Friday, November 30, 2012

Dave Rempis solo at Alchemia (Krakow Autumn Jazz; 28.11)

Dave Rempis played in Alchemia a lot. That's a fact. But Krakow's audience had never yet had a chance, as I daresay few did before, to see him play a solo concert.
There are few things in music as demanding as a solo performer. To be able to fill the entire space, to create the entire musical narrativa with just a single voice and, from the audience's perspective, to be have to focus on one person on stage, it can be exhausting, it can be weary, it usually is in fact, it happens to be also extremely satisfying.
And so was this concert. Dave filled the space with fluid alto lines and shattered sounds. The range of ideas was impressive as their depth. The performance was not only intimate and extremely personal, which is usual for a solo setting, it had also an intricate logic and sense of direction that are much rarer.
The music flowed and streamed, inspired and inspiring. Thank You Dave.

Dave Rempis - alto sax
Alchemia. Krakow Autumn Jazz. 28.11.2012

for the encore, Dave played soulfully digging his teeth into this classic:


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stefan Pasborg - Free The Moby Dick [ILK]

Mikko Innanen - baritone saxophone
Liudas Mockunas - tenor saxophone
Nicolai Munch-Hansen - electric and double bass
Stefan Pasborg - drums and percussion

ILK Records 2012

If the title "Free Moby Dick" doesn't explain itself clearly enough there's a tiny print below : interpretating six standards from the history book of rock 'n' roll. If that doesn't sound like fun that I don't know what does.

Stefan Pasborg gathers together three friends of his, Mikko Innanen from Finlad, Liudas Mockunas from Lituania and Nicolai Munch-Hansen to perform together such rock'n'roll classics like "Black Dog" as well as "Out In The Tiles" by Led Zeppelin, "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath, "Paint It Black" by Rolling Stones, the modern rock anthem "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes" and the lushfull ballad "Johnsburg Illinois" by Tom Waits. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Jazz Alchemist Radio 26.11.2012 with ... Jimi Hendrix

Autumn is so intense, and so many new great cds have been released recently that...I decided to catch a short break from here and now and the playlist is dedicated to the one and only the great Jimi Hendrix who would have his 70th birtday tomorrow.

Has there ever been any other musician who changed his instrument for ever in a way and to the extent Jimi did? Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Jaco Pastorious? They've come pretty close but I don't think anyone had such an impact as Jimi did.

Debates aside, hope you'll enjoy the music, some pretty surprising takes on Hendrix songs in there.

1. Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsys - Power To Love
2. Robert Dick and Soldier String Quartet - Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
3. Mina Agossi - Voodoo Chile
4. Jorgos Skolias & Bronislaw Duzy - Foxy Lady
5. Jamie Cullum - Wind Cries Mary
6. Mina Agossi - 3rd Stone from the Sun
7. Gil Evans Orchestra - Castles Made of Sand / Foxy Lady
8. Jorgos Skolias & Bogdan Holownia - Little Wing
9. Mary LaRose, Steve Swell, Jeff Lederer, Domini Duval - Wind Cries Mary
10. Mina Agossi - Machine Gun
11. Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsys - Who Knows
12. Medeski, Martin & Wood - Hey Joe

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mazzoll / Janicki / Janicki - Minimalover [Mozg]

Minimalover :
Jerzy Mazzoll - bass clarinet & a, b, c clarinets
Slawek Janicki - double bass
Qba Janicki - drums, percussion, electronics

Stowarzyszenie Artystyczne Mozg 2012

I've written about this trio on the occasion of their concert in Krakow few months back and it's due time to get back and remind you about the cd/dvd they've released as I reckon it's one of the most important events of the year on polish creative music scene. Jarzy Mazzoll shaked jazz status quo back in the 90s (polish yass revolution) and, after few years absence he's back with new group and same unrelentless, rebellious spirit, in the company of old cohort Slawek Janicki (muscular tone yet light on his feet as a good boxer) and Qba Janicki (infusion of fresh blood straight from the new generation of improvising musicians).

