German born flautist Mark Alban Lotz moved to the Netherlands when he was 17 years old to pursue his interest in the instrument by studying classical and contemporary music in Amsterdam, before moving on to studies in world music, specifically the Indian Bansuri flute, in Rotterdam. As well as taking private jazz tuition in the States, he has subsequently travelled widely throughout the world teaching, performing and interacting with other like-minded musicians, releasing over 18 of his own albums and making over 40 appearances on recordings with other artists.
The Wroclaw Sessions is a part trio, part duo recording, featuring Grzegorz Piasecki on acoustic bass and Wojciech Buliński on drums. Lotz is renowned for crossing many boundaries with his music, his experiences allowing him to effortlessly assimilate different genres with consummate ease, and although this session has a very obvious jazz feel to it, it’s easy to hear many different cultural influences subtly and skilfully embedded into the ethos of the music he makes.
The recording itself came about whilst Lotz was in Poland performing with various Polish free-jazz musicians. No plans had been made for a recording and it was bassist Piasecki who suggested a quick trip to Wroclaw to record some pieces with drummer Bulinski. In a lo-fi studio, it was the first time Lotz and Bulinski had met, not that you would know this from listening to the recording. As the recording progressed it became clear that Bulinski couldn’t continue as he was suffering from a 40-degree fever, and so Piasecki and Lotz used the rest of the session to record some duets. The results in both trio and duo form, are simply outstanding.
9 tracks grace this wonderful album, 4 of them originals. There’s a depth of beauty that flows through the entire recording, with such a warm, intimate atmosphere lighting up the tunes with a rare class that makes listening such a fully immersive experience. There’s an avant-garde lilt to many of the tunes, including stunning renditions of Sam Rivers’ Euterpe and Charlie Parker’s Segment, but there’s always a gorgeously melodic base to the music, providing the listener with the best of both worlds: the edginess of Free-jazz improv, with the contentment of hearing a great tune. Tracks such as Raaste Men, Little Shiva, and Segment sparkle with character, the performances not only bringing the music to life but breathing new life into the music itself.
The intuitive interplay and improvisation from all 3 musicians is quite remarkable. The standard of performances here, especially being from such an informal session, cannot be underestimated. This is the spirit of jazz in its truest form. A delightfully deep and rewarding album.