Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jazz Alchemist is back for the Krakow Autumn Jazz Festival and more

It's been a long vacation from the blog. I've bitten and heavily by the vinyl bug and recently all the free time I can get is spend with the (occasionally crackling) sound of the dark matter circling on the turntable.
I can't get enough of Duke Ellington's Orchestra, of the round and warm sounds of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, of the trumpet high flyers Roy Eldridge, Charlie Shavers, Dizzy. Heck I even loved me some classic fusion. Add to that Ray Charles, some classic rock (polish band SBB and Niemen!) polish jazz series (Stanko, Komeda, Namyslowski!). It's not any news, but I love music.

I'm planning on restoring more regular activity although possibly a formula will change a bit (no details yet to specify). For the nearest future the main topic will be yet another edition of Krakow Autumn Jazz Festival - probably the only polish festival so clearly dedicated to the avant/free/improvised face of modern jazz.

I'll get to the whole schedule soon but for now you need to know that the festival is starting this Sunday with an open-air concert of The EX and Brass Unbound.

I didn't get to cover any of the recent big events in Krakow (particularly Sacrum Profanum festival) but bear in mind also another musical series that start today - Festival of Film Music will propose to you orchestra performance of the music from Gladiator, scores from video-games and much more.

The more avant-guarde projects of the festival are AlterFMF series in Malopolska Art Garden among which:

25.09. Europa Train Score
a multimedia performance with a large group of musicians among which well known jazzmen Adam Pieronczy, Marcin Oles, krakow-based improviser Michal Dymny, improvising rock-drummer Jakub Rutkowski and many more.

27.09 Trzaska plays Smarzowski 
Mikolaj Trzaska needs no introduction to this blog's readers - he'll perform the music he composed to Wojtek Smarzowski - but make no mistake, these are no background melodies but compositions filled with guts.



27.09 Also of interest and more on the ambitious electronica side is a Saturday One Louder mini-fest with Thaw, Stara Rzeka (Old River), X-Navi:ET amd Artur Rominski at Alchemia


28.09 The EX & Brass Unbound on Plac Nowy (KRAKOW AUTUMN JAZZ BEGINS)
An exciting ensemble The EX with the energetic horn section of the best of the best in screaming jazz Mats Gustafsson, Ken Vandermark and Roy Paci. A smash evening guranteed.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Krakow Concert Schedule 18-24.08

I've been recently bitten by the vinyl bug again and in these weeks of absence on the blog I've been listening abundantly to the greats of swing & bop era, the wonderful sounds of Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Shavers, Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington and many more.
I'll try to recover and get back to more recent releases soon. In the meantime, Krakow can provide you with some quality live music as always.

18.08 Gaweda / Fortuna Experiment at Piec'ART
Piano/drums duo is definitely not the most common of duo settings but one that can produce brilliant music (from the top of my head two completely different examples - Cecil Taylor / Max Roach and Danilo Rea / Stefano Gatto). Given that Gaweda and Fortuna are the top class of jazz youth in Cracow I think their experiment can give good results.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Elisha / Rubin / Elisha - East of Jaffa [OutNowRecordings]

Ehran Elisha - drums
Harold Rubin - clarinet
Haim Elisha - piano


OutNow Recordings 2011





The 24th Krakow Jewish Festival, barely behind us*, is a perfect pretext to have a look at Israeli improvising scene. OutNow Recordings is based in Tel Aviw and managed by Yoni Kretzmer (a might sax player himself, you may find reviews of his cds "Overlook"  and the Brooklyn based 2 Bass Quartet's "Weight" on the blog) and guitarist Ido Bukelman (with a couple of fine releases on his own as well). However when the label was launched back in 2011 the premiere releases were two sessions with the drummer Ehran Elisha. I've written a while ago about his duo with Roy Campbell "Watching Cartoons with Eddie" but the trio "East of Jaffa" is well worth a look back.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kraków Concert Schedule 11-17.08 / DotArt in Krakow

There are two concerts that stand out among the regular jam/jazz sessions on jazz clubs this week so without further ado:

11.08 Slawek Pezda / Mateusz Gaweda Duo at Piec'ART
An adventurous duo tha travels throughout the lands of modern jazz with free spirit. Very recommended.