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Barry Guy New Orchestra - finale at Manggha (Krakow Autumn Jazz; 23.11)

For three evenings at Alchemia, Barry Guy New Orchestra mixed the elements, ingredients of the band. Feel free to check the previous posts for the detailed line-up of each evening. Both sax trios that make the axis of the band (Evan-Barry-Paul and Mats-Barry-Raymond) could make another statement and develop their history but mostly the line-ups were surprising and unconventional. And so was the music -  exploratory and uncomprimsing.
The three evenings gave an insight into the infinite world of possibilites that exist in a big band, in coulour and texture of music. The music created in an instance, raw yet pure, born from the moment. Majestic or joyfull, energetic or soothing, hidden as well as right in front of your eyes/ears. To be perceived in all it's glory on the final set of those three days, when eleven musicians squeezed onto the stage and ripped and sew again the space with the music.
A series of spontaneously created parallel universes met all together at once yesterday evening at Manggha, given the support of the composed structure.
The Orchestra presented three pieces, each featuring a different main soloists (Maya Homburger, Trevor Watts, Augusti Fernandez). And the music rose in thousands of sounds and colours and shapes, rich and purely majestic. The compositions going light-years beyond any jazz idiom, probably where Gil Evans and Stan Kenton sometimes dreamt of going , concertos for orchestra and soloists. Music that has the immediate element of improvisation built-in, that strikes your heart, while it builds an entire reality of symphonic depth and richness, harmonies sharp or lush, that touch your mind.

And my mind is still striving to grasp it, without any real success. What I know is: those four days of music, in all its variety of aspects and manifestations - that's why we (I hope to speak those words not only for myself) love this music. This is music that unifies passion and vision and expression.

Barry Guy New Orchestra:
Barry Guy - double bass, conductor
Maya Homburger - baroque violin
Augusti Fernandez - piano
Evan Parker - tenor sax, soprano
Trevor Watts - alto sax
Mats Gustafsson - baritone sax, fluteophone
Hans Koch - bass clarinet
Herb Robertson - trumpet, pocket trumpet
Johannes Bauer - trombone
Per-Ake Holmlander - tuba
Paul Lytton - drums
Raymond Strid - drums

Krakow Autumn Jazz. Alchemia (20-22.11.2012) and Manggha (23.11.2012)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Barry Guy New Orchestra - day 3 at Alchemia (Krakow Autumn Jazz; 22.11)

Third day blew the audience off with the final set play by the whole orchestra, did it prepare me for what's coming tonight? I'm not sure but it sure made me want more.

first set
Hans Koch, Raymond Strid
+ Herb Robertson, Johannes Bauer, Trevor Watts

second set
Augusti Fernandez, Paul Lytton
Mats Gustafsson, Barry Guy, Raymond Strid

third set
entire orchestra

(this is from the last day in Alchemia in 2010)

 Alchemia. Krakow Autumn Jazz. 22.11.2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Barry Guy New Orchestra at Alchemia - day 2 (Krakow Autumn Jazz; 22.11)

As I've anticipated in the previous post, the creative sparks are flying high in Alchemia these days. They've knocked you out the day before, if you've managed to get up for the next evening, they did it again. I'll try maybe to sum up the evenings in Alchemia after it's all over and one has a chance to collect his thoughts. For now, it's just a chronicle and here's what happened:

First set
-Johannes Bauer
-Maya Homburger, Herb Robertson, Per-Ake Holmlander, Raymond Strid 
-Barry Guy, Johannes Bauer, Paul Lytton

Second set
-Trevor Watts, Mats Gustafsson, Augusti Fernandez
-Mats Gustafsson, Hans Koch, Per-Ake Holmlander

Third set
-Augusti Fernandez, Raymond Strid
-Evan Parker / Barry Guy / Paul Lytton

Barry Guy New Orchestra at
Alchemia. Krakow Autumn Jazz. 21.11.2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Barry Guy New Orchestra at Alchemia - day 1 (Krakow Autumn Jazz; 20.11.)

When you gather together 12 musicians of such caliber as those taking part in Barry Guy New Orchestra creative sparks are bound to fly around all over the place. And this was just the case.
As words fail to depict truly the music and the energy, treat this and the next few posts more as a chronicle of the event than anything else. It's just me trying to pick up some thoughts together, recover from the musical battle.

The orchestra produced forward a group-selection, without repeating once, any of the possibilites presented two years ago. It seems in fact a puzzle-game of the mastermind which consists in confronting different pieces each time, curious of the possible reactions and effects. You might call it a slighly mad chemistry lab.

