Friday, February 28, 2014

Polish Jazz vol. 74 – Namyslowski The Q – Open

   A famous Polish saxophonist, Zbigniew Namysłowski is one of most prolific artists of Polish school of modern jazz. He is active since late fifties and with every decade he was evolving through trends while retaining his individual style. In the era of vinyl records he was also one of most featured artists in Polish Jazz series. As many of Polish school founding fathers he was professionally educated in classical music as multi instrumentalist, arranger and composer. Before he chose alto saxophone, he was playing cello and piano in Academy and trombone in traditional jazz bands.
   After his debut in 1957 during Sopot International Jazz Festival, he almost instantly became one of leading artists in Poland, with his group Jazz Rockers which he was recording life during Jazz Jamboree festival in 1961. Later he was leader of The Wreckers. In both bands he was playing with Michał Urbaniak, then playing tenor saxophone. With The Wreckers he was touring in US and played at Newport Jazz Festival in 1962. In 1964 Zbigniew Namysłowski with his own quartet recorded for Decca album Lola and it was probably first international success of Polish jazz musicians.

Namyslowski The Q – Open (1987)

   Zbigniew Namysłowski was present on Polish Jazz recordings from the very beginning of the series. First volume of Warsaw Stompers presented four songs in his arrangements. On fifth volume Astigmatic he was playing with Krzysztof Komeda Quintet – he was listed as Zbyszek Namysłowski (he was 26 years old). Sixth volume of the series was self titled record of Zbigniew Namysłowski Quartet opening series of the most significant albums in the history Polish jazz. Next records were Winobranie (vol. 33), Kujaviak Goes Funky (vol. 46) and signed by Namysłowski The Q one of last albums in the series Open (vol. 74). In fact each of these albums requires a more attention and a separate article as every record is document of artist development.
   Album Open shows a reaction against exhaustion of jazz in the eighties. Saxophonist is convincing the best answer to an uncertain situation of jazz music could be turning back to seventies and using some past ideas in new context. In 1987 jazz was still highly priced in Poland, even if as a genre it was more and more marginalized. Many jazz musicians had moved to popular music, playing soft jazz or becoming arrangers and sidemen in dance recordings. Thus there are some references to the easy listening, but Zbigniew Namysłowski made Open another strong expression of his believe in folk music. His solos in Cuban Tango Mohito and Rachitis March are once again clear examples of artist’s post-bop and post-fusion improvisations.

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