15.08 Janusz Muniak Quartet at Harris Piano Jazz Bar
Once among the avantguardists of polish jazz scene, Janusz Muniak is now a legend that feels comfortable with the world of sultry, classic jazz. The tone and feeling and maestry.



Beside jazz music I recommend to you to visit a few places where my hombre Stefano Ambroset will bring a selection of pictures from the international photo competition DotART. The exhibitio will open:

10.06 Pracownia Pod Baranami
12.06 Alchemia
13.06 Pierwszy Lokal...
14.06 Betel Cafe
15.06 Konfederacka 4

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Andrew Cyrille - The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note [CAM] part 2

This is the second half of the text dedicated to the Andrew Cyrille's box which is the part of the brilliant series "The complete and remastered recordings on Black Saint and Soul Note. Check the previous post
for the complete overview of the set.







Andrew Cyrille with Jimmy Lyons
Nuba (1979; Black Saint)
Something in Return (1988; Black Saint)
Andrew Cyrille - drums, percussion; Jeane Lee - voice, poetry (on Nuba only); Jimmy Lyons - alto saxophone

Definitely the most "out" releases in the pack, especially the "Nuba" with Lee's idiosyncratic singing and poetry. Very artistic, spacious and spare playing of the three, completing each others timbres and registers. Lyon, who is criminally undervalued,  with his pure alto sound is a particular treat (check the frenetic, scattered lines in "Sorry"). Lee's voice is clearly an acquired taste but her contribute to the music is undeniable, which doesn't happen that often within the "jazz and poetry" format.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Andrew Cyrille - The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note [CAM] part 1

The Black Saint & Soul Note box series is a way to acquire some amazing and long out of print music at a bargain place. I presented in the past on the blog the boxes with music by Julius Hemphill and David Murray Octet. The Andrew Cyrille box have been in my tracklist almost non-stop for over a month, along with the Miles Davis volume 3 of the bootleg series I wrote about in the previous post. The 7cds in the package can be divided further accordingly to the personnel:


Andrew Cyrille and Maono Quartet
Metamusician's Stomp (1978; Black Saint)
Special People (1981; Soul Note)
Andrew Cyrille - drums, percussion, foot; Ted Daniel - trumpet, flugelhorn, woof flute, foot; Nick DiGeronimo - bass, foot; David S. Ware - tenor saxohone, flute, foot

As soon as "Metamusician's Stomp" starts with its earthy, african groove and joyful chords it's clear why all the musicians are credited with playing "foot" along their respective instruments. You just can't stay still when the melody is dancing around you. Daniel's trumpet thrills are shining but so is the hefty tenor sound by Ware, the round and swift bass played with swag by Di Geronimo and Cyrille's incessant pulse on drums. 
Both cds are immense pleasure and joy to listen to and constitute possibly the most accessible recordings David S. Ware ever made (check the lyrical and slowly moving "My Ship" or charming "A Girl Named Rainbow"), his robust, energetic tone and dynamic outbursts seem to be the perfect fit for this quartet whose music is clearly inspired by the african roots of jazz music. Both albums are filled with strong themes, muscular yet graceful playing, sunny sounds, joyful swing and happy thoughts.



still with Ted Daniel
The Navigator (1983; Soul Note)
Andrew Cyrille - percussion; Ted Daniel - trumpet; flugelhorn; Sonelius Smith - piano; Nick DiGeronimo - bass

No David S. Ware on this one, instead we have Sonelius Smith on the piano. The set is an advanced post-bop jazz, with a deeply resonating blues vibe and and late night jam feeling. Smith's piano playing is elegant, impressionistic and very versatile for which the title track is a great example - lyrical at the beginning, sharp and poignant at the end, with a cutting trumpet solo on the top. Daniel fronts the band with panache and poise and the music is stirring nicely, with plenty of going on to keep your interest. A great set of mainstream jazz that should be appreciated on the both sides of the "free or not" barricade. A ballad "So that life can endure...ps. with Love" with romantic piano intro and warm and sweet flugelhorn tune is a charm.


given the length of the text I decided to divide it into two parts, check the next post for the complete overview.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Krakow Concert Schedule 21-27.7

Last three weeks have been overly intense when it comes to music events, so you may take a breath and relax for the next weekend. For the lovers of a mainstream sound Summer Jazz Festival is still on with the are daily jam sessions and concer

20-24 Daily Jam Sessions at Piec'ART by teachers and students of Summer Jazz Academy

24.07 Scratch Nerds at Alchemia
open turntable jam session at Alchemia, bring your LPs, bring your decks, bring yourself and enjoy yourself.

