Tag Archives: Maciek Pysz

Concert review: Maciek Pysz Trio at Pizza Express Soho London, 25 March 2014

Maciek Pysz_Pizza ExpressPerhaps as I write this I am subconsciously influenced by the proximity of the British Museum and the Elgin Marbles, but something about last night lodges in my thoughts under the heading ‘Timeless’, something about earthly nature being united with ideal heavenly beauty.   There were many moments in the opening concert at Pizza Express of guitarist Maciek Pysz’s Insight album tour that made a connection, for me anyway, between our physical presence, the transience of life and much deeper truths.

This is a trio of superstars, Yuri Goloubev on bass and Asaf Sirkis on percussion. They hadn’t played together since November but those intervening months have only served to deepen their harmony as a trio, their instinctive support of each other.  There was a darker feeling to the compositions, they took them slightly slower than the album, giving us the opportunity to relish the cool transcendency of Asaf’s drumming, the earthiness of Yuri’s mastery of his bass where the vibrations of his bowing come through the floor to connect you to the sound, and Maciek’s delight in tiny sounds like static floating in the air. His was a restrained performance, not showy, just impressive by what it omitted.

To celebrate the start of the tour, Maciek invited Tim Garland to join them for several compositions including a new piece by Maciek called Desert.  When Tim joined them for Those Days, the slightly Elizabethan dance feel of the original became a dark dense tango.  And Insights (with its many notes) was strongly syncopated.  But perhaps the zenith of this celestial evening was Ralph Towner’s Beneath an Evening Sky, which Tim has played with Ralph Towner.  The gentle serene soprano sax in conversation with the guitar was very special, with space for Yuri and Asaf to add to the quiet atmosphere, the tiny pattering steps of hands on udu drum grounding us again.

A couple of weeks ago I speculated whether this guitar/sax partnership would be Bill Frisell / Tom Rainey or Ralph Towner / Jan Garbarek.  It was neither of course,  it was subtle and mellow, and deeply satisfying.  After the final piece, the audience were silent for just a beat, we had been taken somewhere very special.

Try to see this wonderful trio somewhere on their tour. You will catch some of the magic.

Photo by Clement Regert.

Mary James 26 March 2014

 

Preview: Maciek Pysz Trio with Tim Garland, Pizza Express Jazz Soho, 25 March 2014

Maciek PyszWhy not start a major UK tour with a flourish?  That’s what Maciek Pysz has decided to do in launching his tour at Pizza Express Soho on Tuesday 25 March and he has chosen saxophonist of the moment, Tim Garland, to guest with him.  There have been some very celebrated guitarist/saxophonist partnerships in the past which seem to encompass every possible nuance:  Joe Pass and Zoot Sims (jaunty);  Pat Metheny and Joshua Redman (warm);  Ralph Towner and Jan Garbarek (glacial); and to me, most intriguing of all, Bill Frisell and Tim Berne ( as in M from ‘Theoretically’  –  just plain extraordinary – with its chiming, bell-tolling-like guitar undercurrent,  discordant sax which melts into something quite mellow but still remaining menacing).

What all these partnerships have in common is equality of relationship, you listen for both artists.  So by inviting Tim Garland to be his guest at an important gig, Maciek Pysz is making a very bold statement.   In a recent podcast for London Jazz  News, Maciek said he’d written a syncopated classical piece after being inspired by Chic Corea’s ‘The Continents’. This piece eventually appeared for his trio as Insights on his debut album ‘Insight’.  The Continents featured none other than Tim Garland.  So it is will be very interesting to see and hear how their partnership is presented at Pizza Express.   Buy a ticket and find out!

Book tickets for the gig at Pizza Express here.  If you can’t make Pizza Express then please make an effort to see the Trio at one of the other concerts on the tour, details on Maciek’s website.  You won’t be disappointed, the Trio’s onstage chemistry is electric and deeply wondrous, and the album ‘Insight’ is very beautiful. And lucky people in Edinburgh get a solo performance!

