Joachim Mencel

Brooklyn Eye

origin 82806

Purchase

iTunes - $9.90


MUSIC REVIEW BY Adam Baruch, Adam Baruch.com (Israel)

VIEW THE CD DETAIL PAGE

This is an album by Polish Jazz pianist / composer Joachim Mencel, recorded in US with three American musicians: guitarist Steve Cardenas, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Rudy Royston. The album presents ten original compositions, all by Mencel. In addition to the piano, Mencel also plays the hurdy-gurdy, which is usually associated with Folk music in many European Cultures, and is very rarely used in Jazz, but not entirely unheard off.

On the album´s lines notes Mencel describes the making of this album and the fact that it was recorded in America with American musicians as "the fulfillment of his long-standing dream" and "his dream come true". He also describes childhood memories and feelings about America and "American way of life", which of course are shared by many Poles who grew up behind the Iron Curtain during the Socialist regime (yours truly included), for whom America was a symbol of Freedom and prosperity. Some of us did grow up in the years that followed to witness that dream being shattered...

The music is in part pretty straightforward mainstream Jazz, as appropriate for a Polish version of "American Jazz". Mencel writes nice, solid melodies, which serve as vehicles for the quartet´s performances. The musicians are all seasoned veterans and do everything that is expected of them. Mencel plays nice melodic piano phrases, as does Cardenas, and the music flows pretty uneventfully, with the rhythm sections counting the time.

Some other pieces are however distinctly different, more open and less constrained by melodic continuity, which allows the musicians to stretch out and include some breathing space between the notes. In other cases the melodies include more Polish lyricism and even melancholy, taking the music into a more ambitious direction, both harmonically and rhythmically.

The truly unusual moments arrive when Mencel switches to play the hurdy-gurdy, which sounds for a less trained ear like a violin or viola. He uses the instrument to improvise and play solo parts, which of course is, as already mentioned, pretty unique. As a result the music becomes much closer to the European aesthetics, with shades of folkloristic nuances. The delicate hurdy-gurdy / guitar duo piece is a wonderful example of a moment when the magic indeed happens.

Overall this is a mixed bag with some wonderful moments and some less exciting ones, but all obviously very professionally performed and to some degree innovative, as far as the use of the hurdy-gurdy is concerned. Therefore if the mainstream pieces were replaced by more of the hurdy-gurdy / World Music explorations, the album would have been much more coherent and rewarding, as well as less "American"...








ORIGIN RECORDS

OA2 RECORDS

ORIGIN CLASSICAL

CONTACT US

  • Origin Records
    8649 Island Drive South
    Seattle, WA 98118
    ph: (206) 781-2589
    fx: (206) 374-2618
  • Email / Order Info / Etc
THE ORIGIN MUSIC GROUP • FOUNDED 1997 / SEATTLE, WA • THE MUSIC YOU NEED