BEAUTIFUL LOLA, FLOWER OF THE NORTH
Chazz for Jazz | Long Beach CA | 01/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"SIDE A 1. PEKNA LOLA, KWIAT POLNOCY (BEAUTIFUL LOLA, FLOWER OF THE NORTH) (Namyslowski) 6.37 2. LESZEK I LUDWIG (Gulgowski) 3.36 3. PIATAWKA (IN 5/4 TIME) (Namyslowski) 8.00 4. BLUES SHMUES (Namyslowski) 3.50
SIDE B 1. ROZPACZ (DESPAIR) (Namyslowski) 7.19 2. TKOTKONITKOTKO (Namyslowski) 4.44 3. WOZNY - NAJWAZNIEJSZY (THE CARETAKER - THE MOST IMPORTANT MAN) (Gulgowski) 3.54 4. OL' MAN RIVER (Kern, Hammerstein) 6.45
Recorded August 1964 at Decca Studios, London. Zbigniew Namyslowski - alto sax, Wlodzimierz Gulgowski - piano, Tadeusz Wojcik - bass, Czeslaw Bartkowski - drums. Recording engineer: Vic Smith, Produced by Michael Vernon. CD remastering: Zbigniew Kozicki, Ewa Szafranek, CD production: Zdzislaw Gogulski, Marek Winiarski. Special thanks to Wieslaw Pieregorolka, Andrzej Puczynski, Andrzej Kapkowski.
Liner notes by ROMAN WASCHKO taken from the original 1964 DECCA album:
The average jazz fan is strongly influenced in his thinking by the critics and popularizers of this music. Even though jazz is inevitably associated with the United States, it is, however, performed all over the world. The results of the work of musicians in countries, sometimes very remote from the United States, both geographically and culturally, are startling to some experts. For example, take the recent contacts of European jazz musicians and critics with jazz played in Asia.
Not long ago, jazz was also "discovered" in Eastern Europe. When Willis Conover, the American jazz promoter, known all over the world (but, ironically, not widely in his own country), came to Poland, he was very surprised by the growth, versatility and liveliness of the Polish jazz scene. At a large jazz concert, organized at the Warsaw National Philharmonic, giving thanks for an enthusiastic welcome, Conover said, "It is I who should applaud you for the dignity that you have brought to the appreciation of jazz, and you, the musicians, for devoting your lives to music so far from its source, but to all of you, musicians and observers, for the warmth of the greeting you have given me here in Warsaw, dziekuje. (Thank you)".
The Polish jazz movement is undoubtedly more alive and versatile than in many Western European countries and even the U.S.A. There are not many countries in the world where Philharmonics organize regular jazz concerts, where jazz festivals are organized by the state institutions, where jazz is taught in schools, where jazz composers get state grants and where jazz popularizers receive awards from the Ministry of Culture. All this comes from a common and officially approved acceptance of jazz as an art form.
In Poland jazz and the interest in this music is developing on certain general lines. Just after the War and after the period when jazz was not allowed to be performed, there was a boom in traditional jazz. A few years later, in 1956, the first Polish modern combo appeared and from this very moment one could see a radical change, both in jazz itself and in the interest of jazz fans. Jazz became less popular than before and all those who saw in traditional jazz only superficial rhythmical attractiveness lost interest in it and turned to popular and all kinds of big beat music. From quantity, jazz transferred to quality. The standard of combos and of music has greatly improved, and our musicians have begun to look for their own ways of expression. In spite of the fact that in the very beginning only American standards and originals were performed, from 1960 Polish musicians turned to their own musical tradition and in particular to Polish folk music. This trend was started by Ptaszyn Wroblewski, tenor sax, a member of the 1958 International Youth Orchestra at Newport. He wrote the very first Polish jazz original based on a folk song Bandoska from Opole in western Poland, Bandoska in Blue. The tune became so popular that other musicians began to write in the same idiom. This moment could be considered as the starting point of a Polish jazz school. Now all the top Polish jazz musicians play their own compositions almost exclusively, usually based on Polish traditional melodies.
Zbigniew Namyslowski is one of them. His quartet is one of the top Polish modern jazz groups, although it is one of the youngest ones. The Quartet appeared for the first time at the International Jazz Festival in Warsaw in 1963 and was enthusiastically received by the international jazz critics who attended the Festival and jazz fans. The German jazz critic J. E. Berendt wrote afterwards about "the great discovery" and foreign managers booked the group for the whole of 1964.
