm CET. on I'll wait for you with another special set of music. On the occasion of All Saints day we'll celebrate the memory of the late Andrzej 'Major' Przybielski (died 09.02 this year) and Billy Bang (died 11.04). A, fortunately, short list which will allow us also to join the more mainstream celebrations of 20th anniversary of Nirvana's "Nevermind" release and 30th anniversary of Bob Marley's death with a couple of surprising jazz covers.

Hope you'll enjoy it. Unfortunately the program won't be live as the studio is closed. However I should be on-line on facebook during the airing available for a chat.

The playlist will appear below during the program, as will the mixcloud player for those willing to listen again or unable to follow the program live.

Billy Bang

1. Andrzej Przybielski & Oles brothers - Epitafium dla Jacka (from "De Profundis")
2. Brad Mehldau - Lithium
3. Sex Mob - About a Girl
4. The Cool Runnings Orchestra - Is This Love (from "Tribute to Marley")
5. Andrzej Przybielski, Jacek Mazurkiewicz, Paweł Osicki - Rotacje II.1
6. The Bad Plus - Smells Like Teen Spirit
7. Pink Freud - Come As You Are
8. Billy Bang Survival Ensemble - Nobody Hear The Music The Same Way (from "Black Man's Blues / New York Collage")
9. Lester Bowie Brass Fantasy - One Love
10. The Cool Runnings Orchestra - Redemption Song (see the link above)
11. Andrzej Przybielski, Jacek Mazurkiewicz, Paweł Osicki - Rotacje II.3 (Guru)
12. The Light (Waclaw Zimpel / Wojtek Traczyk / Robert Rasz) - Where Did You Sleep Last Night
13. The Cool Runnings Orchestra - Is This Love (unplugged) (see the link above)
14. Billy Bang Survival Ensemble - Black Man Blues (see the link above)
15. Andrzej Przybielski & Oleś brothers - Skoki

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Akira Sakata Trio at Alchemia (27.10)

It was one of the more anticipated concerts of this year's Autumn festival in Krakow. Akira Sakata had played in Krakow once. 35 years ago. He's long been illustrous example of japanese scene - slightly obscure (most of the recent albums available only as japanese imports) yet right there at the top with the best of them. Which I was about to experience.

Sakata's playing now with a dynamic duo rhythm section of Darin Gray and Chris Corsano and that's both and intercontinental and intergenerational collaboration as they're half his age. Having said that, Akira, at 66, has an incredible energy on stage. His playing on alto is strong and heavily rooted in free jazz. His twisted sharp lines still mantain the linear narration feature of a jazz solo. He flights, rides and jumps furiously over a ferocious pulse provided by Darin and Chris. When this trio hits the stratosphere (Akira stepping up into higher register) their energy, pure musical excitation is absolutely contagious. It's the alto's sound, the maddening playing but also somewhat bluesy hint (not in the scale or melody but in deep tone, profound, cerebral way of playing music) that puts Akira right next to Ornette Coleman in my ears.

Friday, October 28, 2011

RED Trio + John Butcher - Empire [NoBusiness]

RED trio:
Rodrigo Pinheiro - piano
Hernani Faustino - double bass
Gabriel Ferrandini - drums

John Butcher - tenor and soprano saxophones

NoBusiness Records 2011

A second release by the trio catches them in the company of a british legend of free-improv John Butcher. This expanded version of a trio brings back the memories of their concert in Krakow where they were joined by Keir Neuringer, which is a good thing because that night was spectacular and this trio showed already that they can work great as a quartet.
The RED trio's music features (as they established on the self-titled debut cd; Clean Feed 2010) are dark, eerie, menacing almost as they create a mysterious mixture of shades, scraping sounds, echoes. This is music full of suspense, dramaturgy, a dark and mysterious tale with gripping narration that gradually drowns you. With the assistance of John Butcher they're able to expand and strengthen all those qualities.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fourth Page - Blind Horizons [Leo]

Fourth Page:
Charlie Beresford - vocals, acoustic guitar, khaen
Carolyn Hume - piano
Peter Marsh - bass
Peter May - percussion

Leo Records 2011

It's difficult to find a band of such unique sound and vision as Fourth Page and that alone makes this cd worthy of a recommendation.What makes this music so unusual is the negation of apparent contraddiction between the terms of song and improvisation. And yet Fourth Page creates exactly that - improvised (even if it doesn't sound so) songs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ken Vandermark & Paal Nilssen-Love at Alchemia (25.10)

