Wojtek Mazolewski Quartet: Polka, Deluxe Edition (Whirlwind/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Krakow
Wojtek Mazolewski Quartet: Polka, Deluxe Edition (Whirlwind/Southbound)

Some clarification in anticipation of an immediate turn-off. This is not an album of polka music.

Perhaps the heavily tattooed hands of young Polish bassist and bandleader Mazolewski might have alerted you to that anyway. Or the mohawk sported by pianist Joanna Duda on the inner sleeve.

Also this is a slightly expanded reissue of an edgy but approachable jazz album which was first released in 2014 – “I did not know that” – and saw the band leap from clubs to rock concert and festival bills.

With trumpet, sax and drums alongside Mazolewski and Duda, this swings but also reaches boiling point in laces and the bassist/composer says he owes debts to Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy and Albert Ayler, but also to Led Zeppelin and Nirvana.

So alongside a stately and thoughtful ballad like Paris which evokes a misty evening walking beside the Seine in the city of lights, or the gentle and warm tone poem Bangkok there is the three short parts of London (less than six minutes in total) which rides a funky multi-culti energy inspired by that city (evoking Afro-jazz, car horns and why Mazolewski describes as “a street party on Portobello Road”).

London is one of the pieces added to the original Polka album, as is their seven minute take on the Art Ensemble of Chicago's Theme de Yoyo which closes this Deluxe Edition. It's another funky and free salute to inspirational innovators with tenor player Marek Pospieszalski squeezing out ecstatically tight and busy lines and Duda on funk-fusion electric piano.

PUNK-t Gdansk is a short and fist-tight tribute to Mazolewski's hometown and the fight for freedom which happened there with the Solidarity movement in the Eighties.

So no, not an album of polka tunes but rather a free-wheeling contemporary jazz album with its ears in the past and front-footing the present in music which is by turns considered and exciting.

Oh, there is a piece entitled Polka, but it's not one either, it's a swinging 5/4 tune.

Well worth investigating and enjoying.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

Labcoats: O Potassium! (Braille/RPR)

Labcoats: O Potassium! (Braille/RPR)

If there is an area of New Zealand music which has gone woefully overlooked -- largely because the albums were released in limited numbers at the time and are no longer readily available -- it is... > Read more

Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu Steps Ahead (Strut)

Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu Steps Ahead (Strut)

This transplanted jazz musician from Ethiopia (vibes/keyboards) has been one of the major (re)discoveries of the past few years. His ascent continues on this album which drifts to life on the airy,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST WRITER STEVE GARDEN considers the spiritual complexities of Terrence Malick's controversial film The Tree of Life

GUEST WRITER STEVE GARDEN considers the spiritual complexities of Terrence Malick's controversial film The Tree of Life

Note: there is no synopsis of The Tree of Life in the following article. It has been written with the assumption that those reading it have seen the film. Opening quote: “Where were... > Read more

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: Hearts of Stone (1978)

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: Hearts of Stone (1978)

With his big band the Asbury Jukes (a 10-piece), Southside Johnny out of New Jersey could only ever run a distant second to his friend Bruce Springsteen as the Seventies unfurled. Springsteen... > Read more