ZBIGNIEW NAMYSLOWSKI - is one of the most versatile and active jazz musicians in Poland. This childish-looking, small, fairhaired man is, however, the oldest member of the group and its leader. He was born in 1939. He studied 'cello and then, trying various different instruments, he took up the alto sax and is now one of the best alto saxophonists in Europe. Formerly he played with many combos and with the Andrzej Trzaskowski Quintet, known at that time as The Wreckers; with this group he travelled all over Europe and the U. S. A., where he appeared at the Washington and Newport jazz festivals. Although some critics stress the influence of Jackie McLean, Namyslowski himself maintains that he has been mostly influenced by John Coltrane. Namyslowski is a modem musician, however, the statement made by a British jazz critic that he "almost makes Ornette Coleman sound like George Lewis", probably goes too far. He is a musician constantly developing his musical sensitiveness and it is difficult to predict now, how far "way-out" his musical inventiveness will lead him.
Pianist WLODZIMIERZ GULGOWSKI, born in 1943, like all other members of the group is a graduate of Music High School. Also a composer, he plays classical music and jazz equally well. He is considered to be a new Polish star of the piano. TADEUSZ WOJCIK, bass, born in 1943, is a versatile musician who is perfectly at ease in modern and traditional jazz and even pop music. CZESLAW BARTKOWSKI, also born in 1943, is a promising drummer. Besides his conventional musical education, he graduated from a jazz course organized in Wroclaw. The group received very good reviews everywhere on their British tour and experts were surprised that the group was unknown to them. Derek Jewell, jazz critic of the Sunday Times, wrote, "Few visitors, even Americans, have surprised us more with their intensity, technique and originality than the Zbigniew Namyslowski Quartet from Poland. Perhaps we are too insular; perhaps politics and economics are to blame; whatever the cause, here is this excellent young group, with an idiosyncratic voice, and most British aficionados have neither heard them nor heard of them."
Rozpacz - Despair, is not as tragic as the title implies. It is one of the tunes especially written for the Decca recording session. The title was invented when the musicians learned that they would not be given enough time for rehearsing before the recording - thus Despair. Leszek i Ludwig - these are two Polish boys' names and at the same time the title of the pleasant ballad by Wlodzimierz Gulgowski. Piekna Lola, Kwiat Polnocy - Beautiful Lola, the Flower of the North is already well-known tune wherever the combo has appeared. This 4/4 tune changes its rhythm in parts to Bossa Nova. A clear melodic line has undoubtedly Polish influences, stemming from traditional Polish music. Blues Shmues - this is another tune by Namyslowski in a slow tempo. Piatawka - is perhaps the most unusual tune of the record. The tune, in 5/4 time is the one most influenced by Polish folk music. It is the music of Polish highlanders, easily recognisable by the pipe tones derived from the traditional Polish bagpipes. Derek Jewell also wrote, "...his (Namyslowki's) impressive Piatawka - cascading scales, tonal shifts and phrases of lament set against a hypnotic thunder of 5/4 rhythm - is like Africa/Brass in miniature. But it is in transmuting American influences that the quartet is so intriguing. Piatawka is founded on disctinctively Polish folk themes. Is his often abstract style Namyslowski, stabbing like a man in search of theme, is also immensely personal and the rhapsodic style of pianist Wlodzimierz Gulgowski inevitably suggests Chopin. In jazz there is a Polish sound". Wozny najwazniejszy - The Caretaker, The Most Important Man - is a tune by Gulgowski, especially written for Decca. This title is closely connected with the recording itself. After the recording session, the musicians discussed some problems with a group of engineers led by Michael Vernon. The Caretaker finally came to clear the studio. Thus, our musicians got the idea for the title. 0l' Man River, the Kern/Hammerstein standard, given a typical Namyslowski's treatment here, has become a firm favourite with the London audiences, to such an extent that it has become a tradition to close sessions with this piece.
Dedicating this record to foreign jazz aficionados, we hope that they will like jazz a la Polonaise, and that they will find some original features in it. Our musicians work on adding something of their own, something original and creative, to this modern form of artistic expression - jazz."