27.07 Slawek Jaskulke Trio at Harris Piano Jazz Bar (part of Summer Jazz Festival)
Jaskułke is definitely one of the strong voices of polish piano jazz scene, he can be very lyrical (especially in a solo setting) and enjoy crossing the boundaries of jazz, vide his orchestra project, or the modern grooves he plays with the trio.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

23th Warsaw Summer Jazz Days summary

I've got a a problem with managing expectations toward festivals with "jazz" in their name. Now to me jazz music is something exciting, vital, invigourating. Something that should engage and challenge you emotionally and intellectually. It seems nowadays that the term means most of all pleasant. Which is ok. You can enjoy pleasant. But it's also can leae you with a bit of boring aftertaste. But, as I said, that's my problem of not being able to manage expectations correctly.

Four days in Warsaw were packed with jazz. Most of which swinged nicely. Little of which brought real excitement onto the stage. But there where some moments of smiley "wow", and "niiice" among the general "ok" toe tapping and, worst case scenario "meeh". 

To the point. Let's talk about the "niiice". The memory of the festival's last day is most fresh and Gregory Porter made it a success. If you're interested in jazz music and don't know yet who's the guy it means you've been hiding under the rock lately. Claimed the new hope of vocal jazz and Blue Note records, Porter can deliver some fantastic songs. Not afraid to mix blues, soul, gospel influences with jazz, he has a ladykiller smooth, silky, deeeep voice and plenty of energy on the stage. But also a fine band behind and some great songwriting to go with it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Krakow Concert Schedule 16.07-20.07

The return to Krakow from Warsaw was tough (I'll try to gather my thoughts on 24th Warsaw Summer Jazz Days in a next post). The recurrent theme in Krakow for the next two weeks is still the Summer Jazz Festival, I don't see any favourites in the schedule this week though with one possilbe exception - final concert of international competition dedicated to Zbigniew Seifet might prove to be quite interesting, especially for fans of jazz violin.
There's one other thing going on though. Crossroads festival is focused on music with ethnic roots, yet not afraid to cross the cultural and geographic boundaries. A few very strong points in the schedule to see (make sure to check the entire program, what's below is just a selection).

the comments will be very skippy this time, enjoy the music videos.

16.07 Mosaik at Galicia Jewish Museum (part of Crossroads Festival)
first stop on the journey, quite appropriately - Poland.


17.07 Ernst Reijseger / Mola Sylla / Harmen Fraaje at Synagoga Tempel (part of Crossroads Festival)
classicaly trained european musicians (and fierce improvisers) meet traditional Senegal music. A must-see of the week.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Miles Davis - Miles at the Fillmore. Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series vol. 3 [Columbia]

Miles Davis on Fillmore East, June 17-20. 1970 and Filmore West, April 11. 1970
Miles Davis - trumpet
Steve Grossman - tenor sax, soprano sax
Chick Corea - electric piano
Keith Jarrett - organ, tambourine (Fillmore East only)
Dave Holland - bass
Jack DeJohnette - drums
Airto Moreira - percussion, flute, vocal

Columbia / Legacy 2014

Make no mistake, I won't try to add anything incisive nor original to what's been written and said about Miles Davis or about this particular set for that matter. Nor Miles Davis nor Sony Music are in need of additional promotion on my side. It's just that this set is one of the reasons behind the lack of any new reviews on the blog for the past two months or so because it hardly ever left my player so I thought I should just write a bit so I could get past it. 

The simply fact is that that this box and its 4 cds is a bomb. Over 4 hours of material, never previously available in unedited form, presenting one of XXth century music geniuses in peak form with a groundbreaking band. The liner notes by Michael Cuscuna will provide with you plenty of information as well as some social context for the concerts while a separate poster presents snippets of the press of the era that was clearly conflicted regarding Miles' status. Davis was partly antagonizing jazz audience while flirting with the young and hip rock crowd, fresh after the release of epic "Bitches Brew".

