PICK OF THE WEEK:
GRZEGORZ TURNAU has spent much of the last two years performing with symphony orchestras, and more recently, writing and arranging music for the puppet theater in Warsaw, both of which are, by necessity, very strict disciplines indeed. Here, then, is a kind of antithesis of such exacting creative pursuits.
TurBiKon is the amalgamated surnames of TURnau, bassist Robert KuBIson, and drummer Cezary KONrad, and they will be joined by the great sax player Leszek Szczerba for a freewheeling kind of ‘anything goes’ set. “We play different things,” TURNAU reveals. “Most of the time, we just go on stage and I invent the repertoire during the concert,” he smiles, “they all know the material, of course, and I love this kind of excitement – the adrenaline that comes from not knowing exactly what’s going to happen next.”
In this era, there are very few musicians (outside of strictly improvisational ones) secure enough in their bandmates’ abilities to risk such an unstructured kind of gig, but as TURNAU says, “when you have musical partners like this, you can do anything. I think of it as a game between ourselves and the audience.”
In the past year, I have been lucky enough to see GRZEGORZ TURNAU in concert in many different configurations, and he never disappoints. Besides being a superior pianist/vocalist, he is always surrounded by exemplary musicians, and is an entertaining and personable onstage presence.
I have no doubt that this will be both a musically adventurous and enormously fun evening.
This night is described by the great Irish bouzouki player Jan Gałczewski as a “loose jam session. The theme is folk music but we may play other things.” Jan is a member of the excellent Polish Celtic progressive folk rock band Beltaine, and he will be joined by Adam Partyka (of the Krakow Street Band and Cheap Tobacco) on the Peruvian cajón drum, Anton Korolev on violin and bagpipes, and cellist Martin Neaga. Of course, it IS a jam session, and anything can happen.
This clip is from one of Jan’s recent sessions, and gives you an indication of both the spirit of joy and quality of musicianship involved. These guys can play.
They call their style “radical etno”, and that’s as good a description as any for this completely bizarre 10-piece organism led by Lithuanian bassist/composer Justinas Važnevičius (a/k/a Franciszek Szpilman.)
Elements of everything from heavy rock to Jewish Klezmer and Eastern European folk music to the compositional complexities of Frank Zappa and the jazz improvisations of John Zorn, played on instruments ranging from the Arabian oud to the tuba, are ingredients in this crazy musical melting pot. Yet somehow, it makes sense.
This is certainly the most experimental musical option this week.
Since 2005, ZAKOPOWER have created a very unique fusion of the Górali (highlander) folk music of the Polish mountains and alternative rock with great success. But this is a very special one-time event. In addition to older material, they will be performing their latest album, the ambitious Drugie Pół (“Second Half”) joined by the Atom String Quartet. They promise unique interpretations and new arrangements of songs both old and new, adding up to a distinctive fusion of highland folk, classical string quartet and rock band. For fans of contemporary Polish music with one foot in history, this should not disappoint.
Zygmunt “Muniek” Staszczyk started T. Love nearly 35 years ago in Częstochowa, and the band is one of the legends of the Polish rock/alternative/new wave-influenced musical landscape of the 1980s and 90s. Although over two dozen musicians have passed through since the beginning, the lineup has been more or less stable since the mid-1990s. With an armload of gold records to their name, they are kind of stylistically versatile musical chameleons, able to evoke the mood of artists such as The Pogues, (“Ajrish”), Dylan (“Lucy Sphere”), The Police (“I Love You”), and many others, yet always maintaining their own identity.
They are touring in advance of their new self-titled album, and if new single, “Pielgrzym” is any indication, they are still a vital creative entity, not coasting on their back catalogue.
With Jomsviking, their tenth album in two decades, AMON AMARTH are perhaps the world’s leading authority on Swedish melodic death metal, and while their lyrical concepts tend to come from Viking mythology, they have little in common with the Viking folk metal or power metal movements. Musically, they have more in common with pioneers like Celtic Frost and Morbid Angel than the Wagnerian power metal of Manowar.
But if it’s epic Viking power metal you’re looking for, it doesn’t get much better than fellow Swedes GRAND MAGUS. Although they’ve been around about as long as AMON AMARTH, they have a much longer musical memory in terms of influences. This power metal power trio clearly grew up on the 1970s hard rock and proto-metal of bands like Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and Judas Priest, as well as the 1980s New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, etc.)
Which is to say, they specialize in memorable melodies and big sing-along choruses on top of the crushing metallic riffs and double-kick drums. If you’re ‘of a certain age’, and like some melody with your metal, these guys are well worth your time.