There's only a handfull of musicians who played more often in Alchemia in recent years. And only a handfull of musicians who constistently play at the level this duo does. A fact known well by Krakow audience which filled up completely the audience (corridor, backstage, floor) space of Alchemia.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Cool Runnings Orchestra - Tribute to Marley [BMC]

The Cool Runnings Orchestra :
Carsten Daerr - piano, organ, fender rhodes, melodica
Hamid Drake - drums
Manu Codija - guitar
Christophe Monniot - alto, baritone and sopraniono saxophone
Michael Schiefel - voice, electronics
Matyas Szandai - double bass
Viktor Toth - alto saxophone

BMC (Budapest Music Center) Records 2011

How does Bob Marley's music fit with jazz? I don't really know, yet it is not surprising to see Hamid Drake involved in such a project. He has played reggae music over the years and his physical presence (dreadlocks and all) suggests strongly an affinity for rasta culture and the sunny music of Jamaica. An affinity which he shares, as this album proves, with other jazz musicians.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jazz Alchemist is back on the radio!!!

Radio is back!!! :)

I invite you all with all might of my heart to join this monday for the first program of this season. There will be a special guest and a special playlist. The main topic - humour. 

We'll listen to the music that should make us smile and laugh. Initially I had an ambition to make this a serious investigation of the subject in the improvised music (I mean, isn't laugh a most sincere reaction to a ducky sound of wah-wah mute on the trumpet, or buzzing, beeping etc. experimentalism, isn't this music as much about having fun as about anything else?). But than I selected a song, another one, a pastiche, a cover, a parody and somehow a playlist got filled up. 
So we'll have a session of things for something completely different, laid-back and fun. Hope you'll enjoy it 

This Monday (24.10) , 8 pm CET. 
Will be waiting for you to be on-line to chat via facebook. Non-polish listeners - I hope you won't mind the polish commentary. The detailed playlist will be published below during the airing and I plan to upload the thing to mixcloud the very next day :)

1. from Broadway Monty Python Musical - Tuning
2. Graal - Bum-Bum
3. Scianka - Sprawa 5-ciu...
4. Scianka - Skuter
5. Henrik Munkeby Norstebo - Solo 4 (from "Solo"; he played with a trio last Wednesday. More in this post)
6. Tfaruk Love Communication - Tinky Winky jest pedałem (from "Tfaruk Love Communication")
7. Profesjonalizm - Dlugi (from "Chopin Chopin Chopin")
8. Chlopcy Kontra Basia - Mam ja męża
9. Oscar Brown Jr. - Signifyin' Monkey
10. Ray Anderson - Don't Mow Your Lawn
11. Paristetris - BBQ
12. Profesjonalizm - Dety
13. Henrik Munkey Norstebo - Solo 6
14. The Second Approach Trio - The Burlesque Rag (from "Pandora's Pitcher")
15. Flight of the Conchords - Robots (live)
16.The Complainer & The Complainers - Metka
17. The Complainer & The Complainers - Substytuty
18. Miąższ - Łodondi
19. Sex Mob - Not Boweevil
20. Bugs Bunny & Donald Duck - Hello Goodbye

Rafal Mazur / Liudas Mockunas / Raymond Strid at Alchemia (20.10)

Liudas Mockunas
Fun fact : had the idea to start this blog came one day earlier the very first (or the very second) would be about a concert those three guys played close to a year ago at Solvay (modern art centre in Kraków). 

Raymond Strid is probably best known out of tree, his trio with Barry Guy and Mats Gustafsson has been one of the most respected unit in the free music for quite a long time. Rafal Mazur (one of the most written about musicians on this blog) is well known to Krakow audience, our guy on the stage. Liudas Mockunas (while faithfull readers might remember this review) was probably the least known (to the audience) member of the band but from now on he will be well remembered.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Domino - Domino's Tales [Slam]

Marco Colonna - bass clarinet, baritone & soprano saxophones
Francesco Lo Cascio - vibraphone, percussion
Lillo Quaratino - double bass

Slam Productions 2011

A good music is like a good story, you follow it closely, focused, wanting to know what happens next, waiting impatiently for the each next chapter, you appreciate it more it the intriguing storyline goes hand to hand with skillfull narration and sense of structure. And that's exactly what Marco Colonna, Francesco Lo Cascio and Lillo Quarantino are doing in here - telling tales.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Norstebo / Myhr / Jarmyr at PIEC'Art (19.10)

Tomas, Adrian, Henrik. from the band's archive
This is going to be a somewhat sweet-sour post. I've had been to PIEC'Art a number of times already and most recent visits had to do with Adrian Myhr's returning to Krakow (first concert with Trabant trio was a surprise, the second one with Vojtech Prochazka trio even more so). While focused on more mainstream jazz, there's a spot or two every now and then in PIEC'Art for something more unconventional. And that's a good thing, obviously.