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Neta Elkayam Howa Jani at Tempel Synagogue / The Angelcy at Cheder Cafe (Jewish Culture Festival day 8 and day 10)

That was the last concert in the Tempel's Synagogue of this year's edition of the festival. Part of the "classic" side of the program, although the music certainly didn't sound too classic for the european ears.

Neta Elkayam and her band are part of the revival of Moroccan music with its ecstatic rhythms and exotic melodies. The petite singer has a most charming smile, a strong voice and unlimited energy on stage. The muisicians follow her bravely, the piano and bass adding a bit of classical, slighly jazz touch along the percussive madness and cutting violin solos.

Neta would talk about how the music is not only for the sould but also for the body, and there was certainly a solid group beside the stage dancing, not able (and not willing) to resist the groove. For me, among the more dance-oriented concerts of the week, Howa Jani band was among the most soulful performances. With a modern approach but keeping intact the mysterious element of music. Ecstatic yet meditative.  


TheAngelcy closed the festival with a concert in a very overcrowded Cheder Cafe. The air was filled with sweat, and sounds that made it more than worthwhile to stay inside. The group's cleary indebted to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and to all the anti-war pets of the era but also modern songwriters (I'm thinking of groups like The Shins or Zero 7).
The music they play is modest and hearftelt, at times melancholic, at others quite joyful, always utterly charming. I'm listening through the band's debut "Exit Inside" and just can't put the cd away. It's simply a collection of beautiful songs. Put to words, it seems too simple, yet its simplicity like this can be priceless.

Oh my darling babe,
take me in your arms,
don't let me be a stranger.
Oh I wish I'd find
a giant heart to crawl up inside and sleep,
where everything is still,
where there is no war,
where everything is one.
In your arms, where everything is one,
In your arms I shine
(from the song "Giant Heart")



Howa Jani:
Neta Elkayam - vocal; Amit Hai Cohen - piano; Elad Levi - violin; Netanel Ben Shitrit - darbuka; Moske Bakhar - oud; Gal Maestro - double bass; Meir Amar - percussions

Tempel Synagogue. 04.07.2014. 24th Krakow Jewish Culture Festival

TheAngelcy:
Rotem Bar Or - vocal, guitar; Maya Lee Roman - viola, voice; Aner Paker - double bass; Maayan Zimry - percussion; Udi Naor - percussion; Uri Marom - clarinet, flute, vocal

Cheder Cafe. 06.07.2014. 24th Krakow Jewish Culture Festival

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Krakow Concert Schedule 7-13.07

We have not yet even finished the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival (last concert tonight) and we begin today the 19th edition of the Summer Jazz Festival at Piwnica Pod Baranami with New Orlean's jazz parade at Rynek Główny. While the festival is mainly focused on traditional and mainstream jazz, there are few names that should be of interest to followers of the freer paths in jazz. This week the main three events of the festival this week are
New Orleans Jazz Sunday
Inaugural concert with Wlodek Pawlik's grammy winning project "Night In Calisia"
Night of Jazz with a dozen concerts all around on Saturday the 12th.

Plus, Warsaw Summer Jazz Days starts in a few days. Ain't life great?

07.07 Dustin Carlson Krakow Trio at Piec'ART
Straight from Brooklyn's improvised music scene to Krakow to play with Slawek Pezda and Damian Niewinski for what's bound to be an exciting set.

09.07 Wlodek Pawlik Trio with Randy Brecker & Krakow Philharmony Orchestra - Night in Calisia (inaugral concert of the Summer Jazz Festival)
Although Summer Jazz Festival starts few days earlier, this will be the one big event to open it with a blast. Wlodek Pawlik with Randy and the orchestra will perform Pawlik's grammy winning project "Night In Calisia". It sure will be a majestic music.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Nor Cold - Nor Cold [Multikulti]

Nor Cold:
Olgierd Dokalski - tumpet, project concept
Wojciech Kwapiński - guitar
Oori Shalev - drums, percussion
Zeger Vandenbussche -saxophones, clarinet, Jew's harp

