JAZZ FOR MR IVES, JAZZ FOR MR SEROCKI BY BKK
(BKK stands for Bydgoszcz Composers` Colective - in polish)
(Opus Series, 2023) This is the debut album by the BBK (Bydgoski Kolektyw Kompozytorski / Bydgoszcz Composer Collective) trio, which comprises of drummer Rafal Gorzycki, saxophonist Mikolaj Sarad and electronic sound designer Bartlomiej Chmara. Clarinetist Mateusz Szwankowski appears as a guest. The album presents one lengthy track with a two-part composition, co-composed by the trio members and dedicated, as the title suggests, to the Classical composers: American Charles Ives and Polish Kazimierz Serocki.
The music, although strictly composed, sounds often like Improvised Jazz and of course has closed links to Avant-Garde modern Classical Music, which of course means that it is not intended for an occasional listener, but rather for an advanced connoisseur of Modernism and seasoned Avant-Gardist. There is almost completely no melodic continuity as such or typical harmonic gestures, but rather a series of seemingly unrelated sonic sculptures.
Having said that, the music certainly offers a coherent flow, and despite the limited instrumentation, certainly manages to present a highly interesting development, with all the participants displaying highly skilled abilities, albeit the minimalist approach.
The decision to dedicate the music to two pivotal representatives of modernism, both still being only partly recognized and appreciated in their full might and glory, may perhaps allude to the career of Gorzycki, who despite the fact that he is one of the most inventive and fertile Polish Jazz (and beyond) musicians, receives relatively little recognition, which is sadly completely inexcusable. His collective discography, which includes over three dozen albums, among them some of Polish Jazz most interesting releases, is a solid body of his instrumental, compositional and leadership qualities.
Overall, this is a highly unusual and uncompromising piece of music, which deserves to be heard by open-minded modern music connoisseurs, and is another step in the developing career of Gorzycki and his cohorts, which takes no shortcuts and firmly stand behind their aesthetic standpoint. Great to see the Requiem / Opus label to support this kind of music!
ENSEMBLE TUNING - ENSEMBLE TUNING
(Audio Cave, 2018)
This is an album by a Polish
Jazz trio led by drummer/composer Rafal Gorzycki, who also plays piano, with
flautist Tomasz Pawlicki and guitarist Jakub Ziołek, both of which employ also
electronics. The album presents ten original compositions, eight of which are
credited to all the trio members and two are by Gorzycki. This album is a
second part of a triptych of trio recordings by Gorzycki, continuing the
"Playing" album released a couple of years earlier. The music was
excellently recorded at the RecPublica Studios and engineered by Łukasz
Pawlicki stands in the very epicenter of this music, since his magic flute produces most of the directly audible sound, creating short melodic threads and swirls, all of which are simply irresistibly beautiful. In complete contrast the guitar played by Ziołek sounds nothing like a guitar, producing a plethora of sound layers and ambient noises in the background, which is the foundation upon which the flute parts float, similar to a wind which carries the golden autumn leaves. Gorzycki also hardly ever plays any straightforward rhythms and his pulses are more pointers than actual rhythmic patterns. His piano parts are also quite atypical and serve as accents rather than harmonies.
There is no doubt that this album constitutes a new stage in the long and prolific career of Gorzycki, taking him into a new realm unlike anything else he attempted earlier, although definitely being a logical extension of his earlier works. This music is more complex and more abstract than his earlier efforts but also much more concentrated and expressive. It is definitely much closer to cotemporary Classical Chamber Music than to Jazz, and will probably be received as such by the listeners. Absurdly perhaps, it is also more accessible and universal than many of his earlier efforts.
Overall this is a stunning piece of music, which offers novel approach to music making, unusual usage of the instruments and explores unchartered territory as far as improvisation and composition are intertwined and is additionally spiced with the sensational flute playing, altogether offering a sensational musical experience. Wholeheartedly recommended!
"Soundtrack of My Life" (IS, 05.2016)
This is an album by Polish Jazz drummer / composer / bandleader Rafal Gorzycki, one of the most prolific, diverse and always unpredictable figures on the local scene. This time he presents a trio, which also includes guitarist Marek Malinowski and electric bassist Wojciech Wozniak, and which performs ten tracks entitled simply "Playing" part 1 to part 10,
two of which were composed by Gorzyckifour were co-composed by all three trio members and four more were co-composed by the previous lineup of the trio which included bassist Patryk Weclawek.
The sound on an electric guitar trio immediately invokes associations with Jazz-Rock Fusion, and indeed this music has very close ties with Fusion, but encompasses a much wider stylistic variety than simply Fusion, including Improvised Music, Ambient and contemporary Chamber Music.
