Monday, June 18, 2012

Polish Jazz Archive Series vol. 3 – From “Improvising Jazz” Series

   Three years after war has ended, despite all the hope and many efforts for recovering the cultural and social life, political situation in Poland occured increasingly worse. In 1949 communist governance immersed the country into new regime. Five next years Poland was enveloped by ideological oppression and Orwellian doublethink. Communistic government tried to make all forms of culture a subordinate of propaganda, but such idea was never enough enduring and its realization was clearly incomplete. It is worth to remember, every decade after the war Poland was the scene of social protests and anti-system rebellion. And this radical Poland was still the country retaining more freedom than any other in “Soviet bloc”. One of very first signs of change, even before the amnesty for political prisoners, was revival of jazz as most characteristic element of American culture.
   Jazz has always been associated with freedom. No wonder this was the first element of American culture accessible for wide public. In the radio and public concerts jazz and blues were presented under the guise of being protest songs as the proof of injustice of Western democracy. After the death of Stalin in 1953 political oppression was gradually diminished. In 1954 jazz was coming out of underground and in 1956 started to operate two official and in future important international festivals – Jazz Jamboree (first two years in Sopot and from 1958 in Warsaw) and dedicated for avant-garde music Warsaw Autumn. This gave artists and listeners a chance of recognizing and observing genres of music that earlier were not acceptable from the positions of party ideologists and official propaganda.

Polish Jazz vol. 3 – From “Improvising Jazz” Series (1976)

   In November 16, 1955 label Polskie Nagrania recorded some portions of Melomani concert in Warsaw Philharmonic Hall. It was the first group in Polish jazz officially published on records. These recordings were republished in forthcoming years on many popular editions. Melomani was the group playing underground whole period of Stalinization in Polish culture to the moment jazz became accepted genre of popular music. In early years, playing jazz and dance music were complementary activities and many musicians were merging these experiences, what was interresting process anyway. Unlike popular dance bands, music made by Melomani was intended just for listening. And generally this kind of improvising music was new in Poland. Music of Melomani indicates some ties with dancing music background but ambitions of the group were substantially above the level of many groups playing popular music.
   Records were pressed with a half-year delay. And 1956 was the moment of serious changes in Poland life and culture. With these Melomani life recordings Polskie Nagrania began publishing the series called “Improvising Jazz” which few years later has been transformed into Polish Jazz series. And twenty years later, in 1975, Polskie Nagrania Muza begin to publish archive series of Polish jazz recordings. Volume three of the series comprise beginnings of this series and selected recordings of five groups. First are legendary recordings of Melomani group with Jerzy “Duduś” Matuszkiewicz on clarinet, Witold Sobociński on trombone, Andrzej Trzaskowski on piano and famous jazz singer Carmen Moreno. Closely in style are Józef Mazurkiewicz Ensemble and Polish-Czech group Stefan Buga Ensemble with vocal duo Gustav Wicherek and Jerzy Kunicki singing Oh, Bop Sh’Bam Be Bop by Gillespie. Their rendition clearly shows strong connection of early jazz was musical jokes and dancing. This volume comprise also recordings of two groups well recognized in fifties, both lead by tenor saxophone players: Jan Walasek Jazz Ensemble and Władysław Kowalczyk Quartet.

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