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ADAM BALDYCH & HELGE LIEN TRIO ~ BRIDGES
ACT 9591 (Barcode: 614427959126) ~ POLAND ~ Jazz

Recorded: 2015 Released: 2015

This is the third album for the prestigious German ACTFind albums on this label label by Polish Jazz violinist / composer Adam BaldychFind albums by this artist, clearly the most significant representative of the Polish Jazz violin school active today. Contrary to most Jazz musicians, Baldych obviously prefers to create ad hoc associations with various musicians rather than lead his own band, which in his case seems to be the ideal solution in order to fully communicate his enormous versatility. This time he cooperates with the Norwegian piano trio, led by pianist Helge LienFind albums by this artist, which also includes bassist Frode BergFind albums by this artist and drummer Per Oddvar JohansenFind albums by this artist. The album´s eleven tracks consist of nine original compositions by Baldych and one piece co-composed by Baldych and Lien and additionally an arrangement of a pop tune. Two of the compositions were arranged by Polish Jazz pianist / composer / arranger Krzysztof HerdzinFind albums by this artist.

Similarly to his previous album recorded with the Israeli pianist Yaron Herman, the atmosphere and actual material on this album is only marginally Jazzy and covers mostly other music areas like contemporary Classical and World Music. The music is very spacey, intimate and minimalistic in form, based on beautiful melodic themes, which Baldych masterly creates seemingly from thin air. The influence of the Polish Folklore is very significant in Baldych´s playing on this album, more than on any of his earlier recordings and some of the songs sound like famous Polish Folklore dances. Of course this might have happened somewhat subconsciously, but considering Baldych´s sophistication and perfectionism that is quite unlikely.

Personally I find the team work on this album a bit limited, certainly in comparison of Baldych´s earlier work. Although the Norwegian trio has an excellent record behind it, their role on this album is almost entirely concerned with accompaniment with very few moments of true group improvisation and interplay. This might have been a conscious decision on the part of Baldych or simply worked out this way, but the result definitely puts the trio on a second plane, with the rhythm section almost never leaving the shadows. Of course the trio does a great job playing alongside Baldych, but personally I miss the electricity in the air which could have uplifted this album to another level.

Overall this is a beautiful piece of music, skillfully executed, which should make every fan of violin perfectly happy. Jazz purists might find this a bit too sweet, smooth and melancholic, but to be fair Baldych simply has no competition neither in his own country nor anywhere else at the moment, so he is setting the mark. Baldych will surely come up with a new surprise pretty soon, being always full of ideas and abilities, and his work is always a source of joy and aesthetic pleasure.
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