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Maciej Obara Quartet|Three Crowns

Three Crowns

Maciej Obara Quartet

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For their 2017 album Unloved, the Maciej Obara Quartet took home Poland's Fryderyk award in the Album of the Year category and Jazz Artist of the Year. Earlier in 2019, this half-Polish, half-Norwegian group also took home first prize at the BMW Jazz Awards in Munich. Three Crowns is titled after the Trzy Korony summit of the Pieniny mountain range in southern Poland. Recorded in March, this set includes six new pieces by saxophonist Obara and two readings of works by Polish composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. There have been jazz interpretations of his work before, including hybrid readings of his Symphony No. 3: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs by Colin Stetson, and a faux classical one by Portishead's Beth Gibbons with the National Symphony of Polish Radio, conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki. But this album marks the first occasion where Górecki's family -- whom Obara came to know in Katowice -- encouraged interpretations of his music by actual improvisers.
The set opener is a reading of the first part of Górecki's "Three Pieces in the Old Style" from 1963. Introduced by Dominik Wania's piano whispers, it's deliberately minimal before Obara enters tenderly with the melody, accompanied by malleted tom-toms and cymbals from Gard Nilssen and a skeletal bassline by Ole Morten Vågan. The lyric line remains mostly faithful; Obara's saxophone embellishments are restrained and tasteful. The other Górecki number, "Little Requiem for a Polish Girl" from 1993, is more elliptical. The interplay between piano and arco bassline is ethereal, grounded only by intermittent cymbal play from Nilssen. Obara's approach to the melody works from the inside-out, articulating it briefly before his bandmates improvise. The original "Blue Skies for Andy" commences with a lyrical double-bass introduction from Vågan before Wania languidly joins him. Nilssen's brushed-snare veneer becomes a pulse for Obara to enter on, allowing the deep blue melody to assert itself in fits and starts before becoming more strident as the saxist quotes from John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" in his solo. "Vang Church" begins with Obara as an unaccompanied soloist. When the band joins him, they elevate the tension and pace to post-bop swing. Closer "Mr. S" is a ten-minute tribute to late Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko. While it begins with improvised -- and slightly dissonant -- arco bass and accented snares and cymbals, the head, introduced by Wania and given flesh by Obara, is almost rhapsodic in its lush articulation. The exploration at its center keeps the trace of the romantic melody ever present. Three Crowns is subtle, elegiac, and atmospheric. It is fully engaged. The musicians effortlessly express whole ideas from harmony's fragmented ghost traces, resulting in a beautifully articulated statement from a massively talented young band.

© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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Three Crowns

Maciej Obara Quartet

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1
Three Pieces in Old Style (Pt. 1)
00:05:40

Gerard De Haro, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ole Morten Vågan, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Henryk Gorecki, Composer - Gard Nilssen, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Nicolas Baillard, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Lake, Producer - Dominik Wania, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara, Alto Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara Quartet, MainArtist

℗ 2019 ECM Records GmbH

2
Blue Skies For Andy
00:09:21

Gerard De Haro, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ole Morten Vågan, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Gard Nilssen, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Nicolas Baillard, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Lake, Producer - Dominik Wania, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara, Composer, Alto Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara Quartet, MainArtist

℗ 2019 ECM Records GmbH

3
Smoggy People
00:06:55

Gerard De Haro, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ole Morten Vågan, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Gard Nilssen, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Nicolas Baillard, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Lake, Producer - Dominik Wania, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara, Composer, Alto Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara Quartet, MainArtist

℗ 2019 ECM Records GmbH

4
Little requiem for a Polish Girl "Tranquillo"
00:09:16

Gerard De Haro, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ole Morten Vågan, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Henryk Gorecki, Composer - Gard Nilssen, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Nicolas Baillard, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Lake, Producer - Dominik Wania, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara, Alto Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara Quartet, MainArtist

℗ 2019 ECM Records GmbH

5
Vang Church
00:06:26

Gerard De Haro, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ole Morten Vågan, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Gard Nilssen, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Nicolas Baillard, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Lake, Producer - Dominik Wania, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara, Composer, Alto Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara Quartet, MainArtist

℗ 2019 ECM Records GmbH

6
Three Crowns
00:07:13

Gerard De Haro, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ole Morten Vågan, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Gard Nilssen, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Nicolas Baillard, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Lake, Producer - Dominik Wania, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara, Composer, Alto Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara Quartet, MainArtist

℗ 2019 ECM Records GmbH

7
Glow
00:07:34

Gerard De Haro, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ole Morten Vågan, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Gard Nilssen, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Nicolas Baillard, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Lake, Producer - Dominik Wania, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara, Composer, Alto Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara Quartet, MainArtist

℗ 2019 ECM Records GmbH

8
Mr.S
00:09:57

Gerard De Haro, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ole Morten Vågan, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Gard Nilssen, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Nicolas Baillard, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Lake, Producer - Dominik Wania, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara, Composer, Alto Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Maciej Obara Quartet, MainArtist

℗ 2019 ECM Records GmbH

Chronique

For their 2017 album Unloved, the Maciej Obara Quartet took home Poland's Fryderyk award in the Album of the Year category and Jazz Artist of the Year. Earlier in 2019, this half-Polish, half-Norwegian group also took home first prize at the BMW Jazz Awards in Munich. Three Crowns is titled after the Trzy Korony summit of the Pieniny mountain range in southern Poland. Recorded in March, this set includes six new pieces by saxophonist Obara and two readings of works by Polish composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. There have been jazz interpretations of his work before, including hybrid readings of his Symphony No. 3: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs by Colin Stetson, and a faux classical one by Portishead's Beth Gibbons with the National Symphony of Polish Radio, conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki. But this album marks the first occasion where Górecki's family -- whom Obara came to know in Katowice -- encouraged interpretations of his music by actual improvisers.
The set opener is a reading of the first part of Górecki's "Three Pieces in the Old Style" from 1963. Introduced by Dominik Wania's piano whispers, it's deliberately minimal before Obara enters tenderly with the melody, accompanied by malleted tom-toms and cymbals from Gard Nilssen and a skeletal bassline by Ole Morten Vågan. The lyric line remains mostly faithful; Obara's saxophone embellishments are restrained and tasteful. The other Górecki number, "Little Requiem for a Polish Girl" from 1993, is more elliptical. The interplay between piano and arco bassline is ethereal, grounded only by intermittent cymbal play from Nilssen. Obara's approach to the melody works from the inside-out, articulating it briefly before his bandmates improvise. The original "Blue Skies for Andy" commences with a lyrical double-bass introduction from Vågan before Wania languidly joins him. Nilssen's brushed-snare veneer becomes a pulse for Obara to enter on, allowing the deep blue melody to assert itself in fits and starts before becoming more strident as the saxist quotes from John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" in his solo. "Vang Church" begins with Obara as an unaccompanied soloist. When the band joins him, they elevate the tension and pace to post-bop swing. Closer "Mr. S" is a ten-minute tribute to late Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko. While it begins with improvised -- and slightly dissonant -- arco bass and accented snares and cymbals, the head, introduced by Wania and given flesh by Obara, is almost rhapsodic in its lush articulation. The exploration at its center keeps the trace of the romantic melody ever present. Three Crowns is subtle, elegiac, and atmospheric. It is fully engaged. The musicians effortlessly express whole ideas from harmony's fragmented ghost traces, resulting in a beautifully articulated statement from a massively talented young band.

© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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