Monday, July 22, 2013

Niemen – Vol. 2

   In 1972, for artists from Eastern Europe record contract with big Western company was the measure of a success. After recording the first CBS album, musicians decided to show results of their experiments for Polish listeners. The effect of the recording session in Warsaw State High Musical School (today it is The Fryderyk Chopin University of Music) was a lot of creative and fresh music, merging many earlier directions of artistic music, especially Polish avant-garde and free jazz. Two albums with recordings from this session, comprising complex presentation of the new repertoire of Niemen band had been released and sold separately. Albums were not titled, just numbered as two consecutive volumes, and in public use they were identified with the titles of first compositions – Vol. 1 (Muza SXL 0895) as Requiem dla Van Gogh’a (Requiem for Van Gogh) and Vol. 2 (Muza SXL 0896) as Marionetki (Puppet Men). Original pressing vas in reverse order, Vol. 2 was published first and when 20 years later album was re-edited and released in 1994 by Digiton on one CD as Marionetki (Puppets). Complete material was in original order, but beginning was the sequence of pieces from Vol. 2, while continuation was program of Vol. 1.
   When two volumes of black and white albums were released in 1973, Polish culture was in the moment of stabilizing after all changes in late 60’s. After avant-garde music of 60’s, after Polish jazz became recognized internationally, after political and social crisis of 1968 and 1970, and three years after beginning of new politics of liberalization and more opening for the culture of the West, there was still wide margin of listeners’ openness to adopt new directions in rock, experimental rock, jazz avant-gardism. This margin was even bigger since pop music and disco were in those days still on non dominant position. So this was probably the best moment for breaking last barriers and to create ambitious music dealing with intellectual problems and demanding listeners open for challenge. In late 60’s he was criticized what was probably part of politics, but in 70’s his international success made him one-man-institution, and his position became so high, he was beyond the reach of any criticism.

Niemen – Vol. 2 (1973)

   Czesław Niemen’s music was significantly different from Polish symphonic rock or art rock style. In fact he was original and creative, consequently constructing his own musical style. It’s worth to consider he was Polish who spend his childhood in Belarus Republic being then part of Soviet Union, but in traditional Polish circles with strong cultural identification and affirmative attitude to tradition. When he came to Poland, he found new possibilities, but he was still in the middle of historical problems concerning national identity and ability of cultural survive. This determined the choice of poetic texts and musical style. On Vol. 2 most material are Niemen’s compositions based on poems of C. K. Norwid (MarionetkiPuppet Men), J. Iwaszkiewicz (Piosenka dla zmarłejA Song for the Deceased), M. Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska (PtaszekThe Little Bird) and B. Leśmian (Com uczyniłWhat Have I Done) with the one and only exception of Józef Skrzek’s composition to lyrics of L. A. Moczulski (Z pierwszych ważniejszych odkryćOf the First Major Discoveries).
   Musicians creating these albums together put considerable contribution in its final shape. It’s obvious with such leader only the best had chance to play. And this was also crucial moment in history of SBB, the trio from Siemianowice previously known as Silesian Blues Band. The cooperation with Niemen lasts from 1971 to 1973 and became breaking point in career of this ensemble. After they parted SBB recorded their first album becoming first progressive rock band in Poland. Four albums with Niemen should be considered also as part of SBB discography, the more, these are the first recordings where one can follow the process of building the band’s style. Helmut Nadolski, avant-garde composer and poet, contrabassist, legend of Polish jazz scene, and Andrzej Przybielski, jazz trumpeter connected with free jazz scene were two musicians who gave the ensemble deep touch of jazz rhythmic and sound expression. Groundbreaking production of band building original Polish scene deserves four stars.

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