By Paolo Casertano
Poland has an increasingly vivid jazz scene. Thanks to the impressive work of labels such as Multikulti and Not Two, together with a remarkable number of jazz festivals, their strong tradition has gained international recognition and expands constantly towards new territories and paths. These young and gifted musicians seem to pay attention to the tradition and strengthen it just as much as they alter it by exploring its outer edges. Just think of the Oles brothers and their collaborations with Ken Vandermark.
To this category belongs as well the solo effort of Wojtek Traczyk. We’ve already met him in the bright trio “The Light”. Take a look here and here.
According to the liner notes by the musician himself: “Performing solo pulls me out of everyday life and puts me out there in that high place of danger and awareness that I long for risking everything giving everything not knowing yet believing and brings purification and freedom that is so hard to find”.
This is a spiritual journey indeed. Starting from the title of each “stage”. First is “Examen Conscientiae”, a self-examination the musician seems to face alone, using his own private and intimate language. It sounds like a mantra introducing us to the religious dimension and vision of Traczyk. An elongated note repeating in a timeless sequence, the bow flows slowly hesitating to leave the strings, unflappable, almost obliterating itself on the bass neck. You can hear a breath after the first passage. Presumably Traczyk, or maybe it is the instrument itself. On condition that you are willing to hear it.
The album is short and it deserves a deep listening. How could you otherwise approach to a solo album and to the innermost meanings a musician set down to each single decision he makes when he’s so unveiled to everyone? Especially when he chooses it will not be his - anyway evident - mastery and virtuosity to give uncritically to the listener the keys for it. Traczyk is looking for the right expression, the best structure and the most touching tone to let his thoughts seep out.
The title of the second composition, “Kyrie”, is the transliteration of an ancient Greek word now best known as a vocation prayer in the Christian liturgy. Far baritone melodies and their resonances start to outcrop and come closer merging into “Gloria”. Strings unravel and struggle to find their place, climbing up to the high notes register supported by distorted chords and sharp pitches. There’s a great balance between atonal and tonal.
After this turmoil, gentle comes “Sanctus” as a short lullaby echoing classical arias.
In “Benedictus” and “Agnus Dei” - basically one composition split in two - appears the first pizzicato of the album disguised as short rhythmic patterns spaced out by resonances that envelop the double bass. At first melodic phrasing grows slowly, then it evolves in a brutal attack on the strings. Traczyk whips and hits the wood before partially finding rest in a recurring hypnotic beat on which he inlays brief melodies.
In the closing act strings are turned loose and they blend in a droning stream. Voices decrease, last shrills before coming back to silence.
A real compelling solo debut.
Buy from the label.