Ksawery Wóciński

The Soul
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Perhaps Warsaw-based bassist Ksawery Wóciński should learn to leave well enough alone. A 13-track glimpse into his soul, The Soul is a kaleidoscopic tour-de-force that confirms the mastery as a double bass player he has displayed over time in bands featuring tenor saxophonist Charles Gayle and clarinetist Wacław Zimpel among others. Nonetheless his use of overdubbing and tracks given over to his other talents – as guitarist, pianist, percussionist and singer – threatens to turn the project into an exercise in braggadocio not bravura.

Luckily before he falls head first into parody and pastiche, Wóciński confirms his musicality in all settings. Tellingly though, it is the title track that confirms his skills in an exciting 75-second careen through double bass properties. Here cave-man thick rumbles share spare with spiccato resonations that reflect the delicate vigor of his instrument’s upper register. Furthermore the nucleus of the CD is those tracks in which he expresses his subtle textural command using various double bass motifs as if he was a visual artist replicating various painterly styles for comfort and fit. “2nd Impression” for instance finds him stopping and stropping bass lines as if he was both Art Davis and Jimmy Garrison playing in John Coltrane’s band, with his stunning string control allowing him to access concerto, hoedown and vocalized jazz-inflected pitches with the same ease. Fascination with all that can be extracted from a bull fiddle’s lowest register buttresses “Eternity” into another tour-de-force. Meanwhile as he rips bellicose textures from tightly wound strings on “Holiness” as contrapuntal piano sweeps and dissonant violin-like interjections fly in-and-out of the arrangement.

Beginning this solo showcase with kalimba-like string hammering, he concludes it by multi-tracking his voice on “Hold on Just a Little While Longer” so that he approximates the riffing harmonies from a mixed, full gospel choir. On “3rd Impression” Wóciński shows his familiarity with processing by spawning an unvarying opaque tone; while his unusual piano forays range from dissonant Cecil Taylor-like clunks to softened near concertos that approach chamber music. One of his guitar solos is entitled “Roots” but overall his parameters appear to range from thickened Metal projections to limpid folksy strums.

Unexpectedly though, like the minor character in an action movie who suddenly reveals hitherto untapped strengths when most needed, Wóciński’s guitar-and-voice work on “4th Impression” almost justifies this eclecticism. Fiercely downstroking his guitar like a combination of bluesmen Charlie Patton and Son House, he also hums along with a fierce, abandon, like Skip James or other falsetto-emphasizing Delta shouters.

The Soul is a compelling milestone in Wóciński’s self-definition as a notable stylist. But unless he can readily replicate the passion he brings to “4th Impression” on his various other instruments, he should probably concentrate on what he does best: play the double bass.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Intro 2. 1st Impression 3. Trinity 4. 2nd Impression 5. Holiness 6. Eternity 7. 3rd Impression 8. The Soul 9. 4th Impression 10. Roots 11. 5th Impression 12. Letter to M. 13. Hold on Just a Little While Longer

Personnel: Ksawery Wójciński (bass, piano, guitar, drums, percussion and voices)