Sunday, April 24, 2011

Foton Quartet...Poland Strikes Again!

Foton Quartet (group)
Zomo Hall (Not Two Records)

Gerad Lebik (sax)
Artur Majewski (trumpet)
Jakub Cywinski (bass)
Wojciech Romanowski (drums)

The rich and versatile Polish jazz scene has gone through a big transform in interest over the last decade. Due in large part to the resurgence of the great Tomasz Stanko. Over the last few years a number of artists have leaped into the consciousness of jazz fans all across the globe. From Marcin Wasilewski Trio, Mikrokoletyw to RGG Trio, Polish artists are showing us all that great, creative and forward thinking jazz can come from more than just Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Denmark, England, U.S. and a few select countries.

One such collective is Foton Quartet and their debut, Zomo Hall (Not Two Records). Zomo Hall might sound like a trip into the avant garde for the uninitiated, its actually upon the deeper listening that you will find the detail. There are qualities here that are reminiscent of the more experimental work of Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry and Art Ensemble. But the journey through these six "untitled" tracks is truly fruitful and a superb listen.

Artur Majewski (also a member of the duo Mikrokoletyw) and Gerad Lebik combine to bring forth some incredible phrasing and stellar improvising throughout this recording. Track three has a steady meditative tonality with both horns taking different patterns while Cywinski lays down a dreamlike bassline. Majewski later gains a bit of steam midway through but the track never loses its reflective aural sculpture.

Track five brought back memories of listening to Ornette Coleman's soundtrack for Naked Lunch. It's a journey through recess of my own mind that I'd rather not experience. A powerful performance from both Lebik and Cywinski, who turns his bass almost into a cello. This is the longest track on the album but its also the deepest and most creative as it takes the listener through a number of different themes all quiet in nature but adventurous in execution. Track six does stretch out with the band demonstrating that it can take the listener to far reaches of thought while still holding your interest (in only two and a half short minutes).

Foton Quartet is yet another piece of the new Polish jazz scene that must be heard by a wider audience. Zomo Hall standups against anything from rest the minimal, avant garde in other countries. And the work of Artur Majewski should really start to be noticed by more people as well. His collaborative work on the scene for me, is some of the best in Europe at the moment. 

Zomo Hall was a hard record for me to find. I had known about it for some time but couldn't even stumble across it. Then one day my good friends at Downtown Music Gallery got it in and I immediately put down the money. I suggest if you are interested in something new and creative--do yourself a favour and pick up Zomo Hall. Highly Recommend!

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