With Gorzycki at the helm, this is hardly surprising, as his extensive recording legacy is characterized by its diversity and cross-genre explorations.
Although pre-composed and melody based to some extent, this music includes a lot of space and freedom, which allows for very creative playing by the trio members, which they use liberally; but in spite of all that freedom, the music remains quite "well behaved" most of the time,
which makes it accessible to a wide range of listeners. Creating music of such intrinsic beauty and highly aesthetic value and yet making it sound "simple" is a real artistry, and Gorzycki deserves praise for managing to achieving such result.
Malinowski, who released his debut album as a leader ("Alone") a year earlier, emerges as one of the most interesting new hopes of the Polish Jazz guitar players. His open and clean sound, which uses (almost) no electronic trickery,
is very impressive and quite unique today in its straightforwardness. In many respects it brings back fond memories of the early Fusion days, when players like John McLaughlin were using a very similar sonic approach.
Wozniak, who has some past Fusion ties as well, plays very skillfully and precisely, which is exactly what is expected of him in this setting. He plays a cool "walking"
pulsations when the music swings and atmospheric prolonged phrases when it moves into a more ambient environment. This modesty and respect towards ones partners is a most formidable quality in a musician.
Gorzycki is of course a Master drummer, a fact which requires no reinforcements, and indeed he plays very sparingly, cooperatively and relatively straightforwardly on this album, which is a very wise decision.
When the music requires his input, he is always there and always at his best, but overall his playing on this album is primarily a part of the collective effort rather than claiming the role of a leader.
The album was excellently recorded at the RecPublica Studios and engineered by Lukasz Olejarczyk, and offers a superb sonic quality, which will make high-end Hi-Fi enthusiasts extremely happy.
But overall it is definitely one of the best Polish Jazz albums released so far in 2016, and hopefully will reach a wide circle of music lovers, as it is definitely capable of capturing the hearts of very many connoisseurs anywhere in the world. Respect!.
"Soundtrack of My Life" (IS, 03.2015)
This is the third and last part in a triptych of duo recordings by Polish drummer / composer Rafal Gorzycki (see his duo albums with Sebastian Gruchot and Kamil Pater), this time with British guitarist / composer Jonathan Dobie. The album presents seven original pieces co-composed by Gorzycki and Dobie.
In the last decade or so Gorzycki firmly established his position on the Polish scene as one of the most individual voices, amalgamating Jazz with contemporary Classical music, electronic and ambient influences and above all standing firmly as a symbol of uncompromising music creation. His work as a leader and member of such forward thinking ensembles as Sing Sing Penelope or Ecstasy Project and his individual projects in duo, trio and quartet settings are all exceptional examples of individuality and excellence.
In many respects this duo album is a culmination of Gorzycki´s modus operandi, which presents a minimalistic and fragmented approach to melody and harmony, which often hints at some musical statements rather then expressing them in full, leaving it to the listener to connect the dots. Dobie is obviously an ideal partner and cohort in such circumstances, playing short fragments of rapid guitar fire, which reminds early improvising electric guitarists such as John McLaughlin or Jimmy Hendrix and utilizing ancient fuzz and other sound devices. This retro sound combined with the modern approach creates an absolute stunning effect.
Of course, as in every other duo album, the interplay between the two partners is the essential ingredient of the entire project. Gorzycki´s seemingly endless palette of drums and percussion instruments and Dobie´s guitar pyrotechnics are perfectly suited for each other and their dialogs reach telepathic levels.
I am very glad that Gorzycki manages finally to achieve at least some recognition by the Polish musical "establishment", after years of being ignored and neglected beyond the small circle of his musical partners. Hopefully this recognition will enable him to create even more of his groundbreaking projects, to the delight of old and new fans. Visiting his personal web site will allow a glimpse at his huge achievements so far. This album is a must have for the many fans of the alternative Polish Jazz / contemporary music scene and is of course is highly recommended.
"Polish Jazz " (PL, 03.2015)
Again a duo, and again a great one! It is indeed astounding how many good duos were coming from Poland in recent years. This time its a Polish/English duo with Rafa? Gorzycki on drums and percussion as the Polish participant who is not only in Poland very well known and the likewise known Jonathan Dobie from Great Britain. Rafa? Gorzycki made himself a name with projects like Sing Sing Penelope the Ecstacy Project, both with heavy influences on the Polish Jazz scene, while Jonathan Dobie already worked with familiar stars like Shoji Hano and Peter Brötzmann.
With this album Rafa? Gorzycki rounds up his trilogy of duo recordings, after issuing Experimental Psychology (with Sebastian Gruchot on violin) and Therapy (with Kamil Pater, who plays the guitar as well). The result of this third part is a duo of particular depth and warmth.
