Suite for Trio +
Fenommedia FM 05 001

Going from recorded strength to strength it’s become apparent that it’s time for Poland’s Oleœ brothers to take up the North American challenge. This isn’t an Americentric view of jazz – which say that real improv is only practiced stateside. It’s just that bassist Marcin Oleœ and drummer Bartlomiej “Brat” Oleœ are such advanced players that everyday exposure to North American improvisers on their home turf, for at least a few weeks, would provide beneficial musical testing.

Although visitors such as American saxophonists David Murray and Ken Vandermark as well as German reedists Rudi Mahall and Emmanuelle Somer have recorded with the two, somehow the absolute highest level of improv isn’t often reached. Take SUITE FOR TRIO +, which appears to be more forbidding than it sounds. Although it’s another high-class Freebop session from the duo plus guests, something seems lacking.

This time the non-Polish guest is French trumpeter and fluegelhornist Jean-Luc Cappozzo, known for his work with clarinetist Louis Sclavis and pianist Sophia Domanchich. Fourth player is Mikolaj Trzaska, on alto saxophone and bass clarinet. A veteran who has worked with trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, the Oleœ/Trzaska/Oleœ trio is another of the brothers’ regular formations.

Trzaska’s resonated pitch vibrations on SUITE aren’t as low energy as on his last outing with the Oleœes, but coupled with Cappozzo’s sometimes legit-sounding brassiness, the proceedings seem a little disconnected. Throughout, by accident or design, a few of the tracks seem to start with uncoordinated trills and noodling from the horns, only to be brought to fruition by the elevated rhythmic sense of the bassist and drummer.

This is particularly apparent on the reedist’s own “Urodzaj”, which vibrates with tweeting aviary-like coos and a pulsating accordion-like sonic, no doubt produced by extended reed and brass techniques and sul poticello bass expressions. Eventually the loping bounce of the bass and drums kick in to add some rhythmic thrust before proceedings get completely somnolent.

On the other hand the tunes composed by one – usually “Brat” – or another of the Oleœ at least move with a straightforward sort of West Coast swing, often decorated with brassy triplets or tremolo flashing grace notes from Cappozzo. “Bolero”, for instance is a pulsating “Caravan”-type line built on a restrained Arabic air leaked from Trzaska’s mostly coloratura bass clarinet. Hocketing split tones from the reedist and brassy tremolo slurs from the trumpeter join with rapid, sawing bass lines and drum top polishing on “JLC”. Although dedicated to the brassman the end product could be described as a hard bop mazurka.

Then there’s “N-Ju”, which features vocalized, Harmon-muted wah wahs from Cappozzo harmonized with plucked bull fiddle pedal point and “Brat” channeling Gene Krupa on his tom-toms. The piece ends with another expansion of horn squealing and squeaking on top of a Klezmer-style beat: imagine Art Blakey gigging at a Jewish wedding.

Less than 11½ minutes long, the composition “Suite for Trio +” balances on a walking bass and the clink of a tambourine resting on top of a foot cymbal. After a unison expression of the theme, Cappozzo’s variations involve strained plunger tones and rubato patterning that match Marcin’s slip-sliding string exploration. Trzaska squeaking split tones add formal New music gravitas to the proceedings.

Notable, but not quiet memorable, this CD confirms that the Oleœ brothers need more challenges.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Suite: 1. Freetan 2. Suite for trio + 3. JLC 4. Budmo 5. 5-5 6. Bolero Stefana 7. N-Ju 8. Urodzaj

Personnel: Suite: Jean-Luc Cappozzo (trumpet and flugelhorn): Mikolaj Trzaska (alto saxophone and bass clarinet); Marcin Oleœ (bass); Bartlomiej “Brat” Oleœ (drums)