And the chemistry (alchemy) is transparent, as each setting yields surprise, variety and inspires satisfaction. The highlights of the night, in my ear, were: 

Maya's ferocious and ear-piercing violin against the low riffs on baritone sax and tuba (I did not have a chance before to see Maya in a completely improvised setting and was blew away).
The incessant and unbelievable percussion drive courtesy of the double drum sets (Paul and Raymond). Pair in the front the muscular Mats' tone, with the humourous Bauer's trombone, add Barry's precision and adventouresness and you've got a band on fire. It was loud, it was heavy, it was raw and meaty and it was a blast.
Come tonight for more.

set I
Auguti, Herb, Evan (solos, trio)

set II
Hans, Barry
Maya, Mats, Per-Ake
Mats, Augusti

set III
Trevor, Per-Ake, Paul
Mats, Johannes, Barry, Paul, Raymond

Alchemia. Krakow Autumn Jazz Festival. 20.11.2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jazz Alchemist Radio to begin the Barry Guy New Orchestra Week 19.11.2012

I have a slight feeling of deja-vu. Two years ago, on the very similar occasion this very blog was born and, suprisingly, is still well and alive. The playlist is a mere introduction to this week, an attempt to mention each musician taking part in the project. 
Barry Guy brings back his New Orchestra to Krakow for a four-days residence that begins tomorrow, will present various small ensembles (featuring selected band's members) on three evening in Alchemia and a final performance in Manghha by the full orchestra.
Treat this sample as an appetizer.

1. Maya Homburger & Barry Guy - Seconda Sonata (by Dario Castello)
2. Herb Robertson & Mark Solborg - Celestials
3. Barry Guy - Sleep Leaper
4. Mats Gustafsson, Barry Guy, Raymond Strind - Taku
5. Hans Koch & John Edwards - improv
6. Augusti Fernandez, Barry Guy, Raymon Lopez - Odyssey
7. Per-Ake Holmlander - Down & Ups
8. Kris Wanders Outfit - A Man's Dream (from "In Remembrance of the Human Race"; feat. Johannes Bauer)
9. Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Paul Lytton - Zafiro Encore
10. Trevor Watts & Jamie Harris - Sarawak
11. Barry Guy New Orchestra - Oort-Entropy; part 2

Mischief Theatre at ImproFest - One Wet Man (18.11)

And now for something completely different: a short post about improvisation that has nothing to do with the music, thus having very little to do with what's usually the subject and the goal of this blog.
Anyway the Mischief company created and ad hoc, improvised on the spot movie, a western filled with action, passion, drama, childhood trauma and absurd. The goodie-goodie hero Max J. (one name that sounds like two) fought through his fear of water and saved the beautifull Rosalie and the city of Moscow from the evil gang of bathroom invaders, proving in the course of the action that eating tons of sausage can be a bonding element to a romantic relation and drinking a glass of water can be an act of courage.
I have seen a lot of short form stage improvs, but never anything long-form guided with such a finesse and sense of structure. And the rules of a good improvisation are pretty much the same whether it's music or stage act. It all comes down to putting your skills and immagination to a test, being ready to act and react and co-create, building up an entire story from little more than a scratch.
The audience's suggestions in that case were: western, Moscow, "One Wet Man", bathroom and sausage. How they've managed to put that together escapes my understanding, but they've created an underrated classic of the genre.

If you get a chance to see them, do yourself a favour and don't miss it. As much fun you can fit into one hour without risking the implosion of the universe.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ratchet Orchestra - Hemlock [Drip Audio]

Reeds: Cristoper Cauley (soprano), Louisa Sage (alto), Damian Nisenson (tenor), Jason Sharp (bass), Lori Freedman (clarinet), Gordon Krieger (bass clarinet); Flutes: Craig Dionne, Jean Derome (bass flute, piccolo, flute)
Trumpets: Gordon Allen, Philipp Battikha
Trombones: Scott Thomso, Jacques Gravel; Brass: Thea Pratt (Eb horn), Eric Lewis (Euphonium), Noah Countability (sousaphone), Gabriel Rivest (Tube); Strings: Joshua Zubot (violin), Brigitte Dajczer (violin), Guido Del Fabbro (violin), Jean Rene (viola), Gen Heistek (viola), Norsola Johnson (cello), Nicolas Caloia (bass), Chris Burns (guitar), Sam Shalabi (guitar); Piano: Guillame Dostale; Rhythm: Isiaiah Ceccarelli (drums), John Heward (drums), Ken Doolittle (percussion), Michel Bonneau (conga)

                                                                          DRIP Audio 2012

I felt that once I've copied the band's members list my work is close to finished. The Ratchet Orchestra is led by Montreal based bass player Nicolas Caloia who composed all the tunes on "Hemlock" which is the big band's second release. Just one look at the line-up gives you some idea about how huge might be the sound of this music.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Keir Neruinger & Rafał Mazur - invitation to Literki, tonight at 8PM