The music was great, the playing creative, musicians in tune with each other and their instruments, in constant dialogue, interraeaction. While the presence of trombone brings sometimes a jazz-rooted sound, but a whole other world of sonic realities is right there - hushed and semi-audible, filled with details, micro-textures, timbral explorations. The last track strikingly meditative, Tomas playing with bare hands on plates to achieve a zen, sustained, echoing gong sounds. An aura taken immediately upon by Adrian and Henrik. Music that vibrates with positive energy within the soul.

Profesjonalizm - Chopin Chopin Chopin [Lado ABC]

Marcin Masecki - pianino, compositions
Kamil Szuszkiewicz - trumpet
Michał Górczyński - clarinet, tenor saxophone
Tomasz Duda - baritone saxophone
Piotr Domagalski - double bass
Jerzy Rogiewicz - drums

Lado ABC 2011

Marcin Masecki's name resonates well in ears of any polish jazz/music fan but he's yet to gain international recognition and he most certainly deserves it. Masecki's talent, refined through years of classical education (graduated from Berklee College of Music) is undeniable. He's sound conception and style of playing is easily recognizable (he prefers, whenever it's possible, to play his own pianino instead of a grand concert piano, all in order to be able to create a personal rapport with his own instrument - something that comes more easily to musicians playing virtually any other instrument). The vast ground he covers with his activity is impressive - equally adept in mainstream jazz (with Zbigniew Wegehaupt Quratet), fully improvised concerts (solo, in duo with Ziv Ravitz, in power trio with Macio Moretti and Raphael Roginski), avant pop (Paristetris) or classical (fascinated with Bach's music). In any of those contexts Masecki remains unmistakenably Masecki, unique, idiosyncratic. Which brings us (well, sort of) to Profesjonalizm sextet, his latest release on Lado ABC (an alternative label he's been working with for quite a while now).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bezdroża - improvised music at Alchemia (18.10)

Before the summer the "Muzykoterapia" series ended but there's new hope for experimental, avant-guarde, improvised and interdisciplinar music art in Krakow. "Bezdroża" project (quite a poetic word that looses its charm in litteral translation - "Roadlessness") aims to create a platform of communication, a gathering space for performers, composers, improvisers and (definitely not least) the audience.

Free Improvisation is a kind of music that one can try to describe in so many theoretical ways and yet it lives by the extremities and any theory whatsoever will fail to describe it. It's not about technique but it hardly can be played without posessing some sort of technique. Anything is possible, acceptable (traditional aesthetics are suspended) but it doesn't mean everything works. Everything is apparent, chaos mimics structure, structure mimics chaos. It's a performance that loves a strong personality yet hates any kind of musical egoism or showmanship. It can take any shape, like water, but needs some kind of support, a form to be filled to achieve that. It can be extremely emotional or intellectual or somehow neither - pure zen emptyiness. It can be intimate, minimalistic and fragile, can be violent and expansive. Finally it's a natural phenomenon that only happens once, is a kind of art totally immersed in the moment and space, and whatever (genius or mediocre) result came out - it's never to be achieved again, lost forever in the memory. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The EDGE (J. Kao Hwang / T. Ho Bynum / K. Filiano / A. Drury) at Alchemia (16.10)

Jason Kao Hwang
After a rock warm-up with Kazutoki Umezu KIKI band and almost a month-long break finally the Krakowska Jesien Jazzowa (Autumn Jazz Festival) is really on! And it starts with a real blast. The Edge played their last concert of of a small tour (concerts in Poznan and in Katowice on previous days) - their first ever visit to Poland. And they were very happy to finish that tour on Alchemia's stage, which, apparently, is more famous overseas than in Krakow.

