Olbrzym I Kurdupel

Kilogram Records 028

Pruned to critical basics, Polish duo Olbrzym I Kurdupel – loosely translated as pipsqueak and giant – have worked out an individual take on improvised music which is as low key as it is intense. Elaborated on six untitled tracks recorded at Krakow’s Alchemia club, tenor saxophonist Tomasz Gadecki and bass guitarist Marcin Bożek assemble the music by utilizing a distinctive series of tropes and techniques. While engaging in the main, some sequences are too sonically sparse lacking the supplementary textures other voices could supply.

On their own Gadecki and Bożek generally keep things moving. Created with laser-light focus, the saxophonist’s game plan encompasses output that ranges from wispy breathy, Ur-romantic slurs to staccato dot-and-dash tonguing, without losing track of the chromatic story telling necessary to keep tones flowing. On those occasions where his pitches scale the heights to dog-whistle territory, he wisely uses the extended techniques to re-position the improvisational furniture, not redecorate the whole musical edifice. For his part, the bassist provides the foundation to what the duo is consistently building, keeping rhythmic balance throughout. At the same time as he utilizes the bass part of his bass guitar to thump out percussion-like parts, he doesn’t shy from its guitar configurations either. As a balance to Gadecki’s stutters, whorls and wiggles of reed sound, Bożek expresses himself with slurred fingering or staccato twangs.

Unafraid to leave extended pauses throughout their improvisations, it’s actually when rugged string pops and wide expositions of bubbling tongue slaps meet for a crescendo that the result appears to call out for additional parts or partners. Together enough as they articulate their low key, yet intense program, Olbrzym I Kurdupel’s creations are admirable, but fall just short of being completely affecting. Still, considering the duo has chosen to pursue a discursive and angled musical path rather than offering expected reed and bass tones, it’s likely that their already notable program will continue to improve – with or without input from others.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Part I; Part II; Part III; Part IV; Part V; Part VI

Personnel: Tomasz Gadecki (tenor saxophone) and Marcin Bożek (bass guitar)