Friday, April 16, 2010

Undivided - The Passion (Multikulti, 2010) ****½

I am a week too late with this "Easter album", on which Polish clarinetist Wacław Zimpel evocates the story of pain, as crystalised in the passion of the gospel. In order to do so, he looked back on the great composers in history, up to the middle ages, who handled the same subject, and integrated them in his compositions, adding the power of improvisation to make the experience and expressivity even more direct and real. He is joined by Bobby Few on piano, Mark Tokar on bass, and Klaus Kugel on drums. Zimpel himself switches to bass clarinet and tarogato too.

The sequence of the album follows the chronology of the gospel : The Night, Getsemani, Judas Treason, Ridiculed King / The denial of St. Peter, Way of The Cross / Cruxifixion / Death, Despair, Resurrection. No surprise that the album sounds like a suite, with pieces moving seamlessly one into the other. It starts with the sound of a mechanical clock being charged, then percussion and piano join. The clarinet introduces the theme, full of introvert sorrow and sadness, evolving into post-boppish piano piece in the middle, becoming more abstract towards the end, erupting into full cries and shouts of all four instruments.

Zimpel did not want to make a religious record, but it is one about pain, and its musical expression. And his compositions do that with success, from the sad wailing to the agonizing outbursts, from serene almost classical sounds to bluesy and fierce avant-garde moments.

When I first heard the album, I thought this was an overambitious project, trying to do too many things at once, maybe trying too much to deliver something substantial, you know, like having the intention of delivering a masterpiece.

Now, my opinion has changed. This album is absolutely beautiful. It has more pretense than you would expect from free jazz, too controlled and constructed, but the end result is at moments phenomenal.

© stef

3 comments:

Iván Villavicencio said...

Fantastic blog...!!!

jazzowy alchemik said...

this music is great, and Waclaw is getting better and better, even if his playing quite often seems to be bit overcontrolled

polish jazz said...

Great job Steff! I learn about it from your blog even before it debuted in shops in Warsaw ;-)))