The album starts like the opening of a board game, in Full of both musicians position their pieces. Despite of the partly harsh changes the track is characterised by high mutual respect, both receive all the time they need to make their turn. After that it gets a little more relaxed, the front lines are clear also for the listener and both start playing together. Their play is in songs like Ballad for Joanna and Sooper Looper particularly melodic.
All in all this is one of the specialties of this album: although its obviously free improvisation the whole recording feels very harmonic. And a track like Call it anything even gets kind of like a blues. Here Jonathan Dobie plays out his strength he cultivates an personal playing style and follows a clear concept, he showcases his very individual language that might as in this case even sound bluesy. And with a congenial partner like Rafa? Gorzycki this adds to something very enjoyable!
And to round up the picture of the board game: At the end we have a draw, but one were not only both players win but with them the listeners!
"All About Jazz " (USA, 06.2014)
The new duo of drummer and percussionist Rafal Gorzycki, known for his involvement with the Polish jazz band Sing Sing Penelope and avant-garde violin and viola player Sebastian Gruchot (a Pole who lives in Norway and frequent collaborator with Sing Sing Penelope projects), has developed its own personal language. The two explore and experiment with eccentric, improvised combinations of poetry, contemporary chamber music, unconventional sonic searches, avant-rock, electronica and obviously, modern and free jazz.
The debut of this duo offer minimal, nuanced but expressive textures, all suggesing intriguing cinematic quality. The duo forsakes any attempt to structure these textures within melodic or rhythmic conventions but focuses on setting a distinct sonic atmosphere and emotional mood, creating their own fascinating. personal musical universes. The longest piece, the 17-minutes "Long Term Method," demonstrates this duo approach best. It floats gently over a hypnotic, repetitive pulse but thickens it patiently with otherworldly, spacey drone sounds and Middle-Eastern-tinged violin sounds, transforming this abstract soundscape to a powerful, shamanistic-musical ceremony.
"Polish Jazz" (02.2014)
This is the debut album by a new duo, in which two Polish musicians combine forces to create new, experimental, adventurous music: drummer / percussionist / composer Rafal Gorzycki and violinist / composer Sebastian Gruchot (resident since many years in Norway). Gorzycki is one of Poland's most prolific and fascinating activist known to listeners of contemporary Polish music from his activities as a member of such ensembles as Sing Sing Penelope, Ecstasy Project and other collaborations. Gruchot also participated on several Sing Sing Penelope albums, but most of his work is in the sphere of contemporary Classical, Avant-Garde and electronic music. The album presents eight original pieces, seven of which were co-composed by the duo and the last one is by Gorzycki. The music is a wonderful glimpse into a new musical universe, which is intimate and often minimalistic, but extremely expressive and captivating. As difficult as it is to come up with something truly innovative these days, the duo manages to do it brilliantly. The seemingly endless array of percussive sounds, rhythms and patterns that Gorzycki manages to produce is simply awe-inspiring. He is one of the very few drummers, who actually play on their instrument, rather than beat the hell out of it. Gruchot is an ideal partner in this process, as his idiosyncratic contribution on strings or electronics are also very "percussive" and compliment the sounds produced by Gorzycki. There is very little melody here in the conventional sense, and it is up to the listener to discover and possibly to weave his own melodic content around the ambient vistas produced by the duo. Perhaps this is an opening of a new Art Form, where the listener actually participates with the musicians in the process of creation on an imaginary plane, or perhaps it's just my feverish imagination. In any case this music is definitely something else in every sense. In his liner notes Gorzycki says that he wanted to move away from the familiar Jazz patterns he operated within for many years. He surely managed to do it here, but rather than abandoning them he transformed them into new tools of expression. True, this is not straightforward Jazz in any sense, but why should it be. The path of constant progress, discovery and exploration is the only true path of every Artist, and we, the audience in this case, should be grateful for the gift bestowed upon us as a result. This is definitely one of the best experimental albums recorded in Poland in 2013 and hopefully will be discovered by open-minded listeners. I ca only salute Gorzycki & Gruchot for being honest to themselves and doing their own thing. Chapeau!
"Jazzis" - USA (04.2013)
This album presents a live recording by a duo of Polish Jazz musicians: percussionist / composer Rafal Gorzycki and guitarist / composer Kamil Pater. These two talented personalities met earlier on, when they were both members of quartets, which recorded the splendid "Dziki Jazz" and later "A-Kineton" albums and here they cooperate in a much more intimate framework of a duo, which is of course more demanding and challenging. The album includes one continuous piece of music, performed without any breaks and edited as a single track. The music is not credited specifically to the participants and therefore should be considered as spontaneously created "on the fly" by the duo members. The music last for about 34 minutes, which marks this album as an EP rather than a full CD. It is a limited numbered edition of 200 copies only.
