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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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ADAM BALDYCH and the
BALTIC GANG

Imaginary Room

ACT 9532-2

 

 

  1. Village Underground
  2. Mirrors
  3. The Room of Imagination
  4. Cubism
  5. K8
  6. Time Traveler
  7. Rama hai
  8. For Zbiggy
  9. 11.16
  10. Zarathustra
  11. Inspiration
  12. Million Miles Away
Adam Baldych (violin); Jacob Karlzon (piano): Lars Danielsson (bass, cello); Morten Lund (drums); Verneri Pohjola (trumpet); Marius Neset (saxophone); Nils Landgren (trombone)
rec. 2012 [55:35]

Polish violinist Adam Baldych fuses his muse with Scandinavian confreres in this set. I'm working for a bare review copy so can't comment on any liner notes or authorial comments on matters of style. What I do hear is in part beguiling and part frustrating.

The violinist is part of a band called Damage Control but this is, I think, his first venture into this close association with new colleagues. The album is interestingly structured with faster tunes dominating until reprieve in the form of two mid-disc slower pieces. The music thereafter picks up speed, though not wholly so. There's almost a symphonic turn of phrase to this kind of layout, though I wouldn't want to push the Allegro-Andante-Allegro cum Andante feel too much.

Stylistically things are confusing. The ethos is Scandinavian Jazz for the most part, though the slower music owes almost everything to folkloric models. The leader has an astringent, wiry tone, and in Village Underground he demonstrates considerable facility, at speed. At times he sounds a touch like Philippe Catherine. Tenor player Marius Neset is a busy player. The first signs of individuality appear in The Room of Imagination, a lyrical offering with keen folk edge to the violin. K8 witnesses some ornate lines from the front liners, and an increasingly exuberant feel. All the while the rhythm section works hard and exceptionally ably.

The most notable tracks are Time Traveler and Rama hai. They both utilise fine colours and textures and offer a very real sense of cool exploration. The former features a folk fiddle over plangent piano backing, with excellent pizzicato figures too. Verneri Pohjola's rather Milesian trumpet is heard on the latter. To an extent these elements are infused into the increasingly driving For Zbiggy - the tutti carried off with fire and percussive drive. Maybe the most harmonically questing piece is Zarathustra and the warmest is Million Miles Away.

It's hard to pin down the folk models. They don't sound Hardanger, they don't sound Tatra; the cleverness, I suppose, lies in their supra-national qualities. I would be fooling you, however, if I said I took to all of the exploration here, some of which I found lacking in individuality. But the richly accomplished folk elements did interest me.

Jonathan Woolf



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