Multikulti 2013



For all the incredible diversity and richness of the 24th Krakow Jewish Culture Festival I am a bit dissapointed with the lack of representation of the new polish jewish music. In the previous years the festival would present to its international audience such bands as Shofar, Cukunft, Alte Zachen, Ircha Clarinet Quartet or Riverloam Trio (it's no coincidence of course all of the aforementioned feature either Raphael Roginski or Mikolaj Trzaska or both - no doubt two of the most prominent figures of the rising scene). In order to make up for it, I invite you to check the below albums which I believe to be among the most successful entries in the genre within the last years:


And now let's move to Nor Cold which is thus added to the above list. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Shabari / A-WA at Tempel Synagogue (24th Krakow Jewish Culture Festival day 6)

A very anticipated concert by Frank London and crew. Sharabi, which is the name of the project, means intoxicated and the term is open for both very heavenly and earthly interpretations which reflects the a nature of life. The idea of the project relates closely to the idea of the entire festival - and is that of the meeting (between cultures, generations, traditions ecc). Two leaders and two vocalists represented two cultural circles - that of klezmer music (Frank London and Sarah Gordon) and punjabi bhangra (Deep Singh and Manu Naryan). Both would be garnished with a bit funk.
I believe there is little doubt about what klezmer stands for. Punjabi bhangra is the music and the dance of Indian immigrants, a meeting, again, of the tradition of land of the fathers and inevitably that of the land of sons. (Just so you could get a more clear picture of the style, below one of the songs that appeared during the concert that I believe you're familiar with).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Erik Friedlander / Daniel Zamir Quartet at Tempel Synagogue (24th Krakow Jewish Festival day 4 and 5)

I'm waiting impatiently for tonight's concert by Sharabi project with Frank London and Deep Singh. I believe Frank London is a crucial person to the Radical Jewish Music ever since the mighty Hasidic New Wave. He's as well crucial to the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival having played part in probably every edition of the festival, did you know 1998 performance by the Hasidic New Wave was released by Not Two records?

Few words only about last two evenings. Not too many since you can watch the concerts yourselves on the festival's web channel which is far better than reading others' thoughts on it and I invite you to follow the live transmissions during the week.

Erik Friedlander began the week with a beautifully intimate solo performance a suite "Songs of Scribes" he was commissioned to write by Jewish Museum in New York for an exhibition of manuscripts of jewish, christian and muslim sacred texts. 
The music felt like a beam of light in the dark space, shining with beutiful harmony. Be it the symmetry of medieval madrigals, the emotivity of folk dances like tarantella.  Friedlander's performance was delivered with profound maestry of the instrument, grace and kindness. You could play a shoestring, Coltrane used to say, if you're sincere. It doesn't hurt to be a virtuoso on the top of that as well.


Daniel Zamir used front a dynamic trio Satlah that would shake the jewish music in the key of the free jazz. This year he came back to Krakow with a mainstream jazz combo and with a clearly mainstream project "Saxophonist on the roof". Can you imagine a more iconic culture "text" than the epic soundtrack of the "Fiddler on the roof"? Ironically, the music itself, has little to do with authentic folklore but nevertheless it become one of the cultural lenses through which we look at the jewish culture. 
Zamir and his cohorts would re-interpret the hit songs from the musical in the key of modern jazz, they'd just enough harmonic complexity to the original material and groove to make it all work fine. Bit too elegant, bit too smooth for my taste, but personal preferences aside, sparks were flying with the streaming solos of the leader on the soprano and Omri Mor on the piano. It was definitely a crowd-pleaser and the crowd wanted more, including some chanted call&response. I'd be too much of a cynic to not honestly enjoy "If I were a rich man" with the funky groove. 

Check the quartet's concert on the festival's channel, meanwhile let's jog our memories with the music by Satlah.



Erik Friedlander - cello
Tempel Synagogue. 30.06. 24th Krakow Jewish Culture Festival

Daniel Zamir Quartet
Daniel Zamir - soprano saxophone, voce; Omri Mor - piano; Gilad Abro - double bass; Amir Bressler - drums
Tempel Synagogue. 01.07. 24th Krakow Jewish Culture Festival