I'd like to pass Rafal Mazur's invitation to the concerts with Keir Neuringer. I've written about the duo on the occasion of a concert at Bomba some time ago. The duo's cd "Unison Lines" comes equally highly recommended.
The concert at Literki is and additional event to the Krakow Autumn Jazz program as well as part of the new and very much-welcomed series dedicated to improvised music Improwizje that will take place at the club.
As such it starts also an international tour by the duo.  Here are the next dates, be sure to see the concert if you're nearby:

Unison Lines European Tour 2012

15.11. - Kraków, klub Literki
19.11 – Warszawa, „Pardon, to tu”
20.11 – Poznań, Dragon
21.11 – Gdańsk, Teatr w Oknie
22.11 – Berlin, Sowieso
23.11 – Leipzig, Galerie KUB
25.11 – Paris, La galerie G
27.11 – Brussels, Cafe Central
28.11 – Amsterdam, OT 301
29.11 – Geneve, Insubordinations series, le Cabinet
01.12 – Wien, Porgy&Bess

The tour is possible thanks to a funding received by the

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Theo Jorgensmann & Albrecht Mauer [Nemu]

Theo Jorgensmann -  g low clarinet, voice
Albrecht Maurer - violin, viola, voice

Nemu Records 2011

"Melancolia" is inspired by Albrecht Durer's engraving from the 1514, symbolic picture produced in times scarred by the inhumane Peasant Wars. Nonetheless the improvised suite presented on the cd is not necesseraily sad.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Jazz Alchemist Radio Archives 09.11.2009 with Paul, Gred, Fred and others

Whoever's in Krakow I invite you to come and see the documentary "Soldier of the Road. A portrait of Peter Brotzmann", screening starts at 8PM at Kino Agrafka. For everyone else's enjoyement (?) here' another from the archives (I promise that next Monday there will be some brand new material and live program will air). The show originall aired on 09.11.2009 and 

We've presented briefly some then-recent releases (Tomasz Stanko's "Dark Eyes", Wadada Leo Smith's "Spiritual Dimensions" and a piece from the "Resonance" box set by Ken Vandermark's project).

We've talked about the coming next week by Londberg-Holms Valentine Trio (2) - part of the 2009 Autumn Jazz in Krakow.

As well as we've celebrated birthdays of Paul Bley and Greg Lake.

The audio is so-so, the introductions are way too long but bear with me as there's some good music inbeetween. Hope you'll enjoy it.

01_Tomasz Quintet Stanko - Grand Central
02_Paul Bley, Gary Peacock, Paul Motian - Fig Foot
03_Fred Lonberg-Holm Valentine Trio - I know
04_Fred Lonberg-Holm Valentine Trio - I Know (reprise)
05_King Crimson - In Court Of Crimson King [BBC radio sessions]
06_Crimson Jazz Trio - The Court Of The Crimson King
07_King Crimson - Epitaph
08_Fred Lonberg-Holm Valentine Trio - The Squimp
09_Ken Vandermark Resonance - The Number 44 (for Ania 'Czarna' Adamska)
10_Wadada Leo Smith Organic Group - South Central L.A Kulture

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Concerts, Movies, Festivals and so on. Krakow 11.11-18.11.

It might seem that in beetwen the 28.10-2.11 marathon and the coming soon Barry Guy New Orchestra week Krakow Aumn Jazz festival came to a quick break, which is not entirely true. Nevertheless I decided to take this opportunity and invite you to some events that are taking place soon in Krakow and are worthy of your attention.

First and foremost Cracow Improvisers Orchestra, a collective that unites some of the most active members of the Krakow's improvising scene together will perform a couple of conducted ensemble improvisation tonight in Alchemia. 

The very next day a documentary "Soldier of the road" about Peter Brotzmann will be screened in Kino Agrafka. Start 8.30 PM (Reason why we'll have to wait another week for a live radio program. of course there will be something to tune in to anyway).

On 13.11 the experimental concert, part of the Muzykoterapia series I wrote about on several occasions, will take place back in Alchemia, the performers will be: Patryk Daszkiewicz, Pawel Dziadur, Martyna Poznanska and Bartosz Ignacy Wrona.

Keir Neuringer and Rafal Mazur will play in Literki on 15.11. Part of the "additional events" schedule for the Autumn Jazz Festival as well as part of an extended tour the duo will play, I'll dedicate a separate post to give you more details about the other dates and places.

