Wednesday, May 11, 2011

RGG: One

RGG (group; formed 2001)
One (Fonografika)
Przemyslaw Raminiak (piano)
Maciej Grabowski (bass)
Krysztof Gradziuk (drums)

Here's the thing. This year has started off with some really incredible albums. Many of which I would never have heard or at least spent months trying to find. One of the groups that I was turned on to this year was RGG out of Poland. RGG are arguably  one of the best kept secrets on the global jazz scene.  Their latest album, One, is a great example of how outstanding the group has become. They have been grabbing attention since they made their major debut at the 2002 Bielsko Jazz Blizzard Festival (for the uninitiated this is one of the best jazz festivals in Europe).

There have been many trios over the last decade with great ideas and impressive efforts. Comparisons of RGG and fellow countrymen, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio always come to the forefront when both groups put out an album (in this case within weeks of each other). I believe the difference lies in the compositions and production. RGG have been able to expand and take the listener on various journeys over their career. I'm not saying MWT haven't done the same. I'm saying MWT have taken a more direct contemplative approach. RGG continue experiment (loosely put) on each record.

With five albums under their belt, all of which have featured expansive themes, intimate performances, and some fully improvised works, RGG have returned with One, a more focused and extremely balanced session. Opening with the warm and melodic title track, RGG set a mood similar to that of Tord Gustafsson or EST. "One" contains a beautiful passage from Maciej Garbowski on bass and Raminiak's keys turn the melody into an intimate observation of a rainy day. "Around Again" (a Carla Bley composition) is the perfect showcase for RGG's ability to stand apart. Like the original there is a real sense of vibrancy that the listener will connect with immediately.

"Almost Blues" really shines. The group are in full force as a unit with each member getting an opportunity to let loose. Gradziuk's solos are fierce and really exciting--keeping the tune humming, despite its short length. "C.T." is dedicated to Cecil Taylor and highlights the improvised nature of the trio. This was brought out in previous albums but in this Cecil Taylor inspired tune you can see the band stretching and having a lot fun doing it. "On The Way To Road 11" is simply a beautiful ballad that reminds me of the some of the more intimate and intricate Keith Jarrett trio pieces. 

With One, RGG have managed to combined elements of each of their explorations from albums past into a bold and impressive outing that should be on everyone's wish list this year. I have to thank Maciej at Polish Jazz for turning me on to RGG. In a very short time period they have become one of my favourite groups. If you have the chance you must seek out RGG's One. Highly Recommended.

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