Available November 15, 2019.
Named for the Trzy Korony summit of the Pieniny mountain range in the south of Poland, Three Crowns could be described as a peak performance from the Maciej Obara Quartet, and one that builds upon the achievements of their ECM debut, Unloved. Recorded at Studios La Buissonne in March 2019, the album features six new pieces by bandleader Obara and, in an intriguing development, two versions of works by Polish composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (1933-2010). This is the first occasion on which the Górecki family – whom Maciej came to know while living in Katowice, the composer’s hometown – has encouraged interpretations of the music by improvisers.
To Górecki’s Three Pieces In Old Style (Part One) and Little Requiem for a Polish Girl, composed respectively in 1963 and 1993, Maciej Obara and bandmates Dominik Wania, Ole Morten Vågan and Gard Nilssen bring the intensity and focus that distinguishes their work in the vanguard of contemporary jazz. Theirs is a special quartet with a layered and detailed sound, an alliance of highly individual players dedicated to the group work and able to find space for self-expression inside it.
Maciej Obara, whose concentrated alto sax sound balances lyricism and eruptive emotion, is ideally partnered by Dominik Wania, pianist of formidable technique and classical background: “both are improvisers of mercurial energies”, as The Guardian has noted. Wania who found his own path to jazz after emerging from the Krakow Academy with an honours degree in classical performance, first met Obara inside a Tomasz Stanko ensemble. It was at once clear that the impulsive, outgoing saxophonist and the introverted, analytical pianist shared a profound musical understanding. Their debt to Stanko is expressed in the elegiac “Mr. S” which closes Three Crowns, a free-floating piece atmospherically close to the spirit of Balladyna.
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