Musically this is a mixture of many different musical elements, inspirations and influences, obviously well based in the Jazz tradition of improvisation, but also encompassing electronic music, Rock and Fusion elements, folkloristic motifs and contemporary Classical structures. Although improvised and spacey / free, it also includes clear melody lines and forms, which makes it much more accessible to less experienced listeners than most Improvised Music recordings. Gorzycki and Pater have both already proven that although they feel very comfortable in the Free Jazz environment, they stay relaxed and elegant cleverly eschewing the aggression and alienation often associated with that genre.
As always with duo projects, the most essential quality a listener expects to find is the level of dialogue between the musicians and their mutual understanding / connection. This recording is a superb example of an almost telepathic bond developing between musicians playing together, which is always a source of great pleasure for the listener. In addition both these players display a masterly control of virtuosic proportions of their respective instruments, which is awe inspiring.
The music Gorzycki and Pater play here is quite different from what they played on earlier recordings, which of course gives us the opportunity to discover other layers of their complex artistic personalities. It is truly admirable that they continue to create and discover new territory time after time. This restlessness is an essential quality, which characterizes great explorers, and we, the bystanders have the enormous pleasure of reaping the fruits of they labor.
Overall this is a beautiful piece of extremely interesting music, which is unconventional, bold and experimental and yet at the same time is quite listenable and inviting. Very well done indeed!
"Jazzis" - USA (04.2012)
This wonderful album, recorded by the Polish quartet comprising of guitarist Kamil Pater, saxophonist Irek Wojtczak, bassist Pawel Urowski and drummer Rafal Gorzycki, with guest trumpeter Maurycy Wojcinski, is an excellent example of contemporary Jazz, played by young musicians who slowly establish a new school of Polish Jazz, continuing the splendid tradition of the country's achievements in that area. For people following the scene these names won't be completely new, as they have been active in many different ensembles during the last decade, like Sing Sing Penelope, Ecstasy Project, Contemporary Noise Sextet and others. Pater, Urowski and Gorzycki, with saxophonist Alexander Kaminski, recorded the splendid "Dziki Jazz" (Wild Jazz) album earlier on. Pater wrote five of the eight compositions on this album, with Urowski and Gorzycki contributing one composition each and one being a group composition. The music is excellent modern Jazz, with some basic melodic content, but mostly improvised with a lot of both individual and collective freedom extended towards the participants. The performances are all inspired and highly professional, and overall the album is a great piece of music, which flows elegantly from one composition to another, constantly keeping the listener on the edge. By and large the atmosphere is somewhat similar to the music played by the groundbreaking Polish ensemble Sing Sing Penelope, which of course is not entirely surprising and should be seen as a compliment. Hopefully this quartet has a lot more to offer in the future, and I'm looking forward to hear their next album. Wholeheartedly recommended!
"Jazzis" - USA (04.2012)
This is the 5th album by the Polish ensemble Ecstasy Project, founded and led by drummer / percussionist / composer Rafal Gorzycki. Gorzycki, who is also active in other musical projects, like the excellent Sing Sing Penelope ensemble, formed Ecstasy Project as a vehicle for his compositions, which lay in the fuzzy area between Jazz and contemporary Classical music. The ensemble includes also flautist Tomasz Pawlicki, vibraphonist Pawel Nowicki, violinist Lukasz Gorewicz and bassist Pawel Urowski, and is capable of performing the complex music and creating an atmosphere that bridges between chamber contemporary Classical music and modern Jazz, moving between the two smoothly and seamlessly. The music, almost entirely composed by Gorzycki, is quite intricate at times, but does not cross the point of total alienation to the less experienced listener, keeping enough melody and rhythm to hold on through the more difficult passages. Of course listeners with more experience in Classical music will find this music familiar and quite enchanting from the very first listen. This is very European music, encapsulating the musical traditions the 19th and 20th Centuries, from neo-romanticism, via atonal experimentation and minimalism, right into the avant-garde. And yet the music is not over-intellectual and leaves a lot to feeling and atmosphere, keeping the overall emotional level alive and aesthetically satisfying. Definitely worth investigation for more adventurous listeners!
