13 July 2016: Piotr Wojtasik and Polish jazz

Last week I delved into more of the Polish jazz available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds. In particular, it was Old Land – the title tune from a 2013 album by Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik. This excellent release left Neil and I wondering why we had not picked up on such superb music much earlier. We needed to hear more and felt strongly that Cosmic Jazz listeners piotr wojtasikneeded to as well. As a result there are two more tunes from the album available this week via the MixCloud tab (left).

Wojtasik recorded his first album as leader in 1993 and since then has recorded with leading Polish jazzers along with significant jazz artists including CJ heroes Dave Liebman, Buster Williams and Gary Bartz. His longest association has been with US saxophonist Billy Harper. They met in the late 1990s when Wojtasik was working on his album Quest and they continue to tour and play together. Harper features prominently on Old Land.

Now 20 years into his career,  Wojtasik has became one of the most celebrated trumpeters of his generation in Poland. For this latest album, he has assembled a large and international group of musicians accompanied by choral voices and some celebrat0004367745_350ed American artists – drummers John Betsch and Billy Hart for example. Kirk Lightsey (who also plays with Billy Harper in the celebrated Cookers band) is on piano and NY-based Essiet Essiet anchors the whole project on bass. Old Land has the feeling of Kamasi Washington opus The Epic – although it was recorded earlier. Sadly, Old Land has not received anywhere near the same level of recognition. It receives, though, the highest accolade from us here on Cosmic Jazz – an essential album.

Also from Poland was pianist Pavel Kazmarczk and his Audiofeeling Trio. He has been described as one of the young guns of Polish jazz and as EST with a Polish melancholy. He’s also in the UK this week, performing on 15 and 16 July at the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. Invitation, one of the tunes I played, is from his 2016 album Deconstruction while the second choice came from the earlier Something Personal.

Ameen SaleemI returned to The Groove Lab from bass player Ameen Saleem, this time to one of the strictly jazz tunes on the album that features Roy Hargrove on flugelhorn. Hargrove describes Saleem as “one of my favourite musicians” and identifies his talent for “knowing how to pick the right tempo, which is something we learn from the great masters like Theolonius Monk”. High praise indeed!

The Janet Lawson Quintet raised the tempo with some Brazilian inflected rhythms and we followed this with two more examples of non-German artists on the MPS label – Mark Murphy from the US and Francy Boland from Belgium. Here’s Murphy with one of the stand out tracks from his MPS album Midnight Mood – Sconsolato – and check out this version of the same by the aforementioned Francy Boland, this time with Kenny Clarke and their big band.

manny oquendo and libreFinally, came a descarga, a  Latin jam of wild playing and irresistible dance rhythms from the New York born percussionist Manny Oquendo and his band Libre. It is quite simply as good a dance tune as you are likely to hear. Oquendo may have lived in New York but the Puerto Rican roots are infused throughout his playing – there’s salsa, jazz and so much more.

  1.  Piotr Wojtasik – Blackout from Old Land
  2. Piotr Wojtasik – Hola from Old Land
  3. Pavel Kaczmarczk Audiofeeling Trio – Invitation from Deconstruction (Vars & Kaper)
  4. Pavel Kaczmarczk Audiofeeling Trio – Something Personal from Something Personal
  5. Ameen Saleem – For Tamisha from The Groove Lab
  6. Janet Lawson Quintet – Dreams Can Be from Kev Beadle’s Private Collection Vol 2
  7. Mark Murphy – Why and How from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  8. Francy Boland – Lillemor from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  9. Manny Oquendo & Libre – Major Que Nunca: Salsa Jam from Manny Oquendo & Libre

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