The recording of a special concert played by Chicago Tentet with guests will be screened at Kino Agrafka. The income will go to the Fukushima fund, as was the original intent of the concert.

Last but definitely not least on 16.11 starts the 2012 Audio Art Festival, dedicated the integration of audio and visual arts. The festival will last till 25.11 and will present a variety of artists coming from the aritstic range of experimental, improvised, electronic, electro-acoustic, field recording, installation, performance etc. Please check the schedule as I'm sure you'll find something intriguing, both known and yet unknown to your ears.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Kamil Szuszkiewicz - Prolegomena [Slowdown]

Kamil Szuszkiewicz - trumpet
Wojciech Traczyk - double bass
Marcin Ulanowski - drums
Kuba Cichocki - upright piano
Tomasz Duda - baritone saxophone
Macin Gańko - baritone saxophone

Slowdown Records 2011

Kamil Szuszkiewicz is a part of Warsaw active improsised music / jazz scene and he appeared on the blog on the occasion of Profesjonalizm - "Chopin Chopin Chopin" cd, which is but one of the many projects he's involved in. "Prolegomana" is his debut as a leader, released on the autumn last year by the Slowdown Records (run by another active musician on the Warsaw scene - Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski).

"Prolegomena" showcases Kamil Szuszkiewicz not only as an interesting trumpet player but also as an intriguing composer. The initial "Recytatyw" is basically a trumpet trio, sharp trumpet notes cut through the air and the broken drumbeats.  The low, rumbling tone of baritone comes in the middle to add darker hues but stops suddenly to leave on the stage just the single trumpet note, around which slowly but sytematically other instruments start to join back (at which poin the track ends in the fade-away). "Knury" doesn't even feature the trumpet but matches the two baritones against and their scattered honks against the incessant percussion drive and screaming high-pitched arco bass sounds. 
Most of the remaining tracks are played in quartet format with the piano. "Pawana" is gentle and brooding with a simple piano chord and long notes of solitudine played by the trumpet and the bass, the pedal drum playing a steady beat that isn't that much different from a slow hearbeat cycle. "Ryfa" brings some fervent soloing. Dynamic "Skit" is based on the heavy bass riff overlapped with high-pitched screeching sounds of the bowed strings. "Kraksa" brings more of the intriguing mood that reminds a little bit of early Polanski's movies and Komeda's music. There's the same harmonic edge and just a hint of suspense and self-inflicted paranoia. 
"Aria" is possibly my favourite track of the album, a haunting melody played by the trumpet (soft and gentle tone, spacious and airy) and the gentle bass, with a subtle percussion and an electronic sound that appears cyclically, an alien element that becomes an intricate part of the structure. As the music dissolves and disappears, the electronic cycle continues, remaining suspended in the silence.
"Kredyt" is a piano - drums duo, as right hand circles in an assymetric series, the left one hits with the dissonant chords and the drums create a small crescendo within each cycle. 
Last but not least "Pietuszki" pairs the deep timbre of the bass and baritone with the lyrical trumpet, 
the delicate melody flows gently, first played in unisono, then divided into parts played by the separate instruments, lyrically and enchanting (subtle and coulourfull percussion in the background throughout).

This is a most welcomed debut as a leader, one that shows not only a skill-set to play the music but also Szuszkiewicz's vision as a bandleader and composer. And this vision, between the fervent noir moods and deeply lyrical is wholeheartedly recommended.

some tracks are presented in this radio playlist.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Yoni Kretmzer 2 Bass Quartet - Weight [OutNow Recordings]

Yoni Kretzmer 2 Bass Quartet:
Yoni Kretzmer - tenor saxophone
Sean Conly - double bass
Reuben Radding - double bass
Mike Pride - drums

OutNow Recordings 2012

Any quartet with double force in the bass section is bound to be a little on the "weight" side. This is my introduction to Yoni Kretzmer and is plenty of pleasure to meet (listen to) this young tenor player and his comrades.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stefano Ferrian / Simone Quatrana ImproConnection Tour at Barka (05.11)

The post should be treated more as a Autumn Jazz festival's chronicle than a review. I have written recently about Stefano Ferrian's Nutimbre band and their most recent release "Risk". The two members of the quintet just launched the international ImproConnection Tour which consits of some 24 gigs in various locations, on each occasion the two players will be playing with local improvising musicians. The evening in Krakow was the 4th gig of the series and I invite you to check Stefano's website to see if you can check any of the next concerts (tonight = Vilnius).