"Jazzis" - USA (04.2012)
This is the 6th album by the brilliant Polish ensemble Sing Sing Penelope , formed and led by drummer Rafal Gorzycki , which includes also trumpeter Wojciech Jachna , saxophonists Aleksander Kaminski (new member) and Tomasz Glazik , keyboardist Daniel Mackiewicz and bassist Patryk Weclawek . Two guest artists, who played on the ensembles previous recordings, are also present here: violinist Sebastian Gruchot and DJ Strangefruit from Norway on live electronics. It seems that SSP (as they are known in this age of shortcuts) can do no wrong and this album is every bit as grand as everything else they attempted previously, which after six albums and ten years amounts both to a substantial body of music as much as their impeccable reputation. The music, contributed collectively or individually by all participants, is as usual a completely original mix of styles and sub-genres, disregarding boundaries and freely moving from one territory to another. Atmospheric / ambient electronic sounds over strong, pulsating rhythmic patterns and Jazz solos on top seems to be shortest way to describe this music, although it manages to escape any simple depiction, which of course means there is interesting stuff happening here. In many respects this album sums up the decade of the ensembles existence, covering everything from their Jazz-Rock efforts, through the Free Jazz improvisations and recent ambient vistas. In retrospect SSP emerge as perhaps the most interesting phenomenon of the first decade of the 21st Century on the Polish scene, being the most consistent, searching and completely disregarding fads group of young musicians around. An absolute must to any serious Jazz listener, wishing to reach beyond the obvious! restrained improvisation. Nevertheless, admirers of modern, progressive music will not be indifferent to this challenging, original project.
"Jazzis" - USA (04.2012)
This is the 5th album by the sensational Polish ensemble Sing Sing Penelope, recorded in cooperation with Norwegian DJ Strangefruit (real name Pal Nyhus) and Polish (resident in Norway) violinist Sebastian Gruchot. The regular SSP lineup (trumpeter Wojciech Jachna, saxophonist Tomasz Glazik, keyboardist Daniel Mackiewicz, bassist Patryk Weclawek and drummer / percussionist Rafal Gorzycki) is slightly changed with saxophonist Aleksander Kaminski fulfilling the position of the absent Glazik. The circumstances surrounding the recording of this album are connected to the Smolensk catastrophe, in which a plane carrying Polish Government officials crushed killing everybody on board. The musicians who recorded this album were suppose to tour Polish clubs, but as a result of the mourning the concerts were cancelled and instead they recorded the album, which was distributed free of charge in the clubs, where the concerts were supposed to be played. Of course today this album is a rare collectors item. Musically this album marks another expansion of SSP already adventurous music into new territory, with the inclusion of electronics and ambient elements. The music becomes more contemplative and spacey, in comparison to their earlier efforts, but the Jazz solos and overall atmosphere is unmistakably SSP. Another innovation is the use of World Music percussive elements by Gorzycki, which adds another dimension to the music. The albums ac hoc nature and the short (EP size) repertoire are all results of the on the spot decision to make the album at the time and the fruition of the ideas contained herein was fully realized in their next album. In retrospect this little gem appends a valuable add-on to the splendid recorded legacy of the ensemble so far and as usual is a splendid piece of contemporary music of rare quality.
This is the debut album by the sensational Polish ensemble Sing Sing Penelope, founded in Bydgoszcz in 2001 by four musicians: keyboardist Daniel Mackiewicz, bassist Patryk Weclawek, drummer / percussionist Rafal Gorzycki and saxophonist Tomasz Glazik. They were joined in 2003 by trumpeter Wojciech Jachna and the quintet lineup, which recorded this album, was born. Obviously based on the Jazz-Rock and modern Jazz roots, this ensemble acts as a creative unit and treats their original music (credited to all the five members) as an experimental canvas, expanding it into new and uncharted territory. Rather that use well established patterns and musical structures they try to innovate constantly, which puts them apart from most of their contemporaries. Combining melodic themes, pulsating rhythms and a lot of freedom in the improvisations they mange to create something fresh, challenging and often unexpected, which will be their trademark in all their future recordings. In fact this little known (at the time of its release) album marks the birth of was to become the most interesting ensemble active on the Polish scene in the first decade of the 21st Century. By now this is already a classic recording, which sadly is very difficult to find today. A must!
"Jazzis" - USA (04.2012)
This is the 3rd album by the Polish ensemble Ecstasy Project, founded and led by drummer / percussionist / composer Rafal Gorzycki. Gorzycki, who is also active in other musical projects, like the excellent Sing Sing Penelope ensemble, formed Ecstasy Project as a vehicle for his compositions, which lay in the fuzzy area between Jazz and contemporary Classical music. The ensemble includes also flautist Tomasz Pawlicki, vibraphonist Pawel Nowicki, violinist Lukasz Gorewicz and bassist Pawel Urowski, and is capable of performing the complex music and creating an atmosphere that bridges between chamber contemporary Classical music and modern Jazz, moving between the two smoothly and seamlessly. The music, almost entirely composed by Gorzycki, is quite intricate at times, but does not cross the point of total alienation to the less experienced listener, keeping enough melody and rhythm to hold on through the more difficult passages. Of course listeners with more experience in Classical music will find this music familiar and quite enchanting from the very first listen. As the title suggests, this is very European music, encapsulating the musical traditions the 19th and 20th Centuries, from neo-romanticism, via atonal experimentation and minimalism, right into the avant-garde. And yet the music is not over-intellectual and leaves a lot to feeling and atmosphere, keeping the overall emotional level alive and aesthetically satisfying. Definitely worth investigation for more adventurous listeners!
