This is an early release by veteran Polish Jazz saxophonist / composer Wojciech Staroniewicz, recorded in a classic quartet setting with pianist Andrzej Jagodzinski, bassist Adam Cegielski and drummer Cezary Konrad. The album includes six original compositions, all by Staroniewicz, most of which are ballads.
After listening to just a few opening notes it becomes immediately apparent that this is a Polish Jazz recording, as the music is full of the characteristics, which are unique to Polish Jazz: wonderfully lyrical melodies, folkloristic undertones, unusual meters and those unique harmonies, which only Polish Jazz musicians are able to invent. Also clearly apparent is the virtuosity of the participants, who in spite of their (at the time) young age sound as if they played Jazz for decades. Staroniewicz has a beautiful tone when playing his tenor saxophone, which resembles several of the great American saxophonists, but has more vitality and chutzpah. Jagodzinski is a fantastic player and this early recording already shows him in his full capacity. The rhythm section is also first class, doing a fantastic job supporting the two soloists both during the ensemble parts and solo parts.
Although this is solid mainstream Jazz, it is full of intelligent moments and passionate performances, which take the music well beyond what is usually conceived as mainstream. Partly due to the leader’s superb compositions and partly to the musicians growing up absorbing the Polish Jazz heritage, which includes the innovations introduced by Krzysztof Komeda, which were as much influential on Polish Jazz as John Coltrane’s legacy was on the global scene, this music is both a classic example of mainstream Jazz as much as an epitome of Polish Jazz.
In retrospect I find myself returning to this album from time to time and although it is rarely considered as a Polish Jazz “classic”, it is definitely so for me. Of course the fact that it was recorded almost two decades ago means absolutely nothing except for the fact that is seems to be getting better with time. The fact that Staroniewicz emerged eventually as one of the pillars of the Polish Jazz scene, not only as a player but also as a record label owner, concert organizer, etc. proves that he means business, which is always a great quality in people. So a “classic” for me, and if you get to listen to it – it will be also a “classic” for you.
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