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Saturday, March 11, 2023

Sundial Trio - IV (Alpaka Records, 2022)

By Ron Coulter

The Polish free-jazz trio, Sundial Trio is Wojciech Jachna (trumpet), Grzegorz Tarwid (piano), Krzysztof Szmańda (drums and percussion). IV is their aptly titled fourth album, recorded in October 2021 and released in May 2022 as a limited edition compact disc and digital download. This seven-track album clocks in at 45’41” of music.

The album notes call two of the tracks, “Misy” and “Aknakaks”, “two large compositions” and the closing track “Hator” an improvisation. Three other tracks, “Materie”, Sundial IV”, and Terpsichore Still” are intimated to be compositions by Tarwid; they also have obvious sections of improvising. The one remaining track, “Oleo II”, is a most unique take on Sonny Rollin’s classic rhythm changes tune, “Oleo”; here presented as a strange, squared-off, and stark, sort of funky march, complete with glockenspiel! This is an outstanding example of how to reimagine and present a classic composition as one’s own.

In addition to “Oleo II”, the album’s highlights are the opening two tracks. Track one, “Misy”, slowly fades into being, gradually developing a more dense and rhythmically active soundscape, and ends in the short melodic theme that is the basis of the following track “Aknakaks”. Track two, “Aknakaks” has a quirky melodic riff and a funky, off-kilter groove, that busts open into a firey free-jazz improvisation after the tune’s head.

Overall this album has a diversity of concept and material, and a nice balance of composed and improvised music. The sound quality of the recording is excellent. “Oleo II” by itself is worth the time to check out this entire album!