Wojciech Staroniewicz A’FreAK-aN Project

32,00 zł

Wojciech Staroniewicz – tenor saxophone
Przemek Dyakowski – tenor saxophone
Darek Herbasz – tenor saxophone
Irek Wojtczak – tenor & soprano saxophone
Dominik Bukowski – marimba, vibraphone, kalimba
Janusz Mackiewicz – bass guitar
Adam Czerwiński – drums
Larry Okey Ugwu – african percussion
Sławomir Berny – percussion


Asale (speak)
2 Dingane (One who is searching) 5’25
Chisisi (a secret)
Muchaneta (you will get tired)
Chenzira (born on a journey)
Utni (live)
Dakarai (joy)


     This is a very interesting concept album by veteran Polish Jazz saxophonist / composer Wojciech Staroniewicz, dedicated to African music. Staroniewicz assembled an unusual lineup, fronted by a four-saxophone brass section: himself on tenor, Przemek Dyakowski on tenor, Dariusz Herbasz on baritone and Irek Wojtczak on tenor and soprano saxophones. There are no keyboards, as appropriate for African music, which are replaced by typical African instruments like marimba and kalimba, with some vibraphone, all played by Dominik Bukowski. The rhythm section comprises of bassist Janusz Mackiewicz and drummer Adam Czerwinski and two percussionists complete the lineup: Larry Okey Ugwu and Slawomir Berny. The album includes seven original compositions, all by the leader, and was recorded “live” in the studio.
     Rather than copying obvious African elements, Staroniewicz creates a set of compositions, which are African more in spirit than in form, a task which is most commendable and of course much more difficult. The brass arrangements sound similar to African Brass Bands, mostly those from Southern part of the continent, but what is most impressive, is that Staroniewicz presents Africa as a whole, with music influences originating from all the four corners of the Black Continent – North with its Middle-Eastern flavor, West with its typical rhythm signatures, East with its enchanting expressive melodies and South with its highly energetic, danceable spirit. The decision not to include keyboards, especially electronic ones, adds significantly to the authenticity and genuineness of the overall result.
     Although obviously a team effort, especially in light of the live recording circumstances, there are plenty of great solos by all the players involved. These are all experienced and talented musicians, mostly leaders of their own ensembles and the common strength of their conglomerated effort is quite impressive. One should note that although this is obviously a Jazz-World Fusion album, the ethnic elements are not dominating the basic Jazz feel and order of things here, which happens so often in this genre. After all these are European musicians, who grew up on European aesthetics and heritage, and for them pretending to be native Africans would be ridiculous. Therefore this subtle and intelligent approach is much more effective.
     In addition to the great musical content the album is also beautifully packaged and the graphic design of the digipak enclosure is simply wonderful and highly original, which proves how much thought and love went into making this album.
     Highly recommended to Jazz-World Fusion enthusiasts, who should enjoy this music wholeheartedly and repeatedly, discovering the many layers it has to offer. Nice stuff!
Adam Baruch


     When I put CD containing the newest Wojciech Staroniewicz album in my Marantz player and music began to flow from Tannoy loud speakers my wife which happened to pass through our living room exclaimed: “At least!” “What?” – I asked. She answered: “At least some music normal people can listen to…”.
So my beloved free jazz discs were put aside and “Afreakan” reigns in my CD-player since then and to my own delight  since although mainstream it is so light-hearted, so exhilarating and so well played that I cannot stop  listening to this music which is simply no less than pure joy.
     Apart from Wojciech Staroniewicz who is mastering his tenor saxophone, you will find here as sidemen great musicians indeed like: Przemek Dyakowski (tenor saxophone), Darek Herbasz (baritone saxophone), Irek Wojtczak (tenor and soprano saxophone), Dominik Bukowski (marimba, vibraphone, kalimba), Janusz Mackiewicz (bass), Adam Czerwiński (drums, udu drum, african cowbell), Larry Okey Ugwu (african percussion – bass jembe, osha, chekere, agogo, ekwe) and Sławomir Berny (percussion – darabuka, bongos, marakas, shaker, cabasa, cowbell). From listing of instruments you can very well say that this time Staroniewicz venture on African safari succesfully blending typical Polish jazz virtuosity and musicality with etno climates. These excursions of Polish musicians toward so-called world music are recently more and more often with excellent example of this tendency being “El Buscador” by Adam Pierończyk. In both instances these trips are very attractive although Pierończyk moved in avantgarde direction while Staroniewicz has rather smooth jazz azimuth. However both are so well done that I cannot do anything else but recommend them together to any jazz loving heart.    
     Although I have no music from this album please listen to fragment of concert with material from his previous album titled ”Alternations” evidencing how high level these musicians represent.
Update: a song from new album now available. Check this link – fantastic indeed!!!
Maciej Nowotny