"All About Jazz" - USA (23.03.2009)
The jacket photography of Reminiscence Europae shows what looks like a bridge by architect Santiago Calatrava, which is appropriate. His global works divide opinion and are impossible to ignore. His architecture is largely devoid of local cultural reference; he is the architect without borders. In a way, these photos are a suitable metaphor for the music of Polish group Ecstasy Project - seemingly simple yet technically impressive and austere. According to taste, it is perhaps beautiful, and with few obvious points of departure.
The Italian song titles and chamber ensemble sobriety that dominate these live recordings allude to a classical approach, but the violin of Lukasz Gorewicz (the main voice of the group) comes from somewhere between the melancholia of eastern European folk and the animated style of violinists Jean Luc Ponty and Jerry Goodman. The vibe playing of Pawel Nowicki is utterly minimalist, atmospheric in a Zawinul-esque way, and evokes a Twilight Zone eeriness. Underpinning this esoteric face is the compelling drumming of nominal leader and main composer Rafal Gorzycki, which carries an energy and force in contrast to the edgy minimalism around him.
The pieces have a modern, avant-garde feel to them - soundtracks to European art-house cinema. The manipulation of space and silences, which lend such force to the infrequent eruptions of drums, violin and flute, are shaped by the minimal utterances of Pawel Nowicki's vibes, quietly rumbling drums, Pawel Urowski's alternately sparse and lively double-bass, and tense violin notes which are more percussive than melodic. But there is momentum to this music; the innate tension in the short staccato phrasing and the abstractness and dissonance, rises imperceptibly to crescendos that are surprising in their intensity.
On "Presto Cinque," violin and flute trace the initial lyrical melody before Gorewicz takes solo flight. Drums and bass propel the violinist into some inspired playing on a heady segment that evokes the Mahavishnu Orchestra. A brief, silent interlude follows, broken by a circular vibes motif, before Tomasz Pawlicki's flute takes center stage, the notes unfurling progressively and becoming bolder as crashing cymbals fill the air. Pawlicki's playing becomes gradually freer and breathier as the piece reaches a climax, and the guttural cry that escapes his throat reveals the influence of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, or perhaps Ian Anderson - comparisons that do not flatter him at all.
The combination of vibes and drums creates dense soundscapes on "Maestoso non troppo." "Adibitum" glides from bowed bass and violin in harmonious tandem to blistering drums to near silence impregnated by softly chattering vibes. This is music in a constant state of ebb and flow.
An accompanying DVD shows this lineup in concert, but the absence of its more animated tracks, featuring exhilarating violin and flute improvisations, provides only half the picture. The dark and edgy minimalist approach of Reminisence Europae holds a certain fascination precisely because of that juxtaposition of rationed and unrestrained improvisation. Nevertheless, admirers of modern, progressive music will not be indifferent to this challenging, original project.
"All About Jazz" - USA (23.03.2008)
Ecstasy Project was formed in 1998 by Rafal Gorzycki, its drummer. Gorzycki absorbs a range of influences which he transforms into illuming nuggets with his compositions. His interest is currently churned by contemperary European and chamber music. He brings the two together, washes them in jazz and comes up with music that will linger for a long time in mind and heart. The line-up of the band has changed over the course of their three albums. The quintet featured here fits the mood perfectly; they play classical music with feeling and then jump into jazz, to open up whole new vistas.
"Maestoso non troppo" sifts European classical music, with Lukas Gorewicz (violin) and Pawel Urowski (double bass) casing the melody in an incendiary groove. Pawel Nowicki (vibes) cools the tempest but the atmosphere storms its way back when the strings return. Gorzycki changes the complexion with his drumming. He brings in constant change alternating a spaced out tap with the heavy pummel of the bass and snare drums. The tune smolders and cools by turns, filling it with a heady juxtaposition of sounds.
"Allegro vivace animato" opens up a new pulse. As the title implies, the song is animated. This is established at the head with a brisk beat that propels the tune as it surges down its chosen road. Tomasz Pawlicki (flute) floats down his happy way, letting the melody sway breezily, while Gorzycki adds the color, with light daubs from Nowicki. The quintet locks in on the melody and then lets it explode in a resounding climax.