Mary James 5 March 2014

Gig review: Maciek Pysz and Gianluca Corona, 14 Feb 2014, London

It was Valentine’s Day in London, the perfect evening for some romantic music and a glass or two of good wine, and what better than two guitars to relax you. But wait!  If the audience had been expecting gentle background music that they could chat over, they got something unexpectedly deep. From the very first chord of Manha de Carnaval (L. Bonfa) the audience were perfectly attentive, rapt by the magic that unfolded. The guitarists in question were Maciek Pysz and Gianluca Corona, two masters of classical and acoustic guitars, and quite obviously two old friends. Unlike other gigs I go to, the people around me listened harder because the music, and perhaps the experience of live music in an intimate venue, was new to them.

We concentrated hard and were rewarded with a wide repertoire from the catchy familiar Manha  which was given a glorious rolling gait, to compositions by Maciek from his album Insight and new work from an upcoming duo album. Jokes such as “Guess what this composition is called?  Lost in London!” had particular resonance for many in the room, foreigners in a big city. I was particularly moved by Amici,  their joint composition, it ranged over many emotions and was about their friendship which goes back many years.   And we had a taster of an upcoming album of the duo – Fresh Look – which they record this summer and will be released on 33Jazz later this year.

These two masters of the guitar completely trashed the idea that guitar music is something you have as background music.  You have to see it to marvel at the delicate intricate sounds, the dazzle of flashing fingers, the glorious melodies, the effortlessness of it all. Afterwards you just smile. What better way to spend Valentine’s Day?

You can catch up with the Maciek Pysz Trio on their tour March – May 2014 – for details see http://www.maciekpysz.com/

and if you have 21 minutes there is an interesting podcast with Maciek Pysz here  with London Jazz News.

Mary James 19 February 2014

Preview: Festival of the guitar: Stratford Jazz March-June 2014

guitaristI am calling it a Festival of the Guitar: It was a masterly stroke of scheduling – Stratford Jazz features some of the most exciting guitarists on the UK scene in the next few months so here’s my preview of six gigs worth turning out for.  What’s thrilling for me is that we get to hear very different styles of music, guitars, guitar playing and influences.

First up we host John Law’s Boink! on 12 March. The guitarist in question is Rob Palmer  who I last saw at Sherborne Jazz with Jon Lloyd and John Law. Boink!  is the latest project from John Law  which takes him away from acoustic pianos and into the world of electronica and interactive visuals. Intrigued?   In a recent interview in Jazz UK (issue 115) Rob said that the electronic backing tracks are composed leaving the musicians free to improvise 90% of the time.  It will be a combination of total freedom and totally composed music, he says.

No sign of electronics with our next guitarist, the acoustic and classical guitarist Maciek Pysz who makes his debut appearance at Stratford Jazz with his stellar trio of Yuri Goloubev on double bass and Asaf Sirkis on percussion on 26 March. Maciek is on an extensive UK tour promoting his album Insight  which received rave reviews across the globe last year. He appears at Stratford the day after an important gig at Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street, London with a guest appearance by Tim Garland who recently signed to Edition Records.  Insight was my album of 2013 so I can’t really add more other than to say that the last time I saw this trio they blew the roof off Kings Place, gathering a larger crowd in the foyer than in some of the concert halls.  They filled the huge space, just as they filled the windy park at Ealing Jazz Festival last year. We can expect a more intimate, conversational evening of Maciek’s beautiful lyrical compositions, exquisite arco bowing from Yuri and sensitive percussion from Asaf.  As Maciek said in an interview in 2011,  ‘I do not want to be perceived only as a jazz guitarist, I’m an acoustic guitarist who mixes genres’ and therein lies his attraction. His influences are John McLaughlin, Ralph Towner and Al Di Meola yet he sounds like none of these, he has his own voice.

 On 9 April we host Phil Robson with his new organ trio featuring Gene Calderazzo on drums and Ross Stanley on Hammond organ.  Phil Robson’s discography contains a jazz who’s who of musicians from both sides of the Atlantic – Mark Turner, Michael Janisch, Christine Tobin (the celebrated Sailing to Byzantium), John Taylor, Liam Noble – and he brings a breath of New York to Stratford with his drummer, whose drumming John Fordham described as scalding!  Listening to their demo clip on Soundcloud I was minded of Steely Dan  – that was just the organ I imagine, but we can expect what Roy Stevens is already predicting will be the gig of the year at Stratford!

