Randy Brecker – Nostalgic Journey: Tykocin Jazz Suite (The Music of Wlodek Pawlik) – Summit DCD 527 *****:
(Randy Brecker, trumpet; Wlodek Pawlik Trio, with Pawei Panita, doublebass & Cezary Konrad, drums; The Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic of Bialystok/Marcin Malecz-Niesiolowski, cond.)
Coming right after auditioning the new Tribute to Oscar Peterson, this is another fine combination of a jazz soloist backed by orchestra, band or strings. In fact this one reminds me even more of my personal favorite – Stan Getz’ Focus.
Nostalgic Journey has an unusual back story. Trumpeter Randy Brecker met pianist Pawlik in Poland in 1994. Later, when Randy’s brother Michael was diagnosed with leukemia, the family began looking for eastern European donors, who were believed to be the best match, and recontacted Pawlik. They traced the Brecker family antecedents to a Polish area known as Tykocin.
Wlodek Pawlik has been described as the Oscar Peterson of classical music or the Vladimir Horowitz of jazz and he is also a distinguished composer. He composed the Tykocin Jazz Suite in honor of the Brecker family’s discovery. It has a three-movement introduction and six separate sections. Pawlik, a strongly religious man, quotes excerpts from some of David’s Psalms in the notes, which for him express the inexpressible context of the musical meeting. Thankfully (for me at least) the work itself is entirely instrumental. The piece is varied, highly melodic, and full of exciting solos for both trumpet and piano. The balance of the jazz trio/quartet against the orchestra is handled beautifully. The orchestra is top flight, having been named the State Philharmonic for Poland, and an institution of national culture. Randy’s previous album was Randy in Brasil, and this time it’s Randy in Poland, achieving one of the finest mixes of jazz and classical one could hear.
Introduction (3 movements), Nostalgic Journey, Let’s All Go to Heaven, Piano Introduction to No Words…, No Words, Magic Seven, Blue Rain.
– John Henry