And from the very first moments you know you're in for a treat - a strong bass pulse, freewheeling drumming with a slight latin tinge (cowbell) and furious soloing in between the tricky, intricate themes. Music whose complexity doesn't alternate it's live, vibrant, dynamic and passionate character.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Second Approach Trio - Pandora's Pitcher [Leo]

The Second Approach Trio :
Andrei Razin - piano, keayboards, percussion, voice (on track 4)
Tatiana Komova - voice, percussion
Igor Ivanushkin - acoustic bass, percussion

Leo Records 2011

Leo Feign continues his crusade to explore and present the depths of creative music scene in Russia and this disc is yet another reason to be thankfull and wishfull that he'd continue to do so. As a result the Leo Records keeps proving my ignorance, and keeps surprising me with a great music from artists whom I never heard before, which I love by the way. The Second Approach Trio's discography , printed on the inlay, sports 7 titles including a last year release on Leo or a session with Roswell Rudd, which obviously means that the trio is a long-term working band and it achieved already some exposure.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tim Daisy & Ken Vandermark - Conversation [Multikulti]

Tim Daiy - drums
Ken Vandermark - Bb and bass clarinet, tenor sax

Multikulti 2011

Tim Daisy and Ken Vandermark has played together a countless number of gigs in a numerous (but definitely easier to count) Vandermark's project, starting with the duo, through The Vandermark 5 up to the large ensembles like Resonance. "The Conversation" is their third duo release after the self-released "August Music" (2007) and the double lp on Laurence Family "Light on the Wall" (2010).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Aram Bajakian's Kef - Kef [Tzadik]

Aram Bajakian - acoustic and electric guitars
Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz - acoustic bass
Tom Swafford - violin

Tzadik 2011

Although he's been playing with the likes of Yusef Lateef, Mike Pride, Darius Jomes, Mat Maneri and others "Kef" is Aram Bajakian's debut official recording as a leader, and the 3rd installment of new Tzadik's Spotlight Series that aims to present young and promising talents (and a blessing from label's owner and avant-guarde's guru John Zorn is definitely a strong encouragament to get to know those bands). "Kef" surprises with it's unusual line-up of a string trio and the fresh and authentic blend of armenian folk heritage, rock expression and jazz improvisation.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Marcin Masecki's Profesjonalizm will play at Alchemia

Not a part of the Krakowska Jesień Jazzowa festival but you can treat this as an extra surprise. Marcin Masecki is easily among the most creative  and versatile piano players today - from classical music, mainstream jazz, avant improvisation to alternative rock. His band Profesjonalizm gathers six representants of talented young generation and already gained a lot of recognition for their recent debut cd. The concert in Alchemia (this thursday - 13.10) is bound to be welcomed surprise and I heartily recommend it to you. 

Hope to see you there!

Masecki's Profesjonalizm Band was presented last monday in BBC Radio 3 feature called Warsaw Special. You can listen to it on-line for the next week only so don't miss it!

ps (The band will also play soon in Tarnów, Poznań and Elbląg).
ps 2 (I'll write about the concert afterwards or about the cd, or both :) 

Szilard Mezei Wind Quartet - Innen [Ayler]

Szilard Mezei - viola
Bogdan Rankovic - alto sax, bass clarinet, clarinet
Branislaw Aksin - trombone
Kornel Papista - tuba

Ayler Records 2011

Szilard Mezei has been tremendously active in recent years, dividing his time between small ensembles, and large groups (among his bands' most recent releases you will find a trio and a 10-piece orchestra on Not Two, Szabad Quartet on NoBusiness, an octet on Slam Productions, plus two solo albums). Not only he's a terrific performer and improviser on an instrument that's rarely to be found in jazz music, nonetheless it yelds tremendous expressive possiblities, but he's composing (whether for a trio or the orchestra) gives an unique,  personal stamp to the music as he's draws inspiration from modern improvised music, jazz, folk melodies and both historic and avant-guarde strategies of (for lack of a better term) classical music.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Splatter - Sraffiti [Citystream]

Anna Kaluza - alto saxophone
Noel Taylor - clarinets
Pedro Velasco - guitar
Michael Caratti - drums

Citystream 2011

As you can read in the liner notes: scrafitto is a decorative technique in which, after applying a number of layers, one stratches through the outer surface to reveal the different surfaces hidden underneath. It's a sort of a negative drawing, where the artist instead of adding the marks removes material in order to reveal the possibilities. Since most often used in ceramics and pottery it's an art that demands swiftness and allows no mistakes - there are no do-overs, and the smallest one can ruin the whole success. All that makes it not only a perfect metaphor of an audio recording (immagine the needle etching the music onto the vinyl or a wax cylinder) but also of the nature of improvisation.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Jim Baker / Kyle Bruckmann / Michael Zerang - Psychotic Redaction [Multikulti]