Gorzycki is a remarkable drummer in the way he works time and space, accent and beat and gets the rhythm to pulse and fill progression. He can change the direction and impetus to give each tune a nuanced grain. His drumming on "AdlibitumAllegreto rallentando" is a perfect example of his range and style. He opens with lithe tapping on the cymbals and then lights little sparks as he flits across and adds translucent colors to the arco playing of Urowski. Having cast a different light on chamber music, he holds back and lets the music bathe in its own bright gentility.
The band is Polish; the song titles Latin, but the music, quite simply, is universal.
(05.01.2008) Jazz Radio
In Polish Jazz Radio competition for theThe Best Jazz Album of 2007, album "EUROPAE" - Ecstasy Project - has been classified in first 10 ( on 8th place).
The listenners put the album between great stars, such as : Wynton Marsalis, Leszek Możdżer. Album EUROPAE was higher in the ranking than Herbie Hancock`s, or Anna Maria Jopek`s cds.
Playboy: (01.2007) In Rafal Ksiezyk`s opinion new Rafal Gorzycki`s "Sing Sing Penelope" album, next to Marcin Masecki`s and Contemporary Noise Quintet`s, are the most important premieres of polish jazz in 2006
Onet: (28.12.2006) In the Ranking for the best polish album of 2006, Sing Sing Penelope album "Music for Umbrellas" was nominated to the best album, next to Tomasz Stanko`s "Lontano"
Gazeta Wyborcza: (Bydgoszcz; 5.01.2007) Among the biggest artistic successes of 2006 "GW" classified Rafal Gorzycki`s work with his "Ecstasy Project" and "Sing Sing Penelope" , next to Rafal Blechacz ( winner of Chopin`s Competition in 2005), or Maciej Cuske with Marcinem Sauterem (documentary films) as the most spectacular in recent year
"Jazziz" - USA (07.2006)
Although its name conjures a trippy techno soundtrack, Ecstasy Project Trio crafts lilting melodic music that has more to do with the arty ECM label than rolling on ecstacy at an all-night rave. “It is a retreat from the avant-garde,” drummer-composer Rafal Gorzycki says of the Polish band’s engaging blend of modern jazz, chamber music and rock aesthetics.
On Realium, Ecstasy Project Trio’s second recording, electronics are used subtly, providing an aural bed for Lukasz Gorewicz’s gorgeous violin, which weaves through Gorzycki’s compositions — all titled “Realium” and numbered 1 through 8. While a leaden organ sound reminiscent of Deep Purple or Iron Butterfly is a bit cheesy and dated on the opening track, Gorewicz’s melancholy bowing and chiming piano leaven the proceedings about midway through the relatively short piece. From there on, however, the music becomes increasingly rewarding.
Despite his earlier protestations, Gorzycki doesn’t exactly run away from avant-garde leanings. While most of the music here is thoroughly melodic and composed, some interesting things happen when the band slips the tether, as it does on the rather abstract “Realium 4.” Gorzycki, who opens the piece with a rumbling solo intro, is fully engaged with his bandmates as he drives the action from behind his kit, never slipping into the monotonous timekeeping that usually powers pop or dance music.
“Realium 3” displays a lilting, sprightly quality akin to the playful melodicism of some of Chick Corea’s Return to Forever compositions. While you’d never guess it from his light touch and marvelous tone, bassist Patryk Weclawek also plays bass in a heavy metal band. Like the Swedish-based E.S.T., the trio puts its own spin on centuries-old native traditions of folk and classical music, infused by the pop, rock and electronic influences upon which they no doubt were raised.
"Cadence Magazine" - USA (05.2006)
While many of the CDs in this batch fall into the worlds of ambient and electronic new music, let’s start off with the more Jazz related items first...
From Poland the ECSTASY PROJECT TRIO makes the most of an unusual ensemble too. On REALIUM (Polish Jazz 89) this trio uses violin and electronics to get an impressive range of sounds out of so few performers (Rafal Gorzycki, d, elec.; Lukasz Gorewicz, g, p, vln; Patryk Weclawek, b. January 2003, Bydgoszcz, Poland).
With tasteful overdubbing, and clever composing, the trio often sounds like a much bigger ensemble, though Gorewicz’s violin is generally the solo voice.
Often draping the violin in organ-like sounds, evoking Bach at one moment and Larry Young the next, Gorewicz fills the recording with a flow of melody hinting at some gypsy heritage, but never with empty pyrotechnics. This one deserves a careful listen.
Hodgepodge & Shorties
"All About Jazz" - USA (04.2006)
If the Ecstasy Project Trio recorded for a label along the lines of Thirsty Ear rather than Polish Jazz, the group would surely garner some worthwhile press attention in the US. Nonetheless, with releases like Realium this may be a mute point before too long.