There were some really strong music moments during the night and the four musicians really dug deep trying to create on the spot, although it seemed evident that the italian duo knows each other pretty already well. But the connection was established clear and strong and music flowed with the inspired stream, I was particularly impressed by the fast-lightning and yet very precise, fractured and repetitive patterns played on piano by Simone Quatrana but big hands to Paulina Owczarek and Ernest Ogore who stood up for the occasion and played some fervent music to match the Ferrian / Quatrana duo intensity.

The challenge of ImproConnection Tour is to meet everyday with different circumstances and different musicians and to be able to adapt constantly and learn from each opportunity. This is going to be a hard yet exciting time for Stefano and Simone and wish them both the best of luck. May the music continue to flow as strong as it did in Krakow.

A fragment of the previous concert in Brno

Stefano Ferrian - tenor sax, alto sax
Simone Quatrana - piano
Paulina Owczarek - baritone sax
Ernest Ogórek - double bass, electric bass

Barka. Krakow. 05.11.2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jazz Alchemist radio Archives - 02.11.2009 All Saints' Day 2009. R.I.P.

Whoever's in Krakow, I invite you to come and see the evening's concert at Barka with Stefano Ferrian and Simone Quatrana. For the rest of you I bring back the playlist that was aired orginally on 02.11.2009 in which we've celebrate the life and music of such beautifull artists like Sirone, George Russell, Rashied Ali, David "Fathead" Newman, Louis Bellson, Hugh Hopper who all passed away during that year.


01. Mike Reed's Loose Assembly - Day Of The Dead
02. Sirone-Aisha`s Serenade
03. George Russell-Nardis
04. Michael Zerang / Dave Rempis / Mark Tokar / Steve Swell / Ken Vandermark  - (from the Resonance box)
05. Rashied Ali & Louie Belogenis - Rings of Saturn
06. Doctor 3 - Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
07. Duke Ellington and his orchestra - Skin Deep
08. David Fathead Newman - Hard Times
09. Soft Machine - Virtuality Part 1
10. Soft Machine - Virtuality Part 2
11. Eri Yamamoto, Whit Dickey, Daniel Carter - Rocker
12. Tim Daisy / Dave Rempis / Magnus Broo /  Michael Zerang - (from the Resonance Box)
13. George Russell - Honesty
14. Krzysztof Komeda - Sophia's Tune

Sunday, November 4, 2012

DKV Trio at Manggha (Krakow Autumn Jazz; 1.11)

The bar was set up incredibly high at the first set of the evening by the Hera. Still DKV is like an dream team trio, I've heard legends about their concert 10 years ago in Katowice and Marek Winiarski from Not Two tried ever so hard to bring them in to Krakow in the last years but it proved to be impossible because of the musicians schedule - they've among the busiest people in the world. And it finally happened.

And boy it was worth waiting for. The trio grooved with grittines, swinging soulfully and passionately. Just unresistable ride, joyfull and fun. When they get lyrical it's smooth and lushfull, when they hit it hard it's an instant knock-out, when they want to be rough or abstract, they just do, without ever loosing the grip of the story, all even the most abstract dots connect with each other in a perfect way. There's elegance and energy that rarely meet together, the swag and substance, the heavy groove dances lightly on its toes and the trio is just on fire and your foot is toetapping without a stop.

As good as it gets. Smokin' hot jazz. 

2nd set:
Ken Vandermark - tenor sax, clarinet
Kent Kessler - double bass
Hamid Drake - drums

Manggha. Krakow Autumn Jazz. 01.11.2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hera XL with Hamid Drake (Krakow Autumn Jazz; 1.11)

This was for me, and possibly many others, the most awaited evening of this year's festival. Hera is possible one of the strongest units on the scene and it still evolving band, constantly in search of new and exciting. I invite you to check on the blog the review of their 2nd cd "Where My Complete Beloved Is" as well as the interview with the band's leader Waclaw Zimpel. The quartet met with Hamid Drake in Lublin a year and a half ago, the double bill evening ended in a the wonderfully groovy jam session and they immediately hit it off and the idea to work together in the future was born on the spot.
The Krakow concert is the day that this idea came to reality and the band presented a new series of compositions that show the continuous development of the musical vision. Trance, hypnotic, the music would shine with the rhythmi propulsation provided by the double drums sets behind, with the polyphonic melodies presented by the double front line, with the stead bass groove, with sharp guitar sound and the drones of hurdy gurdy.