On 14 May we are joined by a newly formed band called The Orient Quartet. This features Dan Messore on guitar. Dan’s own quartet called Indigo Kid features none other than Iain Ballamy. Kevin le Gendre said of Dan ‘It’s fair to quote names like Pat Metheny and Frissell as references but the seam of jazz Messore is mining goes back further to such as Charlie Byrd and Jim Hall’.  Combine this with Steve Waterman‘s trumpet (as heard on Carla Bley’s albums on ECM) and you can see we have a very heavyweight new band.

On 11 June we feature Nic Meier who brings his glissentar with its eleven fretless strings which provides more than a touch of the orient to the sound, a heady mix of Turkey, central Europe, Iberia and the Americas.  His quartet features the artists who appear on his recent album Kismet. Look out for his flamenco treatment of Coltrane’s Giant Steps!

Our final guitarist is Jon Dalton on 25 June. Jon has been playing guitar since he was seven and cites Wes Montgomery as an influence. He brings a trio with a Hammond organ virtuoso so we can expect a vibrant set. If you like Gibson guitars then come along!

So join us for these wonderful gigs, and keep jazz alive outside London.

All gigs start at 8pm and tickets on the door are £10/£12 for Phil Robson, half price for students. We look forward to welcoming you to our jazz club and our Festival of the Guitar.

https://www.facebook.com/stratfordjazz.org.uk  

http://www.stratfordjazz.org.uk/ and https://twitter.com/StratfordJazz

Image by Joep Olthuis
Mary James 22 February 2014

Gigs of 2013

Something I read today brought me up sharp:  ‘And isn’t the whole point of things – beautiful things – that they connect you to some larger beauty? … if a painting really works down to your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think “Oh I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind”… (you love it because) it’s the secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you. I was painted for you.’   So said one of the unforgettable characters in Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.   And so I think it is with great performances, they seem to speak to you, not in generalities or technicalities, but in something you know you will treasure, that you were meant to treasure.  This thought prompts my Gigs of 2013, some of which I have written about in this blog.

There was a late night set at Cheltenham in May, a good piano and the best of Edition – Dave Stapleton, Marius Neset, Neil Yates and Daniel Herskedal.  A sublime hour, made memorable by the obvious weariness of Marius, gently swaying on his feet (he had had a very long day of an earlier gig in Brighton), and yet transcending that exhaustion with the most beautiful sounds, not the full-blowing Marius we knew, but a more delicate one. Afterwards, when I saw him in the foyer and briefly thanked him, saying his performance had moved me, he listened so attentively and humbly, as if I had something of value to say. I will never forget that moment.

At the sight of Chris Bowden walking up the stairs at Stratford Jazz in September, all anxiety of whether he would turn up vanished, he looked so happy. For two hours he scampered around the stage like a court jester with a saxophone, wittily and wholeheartedly commenting on the other musicians around him, all signs of illness and weakness forgotten, just glad to be on the stage playing music he loved. To celebrate the evening, Chris had burned what he called a bootleg of his earlier performances with Stratford Jazz, tracks by Monk, and Brecker and friends.  Because it meant so much to him, the gig meant much to everyone who was there.

A beautiful duo between Dave Stapleton on a Steinway and Neil Yates on trumpet at St Georges Brandon Hill in February, a reworked Henryk.   In the clear cool surroundings of that venue, we heard the music afresh. The video below is from the track on the album Flight but its heartbreaking beauty was rendered human by Dave and Neil on piano and trumpet.

Obviously I must mention the launch of Maciek Pysz‘s debut album Insight  at The Forge in May.   Not only is this my album of 2013, I think it is quite possibly my gig of the year, its beauty took me by surprise. I could not wait to get the album home and into my heart so I could conjure it up in my memory whenever I want to.  The whole occasion was full of joy, of connection between musicians and with us.  It’s why you make the effort to turn out for live music, that somehow, the very act of your listening is adding to the experience of everyone else, that it has mattered that you are there.

And as I end 2013, I eagerly anticipate next year – already tipping Reverie at Schloss Elmau by Gwilym Simcock and Yuri Goloubev (on ACT)  to enter my albums of 2014 and no doubt that will be reinforced by seeing them live next year.  And at Stratford Jazz we host what I am calling  A Festival of the Guitar– starting with TG Collective, then John Law’s Boink! (which has a guitar), Maciek Pysz and finally Phil Robson. Different styles and temperaments, but all capable of conjuring up beauty and enhancing my life in unexpected ways. Thank you everyone I have heard this year, you have made that connection.

Mary James 22 December 2013