Jim Baker - electronics
Kyle Bruckmann - reeds, electronics
Michael Zerang - drums

Multikulti 2011

When I see two guys playing 'electronics' on one album I'm usually quite reserved. Take that into the account when I say:
From the very first seconds of a fuzzy electronic scratch, a wailing ancient horn and tribal rhythm this album is truly a blast! 
So without a further ado let me get right into saying that it's absolutely fascinating. A feast of ethnic grooves, fat, fuzzied bass, distorted and bent noises and (ocassionally) an ancient reed soaring over, but more often than not additionally transformed through electronic filters, looped or sampled and resampled.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Samuel Blaser. Russ Lossing, Thomas Morgan, Paul Motian - Consort in Motion [Kind of Blue]

Samuel Blaser - trombone
Russ Lossing - piano
Thomas Morgan - bass
Paul Motian - drums

Kind of Blue Records 2011

Samuel Blaser's name already resonates on jazz scene thanks to his quartet's releases and he has proven himself to be among the most accomplished trombone players of young generation in jazz music. "Consort in Motion" is another step in his career and it is a step in quite a different direction.
Blaser embarks on a difficult and ambitious project as he tries to merge two distant musical traditions - Jazz and Baroque music. He selected and re-arranged for this jazz ensemble compositions by Claudio Monteverdi, Biagio Marini and Girolamo Frescobaldi (or wrote his own compositions - using their music as an inspiration). Now I'm hardly to be called classical music afficionado and that robs me plenty of the intellectual pleasure one might find in deciphering the ways Blaser adapted the original material, but I still find here much to appreciate.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mark Lotz & Islak Kopek - Istanbul Improv Sessions May 4th [Evil Rabbit]

Mark Alban Lotz - piccolo, c-, alto, bass flutes, prepared flute
Islak Kopek:
Sevket Akinci - guitar
Kevin W. Davis - cello
Korhan Erel - laptop, controllers
Robert Reigle - tenor saxophone
Volkan Terzioglu - tenor saxophone

Evil Rabbit Records 2011

Improvisation is a language that doesn't care for cultural differences. Improvised music could be well the most democratic, universal form of communication and expression there is. And what you can hear on this cd is a strong argument for that thesis as german flute player joins the musicians from Istanbul group Islak Kopek (two of them amercian expats) for a series short musical conversations. 4 pieces are played by the entire crew while the other 11 present a different configurations of duos and trios. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mikolaj Trzaska Ircha Clarinet Quartet at Cheder Cafer (30.09)

photo by Krzysztof Penarski
I've written about Ircha's debut cd "Larks Uprising" (with Joe McPhee) that was recorded during the Tzadik Festival in Poznan. While the music on the cd had close to none elements of jewish tradition to it, Ircha's connection to this heritage was strong from the very beginning, as they seamlessly forge improvisation, modern composition and some of the oldest jewish melodies. The concert in Krakow took time during the jewish New Year period. 
The clarinet quartet (with occasional duduk or fujara in the mix) sounds full and complete and quite unique. And the sense of structure and direction is absolutely compelling, they pass the fragrant melodies between each other as they form a soloist - choir roles, or a double duo (as they assume different roles they walk and set the formations on the stage), creating on the spot almost transparent arrangements in the way a 4-voice vocal ensemble or a string quartet would be set. With a rhythmic line in the bass clarinet, a repetitive chord structures, a clear line of ancient melody soaring over, transforming into an succession of everchanging minimalistic melodic and harmonic patterns.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lisa Mezzacappa & Nightshade - Cosmic Rift [Leo]

Cory Wright - Bb and bass clarinet
John Finkbeiner - electric guitar
Tim Perkis - electronics
Lisa Mezzacappa - acoustic bass
Kjell Nordeson - vibraphone and percussion

Leo Records 2011

Autumn comes lurking around and this album fits great this kind of weather (quite aptly named group indeed). And while Lisa Mezzacappa cites various inspirations on some pieces, her personal compositional stamp and the group's cohesive sound make this work whether you're familiar or not with the source of inspiration (which you can read about in the liner notes).
The instrumentation of this band is crucial to the resulting music - the brooding, dark and melancholy and somehow elegant sound, while the smooth velvety-heavy textures are fractured with subtle electronics accents.