There was something absolutely magical about the performance, complete and total experience of sound, rhythm, melody. Omnipresent, the music would take you in wholly, showing you the paradise world of universal love. I honestly lack word to describe the passionate feeling that the music gave me. Hats off especially to Maciej Cierlinski who just added an entire new universe to the band's music (also the craziest solo of the night, if Jimi Hendrix have played hurdy gurdy, that's how it would sound). It was also the first time I've heard them with Raphael Roginski and his unique sound would enhance so fabulously the constant melodious flow.
To have listened to this band was like to jump into a river, and just keep floating, keep admiring the constance of change around you, and it felt so safe and natural to meet all this with an openess of mind and heart. In the words of Joe McPhee: "fucking amazing".

1st set:
Hera XL:
Waclaw Zimpel - clarinet, contralto clarinet
Pawel Postaremczak - tenor, soprano sax
Raphael Roginski - guitar
Maciej Terlinski - hurdy gurdy
Ksawery Wojcinski - double bass
Pawel Szpura - drums

Hamid Drake - drums

Manggha. Krakow Autumn Jazz. 01.11.2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Peter Brotzmann with KonstruKt / The Damage is Done at Manggha (Krakow Autumn Jazz; 31.10)

Peter Brotzmann came back to Krakow for the second evening of the festival and he brought two bands with himself - a turkish collective KonstruKt (something new) and The Damage is Done (something old).

KonstruKt is probably a fairly obscure group but they caught mine attention with three recent collaborations - Marshall Allen, Evan Parker (a live cd from Akbank Festival which I wrote about here) and, last but not least, Peter Brotzmann. The line-up for the evening was alto saxophone, bass guitar, drums and old-school korg synth and some other retro keyboards.  
The sax gave a signal with a fiery, frenetic phrase and the band started brewing - dense and intense, with powerhouse drumming, sci-fi keys and some fastwalking basslines. An updated, free and wild view on the fusion easthetics where (finally) the general sound of the group is more important the solo pyrotechnics. Once the Peter joined and added his own tsunami stamp on the music the band really got it going on. There was the right kick (and the left punch) - boiling and turmoiling.

For the 2nd set showed up the quartet of Peter, Joe McPhee, Kent Kessler and Michael Zerang, which took the name of the Damage is Done. Which is the title of the double cd released on Not Two and recorded couple of years back in Alchemia. The concert which, I remember it vividly, got me so pumped up that I stayed up till 4 pm, writing one of my first reviews  ever (curious polish reades can find it Diapazon).
They had me then, and the still do. Four incredible musicians and minds playing music on the spot, putting to the test all the sensibility and emotional power they can muster. Brotzmann tornadoes on the saxophone, no prisoners allowed or utters cry of despair, McPhee balances the sound with the depth of blues and Kessler and Zerang create a myriad of textures and grooves to push the music forward, unstoppable. Energetic till the point you want to jump up high in the air or lyrical and tear-breaking. To watch this quartet is to follow a heroic battle scene, where there are no prisoners allowed.

1st set:
Korhan Futacı - alto sax, flute
Umut Çağlar - electric organ, synth
Özün Usta - electric bass, gongs, djembe
Korhan Argüden - drums

Peter Brotzmann - tenor saxophone, tarogato

2nd set:
The Damage Is Done:
Peter Brotzmann - tenor sax, tarogato, clarinet
Joe McPhee - tenor sax, pocket trumpet
Kent Kessler - double bass
Michael Zerang

Manggha. Krakow Autumn Jazz 2012. 31.10.2012

Tim Daisy / DOT Trio at Alchemia (Krakow Autumn Jazz 2012; 30.10)

Tim Daisy played in Alchemia on countless occasions with a rich variety of projects and I'll daresay (haven't really cross-checked it) that he played a part in each Krakow Autumn Jazz Festival so far, yet it was the first occasion to see him in a solo setting.

He opened with a piece dedicated to two polish musicians he performs with quite often - Mikolaj Trzaska and Waclaw Zimpel, both well known to Krakow audience (in fact, both present in this year festival's program). The piece employs a steady beat that serves as an axis for slight dynamic shifts and sudden meter changes. During the rest of the set Tim would honor Merce Cunningham, Kyle Bruckmann, the late John Tchicai as well as Marek Winiarski and Wawrzyn "Laurence" Makinia (respectively Not Two and Multikulti labels).
While on many occasions solo performances seem to be an excuse to exploit and exhibit technical prowess or indulge in experimental formalism, Daisy's improvisations tend to be quite melodic and very structured. There's a "theme" to each piece which might be based on a particular phrase, frame, meter or the timbral effect of the given pair of drumsticks (part of his "bag of tricks") - in fact each piece is a singular narration with its own pulse to give the structure while the emotional, personal dedication provides the substance.

