Herb Robertson Trio & Marcin Oleś & Bartłomiej Brat Oleś | Live at Alchemia | Not Two Records

Not Two, 2007 | MW 785-2 | CD

Herb Robertson – trumpet, cornet, mutes | Frank Gratkowski – alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet | Julien Petit – tenor & baritone saxophones | Marcin Oleś – double bass | Bartłomiej Brat Oleś – drums

Recorded March 13, 2006 at Alchemia – Krakow, Poland by Michal Rosicki. Mixed, edited and mastered by Bartlomiej Brat Oles and Michal Rosicki. Cover: “System smieci” (fragment) by Andrzej L. Turek (stick-in picture on paper. Inside photos by Krzysztof Penarski. Cover design by Andrzej Wojnowski. Produced by Marek Winiarski.

Tracklist: 1. Nebula [15:01] 2. Fluttering [07:47] 3. 2 Phone Addicts [02:53] 4. It Doesn’t Work Like That! [17:01] 5. Discombobulating [11:28] 6. A Precarious Situation [13:34] 7. Ballad For Bacchanalia Harbor [07:10]

“Jazz Album of the Year!”

(All About Jazz- New York, January 2008)

Featuring Herb Robertson

on trumpets, mutes & compositions, Frank Gratkowski on alto sax & clarinets, Julien Petit on tenor & bari saxes, Marcin Oles on double bass and Bartlomiej Brat Oles on drums. It is always great to hear the ever-inspired Oles brothers playing with the cream of improvisers like David Murray, Ken Vandermark, Chris Speed and Erik Friedlander. Here they are with two other giants, the unstoppable Herb Robertson and the ubiquitous Frank Gratkowski, plus a fine tenor & bari players named Julien Petit. They begin quietly and cautiously on “Nebula”, which features Herb on trumpet, Frank on bass clarinet & Julian on bari sax all darting magically around one another, building in intensity as they go. Considering that I hadn’t heard of Mr. Petit before this, he sounds pretty great. “Fluttering” begins with some suspenseful mallet work from Brat with distant, floating horns soon entering. “2 Phone Addicts” erupts freely the quintet in a powerful flurry of activity that is focused and free simultaneously. “It Doesn’t Work Like That!” simmers with more spacious, free activity that features some strong fluttering horns. Throughout this disc the consisting amazing Herb Robertson spins and twists his trumpets inside-out, always pushing those around him to reach deeper within and higher to the heavens and beyond. “Discombobulating” has a trumpet-led trio section that is just astonishing. Marcin’s contrabass sounds haunting as he leads the piece, “A Precarious Situation”, which also features some inspired bass clarinet from Frank. Here we can yet another gem from Herb Robertson, the Brothers Oles and their international crew. — BLG, Downtown Music Gallery


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One thought on “Herb Robertson Trio & Marcin Oleś & Bartłomiej Brat Oleś | Live at Alchemia | Not Two Records

  1. When Herb Robertson went into the Alchemia Club in Krakow, Poland on March 13, 2006 with Frank Gratkowski and Julian Petit to record the show, he had just the right rhythm section in twins Marcin Oles and Bartlomiej Brat Oles. All five have marked their presence as innovators. They take an idea, fertilize and expound it, and shape it into an extraordinary body, pacing it at their own instinct. As they pause and push, using space and density to work their way from the abstract to the formative, the musicians invest not only logic, but dollops of surprise as well.

    The band loses no time in setting the mood and drawing the listener into its net with the aptly titled “Nebula. The tune dawns on a filigree of sound from the bow on the bass. Silence, space, and then more sawing, nail the listener’s attention. Expectation is answered by the twang of the bass string as Marcin Oles lets the spotlight shine on the elements and shapes he introduces, gradually letting them swell into more cogent forms. The pulse throbs and vibrates, and the dimension is blooded when the horns come in. Robertson’s lines are quicksilver, opening the landscape with sharp interjections. Petit brings in a brawny tone. He finds a melody to lay open, letting not only free-form influences through, but a blast of bop as well. His trenchant playing is driven by Bartlomiej Oles, whose rhythm adds an off-kilter congruency.

    Robertson sets fire to “Discombobulation. His playing is fast, furious and fragmented. Short, sharp jabs are countenanced by darting lines, as the Oles brothers set a roiling rhythm as a bed. Gratkowski’s tone is liquid and luminously light. This does not deter Robertson, who continues to loosen salvoes that rip into the fabric. Gratkowski and Petit restore the calm, before the former journeys on his own, at first with a gentler ambit that drinks from deep resources; the nuances and emphasis are in constant evolution before he gets animated. The change is as facile as it is tenable, and all the pieces fall neatly into place.

    There are two stylistic approaches that sum up the band very well. “2 Phone Addicts explodes on the collective playing of the front line. Robertson leads the charge, but both Petit and Gratkowski wrap horns with him, making the atmosphere thick and juicy. “Ballad for Bacchanalia Harbor finds Robertson essaying the melody and opening the road for Gratkowski, on bass clarinet, and Petit. It’s a graceful tune, serene in its progression. The final ornamentation is given by Oles, whose sticks dance lightly and lend the song a becoming glow.

    The music of that night retains its power and its allure.

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