Monday, April 29, 2013

J=J's "2013 EP"

These days, some of the best jazz and experimental music originates in Poland, a fact I discovered by hearing Dallas-based trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez's work with Polish musicians and reviewing albums for the Polish-Jazz website.

During Dennis' most recent visit there, he performed with the strikingly coiffed Joanna Duda, a pianist who's appeared solo and as a member saxophonist Wojtek Mazolewski's quintet, the groups 3D (with her brothers Tomasz and Radek) and AuAuA, and in a piano duo with Katarzyna Borek. 2013 EP is the debut of both J=J, her collaborative project with drummer Jan Emil Mlynarski (Nervy, 15 Minute Project, Oszibarack), and OESSU FANTASTIC, their independent label.

Clocking in at just over half an hour, 2013 EP is as long as a lot of band's "full-lengths," and although improvised, the music sounds through-composed. There are a lot of influences audible here: minimalist classical music, Kosmische space-rock, Brian Eno ambience, the more ethereal realms of dance music. Duda and Mlynarski use their synthesizers to craft atmospheric soundscapes and weave webs of texture, out of which snippets of medley occasionally swim.

When all the elements coalesce, as they do on "Odysseia II," the results can be hypnotic and riveting. On "Unfall," Ive Ostrowska's treated vocals lend the piece an air of anguish and desolation. It's followed by "Sunny Side," which hits like a forgotten slice of icy '80s synth pop. "Process I" is a feature for Mlynarski's traps, while "Process II" closes the proceedings with a delicately realized orchestral miniature.

The fact that this music is improvised is a testament to the artists' empathy and clarity of thought. There's no self-indulgent clutter here; the pieces unfold in an organic way, transitioning seamlessly from one musical idea to the next. Worthwhile listening.


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