For the second set Tim joins forces with Mark Tokar - a long time collaborator with the Resonance Band and Four (quartet with Dave Rempis and Waclaw Zimpel) and Paulina Owczarek who represents the Krakow improvising scene. The duo drums - bass duo hit it right away instantly with a deep and dense and heavy groove that filled the space and it was evident they know each other already pretty well. Unfortunately Paulina, whom I've seen playinggreat music on plenty of occasions, seemed a bit lost and too shy to fight for her own space in the music, she remained hidden, her "inside" approach to the instrument, carving patiently the space with barely audible sounds didn't match well the energetic, kinematic play of Tim and Mark and the baritone with which she should have kicked their asses remained "under". The trio was sort of an unfullfilled promise, but that's the risk you have to take in this kind of music you can't win it all. Just a simple fact of life.

1st set
Tim Daisy - drums

2nd set
Tim Daisy - drums
Paulina Owczarek - baritone saxophone
Mark Tokar - double bass

Alchemia. Krakow Autumn Jazz 2012. 30.10.2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mikrokolektyw with Malgorzata Haduch at Alchemia (Krakow Autumn Jazz; 29.10)

2nd set of the evening introduced a new element to Krakow Jazz Autumn Festival - dance. Małgorzata Haduch - responsible for the Free The Dance series is a dancer / improviser that for that particular occasion invited to Krakow the Mikrokolektyw a duo. The band, born from the Robotobibok, made a surprising entrance to the international jazz scene couple of years back that ended in their first cd "Revisit"being released by the Delmark label. 

I had a chance to listen to the interview that Peter Margasak from Chicago made with Artur and Kuba before the concert and part of the conversation was dedicated to the subject of introducing more open forms and purely improvised elements to the duo's music. Both on their own as a well as the effect of various collaborations and improvisational meetings. The evening in Alchemia was a  particular example of that as the improvisation would be a core of the concert yet the music would still be played exclusively by just the two musicians.

And so there were passages reminding of the melodic song-like forms introduced on the cd, with a sweet tone of the trumpet and hypnotic, slightly tribal drumming. Yet so much of the soundspace would be filled with mysterious, suspended noises and sounds, both electronic and acoustic, that would fill the air like the abstract series of dots and lines, surprising, slightly irrational, dark yet strangely inviting.

Malgorzata Haduch's dance is a theatre of gestures and postures and moves that both mirror as well as enhance the perception of the sound. Without trying to overdo it, her dance would reflect equally the flexible, agile nature of the sound as well as scattered and surprising, incidental nature of improvisation. The arte of dance would co-exist with the art of sound being both its interprations as well as an extension.

But I wouldn't want to try to think about all the possible relations and ways of perceptions that mixed arts could enter in. I'm not sure if the dance adds something to the music, or changes it, or completes it. For me it's simple - the evening was as much pleasure for the eyes as for the ears. 

Artur Majewski - trumpet, electronics
Kuba Suchar - drums
Malgorzata Haduch - dance

Alchemia. Krakow Autumn Jazz. 29.10.2012

Zlatko Kaucic at Alchemia (Krakow Autumn Jazz 2012; 29.10)

The idea of solo performance on drums and percussion must seem revolting to any mainstream kind of music audience. I mean in the end one can get to accept the lack of vocals (no lyrics?) but the idea of drums on stage seem to present all kinds of doubts (no melody?) till the point it might seems that it isn't enough to create music. A big mistake. Not only rhythm is the most basic manifestation of music but it's the innate base life. There's no life without it, and no story to tell.

Zlatko Kaucic who played with the entire who's who of european improvised scene is the kind of drummer whose playing I perceive as based upon that idea - that life is rhythm, and there would be no story to tell if it wasn't for that simple truth. He's a shaman who narrates the fables of ancient ghosts and poerform rituals to cast off the demons.
And sounds are means to tell the story, with the immagination being the only limit. He'd play the set of small frame drums, gongs, plates, cymbals, pots as well as toothbrushes. And it seemed like this and other objects were always intended for that kind of use. The sound and the idea - that's what you need to create music.
No gimmicking, no cheap trickery, just good storytelling - that's what makes the difference between true a wizard and the magician.

Zlatko Kaucic - drums, percussion, objects, voice

Alchemia. Krakow Autumn Jazz. 29.10.2012