Adam Baldych: Sacrum Profanum

review baldych x1 cong

Brexit, traffic noise, that shouty boss, arguing neighbours: if anything’s doing your head in, this may well be the answer; even the first few seconds rinse out the space between your ears.

Polish violinist Baldych was once (say the release notes) hailed by a German newspaper as having “the finest technique among all living violinists in jazz”.

But as he played he found he was searching for “harmony and timeless values”, and reached out for sacred music, from the medieval mystic Hildegard and renaissance composer Thomas Tallis to contemporary Russian avant-gardist Sofia Gubaidulina.

Whatever Baldych’s question, opener Spem In Alium (Tallis) was the answer, an immediately enveloping, tranquil sound of peace. Within two or three notes, this early music piece will have your cares dissolving.

O Virga Ac Diadema (Hildegard) is next, the piano creating the melody while Baldych plucks the violin (he plays violin and renaissance violin).

Michal Baranski’s double bass thrums in places, laying down a grove that reminded us of the Police’s I Burn For You; in other places it sounds Eastern or even Scottish, with a jazz feel.

The first Baldych tune is Profundis and it takes the music into jazz, Dawid Fortuna (drums, crotales and gran cassa) delivering complex and subtle percussion, and Krzysztof Dys showing his chops on the piano (he also plays prepared upright piano and toy piano). After this chilled and palatable modern jazz comes Concerto For Viola And Orchestra (Gubaidulina), which opens with a space-y percussive sound, both from percussion and the plucked strings, before the piano comes in to give it some coherence. A shade of bop gives way to other-worldly violin. This avant garde piece leads to Bogurodzica, writer unknown, from the 13th century, which has been modernised from a jazz standpoint and doesn’t sound 300 years older than the Tallis; Baldych’s Repetition on the other hand is as much rock as jazz.

A bit of a must-have for jazz fans, as well as people who like both rock and early music, or interesting sounds.

This is out on jazz label ACT, 9881-2.

The cover art is by Mimmo Paladino Agamennone (1999- 2000).


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