Record of the Week
The idea to record an album in the USA with musicians recognized there is not something particularly original in the jazz world. However, few have enough courage and determination to make their dreams come true, and even fewer musicians manage to create a musically interesting album. Joachim Mencel, who not only invited excellent musicians to work with him, which in some cases is only dependent on having a sufficiently rich sponsor, was able to do all of this and even a little more, but also to create a band out of American musicians that sounds as if they had been playing together for a long time.
I will remember the Brooklyn Eye album as an excellent album by Joachim Mencel, but I know that if someone asks me in a few years what the album is about, I will say that about the guitar and piano duo, which are not so many again, especially in such a perfect form. Taking a few shortcuts - if you like the joint recordings of Oscar Peterson with Joe Pass, or - this will probably be my favorite combination - Tete Montoliu and Mundell Lowe, and the more modern Bill Frisell and Fred Hersch is the Brooklyn Eye album is for you. It can easily stand next to the works of these great duets. Hopefully the rest of the band won't accept that I'm skipping them for failing. Mencla's music needs a solid rhythmic foundation, and Scott Colley and Rudy Royston are serious players in their respective fields.
Colley has recorded with Jim Hall, Andrew Hill and Pat Martino, and has played with Pat Metheny and Herbie Hancock. Royston may have slightly less spectacular, but equally interesting recordings. I remember him from working with Rudresh Mahanthappa. In the Polish incarnation of this project, the American musicians will be replaced by Rafał Sarnecki, Michał Barański and Łukasz Żyta. I expect it to be just as interesting, and maybe even better, but dreams are dreams and recording an album on American soil is a kind of pilgrimage to Mecca that every jazz musician wants to make at least once in their life.
The Brooklyn Eye album is full of American themes, as the leader and author of all the compositions on the album himself declares. His editorial is intended for American record buyers. References to the American music culture are obvious, after all, this is a jazz album, recorded by jazz musicians, with a jazz line-up and in jazz New York. Maybe the hurdy-gurdy was surprisingly new to the band members in a few songs, but it is not for the leader's fans. It soon turns out, already in the first song played on the lyre - Two Pieces with Beatrice , that Mencla's lyre also gets along with Cardenas's guitar. In an instant, the Brooklyn Eyeit becomes not only a piano and guitar duo, but Joachim Mencel and Steve Cardenas. The lyre-guitar duo in the song Photosynthesis sounds intriguing - the other musicians maybe went to eat something. Once again, however, I thought that perhaps they were not needed at all? Again, this is speculation rather than a criticism of Colley and Royston's performance on the album and a matter of personal preference. Photosynthesis - unfortunately the shortest recording on the album, it's my favorite fragment.
The official premiere of the album took place just a few days ago. Two lineups - American and Polish allow us to think about concerts on both sides of the Atlantic. In Poland Joachim Mencel can always count on full halls, probably in the United States it will be a bit more difficult, but music deserves the highest marks in the world absolute categories.