Marcin Oleś | Ornette On Bass | Not Two Records

Marcin Oleś – double bass

Tracklist: 1. Echoes (M.Oleś) [05:32] 2. Una Muy Bonita (O.Coleman) [04:28] 3. Windows (M.Oleś) [03:40] 4. Lonely Women 1 (O.Coleman) [02:24] 5. Shapes (M.Oleś) [04:17] 6. Blessing (O.Coleman) [03:26] 7. Lonely Women 2 (O.Coleman) [01:59] 8. Soap Suds (O.Coleman) [03:37] 9. Law Years (O.Coleman) [04:16] 10. Humpty Dumpty (O.Coleman) [03:43] 11. Questions (M.Oleś) [04:22] 12. Lonely Women 3 (O.Coleman) [02:49]

Oles’ 12-track CD

is a tribute to Ornette Coleman, creating versions of the alto saxophonist’s combo compositions using only his bass. Oles may be the first bassist to record a whole solo CD of Coleman themes. But considering many of the heads harken back to the country blues string band tradition, a bull fiddle would seem to be ideal for the task. You’ll certainly believe that once you’re heard the Krakow-based bassist traverse the tunes. For instance on “Humpty Dumpty”, he speeds up the tempo a bit, yet here and throughout the disc he allows the basic song-like quality of Coleman’s themes to come out. At times as well, his vibrations are such that plucks and the echoing malleable harmonic tones almost sound like two basses.

“Blessing”, on the other hand, is focused on relaxed pizzicato stylings that range all over the strings. Using a mellow tone, Oles never loses sight of the melody, even when double-stopping. For a climax he downshifts to barely audible plucks, then revs up to a more swinging pulse. “Law Years” gets a dramatic polyphonic reading with fricative broken cadenzas. Furthermore, his concentrated pizzicato slaps and his harsh arco runs are so convincing that any need for Coleman’s alto saxophone stating the head are negated.

Oles is comfortable enough with the music to create his own variations as well, adding a “Pop Goes the Weasel” interlude to “Soap Suds” after repetitive staccato bowing to give more color to the proceedings. He also performs three short versions of “Lonely Woman” — the saxman’s most famous composition — each substantially different. One turns the piece into a slap-bass showcase, with the variations preceding the overly familiar theme that’s signaled with flat-picking strums. More straightforward, the second features a throbbing ostinato from the lower strings; while the third and final atmospheric bowed version brings out the impressionistic menace buried within the tune. — Ken Waxman

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