Saturday, June 27, 2015

Polish Jazz vol. 43 – Adam Makowicz – Live Embers

   In times when piano become fashionable, Polish culture was rebuilding towards creating independent survival forms. Cultural tradition of Poland from first decades of 19th century was strongly connected with piano music. In many cases this instrument was a medium of cultural identity and national pride. Central position in Polish artistic traditions was reserved for Fryderyk Chopin’s piano music, but every next generation had to define itself in context of these traditions. Such attitude can be traced in music composed in next centuries as well as performance artists and style of own pianistic school. Prominent role in politics of early 20th century played Polish virtuoso pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Connected with public affairs and cultural identity pianistic tradition was great part of cultural narration in postwar Poland. No wonder jazz pianists in Poland had always serious basis. Most famous Polish pianist in seventies was Adam Makowicz.
   Adam Makowicz (born Adam Matyszkowicz) is one of most independent artists of contemporary international jazz scene. He was born August 18th 1940 in Hnojnik (Czech Republic) in Polish family and after war he was learning in Musical School in Rybnik, then in Cracow Chopin Conservatory. As a classical pianist he was trying to reconcile his professional playing with passion to jazz he was played in underground clubs of Cracow. Also later as internationally recognized jazz pianist, he sometimes plays romantic music, especially Chopin which is no coincidence for his education and strong connections with Polish culture. His main activity is jazz but he is playing almost all styles and best denomination for his musical genre could be just creative music.

Adam Makowicz – Live Embers (1975)

   In 1962 when Adam Makowicz was 22, together with Tomasz Stańko he started Jazz Darings, first Polish group playing free jazz. One year later band won 1st prize in South Poland Jazz Competition and Adam Makowicz started his career as jazz musician in various ensembles Andrzej Kurylewicz Quartet, Tomasz Stańko Trio, Michał Urbaniak Group and Zbigniew Namysłowski Band, Jan Wróblewski Quartet and his own Adam Makowicz Trio. He was also playing with Urszula Dudziak, Novi Singers and Wojciech Młynarski. In 1974 he started solo career and this was crucial point of his career. Audience and critics were delighted by new pianistic personality comparing him to Art Tatum and Keith Jarret. In February 1975 he recorded his first solo album Live Embers. Two years later, May 9th, 1977 he debuted in New York “The Cookery” and recorded his solo album Adam for CBS. In 1978 he settled in New York.
   Program of Life Embers looks at first sight like promotional album. One can find here the whole tradition of piano jazz, from Scott Joplin do Keith Jarrett, from Art Tatum to Bill Evans. And I must confess, I thought this way when I bought this album almost 40 years ago. This was one of my first jazz record, I was fourteen, so I think I’m justified. Idea of this program is much deeper than demonstration of pianist’s possibilities. The program comprises seven compositions by Adam Makowicz, two ragtimes by Scott Joplin, with famous The Entertainer, and two standards by John Coltrane with Giant Steps. Ragtimes were reharmonized and rearranged, and even if in a mysterious way they are keeping the original feeling, modern harmonics show its deeper sense. Bebop or hard bop passages connected with swinging stride, lyricism of phrases and rhythmic complexity, citations and stylistic references show the idea of reconstructing and reworking jazz past. Somehow this humble album is a forecast for jazz neoclassicism of the eighties. Adam Makowicz founded here some common denominators for virtuosity and creativity, merging knowledge on jazz styles with his own invention. Somehow this humble album is a forecast for jazz neoclassicism of the eighties. Four stars without any hesitation.

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