Featuring instrumentation that varies from moment to moment but centering around violin, bass, and drums, Lukasz Gorewicz, Patryk Weclawek, and Rafal Gorzycki create music that may not be as stylistically “out” as many Thirsty Ear projects are--however, they do achieve a similar musical amalgamation that bridges modern musical aesthetics with an established medium.
Gorzycki describes the project as “the way to peace and harmony. A retreat from the avant-garde” and the music achieves this aesthetic but does not rest there. These players are well aware of where different genres of music have been and what they have accomplished. They are also well aware of where they are interested in taking their style of music and how to utilize these various elements to achieve it.
Although Gorzycki provides all the compositions, classically trained violinist/guitarist/pianist Gorewicz provides a lot of the calculated aural impetus. His keyboard playing can easily be identified as a relative of electronic chill music or drum 'n' bass--as can many of the bass parts--and his violin playing usually provides a lyrical arc that exemplifies the moods of Gorcycki’s compositions, from heartfelt elongated tones to dissonant passages.
The key to success here, though, is the way the recording is layered and the way it uses space between instruments and passages in a fashion similar to the so-called ”ECM sound.” And in the end, the compositions entitled “Realium 1-8,” carry the weight of all these references beautifully.
The album is a journey, opening with a dirge-like organ sound that builds like an electronic piece of music to “Realium 5,” which opens with strummed guitar backed by snare rolls that provide a light propulsive groove. As the music moves forward, the violin enters to state a theme, followed by a wah-wah guitar solo that never betrays the time or feel of the song but seemingly lifts the track and lunges it forward. Gorewicz is leading here once again, featured on both guitar and violin, and he does so with grace and vigor.
Throughout, the band bridges silence, avant leanings, and unabashed lyricism, pacing and molding a consistently engaging and thoughtful album. Gorzycki took over a year to craft this recording, and the results reflect a shifting landscape of sound that can be identified as part of numerous musical contexts.
Even within the same song, instruments flow to and from the foreground with a sense of pacing and spatial design. And while the settings are varied, Gorzycki's violin provides the real arc, sometimes plaintive, other times dissonant, but always reflective of his surroundings.
Ultimately this is a unique album which ought to be particularly rewarding for listeners interested in discovering what jazz and its many variants have to offer outside of the US.
"Polish Jazz" (03.2006)
..jazz, ambient, new age, whatever, it has much beauty.
The drumming percussion is fantastic, very pretty, and the bass is great, lots of atmosphere, very visual, and it has the special Polish magic that draws me in.
If people could hear this, they would like it. There is tons of stuff like this out there on the market with crappy drum machines and overdone bass and effects, but this is the real thing.
I think it is a winner. Its different, but very nice, not jazz, but something that transcends the jazz genre....
on Warsaw Electronic Festival
"Warsaw Voice" (17.10.2003)
A year has gone since the post-jazz group called Ecstasy Project played in QULT club in Warsaw. It was during the big music event called WEF. Now - performing on WEF II, Rafał Gorzycki, the leader of SSP proposed quite new team: Sing Sing Penelope and also formula - even better fitting the climate of the electronic festival.
What they performed on 16.10.2003 on the WEF stage in Jadłodajnia Filozoficzna club was the idea of mixing jazz and electro humorous feeling, which is very rare in the electronic projects.
SSP had the audience's attention form the beginning to the end of the show. Sophisticated sound and freshness of the psychodelic music arrangements proved that it the energy and emotions sent to people that makes the musicians mature. So was the concert.
People were almost sitting on the stage, the cozy club atmosphere was good for the good vibe transfer. SSP was invited to the festival because it is one of the rare groups which look for their own identity on the field of jazz and electronics.
The classical instruments are connected with the characteristic worked out melodic, all this proving that electronic music not necessarily leads to ambient and click and cut. Not edited but played music moved the public of Warsaw Electronic Festival.
We hope to see it released on CD. SSP is the step towards the new Polish post jazz activity, coming from electronics, giving the freshness, idea and energy.
This is the phonographic debut of musicians connected with the Bydgoszcz club "Mózg". I got used to the fact, that on the musical map of Poland, Bydgoszcz is a place of eruption of a particular innovative energy, mainly in relation to the native tradition.
It is similar in this case, although we deal here with a quite clear inspiration from the jazz-rock music of the 70's (in particular from the early groups such as Jack deJohnette, Weather Report, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra).
This is no vent to youthful fascination though. The leader of the group, a drummer Rafał Gorzycki, and other members of the band are attentive listeners at the present time music and techniquely good musicians.
I am under the impression, that in this way, they are trying to establish closer contact with the audience, which is tired of avant-garde ideas of their colleagues from "Mózg".
On the other hand, they want to encourage the young drum'n'bass/techno music lovers to listen to music more attentively.