Saturday, April 9, 2011

Arszyn/Duda: The Polish Avant Garde

SE (Lado ABC)
Krzysztof Topolski (drums; percussion)
Tomasz Duda (sax)

First, I must thank fellow jazz blog, Polish Jazz, for turning me on to some great stuff over the last week. One such record is SE by Arszyn/Duda. This piece of incredible improvisation and experimentalism reminds me of the Ken Vandermark duo sessions of the last couple of years (especially Complete Friction) or even Sonore (with Peter Brotzmann). This improvised session was created by two young and talented musicians who have studied under some of the best in Polish improvisational jazz legends.

SE encompasses three lengthy "untitled" tracks that search, examine, devolve and reconstruct sound through fracture chords and manipulated patterns. There are also elements that remind me of the Master Musicians of Joujouku, especially in the first track which moves ever so closely towards a rolling cacophony of sound and tribal drum beats. It's fierce, blistering and sometimes painful when you're listening with headphones but I loved ever ear-splitting second of it. Track one becomes more free and sparse toward the end as Topolski and Duda share almost silent improvising moments before building up momentum into Track two which turns into a mellow yet still experimental affair.

Track two sees Topolski's pulsating drums subtely shifting in and out of range with Duda creating one and two note poems over top. Towards the end, Duda becomes more like Ornette Coleman with some really beautiful tone dialling and phrasing that may stop you in your tracks thinking there's a melody that's about to break out. Ha, Ha, you're wrong!

Track three follows a similar path but the listener experiences every emotion throughout this piece. Beginning with short half notes and periodic squeals, and lower frequency swathes of the brushes and subtle electronics, this piece than gentle brings the listen down for a soft landing after a good sixty minutes of mind blowing soundscape surgery.

Arszyn/Duda have created a real treat for all us improvisation lovers out here. SE is not for faint-at-heart. You will be hit with sound. There will be blood. This is challenging music, folks. But this is why we love jazz!

(Again...Many thanks to fellow blog site Polish Jazz for turning me on to Arszyn/Duda. You guys should really check out what he has to deliver. We will be sharing some of their stuff over the next couple months as a way to spread more news about the great jazz scene in Poland. Stay tuned.)

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